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

Rebecca York
Director of Youth Development & Community Engagement

Ty Kitchen
Little SMYALs Program Manager

Janeé Nealy
School Engagement Specialist

Jhirbron Tonge
Youth Engagement Manager

Leo Wytkind
Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator

Youth Housing

Sierra Barnedo
Rapid Rehousing & Street Outreach Manager

Kevin Bauer
Housing Coordinator

Iris DeLaPaz
DOH Youth Housing Case Manager

Synclaire Gilkesson
Youth Housing Case Manager

Francisco Lara-Rodriguez
Youth Housing Case Manager

India Mercedes
House Monitor Manager

Michael Perry
Housing Operations Assistant

David San Lorenzo

Bilingual Street Outreach Specialist

Our Board Members

Billy Fettweis
Vice President

Lisa Manley

Milla Sanes



Contact Us

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