The True Colors Fund's Forty To None project hosted a national LGBTQ youth summit Sept. 29-30 at New York City's LGBT Community Center.
True Colors Fund co-founder Cyndi Lauper spoke at the event, and presented awards to the Palette Fund's Terrence Meck and representatives from Chicago LGBT youth homeless projects.
Representing Chicago for the honor were longtime activists, performers, and more: Anne de Mare and Kristen Kelly, directors and producers of the Homestretch documentary about youth homelessness; Bonn Wade and Breezi Connor, two advocates on this issue; the YEPP team ( Youth Empowerment Performance Project )Bonsai Bermudez, Zizi Phillips, Lola Monroe and Ka'riel Gaiter; and Tracy Baim, publisher of Windy City Times, for the WCT Homeless LGBTQ Youth Summit held in Chicago in May. Other Chicagoans at the summit included Paul Hamman, president and CEO of the Knight Ministry; philanthropist Clark Pellett; and Alison Stanton, a co-organizer of the Chicago youth summit and followup projects.
U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also spoke during the summit's opening reception.
Gregory Lewis, executive director of the True Colors Fund, and Jama Shelton, Forty to None project director, along with Twiggy Pucci Garcon, new Forty to None project manager, were the main hosts and MCs for the Tuesday sessions, which included a luncheon interview with Cyndi Lauper by Nancy Mahon, a senior vice president of global philanthropy and corporate citizenship for The Estee Lauder Companies and global executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund.
YEPP also performed for the summit attendees, and Phillip and Bermudez spoke in-depth about the critical role of stable relationships between adult mentors and youth.
More than a dozen experts in various area spoke about all aspects of housing instability, including research, government support, prevention, and funding. Both adult allies and youth addressed the complex issues.
Speaking about their work in Montana were Sheri Bach Boetler, executive director of Tumbleweed agency, and youth advocate Bentley Burdick. The panel "Working Smarter, Not Harder" had Chicagoan Bryan Samuels, executive director of Chapin Hall at the U of C; Darla Bardine, executive director of the National Network for Youth; Laura Zellinger, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; and Anne Miskey, executive director of Funders Together to End Homelessness.
For the panel "Listen Up! What Young People Want You to Know," New York youth advocate Daniella Carter told her story of living on the streets and experiencing violence, while Trai Williams, senior youth rep from The Mockingbird Society, shared their own work on the issue.
The "Let's Geek Out: Technological Innovations" panel featured Pucci Garcon and Joe Moran from True Colors, plus Chris Wood, executive director of LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute. "Focusing Upstream: The LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative" had Ann Oliva, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development; Kelli King Jackson, executive director of Houston's the Simmons Foundation; Meredith Hicks, director of policy and planning at Cincinnati's Lighthouse Youth Services; and Jeff Poirier, principal researcher at American Institutes for Research.
The "Cross System Collaboration: How Organizations are Working Towards the USICH 4 Core Outcomes" panel had more powerhouse speakers: Simon Costello, associate director of Children, Youth and Family Services at L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center; Jerry Peterson, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit; Megan Gibbard, Homeless YYA Initiative Project Planner in King County, Wash.; and Carla Silva, executive director of The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth in Miami.
The final panel of the day was "Moving Forward Together: Think Tanks/ Action Planning," with moderators Shelton and Lewis from True Colors. The agency hopes to have a two-day conference in 2015 in Houston.
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