Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Change Makers, and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Alexander Roque, the president and executive director of the Ali Forney Center. Let’s learn what’s happening at the Ali Forney Center and how Alexander is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Alex, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is the Ali Forney Center addressing?
Alex: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! The Ali Forney Center addresses homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, medical/mental health, and educational needs for homeless youth. Overall, we address the fight for equality, responding to the byproducts of hate, homophobia, and transphobia.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Alex: I am motivated in knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of young people who have been denied a home, support, and love. Helping others and showing them they are worthy is a primary motivator for me, because I was once like many of these young people who needed help.
Spiffy: I love that! How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Alex: The Ali Forney Center serves to help homeless youth who are rejected by their families because of their identities. Specifically, we help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, who are not welcome at home because their parents are homophobic or transphobic. These are young people ages 16 to 24 years old.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make?
Alex: We recently launched a career and educational readiness program that is first-of- its-kind designed specifically for this community and centered around equality in education and economic empowerment, as well as in job training, readiness, and placement. Because homeless LGBTQ youth face so many obstacles in the community, offering programs onsite is a vital support.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Alex: We can all make a difference in the lives of those who need help! Find ways to share kindness and compassion with others.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Alex—it’s been an honor!
Alexander Roque has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector. Over the past 15 years, Alex has led community and business development, fundraising, and communications for non-profit organizations. Alex was recruited to the Ali Forney Center in 2011 and became the agency's executive director in March of 2020, succeeding its founder of 18 years. He serves as board secretary for Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation committed to promoting kindness and mental health supports for youth. (Nominated by Ladderworks. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 19, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jason Block. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.