2016 Leadership Institute Participants

Meet our 2016 LGBTQ Social Justice Leadership Institute Participants!

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Name: David Skye

Gender pronouns: They & their name

Bio: David Skye worked for twelve years as a professional activist, lobbyist, community mobilizer, and educator in the LGBT community after receiving a bachelor’s in grassroots community mobilization. He recently completed a master’s degree in Interreligious Social Justice Activism and is eager to combine his knowledge with Allyship’s teachings of Seattle’s grassroots LGBTQ issues.


IMAG0735 (1)Name: Dinah

Gender pronouns: She/her

Bio: Dinah lives in Tacoma with her 6 chickens, two cats, ferret, dog and presumably some people as well. She moved to the Northwest three years ago, fleeing the awkwardly extroverted residents of San Diego where she went to school. Currently she works for the Tenants Union of Washington State as a tenant counselor and spends her free time eating gummy snacks.

Quote: “To me, LGBTQ+ housing justice means queers of all ages, colors, and abilities deserve safe and affordable housing in areas where they can be near the communities and services that they need to thrive and survive.”

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Name: Helena

Gender pronouns: She/her/hers

Bio: Helena grew up splitting time between Alaska and Seattle. She settled down here more seriously about 3 years ago and is proud of her hard-won navigation abilities and knowledge of area used bookstores. She misses the wilderness, is very serious about snacks, and wishes she were brave enough to ride a bicycle through these mean city streets.

Quote: “What LGBTQ+ housing justice means to me? Using the magic of queer community and analysis to build/fight for a region where our people + all people can choose where and how they want to live their lives.”

image1Name: Kento Hoshi

Gender pronouns: He/him

Bio: I am a Japanese international student at Bellevue College and I am a student at University of Tokyo and Rikkyo University in Japan. In Japan I have been active in the LGBTQ+ community: I led the LGBTQ+ student group at my university, and I am the founder of a startup that aims to help members of the LGBTQ+ community find jobs despite the difficult challenges they face in the rigid Japanese employment system. Through the LGBTQ+ Social Justice Leadership Institute I want to learn more about social justice issues and become a better community organizer. I want to support the local LGBTQ+ community while I am here, and I want to apply what I learn to LGBTQ+ social justice issues when I go back to Japan.

Quote: “There are a lot of people rejected by home owners and landlords due to being LGBTQ+ while they try to buy or rent their house in Japan. So I would like to increase the number of LGBTQ+ friendly landlords by educating them and introducing these agents to LGBTQ+ people in need.”

IMG_9805Name: Krystal

Gender pronouns: She/her/hers

Bio: I originally hail from Los Angeles, CA and come to Seattle by way of Phoenix, AZ. My partner and I moved here a year and a half ago, and I will be starting at UW in the fall to earn my MSW. I love working and living in spaces that seek to foster a sense of identity and the power that each of us has.  

Quote: “What LGBTQ+ housing justice means to me: LGBTQ+ housing justice means that Queer people have a spot and a voice at the table when laws and initiatives are being formed and implemented. It means looking at the intersections of sexuality, race, gender, class and ability when examining housing issues that affect the Queer community. It also means our community having the power and the privilege to advocate for fair housing laws.”

IMG_0250 (1)Name: Roxie/Rocky Lester

Gender pronouns: Her/she

Bio: I am a 31-year-old stepping into the beauty and authentic expression of myself. I have lived through the suppression of my own personal expression as a transgender female in my childhood and early adulthood. I have come to a place that I am no longer willing to sacrifice my happiness for another person’s comfort or what is deemed acceptable by the general public. I am a mother/father of a wonderful 9-year-old girl. I work in finance in the housing industry for a Fortune 500 company as a Mortgage Banker with 14 years in the industry, where I have spent a majority of my career involved with moderate to low-income families, working with them to accomplish their dream of home ownership in Western Washington.

Quote: “With regards to what LGTBQ+ housing means to me? It is safety, community and affordability. I have personally struggled with the ability to feel safe in my own home and neighborhood as a trans individual, unfortunately, due to the reactive behavior of individuals all over this country that has caused me to constantly be on alert of my surroundings and who is nearby.

Community ties into safety as well as being able to live in areas that support and accept me without fear of judgement or harassment. As human beings we are creatures of community and togetherness. For centuries we have developed in community and thrived within social settings that are supportive and nurturing.

Affordability is the biggest issue facing us at the moment as Seattle becomes a mecca for technology and enterprise that supports this expansive growing industry. I was reading an article from an interview with the CEO of Redfin. He was reporting on the current trends in real estate as well as the rental market from data collected in the last two years from potential buyers of homes in the Seattle area. What struck me about this research is that home prices are six times the average median income in Seattle in comparison to tech jobs where that figure drops by a third to only four times the annual salary. My concern here is as we grow our city, our culture, our community, we’ll lose sight of its roots and become something further from the truth of why we live in Seattle. As housing costs go ever higher and higher with each passing season, more and more people are being displaced from the safety of community and extended family that is at the core of individual and community growth.

Quote: Whether we want to admit it or not, the entire country is looking at how we as a city handle the growth that is occurring right before our eyes. We have the opportunity to create the mold or a blueprint that can change the course of city planning and development for future generations.”

Welsch_23Dec13-8572_sm (1)Name: Zoe Omega

Gender pronouns: She/her, they/them

Bio: Zoe Omega has been in the Seattle arts and non-profit scene for 13 years, much of that time working around homelessness. They enjoy event organizing, collaboration and coalition building.

Zoe Omega is passionate about LGBTQA+ housing justice.  Zoe is a co-founder of Equality Coalition for Housing and Opportunity (ECHO) which addresses homelessness and unemployment in Puget Sound’s LGBTQIA+ Community.

Quote: “To me housing justice mean everyone is able to find shelter and that housing is a human right.”

More coming soon!


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