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Sameer Jha

Founder, The Empathy Alliance

Sameer Jha is a 16 year old trans and queer activist, and a student at The College Preparatory School in Oakland. Driven by his personal experiences with being bullied in school, Sameer started a nonprofit called The Empathy Alliance to make grades K-12 safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students.

Today, The Empathy Alliance has grown from a small, local entity working with a few schools to a national nonprofit connected to some of the largest organizations focused on the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ youth. Sameer is frequently invited to speak at conferences, write articles, facilitate workshops, and host educational events. He has reached thousands of educators and student leaders across America on topics as diverse as trans rights, hidden biases, starting a GSA, coming out, exploring gender, and understanding intersectionality.

He has collaborated on special projects and campaigns with the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, GSA Network, Trikone, GLSEN, Frameline, and the City of Oakland. Sameer enjoys leading meetings and fun activities as co-president of his school’s GSA, the largest and most active student club on campus. As a half-Indian, half-Pakistani queer person, Sameer also does a lot of work to remove the stigma around being an LGBTQ+ youth in South Asian and other immigrant communities. He is now distilling his learnings into a book for teachers to help them create more LGBTQ+ inclusive classrooms. Sameer is a Congressional Award recipient, and has been named one of the top trans youth activists of color in America. His work has been featured in New York Magazine, NPR, MTV News, Logo NewNowNext, Man Repeller, Youth Radio, Huffington Post, Mashable, Mercury News, Bay Area Reporter, A Beautiful Perspective, SFGate, and more.

In 2017, he was honored to be the Youth Grand Marshal for Oakland Pride, the nation's most diverse pride event with over 50,000 participants. He is also a Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador, and serves on the Mayor of Oakland's council for LGBTQ+ leaders. To relax, Sameer enjoys singing and poetry. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, and is a designated California Arts Scholar, Governor’s Medallion winner, and Scholastic Art & Writing National Gold Medalist.