Introducing the staff of Queer Youth Space!
Raven wrote her first poem when she was in the 7th grade, mentored by poet Karen Finneyfrock as a part of the Writers In The Schools program. However, she never shared her poetry until her sophomore year in Nova High School, where she found her voice through community awareness, creative expression, and social justice work. Raven started performing her poetry last year when she slammed in the Youthspeaks slam series, going on to become the slam champion, join the Youthspeaks poetry team, and represent Seattle at the 2011 and 2012 Brave New Voices poetry festivals. Since then she has performed all over Seattle at the Triple Door, Town Hall, Fremont Abbey, and the Bumbershoot Festival. After finding comfort in poetry, she started working more with Youthspeaks Seattle – facilitating workshops and writing circles and engaging in youth leadership. These days you can find Raven at an open mic or writing circle where she is constantly writing and speaking about women’s issues and her identity as a queer youth of color in today’s society.
WING 2 | Josh Lowe, Coordinator of Wellness
Josh is an Indian and Chicano trans male. However, he does not agree with society’s cissexist ideas about what constitutes a “male” or “female” body, and thus he identifies as a male, without feeling the need to change his body to conform with society’s idea of a ‘male’ body. He also does not identify as any single sexual orientation. Originally from Bridgeport, Josh moved to Seattle to find new opportunities to fight for and help individuals of the LGBTQ community. He is a very outspoken advocate for the community, and is especially concerned with the rights and well-being of LGBTQ youth. Josh graduated high school in 2008, attended JobCorps until 2010, and recently completed coursework at Tacoma Community College. He has been homeless off and on and currently resides in transitional housing. In his free time, he likes to volunteer at LGBTQ related events as well as events to help other causes. Josh is a big fan of Hawthorne Heights and Spider-Man.
WING 3 | Jovonna Vaughn, Coordinator of Research & Education
Jovonna has been active and organizing in QPOC (Queer People of Color) communities from the age of 15. She has a long history as an activist and organizer with Seattle Young People’s Project (SYPP), which is a youth-led, adult supported social justice organization. As Project Liberation Intern, she was equipped with the skill, technique and style to facilitate and teach about a wide range of topics such as gender justice, anti-oppression, and globalization for a variety of education levels and demographics. She also worked as a student organizer at the Gender Justice School, a semester long, after school alternative education program revolving around understandings of sexuality and gender. She is finishing up at Shoreline Community College, and will be graduating with honors in the Spring with an AA degree and plans to pursue a BA degree in ethnic and gender studies. She is bubbling with excitement to begin to create intentional space of growth and learning, with hopes to reach diverse populations from all over Seattle and fulfill and expand the vision initially set forth by QYS organizers.
Money Management | Lena Melinger, Coordinator of Fund Development
Lena is a bi-queer activist, originally from Austin, Texas. She organized through the queer-straight alliance at her school in addition to serving as the Administrative Director of the Texas Gay-Straight Alliance Network, where she worked closely with two other youth directors on an even hierarchy to empower youth leaders in Texas to create safe spaces in their schools and communities. Her background is in youth self-empowerment, safe sex education, and grassroots fundraising. She moved to Seattle last year for college, and is currently starting her freshman year at North Seattle Community College. In her spare time, she loves to wander through Seattle’s gorgeous parks, read a lot of books, and experiment with spray paint and various items in the housewares section of the Goodwill.
Money Management | Jonathan Long, Coordinator of Finances
Jon is a recent graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He is originally from Arizona but moved to Washington when he was thirteen. Jon mainly grew up in the Olympia area where he was lucky to find support coming out from friends and Stonewall Youth. While at South Puget Sound Community College, Jon served as the Associated Student Body Vice President for Administration and Finance. In this position he maintained the Student Senate’s financial books, chaired the committee which allocates funds to student groups for the following school year, and he helped amend the Senate Bylaws to better hold Senators accountable. He’s also a self-declared geek who loves anime, sci-fi, Dr. Who, and other British television shows.