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upcoming Board meeting

Public comments welcomed during our public open board session.

NEXT Board Meeting:



Photo of Adam LeonardAdam Leonard grew up in Minnesota but left the snow behind in 2010 and headed west to California. He first started in youth development working at a summer camp guiding canoe trips for teenagers in the Canadian wilderness. Adam has worked with youth since then, primarily in youth health education and promotion. He worked for over 10 years as a nurse and nurse practitioner caring for young people in San Francisco. He is working on his PhD to identify best practices for meeting the health needs of adolescents. 

He is proud to join the LYRIC family and support the organization’s inspiring work with LGBTQQ youth. Before joining the LYRIC board, Adam served as Co-President of the Northern California Chapter of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM). He also serves on SAHM’s LGBTQ Clinical Services committee and is co-chair of the Getting To Zero Adolescent and Young Adult committee.


Andrew Rayner (he/him) believes in building bridges and augmenting communities. Through his work, he helps individuals better understand themselves and the systems in which they are a part in an effort to create equitable and inclusive spaces and organizations. His 14-plus years of experience as a teacher, community organizer, facilitator, and consultant have afforded him the opportunity to work with CEOs, managers, teachers, community members, and young people in schools, non-profits, large tech, and other organizations across the country and world. He believes in an intersectional approach to DEI work with a race-forward lens. He currently works as a Sr. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Business Partner at DoorDash. There he develops strategy to support the growth, development, and experience of hourly employees and the businesses that serve them.

Previously Andrew worked at Meta for four years as a DEI Business Partner supporting the Monetization organization. He was also chair of Black@Pride during his tenure, an intersectional employee resource group that serves Black, queer staff. Before Meta, he was a founding team member and consultant at Promise54, an education nonprofit DEI, talent, and organizational culture consulting firm. Andrew taught for 5 years at KIPP Middle School in Boston, where he was a founding 6th grade Math and Special Education teacher, and as a behavioral specialist at the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention, Inc. Andrew started his career as a volunteer teacher of English in the Marshall Islands followed by teaching theater and social justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Andrew received his BA in English from Dartmouth College and EdM from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Andrew identifies as a Black, cis-gender, queer man. While he currently calls San Francisco home, he is originally from Chicago and proudly still says “pop” instead of “soda.” In the Bay Area, he helps organize social meet-ups for Black LGBTQ men (check out @baeblackboy on IG). He loves to sing, cook, write, play dodgeball, and engage in complex conversations; Stevie Wonder, Bayard Rustin, and his parents are his idols.


Carolyn Ji Jong Goossen

Carolyn Ji Jong Goossen is a mixed race Chinese-Canadian-American daughter of immigrants and queer mother of two who grew up in Toronto, Canada.  For the past two decades she has raised her kids in San Francisco while working to advance social justice and positive systems change. In her current role as SF Policy Director with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, she harnesses the power of community organizing and media to confront state violence and and support the needs of public defender clients and their families.  Prior to this role, she worked for seven years for the District 9 Office at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, first as legislative aide to former Supervisor David Campos, and later as Chief of Staff to Supervisor Hillary Ronen.  During that time she was involved in creating “Mental Health SF”, helped implement the city’s first Navigation Center, and worked to open the City’s first LGBTQ Shelter, “Jazzie’s Place”.

Her passions include queer joy, community, racial justice, immigrant rights, ending homelessness, the LGBTQ movement, noodles, her teenage kids, dancing, and her beautiful wife. She is honored to join the board of LYRIC, an organization she has admired and worked alongside for over 10 years. She is also a board member with the Gubbio Project, an organization that provides safe space and harm reduction services to unhoused San Franciscans.


Dustin Smith Dustin N. Smith grew up in Central New York and identifies as a first-generation college student from a working class blended family. He attended University at Buffalo, SUNY for undergraduate studies in history, anthropology, and fine arts. After a short career in restaurant and catering management he moved to San Francisco to pursue a master’s degree in social and cultural anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). In his graduate studies, he focused on the intersection of sexuality, globalization, and human rights while also studying how social justice and social change work happens through nonprofits and non-governmental organizations in collaboration with community and allies. This led him to seek work in cultural spaces at the intersection of theory and practice, community and care. He interned and conducted research with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Visual Aid, a nonprofit organization supporting artists with life threatening illnesses.

