After 18 remarkable, challenging, heart-swelling years, I have decided to step down as the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center as of March 1st. And I am thrilled to announce that our Board of Directors have determined my successor will be Alex Roque, who most of you know as our Director of Development.
Alex has been in his current role for nine years, during which he's played an invaluable role in the remarkable success we've had in growing our capacity to provide housing and support to the homeless LGBTQ youth. It has been an utter joy to work with him; I know him to be full of compassion and wisdom and hunger to make things better for our young people, staff and volunteers, and I cannot wait to see where his inspired leadership will bring the Ali Forney Center in the years to come.
As for me, I will continue to be a part of the Ali Forney Center, working to address core issues within LGBTQ youth homelessness, particularly focusing on assisting providers in other parts of the country build their capacity to serve homeless LGBTQ youth, and working to create more awareness in religious communities of the devastating role religious rejection plays in driving LGBT youths from their homes.
It was eighteen years ago this very week that I began to take the first steps towards getting the Ali Forney Center off the ground, at a time when homeless LGBT youth had no access to safe shelter in NYC, and when there was scant governmental willingness to support their needs or protect their lives. It is hard for me to wrap my head around what has been accomplished in the ensuing years---building up the nation's largest LGBT youth organization housing over 150 youths every night in 17 different service sites, transforming the city and state's response to youth homelessness resulting in over a hundred million dollars in governmental investment in a historically disenfranchised and persecuted population, changing laws, effecting radical change.
From the depths of my heart, I want to express my gratitude for the ways you have been part of this incredible journey with me. For me, at the root of this work has been my desire to somehow honor Ali Forney's loving heart and keep that love alive.
How can I thank you for allowing us to do this beautiful work? We could not possibly have built up the Ali Forney Center without your steadfast support, your kindness, your generosity, your caring, your love. Together we have asserted that no young person deserves to be discarded by their family and left in the streets. Together we have demonstrated that every young person deserves a home, a place of acceptance, a place of love. I am more grateful than I know how to say.
With much gratitude and love,
Ali Forney Center