25 Youth To Participate In Intensive Week-Long Training

July 17, 1996

NGLTF Announces Second Annual Youth Leadership Training Institute

Twenty-five youth activists from around the nation will gather later this month for a week-long Youth Leadership Training Institute sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).

The Training Institute will offer seven days of intensive grassroots organizing curriculum along with concrete skills-building workshops. The NGLTF Youth Leadership Training Institute is intended to increase the confidence, skills and leadership abilities of the participants, who have in turn committed to apply those skills to a specific project at home. NGLTF has provided scholarships, covering travel, lodging, food and all training expenses, for each youth who needs assistance to attend the training.

The diverse group of youth activists who will participate in the Training Institute hail from Vancouver, Wisconsin, West Virginia, California, Kansas, Washington, Maine, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, DC, Florida, Oregon, Kentucky, Arizona, and Massachusetts. The participants have committed to working in the following areas when they return home: a peer mentoring program; high school outreach; a television project ; a youth voter registration drive; an information network in Central Wisconsin; safe spaces for gay and lesbian youths; a youth speaker's bureau; a conference for gay youth on college campuses; youth HIV education; an inter-generational mentoring program; sensitivity training program for teachers in the public schools, and many other specific project plans.

A training team made up of youth and adults will lead workshops and roundtables throughout the week. Session topics include: alliance building, group facilitation and leadership skills, managing speakers bureaus, mentoring, rural outreach, starting a hotline, creating realist project plans, public speaking, media skills, fundraising, grant writing, computer activism, desktop publishing, and more. The Training Institute will be held July 27th through August 2nd at the Shenoa Retreat and Learning Center in Philo, California.

"NGLTF believes it is time to recognize young organizers and activists as leaders in their own right and to offer young people the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to create change," said NGLTF Executive Director Melinda Paras. "The Youth Leadership Training Institute will offer those tools to these outstanding activists."

When graduates of the training return home, they will get follow up support and assistance through the NGLTF Field Department and, wherever possible, be paired with a community organizer in their town for direct support. Training graduates will also serve as a peer support network for one another as they put their plans into action. NGLTF hopes that the graduates of this year's training will help plan future trainings and identify other emerging young leaders.

"This youth training, like NGLTF's Creating Change conference, regional Movement Building Institutes and other initiatives, are examples of our commitment to increasing the long-term vitality and capacity of this movement," Paras said. "NGLTF frequently helps activists during crisis situations, which we must continue. We need also to ensure that activists and organizations are able to sustain themselves beyond the immediate crisis."

"The level of skills and experience of the program applicants is evidence of the enormous organizing already taking place among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth," said Karen Bullock-Jordan, training coordinator. "It was difficult to choose only 25 from such a talented field. I'm very impressed by the level of dedication of these 25 organizers and look forward to working with them this month."

In addition to Bullock-Jordan, the three other core trainers are: Quang Dong, a 24-year-old activist in the areas of immigrants' rights, HIV prevention and education reform, and Felicia Park-Rogers, a femme bisexual activist in San Francisco in the areas of youth education, leadership and homelessness. Angel Fabian, a graduate of last year's Institute, coordinator of "house of Hope" a project for and by young gay, bisexual, and questioning men of color ages 14-24. Angel co-coordinates the Youth Advisory Board of National LLEGO (Latino/a Lesbian and Gay Organization).

Others who will offer special presentations during the week include Mike Perez of Center For Third World Organizing; Eric Rofes; Maria Price of Kentucky Fairness Alliance; Melinda Paras of NGLTF; Rachel Timoner--the former coordinator of the Youth Institute, and others.

[Editor's note: Following are brief biographies of the 25 selected youth participants. Information is provided so that you may localize stories. Please consider a project initiated by the youth after the Youth Leadership Institute Training as a possible future story idea.]

Brian Bannon - Tacoma, WA
Brian is a 21-year-old gay man entering his senior year at Pacific Lutheran University, a very conservative Christian University. He is a council member of Students Taking Action Against Racism, and co-founded both a support group for gay and lesbian students and a campus-based activist group. With the skills that he learns at the Institute, he hopes to, among other projects, start a youth speakers bureau, and a speakers network of gay affirming pastors.

