Rockstar Feature: Alex Barker

With the announcement of the Youth MOVE National 2020 RAVE (Rockstar Awards Virtual Edition), we want to spend the next couple of weeks featuring some of our past winners and highlight some of the great work that was done to earn these folks awards in the past.

Remember, if you know a youth, youth advocate, or organization doing amazing work, nominate them for a RAVE!

Deadline: October 2nd

Honoring Alex Barker

Recently, we checked in with Alex to see how things were going since winning their award in 2019. Here’s a few words from this amazing Rockstar!

My passion for this work continues after receiving this award. I have now completed half of an MSW (Master of Social Work) program and recently took an internship with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. I continue to partner with NC State university researching and assessing how 4-H cooperative extension can further their efforts to include and support LGBTQ+ youth in North Carolina. Lastly, I work with the Teen Court program in Raleigh, NC to support and assist youth in living a crime-free future.

Below is the nomination that Alex received that earned their the award!

Alex Barker is an outstandingly thoughtful, creative, and effective advocate, engaging in work that has impacted a variety of youth-serving systems, including mental health, schools, and the legal system. Alex is a natural leader who consistently brings a strategic, strengths-based perspective to the table, inviting other advocates and professionals to do the same. Alex has worked on two national boards- the National Youth Advisory Council and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Youth Task Force, which is where I met them a year ago. Alex now serves as a Co-Chair of the NCTSN Youth Task Force, with a specific focus on mentorship and training for youth and young adult advocates with lived expertise related to trauma. This is a perfect leadership role for Alex, as I have seen them comfortably and effectively bring forward both their professional and their lived expertise to advocate for changes in how mental health providers and systems interact with youth. Alex advocates strongly and persuasively for strong youth-provider partnership in mental health treatment, elevating the importance of youth’s expertise about their own experiences and the direction of their care.

When Alex originally relocated to NC, they worked in a rural school system for the Cooperative Extension 4-H program, providing group services to youth experiencing behavioral health concerns and educating community members on child trauma and youth mental health. After less than a year in that position, Alex conceptualized and gained leadership buy-in to develop a research study about the impact (or lack of impact) of 4-H programming for LGBTQ+ students in schools across the state. They invited me to be a part of a team strategizing and implementing the project. I was not only struck by Alex’s incredible vision for this work, but also their initiative and ability to gain buy-in from leadership, to pull together a strong team, and to facilitate meetings to move the project forward into implementation. Although Alex has since left that job, the project continues to move forward, in line with their vision to build protective factors and reduce risk factors for LGBTQ+ youth in our state, especially in rural public schools. Since being in NC, Alex has also been accepted to the Board of Safe Schools NC, a statewide board focused on creating safer schools for LGBTQ+ youth.
As a LGBTQ+-identified person living in the Southeast U.S., I could not choose a better advocate to co-conspire with than Alex. I have consistently been inspired by their approach to advocacy- their insightful perspectives, their relationship and bridge-building approaches, and their natural and impactful leadership. Their contribution to impacting youth-serving systems, both locally here in the Southeast as well as nationally, has been truly outstanding, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with them and learn from them.

In 2019, Alex won the Tricialouise Gurley-Millard Youth Advocate Award

Thank you, Alex, for all that you do!

Remember, if you know someone who would make a great Rockstar, nominate them today! Deadline is October, 2nd, 2020

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