About The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance


The mission of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (the Alliance) is to promote safety, support and healthy development for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, in Illinois schools and communities, through advocacy, education, youth organizing and research.


The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance envisions a world in which youth develop to their fullest potential, learning in safe and nurturing schools, living in communities that accept and honor differences, where everyone has the freedom to express their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The goals of the Alliance are:

1) Public Education: To educate and involve schools, community organizations, parents, public officials, youth and the general public in Illinois, regarding sexual orientation and gender identity issues and the needs of LGBTQ youth in schools; 2) Youth Organizing: To engage youth across the state of Illinois to become leaders in the LGBTQ safe schools movement and be agents of change in their own schools and communities; 3) Policy and Advocacy: To conduct advocacy activities that will result in the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues in the programs and policies that support the safety and well-being of youth.


The Alliance is the result of the joining of forces between Creating Safe Schools for Illinois (CSSI-formerly GLSEN Chicago) and the Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation (CESO). The two organizations have joined together to lead the LGBTQ safe schools movement in Illinois and to focus on implementing a model of working with school districts on the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our model includes policy advocacy with school district administrators, training for school personnel, and technical assistance with young people on existing or emerging gay/straight alliances.

To view our latest IRS 990, please click here.

To view our latest AG9990-IL, please click here.

To view our latest financial audit report, please click here.

Our FEIN is 20-4255290 

Staff Directory & Contact Information

Please click here for staff bios

phone: 312-533-2624
fax: 312-281-6502

Owen Daniel-McCarter (x321)
Executive Director
email: owen@illinoissafeschools.org

Nat Duran (x323)
Youth Engagement Manager
email: nat@illinoissafeschools.org

AJ Jennings (x316)
Curriculum and Professional Development Director
email: aj@illinoissafeschools.org 

Alexia Rice-Henry (x319)
Operations Manager
email: alexia@illinoissafeschools.org

Jordee Yanez (x317)
Central Illinois Program Coordinator
email: jordee@illinoissafeschools.org

Elijah Valentin (x315)
Administrative and Design Coordinator
email: admin1@illinoissafeschools.org

Board of Directors

  • Jahaan Abdullah - Chair
  • Aisha N. Davis. Esq. - Vice-Chair
  • Casey Horton, Past-Chair 
  • Adam Black - Couture Vision
  • John D'Emilio - University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Rick Fernandez - Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago
  • Searah Deysach - Early to Bed
  • Mary Morten - Morten Group
  • Jacob Mueller - University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Melissa Ockerman - DePaul University
  • Joseph Weber - Advanced Discovery
  • Steve Whitley -  University of Illinois at Chicago, Library 
  • Owen Daniel-McCarter, Executive Directior