About - Mission

Founded in 2009, Youth OUTright WNC, Inc. (YO) is the only youth advocacy and leadership non-profit organization in the region solely dedicated to empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual and allied (LGBTQIA+) youth ages 11-20 in Western North Carolina. Based on 2010 U.S. Census figures, it is estimated that there could be more than 4,000 LGBTQ youth in our 18-county region.

We engage and support LGBTQIA+ youth ages 11-20 to be confident, resilient and compassionate community members.

We envision a world where youth of all gender and sexual identities are empowered to reach their full potential.

We provide information, support and resources in a safer, inclusive and affirming environment.

We believe that no youth – regardless of their sexual identity, gender expression or gender identification – should be bullied, harassed or discriminated against because of who they are or are perceived to be.

Youth OUTright WNC, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 organization.



  • 2006

    A group of gay and lesbian Asheville citizens began discussing the gap in programs and services for LGBTQ youth, an at-risk population often targeted for bullying and hate crimes, in WNC. Youth OUTright WNC, Inc. (YO) incorporated with the State of North Carolina, established by-laws, and created its first board of directors. The organization’s first public event held an information table at Asheville’s Blue Ridge Pride Festival.
  • 2008

    The organization became a program of PFLAG Asheville (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and began providing services and initiated fundraising activities. YO held its first facilitator training program, which was conducted by representatives from Time Out Youth, a Charlotte based LGBTQ. High schools in WNC received literature announcing upcoming Friday meetings. YO held its first reception to introduce the organization, establish its mission, and to ask for volunteers.
  • 2009

    YO’s first youth group met January 30 at Jefferson House, a space donated by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, Four youth attended. In June, Youth OUTright WNC, Inc. was designated a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization by the IRS. Two hundred and five youth attended meetings in 2009.
  • 2010

    YO’s First Anniversary Party for youth, held at Firestorm Café and Books, included live entertainment, Thirty-five youth attended the Alt Prom, a socially inclusive event for youth, was held at Phil Mechanic Studios. Youth group meetings moved to First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Asheville on Sunday afternoons. In response to recent youth suicides, YO expanded its programming. Three hundred and twenty six youth visits were documented in 2010.
  • 2011

    YO’s first fundraising event, held at the historic Manor Inn, featured the premiere of the documentary Campaign 8, which depicted the personal experiences of YO youth and was produced and directed by Robert Gaston. One hundred and thirty people attended. In September, YO contracted its first part-time executive director. Cumulative youth meeting visits reached 816.
  • 2012

    At the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, YO premiered A Million Reasons featuring interviews with a cross-section of multigenerational Asheville citizens regarding their personal experiences with LGBTQ issues. The first newsletter was produced and the website was revised to include active links to local, regional and national resources benefiting LGBTQ youth, their parents, and allies. Average attendance at weekly youth meetings increased by 60% with total visits exceeding 1,300. YO’s first youth impact survey revealed that 70% of youth reported increased self-confidence and a sense of belonging and community as a direct result of their participation in YO.
  • 2013

    Unique youth reached by YO increased by 40%. Cumulative visits exceeded 2,000 and average weekly attendance increased more than 50% in part due to the organization hiring its first part-time youth programs coordinator. YO Prom: Embrace, Encourage, Empower attracted 80 youth from seven WNC counties. Safe Space, a pro bono collaboration with A Visual Link Films, demonstrated the impact YO had on its youth participants, premiered at THE DANCE. YO developed Working with LGBTQ Youth, a seminar for professionals who work with youth .
  • 2014

    Youth Outright premiered Young Voices, an annual fundraising event featuring performances for local LGBTQA youth. The first annual event saw record attendance for a YO event. By years’ end, YO had served # youth through Sunday meetings and special events.
  • 2015

    YO collaborated with UNCA to create an original mainstage theater work Qtopia. The production featured several YO youth participants.

Board Of Directors

  • Our Board & Staff

    Our Board of Directors is made up of a wide variety of people from business, education, social services, and other professionals from the community as well as at least one youth member. This diverse group shares a strong common belief in the mission of our organization and works toward creating a safe and affirming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth by leading key committees, developing community partnerships, guiding the direction of YO’s efforts, and participating in fundraising campaigns.

    Youth OUTright, WNC’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization, is currently seeking new members for our Board of Directors. Individuals with expertise or life experience in the following areas/identities are especially encouraged to inquire: mental health services, fundraising/development, marketing and communications, finances, current or former K-12 public school teacher or administrator, human resources, people of color and trans and non-binary folks. Please contact us for more information.

