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.
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.
In the News
Eastern Automative Group gives local nonprofit SMYAL a donation to show their appreciation for all of the amazing work they've done in the DC community. SMYAL …
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 Mill…
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 o…
Meet Our Staff
Community Engagement and Youth Leadership Coordinator
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 teleconfere…
Billy Fettweis, is the Development Director for Horton’s Kids, a community-based organization that serves children living in an isolated neighborhood in Washin…
Tony Anderson is a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP and practices primarily in the area of administrative law with particular emphasis in public transit, transpo…
Javier Aquino is the Director of Operations of State Advocacy of the American Psychological Association’s Practice Directorate. He also serves as a court-appoi…
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…
Eireann is an ally advocate for LGBTQ rights. She is also married to Sean Doolittle, a relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals. Eireann and Sean are commit…
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 an…
Rob Cogorno recently retired from Subject Matter, a full-service public affairs agency. Rob previously worked as the Floor Director to Representative Steny Hoy…
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…
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 le…
Ari Shapiro serves as host of NPR’s award winning after- noon newsmagazine, All Things Considered. He was previously NPR’s International Correspondent in Londo…
Christopher Wood serves as Executive Director & Co-Founder of the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, an organization that encourages the continue…
Get in Touch
Have a question about volunteering, accessing resources, or attending an event? Drop us a line!