July 31, 2014 at 9:00 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
SMYAL names new executive director
SMYAL, Sultan Shakir, gay news, Washington Blade

SMYAL has been carrying out its mission of supporting and empowering LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metro area for more than 20 years.

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.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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