Sultan Shakir, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Youth and Campus Engagement Program and a longtime community organizer, will be the new executive director of the local LGBT youth advocacy group SMYAL beginning Aug. 4.
According to a SMYAL announcement on Thursday, Shakir will replace SMYAL’s current executive director, Andrew Barnett, who’s leaving the organization to begin a doctorate program in clinical psychology this fall at George Washington University.
SMYAL, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, has been carrying out its mission of supporting and empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth in the D.C. metro area for more than 20 years, according to a statement released by the group.
“Sultan Shakir is the right leader for SMYAL at an exciting time of change,” said Mike Schwartz, chair of the group’s board of directors.
Prior to serving in his current position at HRC, Shakir served as director of the campaign to persuade the Maryland General Assembly to pass a marriage equality law in 2012. He served in a leadership role in pushing for D.C.’s marriage equality law in 2009.
Before joining HRC in 2006, Shakir worked as a project manager with Grassroots Solutions, a consulting firm “where he trained young people nationwide to create progressive change,” a SMYAL statement says. The statement says he began his career as a community organizer in Baltimore.
“Andrew Barnett leaves SMYAL recognized among the LGBTQ and donor communities as a great way to invest in our young people,” Schwartz said in a statement announcing Shakir’s appointment. “LGBT young people in our area have safer, healthier and brighter lives because of Andrew Barnett,” he said.