The M List 2016: Libby Lee
Free to be me
Libby Lee has compassion for the runaway and homeless youth she works with, including youth who identify as LGBTQ, because she knows what it’s like to feel isolated. “I was one of few black people in many, many settings, and I feel it is my calling to help those in diverse populations connect to resources and find themselves,” Lee says.
Lee, a Madison native, is coordinator of the Runaway and Homeless Youth program. It’s part of Briarpatch Youth Services, which also runs Teens Like Us, a program that provides education and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer teenagers, ages 13 to 18.
The group meets Tuesday evenings to discuss topics important to the LGBTQ community, such as HIV and AIDS prevention, self-esteem building, leadership development and healthy lifestyles. “These kids tell us this is one of the only places they can go and feel free to be who they are,” says Lee.
As a mother of three, she empathizes with these teenagers, who often face difficult challenges. She says the teens face social stigmas and discrimination, and “about 40 percent are homeless because they are rejected by their families.”
Many of the teens Lee has worked with have gone on to pursue college degrees, gain employment and find safe and stable housing.
“I get really excited about helping them find their dreams,” she says.
The M List
Madison Magazine’s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its fourth year, the M List recognizes those making strides as mentors and teachers. Last year’s list of honorees were making impacts in the area of social innovation. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.