CHICAGO—The Board of Directors at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (the “Alliance”) is pleased to announce the appointment of Owen Daniel-McCarter as its new Executive Director. Owen has been the Alliance's Policy & Advocacy Director since December of 2014. During his time in this position, Owen has supported school districts across the state in their writing and adoption of gender inclusion policies, has worked to establish the Transforming School Discipline Collaborative, and has supported hundreds of youth and their families advocate for their rights in school.

Prior to his position at the Alliance, Owen served as Legal Director and Staff Attorney at the Trans Life Center, a project of Chicago House and Social Service Agency. A licensed attorney, Owen has litigated cases defending LGBTQ youth and adults in issues ranging from immigration law to criminal defense to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Owen’s past work includes teaching in the College of Law and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at DePaul University and co-founding the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois where he is still a collective member. Owen is the first transgender man to lead a major LGBT non-profit in Illinois.

Casey Horton, board chair, who served on the transition committee with co-chairs Mary F. Morten, vice chair and Joseph Weber, J.D. stated, “the board of directors was unanimous in its support of Owen for this position. Owen has been a leader in the Alliance’s policy work and we look forward to working with him in this new capacity. We are all very excited about the Alliance’s future.”

“I am honored by the Board's decision," said Owen. "I have deeply admired the work of the Alliance since its founding and couldn't be happier to guide us through this critical time. LBGTQ students across the country are the targets of harmful legislation, lawsuits, violence and criminalization, and Illinois is no exception. The Alliance's work moves away from fear and instead sees opportunities for transformation through youth leadership, professional development, curriculum changes, and clear school policies."

Owen follows Anthony Papini who relocated to his hometown of Seattle, Washington in April.

The board of directors is extremely thankful to the staff of the Alliance for their continued dedication to the Alliance during this transition. The entire staff’s commitment to the continued success of the organization has been critical to its operations.

The mission of the Alliance is to promote safety, support and healthy development for LGBTQ youth, in Illinois schools and communities, through advocacy, education, youth organizing and research.  The Alliance envisions a world in which youth develop to their fullest potential, learning in safe and nurturing schools, living in communities that accept and honor differences, where everyone has the freedom to express their sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Alliance currently has a staff of eight in two locations: Chicago and Peoria, IL, and annually provides professional development to 3,000 school personnel, works directly with the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club network of over 160 clubs in Illinois, and ensures all school districts protect all stakeholders on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.