This has been a difficult letter to write. Its purpose is to inform you of my decision to leave Zebra Coalition effective Friday, July 31. I am ready to seek new challenges, try new things, go different directions. It’s appropriate, I think, after such a rewarding and fantastic ride.
For the last three-and-a-half years, the Zebra Coalition has been my passion and I have been deeply committed to helping achieve our mission to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth (LGBT+) in Central Florida.
In this year of Zebra Coalition’s fifth anniversary, there is much to celebrate. We’ve grown the organization from 2 to 9 staff members, from 12 to 26 member organizations, and created a diverse funding mix to ensure the stability of the organization. I am particularly proud of the youth center we opened in 2012 that has allowed more than 550 individual youth to have access to mental health counseling, support groups, social activities and more. We developed innovative programming that incorporates the arts, fitness/nutrition, life skills building and cinema. Our anti-bullying campaign and curriculum has expanded to every middle school, high school and charter school in Orange County Public Schools and this year with the support of the City of Orlando we took it outside of the school walls to our entire community. Our residential program has sheltered more than 90 youth experiencing homelessness and our new Jefferson R. Voss Education Fund is breaking down barriers to education for LGBT+ students across Central Florida.
Zebra Coalition has become an increasingly influential organization that has touched the lives of more than 15,000 individuals across Central Florida and I am tremendously grateful to our coalition staff, community partners, volunteers, donors and the Zebra Foundation for Youth Board of Directors for contributing to our success. Together, we helped build something great and have made an extraordinary impact in our community and beyond.
The Zebra Foundation for Youth Board of Directors is strong, the staff at Zebra Coalition are outstanding and our coalition partners and volunteers are completely engaged in our mission every day. They are a cohesive team committed and dedicated to the work they do and I know they will continue our momentum and work during this transition. While leaving isn’t easy, I take comfort in the extraordinary team and board that I am leaving behind–who have become more than just work colleagues but a true family–and the knowledge that I will always have a close relationship with everyone at Zebra Coalition and the Zebra Foundation for Youth.
I will always be grateful for this community’s support, friendship, love and most importantly for the commitment to create a safe, supportive and healthy community for LGBT+ youth. It is returned in kind, today and always.