Meet Zebra Coalition’s new Executive Director

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations which provides services to LGBT youth, has a new head honcho.

Heather Wilkie will start her new job as Zebra Coalition’s executive director Sept. 8. She comes to Zebra from Harbor House, where she’s worked for 12 years and has served as chief operating officer for the past four years. During that time, she was chair of the LGBT+ Caucus with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where she led a statewide initiative to enhance services for LGBT+ survivors of abuse.

Wilkie is not entirely new to Zebra Coalition. She has been volunteering as a youth counselor for about two years.

“I was looking for placement to get some counseling hours, and I was interested in working with the LGBT + population,” Wilkie says. “I reached out and ended up taking a few cases a week.”

Wilkie replaces Dexter Foxworth, Zebra Coalition’s former executive director who announced his resignation in July after holding the position for more than three years.

“Dexter leaving is a significant loss to the Zebra Coalition, as we lose a family member who led the great work we are doing,” said Brett Burlone, Zebra’s clinical manager who acted as interim director during the hiring process, in an email to Watermark. “But he left Zebra in a position where we able to continue our work and accomplish our goals.”

Wilkie agrees, and says she’s “excited” to build on what Foxworth accomplished during his tenure.

“I know Dexter is so well loved in the community, and [I want to] take what he’s been able to accomplish and take it to the next level,” Wilkie says.

Specifically, Wilkie says she wants to raise awareness about Zebra’s services, expand programming and connect with more schools.

“Zebra is such an excellent organization. The staff is so committed and dedicated and really works hard to raise awareness and provide services to the youth we’re working with,” she says. “I would love to grow a training program to be offered to not only students but the community on LGBT+ issues and providing education to the community to help raise awareness.”

In the longer term, Wilkie says she would like to see Zebra expand its beds to be able to shelter more homeless youth, which would require some construction.

“I really see us expanding beyond Orange County and offering services across the state,” Wilkie says. “Zebra is really unique. There aren’t programs like this in every community.”

This year is Zebra Coaltion’s fifth anniversary. The organization is marking the occasion with “A Walk in Barcelona,” a Spanish-themed evening of food and entertainment Sept. 12 at Rosen Shingle Creek. Visit ZebraWildNight.com for event and ticket information.

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