FORTY TO NONE PROJECT DIRECTOR
For more than a decade, Jama Shelton has worked in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness. After receiving an MSW in 2004, Shelton began a 9-year stint at the Ali Forney Center, an organization that provides housing and supportive services for gay and transgender youth experiencing homelessness. During her tenure she played an integral role in the building of the most expansive housing program in the nation for gay and transgender youth. Having worked in various roles – first as a direct service provider, then developing and directing the expansion of their housing program, and finally as a researcher, program evaluation and trainer – Jama brings a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing both homeless gay and transgender youth and also the service providers with whom they work.
Shelton has extensive experience as a trainer and consultant. She has led numerous workshops throughout the United States and Canada, providing technical assistance in partnership with organizations like the Runaway and Homeless Youth Technical Assistance and Training Center and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Shelton has also presented original research about the experiences of homeless gay and transgender youth at various conferences including the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and the Society for Social Work and Research. Shelton is also an active contributor to multiple organizations. She is a member of the Society for Research on Adolescence, serving as an Emerging Scholar representative on their Awards Committee and also serves on New York City’s Administration for Children and Family Services’ LGBTQ Training Academy Task Force.
Shelton is a leading authority on the unique needs of transgender and gender non-conforming youth experiencing homelessness, which is the topic of her dissertation research. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Social Welfare program at the CUNY Graduate Center, expecting to complete her PhD in May 2013. She is a professor at both the Hunter and NYU Schools of Social Work, leading all of her classes through the lens of anti-oppression and raising issues of social justice to her students. Last year Shelton was elected Faculty Marshall by the student body at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and led the students into their graduation ceremony. She takes the job of educating the next generation of social service providers quite seriously. In addition to her formal education as a social worker and her practice experience with gay and transgender youth, Shelton’s life experiences have played an integral role in her professional trajectory. As a formerly homeless youth, she is well aware of the critical need for building education and awareness for all families and all youth, as well as the importance of inclusion and the impact of rejection.