March 11, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
SMYAL executive director to step down

Andrew Barnett, SMYAL, gay news, Washington Blade

Andrew Barnett (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

SMYAL Executive Director Andrew Barnett on Tuesday announced he plans to step down in August in order to pursue his doctorate in clinical psychology.

“After nine years as part of the SMYAL family, I look forward to this new chapter of my life, where I plan to research psychosocial factors impacting health among LGBTQ youth,” said Barnett in a press release. “Serving as SMYAL’s executive director and being part of such an extraordinary organization has been an incredible experience. The SMYAL Board, staff, volunteers, and youth have such tremendous passion and commitment to our mission. I leave knowing that an amazing team of people will continue to build this organization and carry out its critical work.”

Barnett became a SMYAL staffer in 2005. He has been the organization’s executive director since 2009.

SMYAL in 2012 adopted a new strategic plan that Barnett said would allow his organization to identify issues facing LGBT youth and how it can most effectively respond to them. It includes a new logo and acronym – Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders as opposed to Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League – that Barnett unveiled last April.

“Andrew has been an extremely dynamic and visionary leader for SMYAL who will leave the organization even stronger than it was when he started nine years ago,” said SMYAL Board of Directors Chair Mike Schwartz. “The board is enormously grateful for his service and we wish him well as he embarks on this next exciting phase of his career.”

Former SMYAL Board of Directors Chair Betsy Pursell will oversee the effort to select Barnett’s replacement.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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