For seven years he worked across public programming and fundraising at CIIS and led the national academic conference, “Expanding the Circle: Creating an Inclusive Environment in Higher Education for LGBTQ Students and Studies”. Over the last ten years Dustin has worked at California College of the Arts (CCA) in a variety of capacities. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Youth Programs and Continuing Education, overseeing youth programs serving middle and high school students, extension courses for adults, and study abroad travel programs for college students.

With over 18 years of experience in nonprofit and academic management, Dustin is a passionate and skilled leader in arts and culture education and advocacy. As someone who is queer and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he is also a fierce advocate for gender equity as well as racial and environmental justice. These identities and commitments inform his holistic approach to education and service as transformative acts. He is excited to work alongside the board, leadership, and staff of LYRIC to support, advance, and celebrate the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth!


Eddie Shieh is a certified coach and design educator who works with underrepresented professionals in the tech industry. Prior to this, Eddie ran trainings and workshops to help teams at startups, e-commerce and financial services companies improve cross-discipline collaboration. And before that, Eddie worked as a User Experience Design consultant helping companies design more humane products.

As a fresh-faced student and transgender transplant from Baltimore seeking a better queer life in San Francisco in 2007, Eddie got involved in the LGBTQ+ community through volunteering at Lyon-Martin Health Services, Project HEALTH, TransTHRIVE, and API Wellness. Now all grown up—whatever that means!—Eddie is honored to join LYRIC’s board and apply his experience coaching leaders and facilitating collaboration to help further LYRIC’s mission to empower LGBTQ+ youth.

Eddie has an MFA in Computer Arts from the Academy of Art in San Francisco and a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from the University of Maryland where he studied drawing, sculpture and printmaking. He loves to nerd out on deep life stuff, play board games and go hiking with his partner and two kids.


Photo of Erik Martinez, TreasurerErik Martinez is a manager in the Student & Family Services Division within San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), where he currently supervises student leadership and focal services for students, including LGBTQ Student Services, Foster Youth Services, Immigrant and Refugee Supports, and Students and Families Experiencing Homelessness. During Erik’s time in SFUSD, he led the launch of QGroups – psycho-educational groups for middle and high school students – that is now currently held by a collaborative between SFUSD, LYRIC and other local community organizations across 20 schools. Erik’s early experiences as LGBTQ+ youth worker in the central valley (Modesto) and San Francisco were fundamental to launching his leadership as a queer person of color and informs his lens working with youth. He is a proud alumnus of San Francisco State University where he earned his Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Sexuality Studies.

Erik currently lives in Oakland with his husband and year-old pit mix, Corazon. When they are not working hard for public education, they love to spend time being complete sci-fi nerds, hosting friends and family on their patio with food and 90s R&B in the background, or trying out new recipes.


Jorge Rivas

Jorge Rivas Jr (he/him/el) was born in California’s Central Valley to proud immigrant farmworkers from Mexico. He is the first in his family to receive a college degree, fluent in Spanish, a gay man, and a proud uncle and brother.

Jorge has nearly 20 years of experience in economic and community development. He has a strong interest in immigrant rights and public policy that focuses on social justice and inclusion. Currently, Jorge serves as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA). In this role, he promotes civic participation, policies, and programs to improve the lives of immigrants, newcomers, and underserved communities.

Before joining OCEIA, Jorge served as Deputy Director at Local Initiatives Support Corporation Bay Area. There, he supported the preservation and production of affordable housing and the advancement of inclusive economic opportunities for people of color and immigrants. Before this role, he worked at the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, leading interagency, cross-sector programs and projects to strengthen San Francisco’s commercial districts and their most vulnerable small business owners and workers. Jorge was an inaugural member of the San Francisco Soda Tax Implementation Committee and helped institutionalize San Francisco’s healthy corner store program. He holds a Masters in Planning from the University of Southern California and a BA in Urban Studies from UC Berkeley.

Jorge lives in SOMA, appreciates a good gym workout, looks forward to a quiet night out, is always down for a delicious quesadilla, often needs a vacation, and enjoys visiting his family in central California.


Photo of Michael Appel, Board Co-chairMichael Appel is incredibly proud to be part of LYRIC and its critical mission of providing services to the community and advocating for LGBTQQ+ youth. He just completed his two-year term as co-chair of the Board and continues to serve as a co-chair of LYRIC’s capital campaign committee.

Michael is a lawyer, communicator, and strategist. He grew up in Iowa, practiced law at a large firm in Washington, DC, and later transitioned to crisis management and public affairs consulting. Now, he works at Google. For three years he led West Coast state and local policy communications and, today, he works on AI policy and regulation communications matters and government affairs in California.

