Women at the Helm 2014

Meet the next wave of out leaders!

JAMA SHELTON

Director, Forty to None Project at the True Colors Fund

There is a crisis of LGBT youth homelessness in this country and Jama Shelton, LMSW, PhD, has been fighting to end it for more than a decade. A former homeless youth herself, Shelton’s life goal was forged while working with queer kids as a community-based artist in Texas. “Young people would disclose things that had happened to them in their lives that I did not have the skill set to address. It felt irresponsible to continue doing that work without learning more about how to handle such disclosures, so I decided to pursue an MSW,” she says. “After years of providing direct services to LGBT youth experiencing homelessness, I knew I wanted to do more.” She went back to school to work on her PhD, which she completed. Currently, she is the director of the Forty to None Project at the True Colors Fund, an LGBT organization co-founded by Cyndi Lauper. She’s also a professor at Hunter College and NYU School of Social Work. “I remember the first young woman of transgender experience who I helped get her own apartment 10 years ago,” she says. “I think about how hard she worked and how many barriers she broke through to get there. Her story, and countless others like hers, keep me going.”