About Us


In 1984, local youth service professionals and community activists organized a conference on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth issues after an LGBTQ-identifying youth was hospitalized. Through this conference, advocates founded SMYAL to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.



By creating leadership development opportunities, after-school programs, and counseling services designed to empower LGBTQ youth and educate their local community. Our organization strives to help these young leaders build advocacy skills and access crucial resources they need to succeed. We also provide education and training programs for youth service providers working in schools, housing programs, local government agencies, and hospitals.

Committed to social change, SMYAL continues to build, sustain, and advocate for programs, policies, and services that serve LGBTQ youth as they grow into adulthood.


Mission Statement

SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. Through youth leadership, SMYAL creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and engage their peers and community through service and advocacy. Committed to social change, SMYAL builds, sustains, and advocates for programs, policies, and services that LGBTQ youth need as they grow into adulthood.

Staff & Board

Executive Leadership

Erin Whelan, LPC-S
Executive Director

Clinical Services

Brittni Dash, MSW, LICSW
Director of Clinical Services

Matresa Flowers
Play Therapist

Nashae Woods
Child & Adolescent Therapist

Mariana Velázquez
Bilingual Therapist

Communications & Development

Hancie Stokes
Director of Communications

Jason Laney
Director of Development

Lina Guerra
Communications & Development Coordinator

Caro Vorndran
Development Coordinator

HR & Operations

Tim Saxton
Director of HR & Operations

Kevin Majoros
Accountant & Grant Manager

Youth Development & Community Engagement

Ayanna Alexandre
Little SMYALs Youth Fellow

Connor Hegel
Training & Resources Coordinator

Ty Kitchen
Little SMYALs Program Manager

Reagan Peters-Roussel
Drop-In Programs Youth Fellow

Jhirbron Tonge
Drop-In Programs Manager

Youth Housing

Elly Bludworth
Director of Youth Housing

Sierra Barnedo
Rapid Rehousing & Street Outreach Manager

Kevin Bauer
Housing Coordinator

Francisco Lara-Rodriguez
Youth Housing Case Manager

Tavar Herbert, MSW, LGSW
Youth Housing Case Manager

India Mercedes
House Monitor Manager

Michael Perry
Housing Operations Assistant

Our Board Members

Billy Fettweis
Vice President

Lisa Manley

Milla Sanes



Contact Us

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