Youth Leadership Academy

YLA 2018 - attendee shot - Color Corrected - AV

Youth Leadership Academy

Date: TBA
Time: TBA
Location: TBA

San Diego Pride is proud to host the annual Pride Youth Leadership Academy (YLA). YLA was created to bring LGBTQ+ youth together from across the region to engage, educate, and inspire our next generation of leaders. Youth who attend YLA come away with the practical skill and committed passion to become agents of change within their own schools and communities. YLA is a fun, inclusive, and intense academy that includes historic context, LGBTQ+ resource education, organizing skills, panel discussions, and team-building activities that inform and motivate participants to be successful in all they do. YLA has three academy tracks available; first-time YLA attendees, returning YLA attendees, and Parent/Caregiver/Educator.


2022 Youth/Caregiver Application Coming Soon!

Highlights from 2021

2021 Closing Speaker

We are excited to announce that Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins will be our closing speaker! Atkins represents the 39th Senate District. Atkins has dedicated her career to serving as a champion for affordable housing, the environment, healthcare, veterans, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. She was the first San Diegan and first lesbian Speaker of the Assembly, and in March 2018, became the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person to lead the California State Senate.

2021 Closing Performer

Local Drag Queen Superstar Amber St. James will be closing off the day with an exciting performance! Amber St. James is the African Bearded, death-dropping, cartwheeling, split queen known for her revolutionary activist work in and out of drag and her entertaining high-energy performances.

2021 Youth Leadership Academy Agenda

8:30 AM
Check-In & Continental Breakfast

9:00 AM


9:20 AM

Morning Speaker
Nicky Geis (she/her), San Diego Charter Stars: Outstanding Teacher of the Year, The School for Entrepreneurship and Technology

9:35 AM

Ice Breaker (Youth Track 1 & 2)
Facilitated by Youth Ambassadors, San Diego Pride
Introductions (Adult Track)
Facilitated by Shiloh Tamir (they/them), Youth Ambassador, San Diego Pride

10:05 AM

LGBTQ History & Identity (Youth Track 1 & 2)
Presented by Fernando Lopez (they/them), Executive Director, San Diego Pride
This workshop will discuss LGBTQ history and the impact it’s had on the current LGBTQ movement.
Building Safe & Brave Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth (Adult Track)
Presented by Evan Johnson (they/them), Community & Youth Programming Manager, Trans Family Support Services
Adults practicing humility, acknowledging mistakes, and adjusting behavior can make a world of a difference for LGBTQ youth. In this workshop, Evan Johnson (they/them) from Trans Family Support Services will discuss how adults can support queer and trans youth at home and in the classrooms

11:00 AM

Know Your Rights (Youth Track 1)
Presented by Kim Ahrens (she/her), Civil Rights Attorney, Aherns Law ATC
This workshop will go over LGBTQIA2+ legal protections in California and keep youth up to date on their rights at school, in public, and at home.
Organizing for Change (Youth Track 2)
Presented by Jen LaBarbera (they/she), Education & Advocacy Manager, San Diego Pride
This workshop will walk youth through basic organizing principles and organizing strategies. Youth will be introduced to the Strategy Chart and other tools for successful community organizing.
LGBTQ History & Identity (Adult Track)
Presented by Fernando Lopez (they/them), Executive Director, San Diego Pride
This workshop will discuss LGBTQ history and the impact it’s had on the current LGBTQ movement.

11:50 AM

OUT on Campus (Youth Track 1)
Moderated by Benjamin Kennedy (he/him)
Panelists: Annalee Barnard (she/her), Brenda Drew (they/them), Shrey Goal (they/them), Cameron Wadtrom (he/him), Ezra Wheeler (they/them)
This workshop will explore the nuances of being out on a school campus through the experiences and accounts of current students.
Sharing Your Narrative for Change (Youth Track 2)
Presented by Kelcie Kopf (she/her), Director of Philanthropy and Melanie Viloria (they/them), Philanthropy Coordinator, San Diego Pride
Sharing your story may seem intimidating, but can have a large impact on your movement. This session will review ways to choose the story you want to share, how to frame your message and how to deliver it in an impactful way.
Advocating for LGBTQ Youth in School (Adult Track)
Presented by Kim Ahrens (she/her), Civil Rights Attorney, Aherns Law ATC
This workshop will help parents/caregivers and educators stay up to date on LGBTQ students’ rights in California and address how you can advocate for them at school.