Michael believes that LYRIC is successful when it is supporting its staff and serving LGBTQQ+ youth through programs, services, and advocacy. Outside of work and volunteering, there’s a good chance you can find Michael on a tennis court or exploring San Francisco and the Bay Area with his partner, Jake, and their dog, Bella.


Growing up in & around New York City, Mike Milley learned about queer culture and activism from some deeply fabulous old queens. Since our shared LGBTQ+ culture is so often rendered invisible, he hopes to keep that generational wisdom and support alive in his work at LYRIC.

Mike has worked as a Futurist and Creative Strategist at some pretty fancy companies, including Nike, Samsung, and BMW. In his current role at Mercedes-Benz, he is responsible for anticipating the social, cultural, and technological changes that will influence future U.S. consumer attitudes. He loves his work, and has learned to accept that being a Futurist sometimes means being tired of something that hasn’t even happened yet.

When he’s not speculating about what’s next, Mike loves trail running, Szechuan food, and The New York Times crossword puzzle.

Mike was educated at Columbia University and Parsons School of Design. He has been on the faculty of ArtCenter College for Design’s graduate Media Design Program since 2010. He has been a regular Guest Educator at The Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian Design Museum’s children’s education programs. He is also the founder and Co-Chair of Mercedes-Benz R&D’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.


Patty Barahona grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey where their family still resides. Patty attended Rutgers University, Douglass College where they received their Bachelor’s degree with a focus on Women & Gender Studies and then pursued a Master’s Degree Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from the School for International Training located in Brattleboro, VT.

Patty’s nonprofit leadership experience began as Public Education Coordinator at the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) working to support survivors of sexual assault and educate those who partner with survivors statewide. During their time at NJCASA, they developed curriculum with a focus on primary prevention and bystander interventions of sexual violence in the LGBTQ and Latino community. They then joined Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice in Oakland (now known as Forward Together) where they worked with SAFIRE, a young women’s leadership development program, and developed a political education curriculum focused on young mothers and the criminal justice system.

For the past 11 years, Patty has been with Youth Leadership Institute (yli) holding a variety of roles including starting as a Program Coordinator in Marin County, serving as the Director for the San Francisco office, the statewide Chief People Officer, and then becoming the Chief Executive Officer in 2019. Today, Patty oversees a staff of over 65 across the state of California and an annual budget of $9 million.

Patty is known for their energizing and excellent facilitating and is a highly sought after trainer, having trained thousands of young people and adults on making equitable change in their communities. In addition to their board service at LYRIC, Patty is a Board of Trustee for the California State Bar, appointed by the Governor. Patty lives in Modesto California with their partner and 9 year old son and enjoys playing the harp and building community with new EDs of color across the state!


Phil Kim is the Director of Science, Technology, and Engineering for KIPP Foundation, leading the STEM vision and direction for KIPP’s 242 schools serving more than 100,00 students across the country. Phil began his years in education teaching 7th grade Life Science, then went on to hold various roles within STEM and Personalized Learning for KIPP Bay Area. He continues to work at the local, state, and national levels on Next Generation Science Standards implementation, curriculum, and STEM equity.

Phil holds a B.S. in Neuroscience from Bucknell University, and a M.A. in Urban Education Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. He remains active in the Bucknell network, serving as President of the Alumni Club of Northern California. Phil spends most of his time eating his way through neighborhoods and cities, and is deeply invested in communities and conversations at the intersections of policy, politics, and public education. He is a two-time city-wide candidate for the SFUSD Board of Education and Board member of the Alice B Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.


Ryan Merkler

Ryan Merkler (he/him) Formally trained as an accountant, Ryan brings to Lyric over 10 years of professional experience working in finance. His ability to simplify and resolve complex issues position him to contribute to board oversight roles and engage board colleagues and management with strategic and innovative insights.

Working as an auditor with KPMG in San Francisco, Ryan cut his professional teeth auditing companies in the life science and venture capital backed industry groups. Since transitioning from consulting to working in-house, Ryan has worked at both private and publicly traded companies.

During his high school years in San Diego, Ryan found a community of LGBTQ peers in a PFLAG related youth group. Ryan is excited to be involved with and help grow LYRIC, so that the LGBTQ youth in San Francisco will always have support and community.

Ryan earned a BS in History from the University of California at Riverside and an MBA/Master of Science in Accounting from Northeastern University. He is a CPA licensed in California.