2021 40 Under 40 award recipient: D.L. McKinney

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D.L. McKinney. Courtesy 616 Media

D.L. McKinney, 35

Director of drop-in/Co-founder, principal consultant

A.Y.A. Youth Collective/Paradigm Shifts Consulting

D.L. McKinney leverages personal experience to help vulnerable young people emerge from homelessness.

McKinney, whose pronouns are they/them, works as drop-in director for the nonprofit A.Y.A. Youth Collective, which was formed to better address youth homelessness through a merger last year between 3:11 Youth Housing and Grand Rapids HQ. McKinney, who identifies as queer, transmasculine and disabled, works with at-risk youths ages 14-24 experiencing housing instability or homelessness.

“Within my work alone, our organization engages with nearly 400 youth per year, and historically close to 74% of those youth are youth of color, and over 34% identify (as having) a gender or sexuality within the LGBTQ+ community,” McKinney said.

McKinney’s background was in lab services at Spectrum Health before they felt a tug to apply for a role at Grand Rapids HQ that would provide a platform to help youths who also experienced trauma, mental illness, addiction and housing instability.

Deeply rooted in community, McKinney serves as chair of the Continuum of Care Youth Committee, member of the Urban Core Collective Transformational Leaders Program Dream Team and the LGBTQ+ Health Consortium, vice president of Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions (BL2END) and committee member of the Young Professionals of Color Conference founded by Cascade Engineering.

In addition, McKinney and their spouse, Jazz McKinney, co-founded Paradigm Shifts Consulting, which focuses on family rights, access to health care, Native justice, and eliminating transphobia, homophobia and racism in West Michigan.

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