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Advocacy & Public Policy

Leap, and the Net Will Appear: The Transformative Power of the Arts

By examining interventions in both the UK and U.S., this workshop explores how the performing arts can be transformative for youth experiencing homelessness.

Speaker(s): Shahera Hyatt is the Director of the California Homeless Youth Project, a California Research Bureau initiative focused on educating policymakers on the needs of homeless youth in CA. She has authored several publications including the nation’s first state action plan on ending youth homelessness.

Building Power Through the Political and Legislative Process

Join Impulse Group DC and local elected officials in a workshop that shares best practices for creating the political will needed to end LGBTQ youth homelessness.

Speaker(s): Devin Barrington-Ward is a formerly homeless Black queer youth, using political strategy and advocacy to address a social justice issues and achieve greater equity for Black communities and other marginalized groups. Currently, Devin serves as President of Impulse Group DC, an HIV advocacy group.

Take the Pain Out of Campaigns!

Running a digital campaign is a great way for organizations to introduce new ideas, support your programmatic goals, and turn everyday folks into digital activists. This session will demonstrate how, with the right strategy, any organization can be a lean, mean campaigning machine.

Speaker(s): Nick Seip, CAPM is the Senior Communications Officer at the True Colors Fund. Through his work at the True Colors Fund, Nick uses digital media to advance efforts to end lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness.

Policy to Action: Putting the State Index on Youth Homelessness to Werk

With the release of the State Index on Youth Homelessness, we now know what states need to do to move the needle on youth homelessness. Join this breakout session to learn more about how we can operationalize the Index and be stronger and more strategic in our state-level advocacy.

Speaker(s): Justin Rush, JD. As Public Policy Director at the True Colors Fund, Justin leads the organization’s work to enact administrative and legislative policy change at the federal, state, and local level to prevent and end LGBT youth homelessness.

Holistic Policy Approaches to Addressing Trans Youth Homelessness

This interactive session will discuss holistic policy approaches and workshop existing policies to ensure their inclusivity of transgender and gender expansive youth. Bring a policy (from your organization, county, state, etc.) and we will workshop it to ensure it is intentionally inclusive of transgender and gender expansive youth experiencing homelessness.

Speaker(s): Jama Shelton, MSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and Chief Strategy Officer at the True Colors Fund.

It Ain’t No Lie, Bi Bi Bi: Creating Targeted Programs and Services for Bi+ Youth

While bisexual youth comprise up to 20% of youth experiencing homelessness, they receive few targeted services and programs. This session addresses the specific disparities facing bisexual youth and the importance of targeted interventions.

Speaker(s): Heron Greenesmith is a policy attorney & advocate focusing on bisexual communities. Heron has worked in progressive advocacy spaces for over a decade with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, and the National LGBTQ Task Force.’

Khafre Kujichagulia Abif, MLS is an Atlanta-based AIDS & Bisexual activist, writer, who has been thriving with HIV for 29 years. Khafre serves as a Community Organizer with the Southern AIDS Coalition. Khafre is HIV Plus magazine one of 75 Most Amazing People Living with HIV in 2016

Community Approaches

Creating Safe Spaces in Straight Places

In this interactive session, the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN) discusses the significance of fierce advocacy and community collaboration to create safe spaces for queer/trans youth of color in the South.

Speaker(s): Kristin Kennedy has been working in youth services for 10 years, focusing specifically on public health and housing for LGBTQ youth of color.

Cosmos Cranston is a social worker at JASMYN, passionately collaborating and working with LGBTQIA youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness in northeast Florida to create a community with safe and accessible housing services for all young people.

Can I Get an Amen: Engaging Conservative Congregations of Faith

Come learn and discuss what Outlast Youth is doing in Dallas, TX to address LGBTQ youth homelessness within conservative faith communities.

Speaker(s): Rev. Heather Mustain, LMSW joined the staff of Wilshire Baptist Church in the summer of 2013. At Wilshire, her responsibilities include engaging and educating congregants about the intersection of faith, service and advocacy. She serves on a variety of community coalitions including Outlast Youth’s Faith Based Team.

Josh Cogan is the President / CEO of Outlast Youth, focusing on LGBTQ youth homelessness. Cogan’s passion for eliminating LGBTQ youth homelessness was struck as the Lead Pastor of a Baptist church. Originally from Statesville, NC, he now resides in the downtown neighborhood of Dallas, TX.

On the Front Lines: Systems of Liberation, Youth Activism, and Resistance

The Keeping Ballroom Community Alive Network seeks to actualize liberation through confronting systemic oppression by building power, organizing direct actions, and connecting youth to resources. Hear how LGBTQ youth activist are living out their self-determined lives without limitations or barriers.

