Andrew Barnett '05
Andrew Barnett is executive director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), an organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in Washington, D.C.
The nonprofit engages in outreach and advocacy and provides young people between the ages of 13 and 21 with a range of services such as counseling, health education, social activities and life skills training. Its efforts in the broader community include working with area schools and youth service providers to create safe places for LGBTQ youth.
Barnett began volunteering with SMYAL after finishing his studies in the representation of social inequality in literature at Evergreen and moving back East. “By the time I graduated, I had decided that I really wanted to dedicate my professional career to making the world a better place for LGBT people,” says the Alexandria, Va.-native, who served as senior class president of his high school, where he co-founded a Gay-Straight Alliance.
SMYAL rewarded Barnett for his help by creating a new position for him: operations and communications coordinator. Several promotions later, in February 2009, he was named executive director. Under his management, SMYAL was selected as “one of the best small charities in the greater Washington region” by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. Barnett himself was named a “Hometown Hero” by the Washington Mystics, the local Women’s National Basketball Association team, as well as an up-and-coming leader in D.C.’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by Metro Weekly.
“I give Evergreen a lot of credit for preparing me for where I am today,” he says. “The spirit of service and advocating for social justice was instilled in all my classes and a lot of my activities at Evergreen. The way that Evergreen encourages students to take an active role in their education and the freedom to explore different subject matter and modes of inquiry really helped prepare me for the leadership role I’m in now.”