Board & Staff

Staff Directory

Sultan Shakir Executive Director
Pronouns: he/him/his
(direct) 202-567-3151

Sultan is the Executive Director of SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders), an organization that works to support and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metro area. Sultan works to expand opportunities for young LGBTQ people through youth empowerment. Prior to joining SMYAL, Sultan worked at the Human Rights Campaign where he served as a director of the DC and Maryland marriage equality campaigns, and in his most recent role, led the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Project, working to make campuses safer and more inclusive of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Sultan is the son of teachers. He is a graduate of Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, with an emphasis on double bass performance. His earliest thoughts of community organizing were about sharing his passion for classical music with other young African-American males in Baltimore at a time when as many black males were dropping out of high school as graduating. "I decided it was more important for me to change the world than to be an entertainer," he said.

Sultan has been honored with the Community Circle Award by Baltimore Black Gay Pride, named Jewel of the Month by the National Black Justice Coalition, and won the DC Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Distinguished Service Award.

Sarah Beasley Operations Manager
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(direct) (202) 567-3163

Sarah recently moved to DC from Atlanta where she was involved with social justice, community outreach, and event planning.  She has a BA in Women’s Studies from the University of Georgia and an MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Georgia State University.  She has  diverse experience ranging from academic conference planning to office management.

She has served on the Atlanta Pride Events Committee, assisted in planning of the Women and Girls in Georgia Conference, and served as special events advisor to the official programming board at Georgia State University.   She is excited to merge her education in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with her experience in events and operations.

Monica Buchanan Youth Housing & Clinical Services Case Manager
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(direct) 202-567-3166

Monica Buchanan was born and raised in Prince Georges County, MD, and always knew that she would have a career in public service. Monica has worked in the housing and homelessness sector for 5 years. She also has experience working with at-risk youth in residential settings teaching life skills, behavior management, and mentorship. She hold a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work. She is a certified Soar (SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access, and Recovery) Specialist in Washington, D.C. When not working Monica enjoys spending time with her Dog Chewy, riding her mountain bike through Rock Creek Park, and traveling to exotic beaches.

Adalphie Johnson Programs Director
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(direct) 202-567-3162

Adalphie Johnson comes to SMYAL with over 8 years of program experience in the non-profit arena specifically in the Sexual Reproductive Health and Youth Development fields. Although a native Washingtonian, Adalphie completed her education in Prince George’s County Public Schools and earned her Masters of Divinity from The Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.

Through partnerships and working with DCPS, DCPCS, recreation centers, faith based institutions and a variety of other CBO’s and non-profits, Adalphie has been able to create, support, provide and implement safe spaces and developmentally appropriate programming to support youth in the DMV.

As the Programs Director at SMYAL, Adalphie is committed to providing safe spaces for all LGBTQ youth to celebrate who they are and to walk authentically in their truth.

When not working, Adalphie enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, and engaging in new experiences.  

Jason Laney Development Director
Pronouns: he/him/his
(direct) 202.567.3155
(main) 202.546.5940 ext. 105

Jason Laney comes to SMYAL with more than 10 years of experience working in the non-profit industry as both a staff member and volunteer with numerous organizations. He is originally from Asheville, NC, and graduated from Furman University with a degree in Political Science. He has worked for several different membership and trade associations in various capacities including event and convention planning, exhibit sales and management, membership recruitment, and volunteer management. He is a volunteer member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors, where he served as Co-Chair of the 2013 and 2014 HRC National Dinners, and Greater Washington, DC, Federal Club Co-Chair. He is currently a member of the HRC National Board of Governors Executive Committee. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the DC LGBT Community Center where he served on the Finance and Board Development Committees. Jason loves traveling, outdoor activities—especially snow skiing—and participating in the many cultural opportunities offered in the DC region.

Sharifa Love-Schnur Communications and Development Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Sharifa is the Development and Communications Coordinator for SMYAL. Before arriving at SMYAL Sharifa held a variety of positions both inside and outside of the nonprofit sector. From working as the media relations associate at The Center for Health and Homeland Security to working at a startup she brings a wealth of experience with her.

Sharifa is thrilled she landed at SMYAL to apply her skills towards make a difference for the area’s LGBTQ youth.

Sharifa spent her most formative teenaged years Rockville, MD and considers herself to be from the DMV. She earned a BA from Yale in Psychology and returned to the DC area for its vibrant culture and amenable pace of life.

When not at work Sharifa can be found playing rugby, volunteering for her rugby club, being the least flexible person in a yoga class, or cooking an elaborate meal.

Kevin Majoros Accountant and Grant Manager
Pronouns: he/him/his

Kevin runs the accounting department & grant management at SMYAL. Originally from Toledo, OH, he came to the DMV area to work as a Business Analyst with Dun & Bradstreet. He brings years of experience working as a controller in both the private and public sector.

He earned his degrees from Kent State University in Finance/Risk Management and University of Baltimore in Accounting/Contract Law.

His journey to working with LGBTQ youth began through helping to organize & fund the Team DC College Scholarship Program which awards college money to openly LGBTQ student-athletes in the DMV area.

In his spare time, Kevin is the sports writer for the Washington Blade and shares the stories of out athletes who are breaking down stereotypes in the sports community.  He competes as a swimmer for the District of Columbia Aquatics Club.

Jorge Membreño Director of Youth Housing
Pronouns: he/him/his
(direct) 202-567-3158

Jorge is the Director of Youth Housing and comes to SMYAL as a licensed independent clinical social worker. Prior to joining the team, Jorge worked as a social worker and clinical supervisor in school and mental health agency settings. As a social worker, he has worked with youth on issues of homelessness, substance abuse prevention/intervention, mental health disorders, and stress and anxiety management. Much of his work has encompassed the spectrum of LGBTQ counseling including the areas of gender, sexuality, and transitioning.