12:35 PM


1:15 PM

Guided Stretch Break (Youth Track 1 & 2)
Facilitated by Shannon Linzer, DPT, OCS, RYT (she/her), Sync Physical Therapy & Yoga
Physical therapist and yoga instructor, Shannon Linzer, will facilitate a moment of mindfulness and guided stretching as we prepare our minds and bodies for the second half of the Youth Leadership Academy.
Ice Breaker (Adult Track)
Facilitated by Shiloh Tamir (they/them), Youth Ambassador, San Diego Pride

2:00 PM

Communication and Setting Boundaries: Queer Sex Ed Edition (Youth Track 1)
Jess Melendez (she/her), Sexual Health Educator, San Ysidro Health Teen Clinic
Talking to current or potential partners about your boundaries and/or being sexually active can sometimes be intimidating. Join Jess for a discussion about how to safely communicate your boundaries! We’ll talk anatomy, conversation starters, safer sex practices, and answer any questions you have!
Racial Justice in the LGBTQ+ Community (Youth Track 2)
Presented by Paige Coe (they/them), Community Relations Chair, The San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition
This workshop will engage youth in conversations regarding beginning to create or maintaining racial equity in their advocacy spaces.
Health Education for Parents/Caregivers of LGBTQ Youth (Adult Track)
Presented by Bix Marino-Kibbee (they/he), Program Director, Center for Gender-Affirming Care
LGBTQ youth often find themselves having to research and educate their parents/caregivers/educators to ensure their health education and the healthcare they receive is relevant to their bodies and experiences. This workshop will briefly touch on the physical and mental health of queer and trans youth and empower participants to continue their learning to better support LGBTQ youth.

2:50 PM

OUT in the Workplace (Youth Track 1)
Moderated by Kelcie Kopf (she/her), Director of Philanthropy, San Diego Pride
Panelists: Thomas Merkel (he/him), Stacy Sakamoto (she/her), Saket Tripathy (he/him), Mikayla Weathers (she/her)
This panel will shed light on the experiences of queer and trans professionals. Youth will get a chance to engage with queer and trans adults in various career settings and hear from them directly on being out in the workplace.
LGBTQIA2+ Health & Sex Ed Advocacy (Youth Track 2)
Presented by Amanda Chavez (she/her), Community Engagement Specialist & Andrea Chavez (she/her), Community Engagement Specialist, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest
This workshop will educate youth on the current California state standards for sexual health education and equip them with tools to advocate for more comprehensive and LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education in their schools.
Queer Youth Panel (Adult Track)
Chelsea Long (she/her), Jax Elton (he/they), Victor Arancibia (they/them)
Queer, trans, and nonbinary young people are incredibly resilient, but they still need physical and emotional support from parents, caregivers, teachers, and service providers. Hear directly from LGBT youth as they share their thoughts and experiences while having the opportunity to ask clarifying questions.

3:45 PM

Group Projects (Youth Track 1 & 2)
Presented by Jen LaBarbera (they/she), Education & Advocacy Manager, San Diego Pride
Youth will break out into groups of 5-7 and create an advocacy plan for one issue affecting LGBTQIA+ youth. Advocacy plans should have a local impact and identifiable goals.  Templates will be provided.
Parent/Caregiver & Educator Panel (Adult Track)
Melissa Agudelo (she/her), Dave Burgess (he/him), Nadia Kean-Ayub (she/her), Bill Luna
This panel made up of parents, caregivers and educators will discuss the joys of supporting LGBTQ+ youth, as well as how to navigate some of the difficulties that might arise when you are devoted to affirming their identities.

4:30 PM

Group Presentations (Youth Track 1 & 2)
Discussion Groups (Adult Track)
Facilitated by Kathie Moehlig (she/her), Executive Director, Trans Family Support Services, and Stephen Caroll (he/him), Director of Behavioral Health Services, San Diego LGBT Community Center
Just as LGBTQ+ youth deserve spaces to support each other, adult caregivers and educators also need spaces to discuss their experiences. This facilitated session will allow adult supporters of LGBTQ+ youth to connect with each other, ask questions, and debrief the day.

5:20 PM

Closing Speaker
Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (she/her)

5:45 PM
Mixer & Resource Fair
Performance by local Drag Queen Superstar Amber St. James


All 2021 YLA participants must provide proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result within 48 hours of November 13. Additionally, mask usage will be required indoors at all times. San Diego Pride reserves the option to shift the 2021 Academy to a virtual space if necessary.


San Diego Pride is excited to provide a variety of options for people to come together in ways that feel comfortable, healthy, and safe. We ask each individual to review the guidelines and setting for this event in order to assess their own comfortability with attendance.

San Diego Pride is requiring proof of full vaccination at the door for this event. You will be asked to show your Vaccination Card along with identification before entering the building. “Full Vaccination” requires at least 2 weeks to have passed since your final vaccination shot (or sole vaccination shot for Johnson & Johnson.)

Out of respect for body autonomy and an understanding of the reasons folks may not be vaccinated, San Diego Pride will also accept a Negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to the event. Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status while indoors. Disposable masks will be available at the door.

We encourage everyone to sign up for CA Notify as an added layer of protection for themselves and the community to receive alerts when you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Sign up here:
For remaining questions please contact [email protected]

NOTICE: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. Senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By attending this event, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. By attending this event, you are acknowledging that you are, on behalf of yourself or any invitees, voluntarily assuming all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 or any other disease.