  • Lorena Russell, Chair

    Lorena Russell, Chair

    Lorena Russell grew up in south Florida before moving to western North Carolina in the 1970s. She taught horseback riding for about 10 years at summer camps near Brevard and in Washington D.C., Towson MD and southern VA. She and her partner Kitty moved to Asheville in the early 1980’s, where Lorena completed her undergraduate degrees in English and German at UNC Asheville and an MLA. She studied at Chapel Hill in English & WMST, with a research focus in queer studies. Since returning to UNC Asheville as faculty in 2002, she has taught a range of classes in English, Humanities & WGSS and currently directs a university critical thinking initiative, the Inquiry ARC. She enjoys photography, gardening and travel. You can reach out to Lorena via her email address Lorena.Russell@youthoutright.org
  • Adrian Parra, Executive Director

    Adrian Parra, Executive Director

    Adrian grew up in southern California, is latinx and non-binary, defaults to he/him/his, but uses fluid pronouns. He studied fine art photography at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Since school he has worked in a variety of fields from freelance photography and design, to curriculum development for Galileo Summer Quest’s day camp program. Beyond his work on his own art and youth development, Adrian has also been a part of a number of housing cooperatives, art collectives and collaborative projects. Working in collaboration with the community and pooling resources to support each other and facilitate growth in the scale and impact of the work has always been a focus for Adrian and he has brought that collaborative open working style to Youth OUTright. He started volunteering with Youth OUTright in the beginning of 2017, then late that summer developed a 6 week photography workshop for the youth, and presented that work as a part of YO’s annual fundraiser Young Voices. For him, “Empowering the youth to express themselves, and watching them run with it, is the most rewarding part of the job.” Adrian is committed to his role as Executive Director and looks forward to empowering the LGBTQIA+ youth of WNC, cultivating a culture of consent, equity and compassion, facilitating intergenerational dialogue, developing life skills, creating space for self-expression and promoting self-care and wellness. You can reach Adrian at adrian.parra at youthoutright . org His phone number is 828 – 738 – 2397
  • Tricia Osterberger

    Tricia Osterberger

    Tricia is a mental health and addictions therapist in the Asheville area. She has worked in the area of mental health and substance for the past sixteen years. She has extensive experience working with youth and communities to facilitate education, growth, and understanding. When she’s not working, she enjoys being in nature and spending time with friends and family.
  • Roy Philbrick

    Roy Philbrick

    Roy (Rory) Philbrick uses He/Him pronouns and has been going to YO since 2013. He was the President of the Youth Advisory Board from 2017-March 2019. In 2016, he received a scholarship to attend the Creating Change conference in Chicago and another time in 2018 in Washington DC. He says, “Youth OUTright has saved me countless time in my life. It’s my second home.” He also serves on the Asheville PFLAG Board and on the Youth Action Board for Addressing Homelessness in Asheville. In the future of volunteering at YO he wants to help YO staff and board work with YAB and youth more, bringing more racial justice programming, continuing consent and safer sex education and supporting youth leadership. When he is not doing activism, he likes to hang out with his friends and play with dogs. In the future, he wants to work at an animal shelter and be a human rights activist. You can reach Roy at Roy . Philbrick @ youthoutright.org
  • Brandon Romstadt

    Brandon Romstadt

    Brandon Romstadt is an Asheville native with a deep understanding of queer life in the south. As a young person, Brandon knew that he wanted to serve the community in ways that improved health and fostered a since of belonging for all people. Brandon graduated from UNCA with a degree in Health and Wellness Promotion, which offered him all the tools he needed to start living his dream. Brandon now works in Communications and Community Engagement for Buncombe County Health and Human Services where he has the opportunity to work with community and agency partners to address health disparities in Buncombe County. The queer community in the south is among those that face a number of disparities that create barriers to all forms of health care, reliable information, opportunities to accrue wealth and community connectedness. As a member of the Youth Outright Board, Brandon looks forward to addressing these barriers and, in turn, improving conditions for LGBTQ+ youth in our region.
  • Jordan Perry

    Jordan Perry

    Jordan Perry (she/her or they/them) is a North Carolina native with stints up and down the East Coast. She is a health educator by trade, and cares deeply about the health and happiness of queer and trans youth. Jordan works at UNC Asheville as a staff member and adjunct lecturer. They are an organizer for the biennial Queer Studies Conference at UNC Asheville, advises UNCA Out, the LGBTQ+ club on campus, and has presented at regional and national conferences on gender and sexuality inclusive health promotion. Jordan enjoys roller derby, cooking vegetarian/vegan foods, and being outdoors in good weather. You can reach Jordan at jordan.perry@youthoutright.org.
  • Rachel Stein

    Rachel Stein

    Rachel Stein was raised in the flat Midwest but she loves mountains. At age 18, she picked Asheville out on a map and attended UNCA, earning a degree in Literature. She then completed an MA at Emory and later a PhD at Rutgers. She’s taught high school and college, with a focus on diverse writers and racial/gender/sexual/environmental justice. She’s also written and edited books and articles on those topics. She has two grown children and she loves singing, gardening, reading and writing, walking all over town, and working toward justice. At YO, she’s particularly excited about supporting youth through GSAs and consent/sex education.

Youth OUTright, WNC’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization, is currently seeking new members for our Board of Directors. Board members ensure that YO works toward creating a safe and affirming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Board members do this by leading key committees, developing community partnerships,












  • Employment Opportunities

    There are no openings at this time. Please check our volunteer page for opportunities.