Founder of Ali Forney Center Recognized by White House

Siciliano celebrates 10 years of fighting LGBT youth homelessness

@page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>The founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, Carl Siciliano, will be recognized as a “Champion of Change” in the fight against youth homelessness along with other leaders at a White House event on July 12.

As the nation’s largest organization working with LGBT homeless and runaway youth, Siciliano has made a phenomenal commitment to keeping LGBT teens off the streets.

President Obama created the Champion of Change program with the intention to recognize those who work towards bettering their communities in innovative ways. Obama chose Siciliano and a group of 12 individuals who are educators, community leaders and entrepreneurs to take part in the July 12 event.

“It is thrilling that as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ali Forney Center, we are also being recognized by the White House for our pioneering work on behalf of homeless LGBT youth. When we opened the Ali Forney Center, the challenges we faced were daunting; there was very little awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth, especially on the federal level, and it was difficult to obtain support for our work,” said Siciliano.

I am very grateful to President Obama for recognizing the needs of homeless LGBT youth–and incorporating their care into his vision of ending youth homelessness. I am also grateful to the White House for recognizing the quality, innovation, and importance of the Ali Forney Center, which is a testament to all of the individuals who have served on the board, staff and as volunteers.”

Siciliano has been devoted to helping people in shelters since 1994 and founded the Ali Forney Center, named for a gay peer educator who was tragically killed in still-unsolved crime, in 2002. Recently, the center and other organizations launched the Campaign for Youth Shelter, an initiative to convince New York City and State to give an additional $3 million in annual funding for 100 new shelter beds every year until there is no longer a waiting list in youth shelters.

This week, the Ali Forney Center announced that the Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer, gave $3.3 million to renovate a city-owned building in the East Village and transform it into a shelter with 18 new beds.

The space will be named after Bea Arthur, the “Golden Girls” star who passed away in 2009. Arthur was an advocate for the LGBT community and left the Ali Forney Center $300,000 in her will. Her support has allowed the Center to flourish and continue helping LGBT youth. Siciliano said he believes the new space will bring stability to his agency and the community it serves.

What Do You Think?