Ali Muldrow is a parent, partner, writer, instructor, advocate, and doula. She began her work in education in 2006 when she became the after school spoken word club liaison for the East High School in partnership with UW-Madison’s First Wave program. Ali played a key role in creating Wisconsin’s first Spoken Word class; a class that allowed high school students to receive academic credit for their study of urban art forms. Ali facilitated the Spoken Word course for 4 years as an artist in residence at East High School in Madison, WI. Ali went on to partner with Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) to create and host spoken word clubs at five Madison public high schools. Ali is currently the Director of Youth Programming and Inclusion at GSAFE, where she has for the last three years authored the curriculum for and taught Foundations of Leadership, a course based in the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth of color that recruits high school students from the entire Madison public school district who are advanced learners in the areas of leadership. While working with GSAFE Ali has also paired over 70 students with mentors and hosted two annual LGBTQ+ Youth of Color Leadership Conferences as well as co-directed GSAFE’s Leadership Training Institute, a 4 day summer camp that gives students from all over Wisconsin the opportunity to develop their abilities as activists, allies, and creators of change. In the spring of 2015 Ali launched GSAFE’s New Narrative Project in the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, a program that provides incarcerated young people with clear channels to academic success, civic engagement, and self-determination. Ali grew up in a multiracial family where identity was discussed at the dinner table and difference was celebrated. She is passionate about consent, freedom, learning and human rights. Ali is committed to bringing innovation and love to all that she does.
Amber Rae Sowards was born and raised in Dundalk, a working class port town located outside the city limits of Baltimore. Her backyard was a playground of towering factory stacks puffing chemicals from the local steel mill. She knew beauty in the grandeur of industrial-sized unpacking cranes. At sunset, their metal necks would shine and reflect off the Chesapeake and dissolve into the smoky orange glow of the sky. This is where she first learned that beauty and danger can be one in the same.
Amy Castro is a first generation Mexican-American who was born and raised in Madison. Ever since they were young, the
y had a passion to advocate for marginalized communities and utilize their voice in any way possible. They first became involved in GSAFE in 2014 as a high school student, serving on the Youth Leadership Board and working on the four day Leadership Training Institute for three years in a row. They graduated from Malcolm Shabazz City High School in 2016 and went on to attended Lawrence University for two years, where they co-founded the organization Colores: Empowering LGBTQ+ People of Color and were appointed as the Operations Chair on the Committee on Diversity Affairs. They will receive their Bachelor’s from Edgewood College where they are self-designing their major, Applications for Social Change. They are passionate about racial and LGBTQ+ justice, the arts, and creating brave and inclusive spaces for youth to be uplifted and heard. When they are not working, they can be found creating art and hanging out with their cats.
Brian J. has been at the forefront of fostering inclusive schools in Wisconsin for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth since 1998 when he migrated to Madison from rural Iowa where he had previously worked as a residence hall director for Luther College. Brian J. co-founded and grew GSAFE’s annual Leadership Training Institute into a 4-day summer camp for high school students across Wisconsin to develop their skills as activists, allies, and agents of change. In 2002 Brian J formally joined GSAFE’s staff and has served as lead trainer, where he has regularly provided engaging professional development for tens of thousands of K-12 educators with an approachable and playful Midwest sensibility. In 2005 Brian J. partnered with Madison students to successfully pass the state’s first district-level transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination policy and has since worked with dozens of districts to take similar steps. Throughout 2016-2017, with the support of the Wisconsin Partnership Program and Gender Spectrum, Brian J. developed and piloted GSAFE’s Gender Inclusive Schools Project, a multi-level approach that helps school districts create systemic change towards the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary students. A frequent collaborator with Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, Brian J remains a sought-after trainer and consultant for Wisconsin’s K-12 school.
Julie was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is currently working towards her Master of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her undergraduate degree in family social science at the University of Minnesota, she spent six years in Chicago working in many settings including high schools, preschools, and non-profit organizations. Each experience has helped her pursue her passion for working with young people and advocating for social and racial justice. As a queer, Jewish person, she has experienced how transformational it can be to find authentic, intersectional community, and she looks forward to supporting LGBTQIA+ students on that journey in their own environments.
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