Speaker(s): Jonathan Lykes is a Black queer artist, activist and policy analyst. He currently works at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) as a Senior Policy Analyst and is the National Youth Organizer for the getR.E.A.L Initiative, addressing disparities that affect Black and Brown LGBTQ youth.

Lessons From Point Source Youth Pilots

Discuss key findings from Point Source Youth pilots to end youth homelessness in San Jose, Charlotte, and NYC and ways that centering youth leadership, housing first principles, housing as healthcare, and equity practices can be incorporated into innovative housing pilots.

Speaker(s): Jenna Mellor is a harm reduction specialist and advocate working with Point Source Youth. She has managed outreach at HIPS in Washington, DC, supporting folks engaged in sex work and criminalized drug use; coordinated medical services at Covenant House Newark; and worked for Congressman Jerrold Nadler on constituent issues.

Lessons Learned from our 100 Day Challenge

This workshop will provide an overview of how youth employment and housing providers, youth with lived experience, and county staff are strategizing to create systems change, remove barriers, and coordinate employment and housing for youth.

Speaker(s): CeMarr Peterson currently oversees The Link’s Project Live Out Loud Program. CeMarr’s extensive experience working with at-risk populations and insight into vulnerabilities of LGBTQ youth enable her to develop creative strategies and provide advocacy that is specialized, relevant, and culturally-specific.

Beth Holger-Ambrose  is the Executive Director for The Link – a youth and adult led nonprofit in Minneapolis. The Link provides housing and services for youth and young families experiencing homelessness.

Introduction to Project Management for Communities

Back by popular demand! This session will explore how project management techniques can be applied at the community level for developing projects to prevent and end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Attendees will leave with tools and templates for stakeholder engagement, risk management, and project scheduling.

Speaker(s): Christa Price, LMSW. As Program Director, Christa leads the True Colors Fund Training & Education work to help communities offer safe, inclusive, and welcoming support to LGBTQ youth.

Joe Moran, PMP. As the True Colors Fund’s Chief Creative Officer, Joe works at the intersection of communications, technology, and design. As Chief of Staff, he manages human resources and provides leadership around project management functions.

Shifting from Engagement to Collaboration: working with Youth and Young Adults

This session focuses on authentic inclusion of youth and young adults at every level of agency infrastructure. Shifting from youth engagement to authentic youth collaboration supports the idea that young people with lived experience should have a seat at the table. This shift also ensures that those seats are meaningful and encompass a shared power dynamic.

Speaker(s): Kahlib Barton joined the True Colors team as Program Officer after competing his tenure with Us Helping Us, People Into Living. Inc as the PrEP Program Coordinator. Kahlib is also a Public Health capacity building specialist and queer activist who has done work with Gilead Sciences, NMAC, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Outside the System: Host Homes as a Creative Community Response

The Host Home model is a community-based response to youth homelessness where volunteers open their homes to provide food and shelter while the program provides wrap-around services and support.

Speaker(s): Ryan Berg is a writer, activist, and program manager for the ConneQT Host Home Program of Avenues for Homeless Youth. His debut book, No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions, won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award and the 2016 NCCD Media for a Just Society Award.

Direct Care

Promoting Resilience Among Youth Survivors of Sexual Exploitation

This session will focus on promising practices in working with and meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth who have experienced sexual exploitation/trafficking.

Speaker(s): Kendan Elliott is a Technical Assistance Manager at MANY, leading the OJJDP mentoring for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation project. He has over 15 years of experience serving and collaborating with LGBTQ+ youth with experiences of homelessness or child welfare involvement.

Breathing Life into HUD’s Equal Access Rule

HUD’s Equal Access Rule (EAR) comes to life when advocates show up and speak up. In this session, youth may learn their rights under the EAR, how to advocate for those rights, and steps to take if discrimination occurs. Providers will learn best practices for implementation.

Speaker(s): Susan Pourciau‘s areas of expertise include housing first, rapid rehousing, homeless systems design, and homelessness among LGBTQ youth and seniors. She has managed human services nonprofits and was on the faculty of Florida State University. Susan has a doctorate and a law degree from Duke University and currently works at the Florida Housing Coalition.

Refilling the Chalice: Overcoming Compassion Fatigue and Burnout Syndrome

This presentation will offer providers and advocates the tools to avoid compassion fatigue and burnout syndrome through mindfulness and meditation exercises.

Speaker(s): Dr. R. Keith Bell is an internationally recognized expert in Integrative Medicine. A sought-after teacher and lecturer, Dr. Bell has been featured at several international conferences and universities. Since 2000 he served as the Clinical Director of Oriental Medicine Specialists.

