KIRKLAND — Kirkland-based Friends of Youth has promoted Cassandra Butler to be its first director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The move announced in a Sept. 23 press release from FOY officials, is based on its commitment to jumpstart a journey toward becoming an anti-racist multicultural agency.
"We believe that homelessness, foster care, and many other programs Friends of Youth provides services in, suffers from systemic oppression based on racism, classism, homophobia, and countless other barriers," said Friends of Youth President and CEO Paul Lwali. "To solve youth homelessness, we have to address racism and inequity in every aspect of our work, especially our services to disproportionately impacted communities and clients. As the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Cassandra will help lead, shape, and guide our organizational social justice efforts, initiatives and services.”
Butler was hired as FOY’s Emergency Shelter program manager in January of 2015 and has spent her tenancy coordinating staff workshops with the People’s Institute and Undoing Institutional Racism network.
She’s also worked as a community organizer with The Village of Hope, the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Society, and the Community Queens Collective. From 2018-2020, she served as the executive vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Board.
“A little under five years ago when I started this journey at Friends of Youth, I had no idea where this road would lead me,” Butler said. “I am happy to say that it has led me into an opportunity to create change and make a difference in the communities that Friends of Youth serves. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just a job to me it is the way I live my life. “
According to the release, Friends of Youth has been helping young people in challenging circumstances to get their lives back on track since 1951. FOY offers programs that positively impact youth in 18 cities across the Puget Sound region and operates the only overnight youth shelter on the Eastside.
Visit www.friendsofyouth.org for more information.