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, 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.


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.

Meet Our Staff

Sultan Shakir

Executive Director

Adalphie Johnson, MDiv

Director of Youth Development & Community Engagement

Jorge Membreño, MSW, LICSW

Director of Clinical Services

Elly Bludworth

Director of Youth Housing

Jason Laney

Development Director

Tim Saxton

Director of HR & Operations

Hancie Stokes

Communications Manager

Victoria Alves

Youth Housing Clinical Case Manager

Connor Hegel

LGBTQ Services Navigator

Chyna Johnson-Owens

Mental Health Counselor

Ty Kitchen

Community Engagement & Youth Leadership Manager

Sharifa Love-Schnur

Development Manager

Kevin Majoros

Accountant and Grant Manager

India Mercedes

House Monitor Manager/ Operations Assistant

Samantha Nolet, MS, MSW

Youth Housing Case Manager

Manuel Rodriguez

LGBTQ Services Navigator

Keith Pollard

Deputy Director of Youth Housing

Jerry St. Louis

Youth Housing Case Manager

Jhirbron Tonge

Drop-In Programs Manager

Mariana Velazquez

Youth Housing Case Manager

Our Board Members


Contact Us

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