Mission Statement & History
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 Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (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, runaway shelters, 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.
In the News
This article features youth housed in SMYAL's program, recapping our forum on youth homelessness on November 28th, 2018. The article was authored by Brant Miller, a former veteran staff member of the DC Center.
SMYAL is excited to announce that the application is open for the 2019 LGBT Youth Leadership Awards!Are you a self-identified LGBTQ youth who is 21 years old or younger? Are you looking to continue your education? If your answers are “Yes!” or you know a youth that would fit the bill, then check out the SMYAL LGBTQ Youth Leadership Awards (YLA).The SMYAL YLA provides up to $5,000 of financial support to offset the costs of continuing one’s education, whether at a technical or trade school, or a two or four year college or university. Funds may be used for everything from tuition to housing, room and board, or materials required for your program. To apply, visit www.SMYAL.org/Scholarship. Reach out to Rebecca York (email@example.com) for more information.
SMYAL Youth Housing Program participant Tre'vell was featured on NBC 4 Washington and spoke about his journey from being on the streets to being supported by SMYAL.
Meet Our Staff
Operations and Volunteer Manager
HIV Services Coordinator
Youth House Case Manager
Communications and Development Coordinator
Accountant and Grant Manager
Director of Youth Housing
Youth Housing Program and Clinical Services Assistant
Our Board Members
K. Dane Snowden
K. Dane Snowden is Chief of Staff of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association where he oversees the Association's day-to-day operations.
Jessica Lee is a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management.
Neil Starkey previously worked in the tech industry, holding leadership roles for 12 years in the development of now widely-used open standards for teleconferencing and multimedia communications in the International Telecommunications Union and the International Standards Organization. Neil is an active philanthropist who is dedicated to youth-related issues.
Billy Fettweis, is the Development Director for Horton’s Kids, a community-based organization that serves children living in an isolated neighborhood in Washington, DC’s Ward 8. He previously worked at the Children’s Law Center and Parkinson’s Action Network
Tony Anderson is a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP and practices primarily in the area of administrative law with particular emphasis in public transit, transportation project development and financing, transportation labor, and disability matters.
Rob Cogorno recently retired from Subject Matter, a full-service public affairs agency. Rob previously worked as the Floor Director to Representative Steny Hoyer in both his Majority Leader and Democratic Whip offices. In that capacity, Rob oversaw the Leader's floor staff that directs day-to-day legislative activity in the House of Representatives.
Joaquin “Jocko” Fajardo
Joaquin "Jocko" Fajardo is the Principal behind Flourish Design, a local DC Lifestyle Management and Private Events Company. Jocko hales from Tempe, Arizona and has been in the DC area for nearly 20 years.
Don Davis is an Employment, Labor & Benefits Associate Attorney in the Washington, DC office of Mintz Levin. He represents and counsels employers in a wide array of workplace-related matters.
Sara LaPorta is a leader with MetaPhase Consulting’s Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Practice. She also leads the company’s community support initiatives.
Lisa is Senior Director of Partnerships and Engagement within the sustainability team at Mars, Incorporated. As the first woman in her family to attend college, she has a distinct passion about education and youth development!
Samantha Master is a black, queer, feminist activist, advocate, and educator. She is the African American Leadership and Engagement Specialist at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has worked extensively within communities of color to organize and build analyses around LGBT and gender justice issues. She is also a SMYAL youth alumna.
Edward Palmieri serves as Sustainability Policy and Partnerships Director at Facebook. Ed previously served as Associate General Counsel, Privacy at Facebook.
Daniel Penchina is the President of Voices for Progress, a non-profit based in Washington and California that trains and mobilizes philanthropists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and others to advocate in the public interest. He previously worked as a Principal at the Raben Group, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm.
Ari Shapiro serves as host of NPR’s award winning after- noon newsmagazine, All Things Considered. He was previously NPR’s International Correspondent in London, a White House Correspondent during the Barack Obama Administration, and Justice Correspondent during the George W. Bush Administration.
Christopher Wood serves as Executive Director & Co-Founder of the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, an organization that encourages the continued adoption and use of cutting-edge, new and emerging technologies by providing information, education and strategic outreach for LGBT communities.
Get in Touch
Have a question about volunteering, accessing resources, or attending an event? Drop us a line!