We’re excited to welcome Dylan Waguespack to True Colors United as our new Public Policy and External Affairs Director! Dylan comes to True Colors United from a diverse background in nonprofit, public policy, and communications. Dylan is based out of our Washington, D.C. office.
We’re already seeing the magic that Dylan brings to his work! We asked him a few questions to help you get to know him a little better…
Tell us a bit about your life and work prior to joining True Colors United. Whatcha been up to?
Before joining True Colors United, I ran a small consulting firm, Mercury Media, that primarily served clients here in Washington, D.C. and back home in Louisiana. Mercury offered a wide range of advocacy and political communications services, so on a Monday, I could be building a website for one client, and the next day, I could be testifying at a state legislative hearing for another. Most recently, my firm was hired to do federal lobbying for the National Center for Transgender Equality. I started in January on Swearing In Day for the new Congress, so it’s been an amazing opportunity to work with some incredible members of Congress who were brand new to Washington, D.C. just like me!
Before opening my firm in late 2016, I briefly worked as the Deputy Communications Director for a candidate for U.S. Senate. And before that, I was the Executive Director of Louisiana Progress, the progressive movement-building partnership where I started my career as an advocacy intern in 2011 with focuses on LGBTQ equality and child, youth, and family homelessness.
For most of the past decade, I’ve also been involved in state-level trans advocacy in Louisiana. I’m currently serving as the board president of Louisiana Trans Advocates, a nonprofit that’s advancing the core human rights of self-expression and self determination for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming Louisianans.
Why True Colors United?
My first experience in organizing and advocacy was as a resident of an emergency shelter in Louisiana, where I drafted and led a (handwritten) sign-on letter demanding that staff and leadership engage youth residents in their internal policy decision-making.
How this work happens matters so much to me. True Colors United is doing an incredible job of not only listening to youth, but actively engaging young people as leaders in every aspect of the organization’s work while investing in building the bench of youth leaders in the communities we call home.
What sort of work will you be up to in your new position – and what are you most excited about?
In my new position as Public Policy and External Affairs Director, I’ll be developing, directing, and implementing our federal, state, and local administrative and legislative public policy agenda.
I’m most excited about the chance to work in close partnership with our Youth Collaboration programs to build youth power in local and state policymaking. State legislatures can be so incredibly accessible compared to other policymaking bodies, and they’re also where the greatest number of policy decisions are made that affect all of our day-to-day lives.
To put it in perspective, the 113th US Congress (in 2013-14) passed 352 bills and resolutions. In the exact same time period, state legislatures and the D.C. Council passed 45,564 bills and resolutions!
There is so much opportunity in state lawmaking for us to make major advancements in how states step into their roles in the movement to end youth homelessness. I’m a state advocate at heart, so I can’t wait to partner with youth leaders and advocates across the country to push our collective priorities forward.
What do you geek out about?
Tax and budget policy. I love talking tax and budget, whether it’s the pitfalls of a Commercial Activity Tax, the flow of federal TANF dollars, or a state budget capital outlay process.
Outside of the realm of policy (really nothing is truly outside of the realm of policy), I’m obsessed with viral epidemiology, especially the 1918 Spanish flu. And I spend as much time as I can get away with backcountry hiking and camping on public lands. My favorites are Horn Island, a deserted barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Amistad National Reservoir in Del Rio, Texas.
I also geek out about my partner Matthew and our dog Ham.