Indiana Youth Group Staff
Each staff member was asked how their background influences their present position and why they work at IYG.
Education Outreach Coordinator
I have been an Educational Presenter since 1991 for organizations like Indianapolis Civic Theatre's Kid Connection, Farm Bureau Insurance Project XL, and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. In all of these programs, I've worked to teach youth tolerance of different types of people, and to learn from one another.
Working to help LGBTQ youth and their straight allies learn to make things better for themselves and future generations is not just my current job; it's my life ambition and professional passion. I truly believe that working for IYG is sincerely a blessing.
Mary A. Byrne
Being the ED fits me very well. I have for years worked in the women's and LGBT community… on LGBT politics, through owning Labyris, a women's bar/restaurant, producing the National Women's Music Festival, and by co-owning Out Word Bound bookstore to name a few. Plus my first job out of college was working with youth in crisis after they had run away from home. So between my love and respect for the youth in our community and my business/non-profit administration experience, I can pretty well tap into many skills and contacts that I have for the benefit of IYG and the youth we serve.
My passion and goal in working at IYG is to see a decrease in the isolation of LGBTQ youth. Being out there all by themselves, hearing all of the horrid things that ignorant people can say, with no one to talk to, is so incredibly hard to deal with…and that on top of all of the other changes that adolescents go through can be just too much to handle. I want these youth to know they are not the only one, that they are a normal part of society, that they have a great future in store. I want them to be happy and know they are okay.
I have always wanted to work with youth and especially LGBTQ youth. I grew up in a small southern town and did not have the supported I needed when I came out. The youth that attend IYG know that our center is a safe place for them to be who they are, and who they want to become. They are the reason I work at IYG.
I previously worked as a youth worker here at IYG for two and a half years. My transition to Volunteer Coordinator has been a great learning experience. I loved working directly with the youth and now I get to connect members of our community to IYG in a meaningful way.
Christie Clayton, MSW
Much of my background stems from working with youth, families, and school systems within the mental health arena. Working in the past with crisis situations, family dynamics, mental health stigma, and learning how to reach out to people effectively has helped me in my position at IYG. I also have a lot of experience creating and implementing mental health groups which has aided me with forming the current programming at IYG, conducting public speaking engagements, and facilitating LGBTQ cultural competency trainings.
I work at IYG for a lot of reasons, but overall I want to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth. I don't ever want youth to feel that they are isolated, unsupported, or unloved for identifying as LGBTQ. Additionally, I enjoy taking on a variety of responsibilities in my job; I get to work directly with youth, create and implement programming, supervise staff, conduct LGBT cultural competency trainings, and connect with community partners. Undoubtedly, I am never bored! I feel inspired by the youth of IYG, they make my job so much fun, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their lives. I am so lucky to work for this organization.
Britt Haak, MSW
Most of my background involves working with diverse populations of youth, much involving addictions, homelessness, crisis, or assault. While I was serving in AmeriCorps and living in Washington State, I heard about the IYG license plate fiasco and ever since I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization fighting for equality and providing needed services and support for LGBTQ youth in Indiana; which is why I was overjoyed when there was an opportunity for a Youth Worker position at IYG.
Working at IYG means being in a very accepting environment and getting to work with the most amazing people- the youth, volunteers, and my co-workers. One of my greatest joys is seeing the accomplishments of the youth and the growth of IYG. Being able to teach youth how to knit after months of giving me strange looks and telling me they "can't" or "don't have the patience" has been pretty rewarding as well. This has been an experience of a lifetime.
Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director
Coming out as an adult was scary and yet wonderful at the same time! IYG was in its beginning years when I found a comfort in mentoring the youth with creative talents to share. Over the years, I grew into my authentic self and watched them blossom as well. When I found out IYG was looking for an administrative assistant, I was thrilled, as this has been my career for the past 35 years. To be able to give back to this organization in such a special way, is a blessing!
As a lesbian, mother, and grandmother, I have personally witnessed how alienation, discrimination and bullying can destroy the hope and tamp down the internal fire of creativity during a child's development. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful, inclusive safe place for LGBT and questioning youth. It is wonderful to see their smiles and hear the pride in their voices!
Alvin was born and raised in Indianapolis. After coming out as gay in his sophomore year of high school, Alvin became a regular member of Indiana Youth Group, which gave him the personal confidence and supportive community he needed to succeed personally and academically. After graduating with honors from Lawrence North High School, he attended Pomona College in Claremont, California receiving a BA in Theatre and Drama in May 2010. After graduation he spent a year working abroad as an educator in Thailand with a study abroad program focused on development, globalization, and human rights.
He returned to Indianapolis to reconnect with family and make a difference in his own community. While serving as a Public Ally for the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center he started a new program called Innovate Indy which organized several local community-focused projects on issues ranging from education reform to job creation. Alvin also began volunteering with Indiana Youth Group. He facilitated several team-building and leadership development activities with IYG's Youth Council and served as a youth mentor at the center. After volunteering at IYG of over a year Alvin was excited for the opportunity to join IYG's staff as a Youth Worker in January 2013. Alvin has had an incredible journey which has led him to the other side of the earth and back again to IYG as he looks to support and empower new generations of youth.
Youth Worker Emeritus
Working over 20 years in the position of a school counselor before retirement has taught me the importance of listening and asking the right questions to bring out the stories the youth want to tell. Before I was hired on as a staff member I volunteered at IYG for years, starting about 1992 when IYG was just moving into the Center.
Working at IYG is a retirement job dream. The objectives of IYG remind me of the civil rights movement and women's rights movements of the 60's and 70's.
Don Sherfick Bookkeeper
I'm a retired attorney with a strong interest in fighting discrimination and legal unfairness to the LGBT community and have been active in other LGBT civil rights areas other than those concerning youth. I also have served as treasurer in several not-for-profit organizations, and when I learned that IYG was looking for a part-time bookkeeper, I thought my abilities in the financial area could be of help to the organization, while the organization could help me have a better appreciation for the needs of LGBT youth.