VYH Invited to Speak on White House Panel

Valley Youth House is honored to have been invited by Alejandro Avilés, Senior Advisor for Public Engagement, US Department of Housing and Urban Development to speak on a panel at the White House Regional LGBT Summit.  The Summit was held in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 and was hosted by The White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Equality Pennsylvania.

The White House, in partnership with federal agencies and local LGBT organizations, has been hosting regional LGBT summits around the country for several years. These summits provide an opportunity to highlight federal services available to the LGBT community, lift up the work of local LGBT activists and allies, and create a networking forum for advocates to connect and discuss ideas.

VYH staff, Sarah Morrison and Andrew Palomo spoke on the panel during the “How to Effectively Engage and Support LGBT Youth” session.  Sarah Morrison, Life Skills Counselor, PRIDE program, wrote about the experience:

“I was honored to receive an invitation to speak as a panelist at the recent White House-led Regional LGBT Summit. It was, and is, a highlight of my career to have Philadelphia’s Pride Program recognized nationally as a leader in effective engagement of LGBTQ youth. As the only exclusively LGBTQ permanent housing program in Philadelphia, we strive to create a safe environment for young adults to thrive and shape their futures.  Our program may not capture the full spectrum of services needed but we continue to work alongside community partners to end LGBTQ youth homeless.  

For me, it was particularly refreshing to be surrounded by other LGBTQ-identified professionals and our allies, who renewed my sense of hope for the continued progress of federally protected rights for the LGBTQ community.  It is important for youth to see themselves reflected by the people that serve them and it is vital that all voices within the LGBQTIA community, especially transgender individuals and people of color, are heard and given the opportunity to succeed.  I am privileged to work for an agency that not only values the diversity of its staff but also remains committed to supporting the often vulnerable population of homeless LGBTQ young adults, even when funding is not guaranteed.”

Pictured in photo: Andrew Palomo, Valley Youth House Research and Evaluation Coordinator & Independent Living Program Supervisor, Alejandro Avilés, Senior Advisor for Public Engagement, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sarah Morrison, and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel.