For seventeen years, Bridget Hughes has dedicated herself to creating innovative, effective programs addressing the pressing and specific needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, and building on their strengths, talents, and capacity for hope.
Thanks to Bridget, thousands of LGBT youth across New York City have opportunities and programs in out of school time designed just for them. Throughout her career, Bridget has taken existing models and frameworks of youth development, substance abuse prevention, and school safety and tailored them for LGBT youth.
Bridget has a keen understanding of her students’ needs and interests, and the special ability to turn the mission of the LGBT Center into stellar programs and initiatives for young people who often face harassment, rejection, and violence in other settings. Bridget began her work with the Center as a volunteer; being a former teacher, she gravitated to the youth services the Center provided and became an integral part of the staff. The YES Summer Camp, whose creation she spearheaded, was the country’s first summer camp for LGBT youth, and remains only one that is completely free to participants.
As the driving force behind the exponential growth of Center’s Youth Enrichment Services (YES) program, Bridget initiates and implements programs that respond to the evolving and often unseen needs of LGBT youth. Realizing that many youth were not acquiring basic computer skills, she created the Job Readiness Project. Hearing from youth that they were not safe from harassment in their schools, she started the YES Safe Schools Campaign, which includes an internship program where youth help their peers start Gay/Straight Alliances (GSA) and citywide GSA Friday night meetings at the Center. Recognizing the need for creative outlets for self-expression, she collaborated with the New York Gay Men’s Chorus to create the Youth Pride Chorus.
Bridget’s authenticity, compassion, and unwavering commitment to the LGBT youth of New York City have enabled her to build one of the first and finest afterschool programs of its kind in the country. As a result of her hard work, hundreds of youth have developed the skills, confidence, and resolve to work to better themselves, their communities, and the world.