Success Stories: Our Future Leaders

Tyler Smith

As a gay male Tyler knows first hand how difficult it is being gay within the foster care system. At the age of 11 Tyler’s mother delivered him to the Department of Social and Human Services. It was the most excruciatingly painful experience of his life. He was losing his mother and entering a system that was not accommodating to sexual minorities. Yet, Tyler also states that he is very grateful for this experience, as he had the good fortune of eventually ending up in the home of an amazing woman named Berdie Williams.

Berdie not only gave Tyler unconditional love, nurturance, and support; she also taught him to love himself just the way he was. In her words, “Don’t you ever wish to be something you aren’t. You are an amazing person and not one part of you changes who you are. Love every aspect of you. It’s who you are and you cannot change that.”

Since receiving his scholarship, Tyler has been working as an intern with the Child Welfare League of America and Casey Family Programs to produce a CD-Rom that will be used as a training manual for caseworkers, family member, and foster parents of LGBTQ foster youth.

He has also working on the Ansell Casey Life Skills Assessment which is used to assess the skills of foster youth. Together, Casey and Tyler are going to produce a video that will be streamed from the Casey Life Skills website to train caregivers on how to properly use the assessment.

Tyler recently returned from Washington, DC where he got to work with the Child Welfare League of America and attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ annual conference. While in DC Tyler helped facilitate a day long training with Prince George’s County social workers in Maryland on LGBTQ specific issues.

Tyler will attend the UW in the fall to pursue a Bachelor’s in Social Work and a graduate degree in either Social Work or Psychology. His long range plans are to work with foster care youth and the LGBT community. It is his goal to assist these communities with the numerous cultural and social issues they face, as well as help society to better understand these minority communities.

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Bryce McKibben

Bryce has been involved with leadership roles in student government since 2005. In his work with the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), he has focused his efforts on queer activism and political and legislative issues. He is currently entering his second year of employment as the “student lobbyist” for UW undergraduates.

As the Director of Government Relations for the ASUW, Bryce represents the 30,000 undergraduate students in the educational policy deliberations of the state legislature and in Washington D.C. This winter he had the unique opportunity to live in the state capitol in Olympia, write legislation that was passed into law, lobby for policy and budgetary allocations, and to witness the historic passage of the Domestic Partnership legislation.

With the success of this year carrying forward, Bryce was elected to the position of President of the Washington Student Lobby in April 2007. The Washington Student Lobby represents, serves and protects the collective interests of over 100,000 students receiving public baccalaureate education in the State of Washington.

Bryce looks forward to leading this organization towards continued success in the legislature in addressing student concerns of the affordability and accessibility of higher education. In his new role with the Washington Student Lobby, Bryce has also joined other student leaders from around the country in lobbying on a national level with the United States Student Association. They are currently celebrating the impending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which will make the greatest investment in financial aid in the U.S. since the G.I Bill passed in 1944.

Bryce is a two-time GSBA Scholarship recipient who is studying political science and “law, societies, and justice” at the University of Washington. It is his goal to dedicate himself to public service that is representative and fully supportive of the queer community.

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