We are so thrilled to announce that our executive director, Sherilyn Adams, was recognized as one of San Francisco Business Times’ 2019 Business of Pride Outstanding Voices along with 11 fellow leaders paving the way for LGBTQ equality in the workplace.
Get to know Sherilyn in this interview with SFBT, her experience in the workplace as a member of the LGBTQ community and why she fights to end homelessness for LGBTQ-identified youth:
Was there a particular factor or event that convinced you to do so? I was fortunate to work in an environment where there were other women, in particular, that were out.
How close do you feel your industry is to full LGBTQ equality? The nonprofit sector, especially in San Francisco, is mostly there. Whether the whole spectrum of LGBTQ identities are represented and included equally, especially transgender individuals, is probably the better question. Again, I am fortunate to be in an industry where it is by and large celebratory and super-accepted to be out, but we all need to do work around full acceptance for people who are transgender and bisexual, for example.
How do you use your position and influence to advance LGBTQ equality? I believe it is our responsibility as leaders to advance social justice issues and issues of racial and LGBTQ equity. One of the ways we do that at Larkin Street is continuing to raise awareness about the impact of homelessness on LGBTQ-identified youth as well as being in the larger movement to end homelessness for LGBTQ-identified youth and youth of color. We also work to support, mentor and create opportunities for all.
How can this generation of out LGBTQ business leaders make it easier or better for future generations? I came out early in my career because others were out early at the workplace — visibility is key. We need to see others to know that we can do it too.
Amid rising inequality and our housing crisis, what is the trajectory on youth homelessness and poverty? Is the problem in San Francisco getting better or worse? Inequality and the housing crisis impacts all young people experiencing homelessness, but youth of color and LGBTQ-identified youth (and especially those with multiple identities) face additional challenges to becoming self-sustaining in the Bay Area.
While we are all working hard to reduce the numbers of young people experiencing homelessness, and those numbers have gone down, the pathway out of homelessness and into economic independence is harder in an environment with significant inequality and insufficient housing.
What’s the most effective thing the business community in San Francisco and the Bay Area can do to reduce youth homelessness? You can be a champion in the movement to end youth homelessness by directly supporting services that help young people move into self-sufficiency. You can be a visible advocate for the needs of LGBTQ-identified and youth of color. And you can say hello to someone you see on the street who may be having a hard day.