The Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, or GSAFE, has named Ali Muldrow and Brian Juchems co-directors of the statewide organization, making Muldrow the first person of color in an executive role in the group’s 22-year history.
“We’re both people who started in Programming, and we didn’t want to stop Programming, so we kind of said, ‘Hey, we’ll split the executive director position in half if we get to do service work directly with kids, directly with educators and directly with families,'” Muldrow told Madison365.
Muldrow’s promotion comes after three years as Director of Youth Programming and Inclusion at GSAFE.
She says one of the key challenges in her new role will be keeping up with politics.
“We are constantly adjusting to an evolving political landscape,” she said. “What we anticipate is that the federal government is less and less interested in investing in public education, and so our job right now is to combat that lack of investment in our young people.”
GSAFE’s primary mission is to create safe environments in schools for all students.
“We passed trans-inclusive policy at over two hundred schools in Wisconsin in the last twenty-three years,” Muldrow said. “My hope is that in the next five years, every single school with have trans-inclusionary policy, and the capacity to implement that policy with fidelity. So we’re really hoping to have coherent statewide policies that allow for all young people to be successful at school, and that protect all LGBTQ young people from discrimination and harassment, so we’re hoping to see the end of discrimination based in race at school.”
But the long game to accomplish that also includes empowering and inspiring students to become advocates and activists for themselves — which Muldrow says will be a priority of hers as co-director.
“In the next couple years, I’m really hoping that statewide our young people will be able to register to vote and vote early in their school,” she said. “Measurements of success look like more of our young people, you know growing up and feeling empowered by the training they’ve had as leaders, and reshaping their communities. So it looks like young people who feel prepared to run for office at earlier ages, it looks like young people who are excited to generate energy around education, it looks like more diversity, in terms of who’s teaching at our schools. It looks like less young people of color being incarcerated, or no young people of color being incarcerated.”
In her tenure as director of youth programming, Muldrow authored the curriculum for and taught Foundations of Leadership, a course based in the experiences of LGBTQ youth of color that recruits high school students from Madison who are advanced learners in the areas of leadership, according to the group’s website. She has also paired over 70 students with mentors and hosted two annual LGBTQ Youth of Color Leadership Conferences as well as co-directed GSAFE’s Leadership Training Institute, a four-day summer camp that gives students from all over Wisconsin the opportunity to develop their abilities as activists, allies, and creators of change.
“Of course we want educators and students and families to be able to enter their schools, and be who they are and have full access to their dignity, but that’s kind of the bare minimum, you know? We don’t want our kids to just survive school, we want our kids to be successful at school, and we want our kids to have access to achieving their dreams.”