Spence Carver - Clarksburg, WV
Spence is a 22-year-old "Heinz 57 American" gay/bi male attending Salem-Teikyo University. He is currently an intern with NGLTF and hopes to use the skills he learns at the training to start a campus organization and support group and peer counseling program for the campus and local community. He hopes that this will lay the foundation necessary to then establish a glbt youth center.

Robin Cherian - Vancouver, BC
Robin is a 20-year-old Indian bisexual male. Robin hopes to use the skills that he learns at the training to create Eastside Neighbourhood Safe--a safe space for queers that provides resources as well as a social /meeting space for different groups or individuals to share knowledge.

Roland Coloma - Riverside, CA
Roland is a 23-year-old Asian & Pacific Islander bisexual male, an organizer and writer with a passion for progressive (r)evolution. He is currently active in BiNET USA and campus politics and wants to use the skills he develops at the training to create a coalition of college and high school students and other young adults to create an agenda and program for lgbt youth in the Inland Empire.

Paul Cote - Auburn, ME
Paul is a 20-year-old white gay male originally from Canada. Paul works for Teach Others Understanding Caring and Healing (TOUCH) as an HIV/AIDS peer educator. Paul is on the Advisory Board of OUTRIGHT (a support group for glbtq youth) and hopes to use the skills he learns at the training to create a statewide coalition of all OUTRIGHT chapters, and develop retreats for gay youth in the state of Maine.

Joe Cuevas - Topeka, KS
Joe is a 20-year-old queer Mexican-American male from Rev. Fred Phelps' stronghold. Joe attends the University of Kansas and wants to learn how to effectively mobilize the queer community in the face of such extreme right-wing activity. He hopes to use the skills he develops at the training to start youth groups at each of the Topeka area's high schools.

Brian Davis - Omaha, NE
Brian is a 22-year-old African-American gay male who considers his childhood a training for open-mindedness. Brian wants to use the skills he develops at the training to start a queer youth forum Public Access TV show for queer youth who have no access to other sources of information but need questions answered.

David Jackson - Milwaukee, WI
David is a 20-year old African-American gay male interested in the history and future of the gay movement. He would like to use his Institute skills to organize a Youth gathering/dance to raise funds for a newsletter to help bring gay youth together.

Kelda Jamison - Charlottesville, VA
Kelda is a 19-year old white bisexual female who will be a senior at UVa, after an 2 years at Mary Baldwin College, where she created awareness of queer issues on the campus. At the Institute, she will be seeking ways to strengthen existing groups, and how to sustain them through the diversity issues that often cause them to fall apart.

J. K. - Decatur, GA
J.K. is a 23-year old Korean queer whose passions include advocating improved access to health care for underserved populations and spoiling her kittens. She would like to use her Institute skills to create more safe spaces for queer youth in the South, where many voices, like that of queer Asian-American women, go unheard.

Stephen Knight - Baltimore, MD
Stephen is a 22-year old Jamaican gay male with many ambitious plans for his Youth Institute skills. He is very involved with the LBGT group at Johns Hopkins University, and would like to strengthen the organization. He wants to use the skills he develops at the Institute to expand the group's services into the community outside of the school and to host an LBGT student conference at the University.

Sarah Lippek - Shoreline, WA
Sarah is a 19-year old white bisexual female who seeks to help educate people and reduce HIV risk through safety awareness. She uses her own personal struggle to reach out to people on the street in need of trust and acceptance. She wants to use the skills she hones at the Institute to expand the services provided by Needle Exchange and sex Outreach Network (NEON) by instituting an additional program for queer street youth, including a late-night HIV testing and needle exchange.

Sara Martinez - Pharr, TX
Sara is a 19-year old Chicana lesbian who has faced difficulty both because of her orientation and her ethnicity. She would like to break past this oppression and use the skills she develops at the Institute to form a support group and start a newsletter for the local gay community.