David Buxton, MD completed his medical school training at Virginia Commonwealth University where he graduated with Honors in Psychiatry. He went to Brown University for his Adult Psychiatry Residency and Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

A Strengths Based Approach to Crisis Intervention and Prevention

This interactive workshop focuses on crisis intervention and suicide prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Youth serving professionals will learn hands on techniques for supporting LGBTQ young people using research, case studies, and best practices.

Speaker(s): Chris Bright is the Senior Training and Education Manager at The Trevor Project, the leading national organization serving LGBTQ youth in the areas of suicide prevention and crisis intervention. Chris is responsible for developing and overseeing all of Trevor’s internal/external training initiatives.

Innovative Programs within Organizations

Supporting HIV-Positive Millennials Through a Holistic Approach

This workshop will help participants better support the millennial population in regards to newly experienced trauma from being diagnosed HIV-positive and develop a Continuum of Care that is responsive to the needs of this community.

Speaker(s): Dylan Brooks serves as the HIV Prevention Coordinator and Mpowerment Program Coordinator for Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of the Palm Beaches. He also serves the Co-Lead for the Palm Beach County Youth 100 Initiative from Rapid Results Institute.

Project Silk: Strategies for Supporting Queer and Trans Youth of Color

This session will describe how Project Silk developed a drop-in center for young queer and trans youth of color. Project Silk builds leadership among LGBTQ+ youth and provides HIV interventions to empower youth to be their own healthcare advocates.

Speaker(s): Andrew Palomo operates Project Silk, a drop-in center for homeless LGBT Youth. At Valley Youth House, Mr. Palomo has held various positions helping runaway and homeless youth transition to adulthood.

Kim Ketterer is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ youth. Kim strives to empower youth to ask questions, fight for answers, and find their passions. For six years, Kim worked as the Coordinator for The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation & Gender Diversity at Lehigh University.

Students Helping Students: Support Services Through GSAs

This workshop will analyze how GSAs function as direct service programs for queer youth, and are often crucial lifelines for youth looking for support. Participants will gain an understanding of how to support GSAs and make space for youth to create change.

Speaker(s): Becky Smith brings a wealth of experience working with LGBTQ* young people, and is excited to share her knowledge on GSA organizing, youth advocacy, and intersectionality. She has developed strong relationships with many existing Iowa GSAs and is committed to creating safe spaces for young people. She currently works as GSA Coordinator at Iowa Safe Schools.

Rules of Engagement: Sustaining Youth Collaboration in Programs

How can organizations not only engage but truly collaborate with youth? This session will help participants ensure young people play a vital role in shaping their advocacy, initiatives, and policy recommendations. It will also equip them with strategies to integrate youth expertise and perspective into their work.

Speaker(s): Hannah Critchfield assists with Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s projects and policy initiatives. She leads CJJ’s work to improve youth collaboration, and assists with coordination of trainings through webinars and conferences. She holds B.A. in Psychology & Conflict Transformation from North Park University.

Investing in Our Community: Successful Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships

Learn how the corporate community can partner with nonprofits and the youth they serve to make a lasting impact through programming, resources, and volunteer opportunities.

Speaker(s): Meka Urriola is an Atlanta based Senior E911 Network Engineer at AT&T Mobility, serving as President of their Employee Resource Group (ERG), LEAGUE at AT&T’s Georgia Chapter. LEAGUE is one of the oldest LGBT ERGs established in corporate America, founded in 1987.

Dr. Alie Redd has 28 years of experience in the field of social work. She has served various populations as direct service provider, clinician, clinical supervisor, advocate, advisor and executive leader. Her areas of expertise include: social/child policy, LGBTQ, racial identity, youth homelessness. She currently serves as Executive Director at Covenant House Georgia.

Unorthodox Collaboration: Affirming Environments within a Religious Organization

This session will give an inside perspective of living and serving out and proudly within a religious organization. We will share lessons learned from unorthodox collaboration between a faith based organization and an LGBT organization, together providing non-discriminatory services for youth living on the streets.

Speaker(s): Kelsey Reynolds is a Licensed Master Social Worker & holds a Bachelors in Social Work from Southeastern Louisiana University & a Masters in Social Work from University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. Kelsey identifies as non-binary & uses the pronouns they/them/theirs. She currently works at the Salvation Army.

Jermaine Harmon works as the Lead Case Manager and Education Youth Development Specialist at The Salvation Army’s Young Adult Resource Center (YARC) assisting young adults, ages 18-25, who are experiencing homelessness. Mr. Harmon leads the Youth Development Specialist team.