ticker lgbtq youth

SMYAL Board of Directors Appoints Erin Whelan as Executive Director

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Sultan Shakir, who is currently serving as president and executive officer of Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center, a health care advocacy organization and service provider for the LGBTQ community.“Erin Whelan is a compassionate and strong leader who I am confident is the right person to lead SMYAL,” Rob Cogorno, the chair of SMYAL’s Board of Directors, said in a statement. “I could not be more proud of the tremendous growth in services for our LGBTQ youth and of the SMYAL staff’s hard work that made that growth possible.

Erin’s extensive experience in service to youth in need and her passion for that work will help guide SMYAL in continuing its excellent work in this challenging time for LGBTQ youth in our region and across the country.”Whelan takes over the helm of SMYAL at a time when LGBTQ youth — and those who provide support for them — are under attack from politicians seeking to reduce the visibility of LGBTQ youth, censor their speech and freedom of expression, and restrict their access to gender-affirming health care and ability to participate in school-sponsored athletic events.As such, SMYAL’s various support groups and activity programs for different age groups, mental health services, transitional housing for homeless youth, and leadership training programs are vital to LGBTQ youth looking for an affirming space where they will not be judged or ostracized due to their identities.Whelan will also oversee SMYAL’s operations as the organization prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024.

Community members will have the chance to meet Whelan at SMYAL’s upcoming Fall Brunch, SMYAL’s largest annual fundraising event, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary and will take place at the Marriott Marquis in.

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