HRC Foundation Announces Class of 2021 Youth Ambassadors

by HRC Staff

The HRC Foundation Youth Ambassadors help raise awareness about its programs to improve the lives of LGBTQ youth at home, at school, at work and beyond.

HRC Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Program is pleased to announce the 2021 class of HRC Youth Ambassadors: Luke Chacko, Nico Craig, Junior Hernandez, Nakiya Lynch, Alise Maxie, Ve'ondre Mitchell, Molly Pinta, Joseph Reed, Ash Silcott and Jalen Smith.

As Youth Ambassadors, these LGBTQ advocates will represent the HRC Foundation, adding their voices and experiences to raise awareness about the most pressing concerns facing LGBTQ youth and our programs that promote well-being for LGBTQ youth, including All Children - All Families, Welcoming Schools and Youth Well-Being, as well as our eighth annual Time to THRIVE Conference in February.

Five members of the cohort will begin their first year as Youth Ambassadors: Chacko, Maxie, Mitchell, Silcott and Smith.

This program is designed to amplify the important voices of teens and young adults, and engage them in helping HRC Foundation improve the lives of LGBTQ youth at home, at school, at work and beyond. These youth have real and meaningful contributions to make to HRC’s work and to their communities.

Dr. Vincent Pompei, HRC Foundation’s Director of the Youth Well-Being Program and the Time to THRIVE Conference

We would like to thank Ace Auker, Sam Moehlig, Ashton Mota, Brooklyn Owen, Avi Newlyn Pacheco, Gia Parr, Savannah Skyler and Nicole Talbot for their service as Youth Ambassadors. These incredible advocates have ended their two-year term.

For more information on the HRC Foundation’s Youth Ambassadors Program, contact Pompei.


Luke Chacko (he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs)
Arlington, Texas

Luke Chacko is a 15-year-old from Arlington, Texas, who became a viral internet sensation after a performance on stage with Idina Menzel at the Verizon Theater. This moment landed him a spot on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and gave him a platform to share his experiences with bullying and homophobia. It also provided him the opportunity to perform all over the country for the Boys and Girls Club of America and other charitable organizations. Chacko is passionate about using songwriting as a tool to help others. At age 11, he wrote his first song entitled “King,” that addressed his struggle with bullying and how he overcame it. A forthcoming EP, entitled “The Color Movement,” talks about his struggles with being stereotyped as a gay male, anxiety and feeling accepted in the world. His hope is to encourage people to be authentic and to empower and support the LGBTQ community through his music.

Nico Craig (he/him/his)
Los Angeles, California

Nico Craig is an 18-year-old DJ and music producer from Los Angeles. He has DJed at HRC galas across the country for six years. He attended Culver City High School, where he spread his passion for uniting the LGBTQ community among his peers. Craig became an activist, creating his middle school’s first and only LGBTQ student organization. These efforts earned him the American Citizenship Award by Culver City. He strived to transform his negative experiences with harassment and bullying into fighting for acceptance and equal treatment on his campus. After graduating high school in 2020, he continues to be involved in the LGBTQ community, and he recently came out as a transgender man. With his passion in music, he has earned the opportunity to speak on the Grammy X GLAAD panel with LGBTQ and ally music artists such as Dan Reynolds, Linda Perry, Asiahn, Shea Diamond and many others. Craig aims to be a light for trans and gender non-conforming BIPOC communities.

Alise Maxie (they/them/theirs, she/her/hers)
Houston, Texas

Alise Maxie is a 20-year-old student, activist and organizer from Houston, Texas. They are a non-binary lesbian currently pursuing a marketing and legal studies degree at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. After encountering a negative experience being outed to their family during their sophomore year of high school, Maxie made it their goal to not only be a voice for LGBTQ youth, but to create a support system for LGBTQ youth in low income and minority areas. Although their activism journey has just begun, Maxie is working to become the proud LGBTQ role model they wish they had in their community growing up, and is already known on and off campus as a strong, positive force in the community. Within the last year, Maxie has led their first protest, partnered with HRC Foundation as an organizing committee member for the HBCU Program, created a series of sex health video blogs (vlogs) geared toward minortities and implemented a self-run kindness initiative program on their campus.

Ve’ondre Mitchell (she/her/hers)
Seattle, Washington

Ve’ondre Mitchell is a 16-year-old proud Black/Latinx trans woman of color. She is currently in her junior year of high school and is a fierce advocate on social media. Since she was a child, Mitchell has been driven to unapologetically live her truth, and she finds innovative and creative ways to educate and lift up the voices that need to be heard! Mitchell’ shines a light on popular topics of interest by sharing her experiences, giving advice and hopes and demonstrating self-confidence and self-love by sharing educational videos to a large online audience. To make changes and spread awareness in her school and her community, Mitchell strongly believes in trans visibility. She demonstrates this by singing in school assemblies, coaching her school dance team, participating in the Black Student Union, doing enlightening interviews and marching and protesting against racial and gender inequality.

Ash Silcott (they/them/theirs)

Ash Silcott is a 15-year-old non-binary person from Wyoming. Silcott’s story started when they were little and their mom took them to their first women’s march and pride march. Although they have a supportive family, Silcott still had trouble understanding themself. Their peers started using ‘gay’ as an insult and made Silcott feel unwanted. This continued until Silcott got to eighth grade and became a member of their school’s GSA. Not long after, a group of kids in Silcott’s grade put up racist and anti-LGBTQ posters in their school. Silcott quickly acted to defend their fellow students and went to every school board meeting, despite being the only student from the school there. But instead of helping the students who were the victims, the school decided to ban rainbows in an attempt to stop the controversy. Instead of giving up, Silcott decided to do something bold and returned to school the next week with dyed rainbow hair. Not long after, one of the kids behind the posters was suspended, and the school began to become more inclusive by hiring new staff members to do acceptance trainings. Silcott continues to advocate for the LGBTQ community and Black lives.

Jalen Smith (he/him/his)
South Pasadena, California

Jalen Smith is a community college graduate and human rights activist from Pasadena, California, currently studying political science and film. In 2018, Smith sought to better educate those around him and make mental health resources more available by partaking in his own social advocacy. Having worked with city government and been involved with various LGBTQ+ organizations, he seeks to ensure the well-being and livelihood of queer, gender-diverse youth everywhere. After speaking with journalists and state legislators nationwide about the struggles faced by young people, Smith has gone on to lobby for monumental bills like the Equality Act, intern for the United States Senate, and even model for rap group Brockhampton. Moreover, as an advocate, he not only aims to help others feel valid in their identities, but help them understand the importance of living their story and their truth.