Ashley Merriman - Center Sandwich, NH
Ashley is a 19-year old white transgendered dyke who grew up in a small rural town with no positive reinforcement for queer youth. Currently a public policy intern at the New York Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center, she would like to create a campaign amongst high schools throughout New Hampshire to educate youth about homophobia and help those who feel isolated.

C.F. Monoiki Ah Nee Honolulu, HI C.F.
Monoki is a 22-year old Hawaiian gay male sensitive to the issues of discrimination within Hawaiian society. His dream is to build a center, where youth can hang out, discuss their issues, build leadership skills, and hopefully organize other young people. He is a member of NÐ Mamo o Hawaii, an organization of native Hawaiians that works to bring about Hawaiian sovereignty.

Hez Norton - Durham, NC
Hez is a 23-year old white trans lesbian developing North Carolina Lambda Youth Network with a grant. The Network will, amongst other things, link together queer young people with existing queer organizations in the Triangle area, and develop a statewide resource directory for queer young people. She hopes to use the skills she develops at the Institute to make the Network a success.

Alton Phillips - Duxbury, MA
Alton is an 18-year old white gay male coming from a family involved with education, which is responsible for his background and interest in activism and education. He is eager to organize a non-partisan voter registration drive for queer youth in this election year, and seeks to pressure the Department of Education to take steps to protect the GLBT youth community.

Mehan Rasch - Portola Valley, CA
Mehan is a 17-year old bisexual female interning with Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), where she hopes to apply skills learned at the Institute in running their Summer of Arts program. She would also like to use her Institute training to help start a retreat program for leaders of campus and non-campus queer youth programs.

Steve Rivera - Philadelphia, PA
Steve is a 20-year old Puerto Rican gay male working with the Gay And Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative Project. He works with youth in many areas and is also an HIV/AIDS educator. Openly HIV+, he does what he can in youth outreach to help educate people about AIDS and sexual health. His project will focus on strengthening the Sexual Minorities Youth Center plans and use his peer contacts from the Institute to help network and form support for questioning youth.

Josie Rodriguez - Washington, DC
Josie is a 22-year old Cuban lesbian strongly interested in multicultural and queer organizing. A member of the Youth Advisory Board of LLEGO, with which she is involved, she hopes to use the skills she strengthens at the Institute to strengthen the YAB. Finding the proper training to succeed with social change is an imperative part of what she seeks to learn from the Institute.

Maria Ruiz-Williams - Miami, FL
Maria is a 19-year old Cuban lesbian who is also the hearing child of deaf parents, her father an ordained deacon. This has lent her a unique view of diversity and culture. She wants to fight ignorance through education. She would like to use the skills she develops at the Institute to strengthen Common Ground, an organization which seeks to represent minorities and help the coming out process with a shared understanding.

Em Sangrey - Lake Oswego, OR
Em is a 16-year old white lesbian with her life before her. The Youth Institute will be her chance to learn the skills valuable in networking other youths from around the country. She plans to use the skills she hones at the Institute to organize a youth volunteering program at Basic Rights Oregon (the statewide organization fighting the anti-gay/lesbian/bisexual ballot initiative) and continue producing a queer art 'zine.

Adam Schneider - Louisville, KY
Adam is a 21-year old white bisexual male involved with the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, an organization that fights anti-gay legislation. He is also a founding member of VIBE, a group advocating bisexual acceptance within the gay community. He hopes to use the skills he develops at the Institute to create a hate crime curriculum in the Jefferson County Community Schools in Louisville.

Jennifer Stieha - Peoria, AZ
Jennifer is a 21-year old white Native-American lesbian with a full history of activism. She would like to incorporate a peer to peer education group at the local junior high and high schools, and educate them about homosexuality, AIDS, and safe sex.

Kimberly Will - Stevens Point, WI
Kimberly is a 23-year old caucasian lesbian active in the 10% society at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point who would like to use the location of UWSP to maintain an organization for the queer community in central Wisconsin, which currently lacks a strong voice. She hopes to use the skills she strengthens at the Institute to build an action-based campus group to provide services to youth in Central Wisconsin


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.