Born in DC and raised in Northern Virginia, Jorge is the son of Salvadoran immigrants. He attended Christopher Newport University where he received his undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in music before moving back to DC. After working for a few years, he decided to pursue his passion and moved to Boston to attend Boston University’s School of Social Work. Yearning for home (and milder winters), Jorge moved back home to DC.

When he is not at SMYAL or meeting with therapy clients, Jorge can be found singing, playing football, or lounging at home with his dog and cat.

Brandan Persaud Peer Education Coordinator
Pronouns: he/him/his

Brandan is the Peer Education Coordinator at SMYAL. Before his time at SMYAL, Brandan conducted research with nonprofits like Thrive D.C. and the Maya Angelou Public Charter School. Brandan has also worked one-on-one with students early in their college careers to assist them with getting acclimated to school and manage their time. Brandan loves working with people and is super excited to be able to spend more time with community members at SMYAL. 

Brandan is originally from Long Island, New York and is definitely a beach goer and food lover! 

When not at SMYAL, Brandan can be found on campus at American University working towards finishing his bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in: Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. 

Amber Singh Youth Housing Program and Clinical Services Assistant
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(direct) 202-567-3166

Amber Singh is the Youth Housing Program and Clinical Services Assistant at the Youth Housing Program of SMYAL. Amber is a recent graduate of the George Washington University where she studied Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Amber has worked for numerous non-profits in DC including RAINN, The Environmental Working Group, and the Young Women’s Project. Amber also served as Vice President of her university’s Students’ Against Sexual Assault and Allied in Pride. As a member of the SMYAL team, Amber enjoys getting to work with our youth residents in organizing programing and life skills courses as well as helping with making their SMYAL experience as enjoyable as possible.

Francisco White Programs Coordinator
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
(direct) 202-567-3156

Francisco joins SMYAL with a background in youth leadership development, HIV/AIDS peer navigation and advocacy. Before moving to D.C. in 2016, they lived and worked in both Charlotte and Boston.

Francisco writes and speaks on topics of health equity and gender identity, contributing mainly to TheBody.com and HIV Equal.  They've presented at the Carolina Conference on Queer Youth, United States Conference on AIDS, OutWrite, Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, and delivered a keynote at the 4th annual Northeast Queer and Trans People of Color Conference.

Outside of work, they write and perform poetry, hike, and hope to play better tennis. 

 

Board of Directors

K. Dane Snowden Board President

K. Dane Snowden is Chief of Staff of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association where he oversees the Association's day-to-day operations.

Jessica Lee Vice-Chair

Jessica Lee is a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management.

Neil Starkey Treasurer

Neil Starkey previously worked in the tech industry, holding leadership roles for 12 years in the development of now widely-used open standards for teleconferencing and multimedia communications in the International Telecommunications Union and the International Standards Organization. Neil is an active philanthropist who is dedicated to youth-related issues.

Billy Fettweis Secretary

Billy Fettweis, is the Development Director for Horton’s Kids, a community-based organization that serves children living in an isolated neighborhood in Washington, DC’s Ward 8. He previously worked at the Children’s Law Center and Parkinson’s Action Network

Tony Anderson

Tony Anderson is a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP and practices primarily in the area of administrative law with particular emphasis in public transit, transportation project development and financing, transportation labor, and disability matters.

Rob Cogorno

Rob Cogorno recently retired from Subject Matter, a full-service public affairs agency. Rob previously worked as the Floor Director to Representative Steny Hoyer in both his Majority Leader and Democratic Whip offices. In that capacity, Rob oversaw the Leader's floor staff that directs day-to-day legislative activity in the House of Representatives.

 

Joaquin “Jocko” Fajardo

Joaquin "Jocko" Fajardo is the Principal behind Flourish Design, a local DC Lifestyle Management and Private Events Company. Jocko hales from Tempe, Arizona and has been in the DC area for nearly 20 years.

Don Davis

Don Davis is an Employment, Labor & Benefits Associate Attorney in the Washington, DC office of Mintz Levin. He represents and counsels employers in a wide array of workplace-related matters.

Sara LaPorta

Sara LaPorta is a leader with MetaPhase Consulting’s Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Practice. She also leads the company’s community support initiatives.

 

Samantha Master

Samantha Master is a black, queer, feminist activist, advocate, and educator. She is the African American Leadership and Engagement Specialist at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has worked extensively within communities of color to organize and build analyses around LGBT and gender justice issues. She is also a SMYAL youth alumna.

Edward Palmieri

Edward Palmieri serves as Sustainability Policy and Partnerships Director at Facebook. Ed previously served as Associate General Counsel, Privacy at Facebook.

Daniel Penchina

Daniel Penchina is the President of Voices for Progress, a non-profit based in Washington and California that trains and mobilizes philanthropists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and others to advocate in the public interest. He previously worked as a Principal at the Raben Group, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm.

Ari Shapiro

Ari Shapiro serves as host of NPR’s award winning after- noon newsmagazine, All Things Considered. He was previously NPR’s International Correspondent in London, a White House Correspondent during the Barack Obama Administration, and Justice Correspondent during the George W. Bush Administration.

 

Christopher Wood

Christopher Wood serves as Executive Director & Co-Founder of the LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, an organization that encourages the continued adoption and use of cutting-edge, new and emerging technologies by providing information, education and  strategic outreach for LGBT communities.

 

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