The board of directors and staff at Outside In are thrilled to announce the selection of Kiku Johnson as their next Executive Director.
Johnson, who comes to Outside In from the San Francisco Bay Area, boasts 30 years of experience in youth development and responsive community program design, outreach, implementation, evaluation, and advocacy through a social justice lens.
“To have the opportunity to lead with Outside In, an organization dedicated to serving and supporting our intersectional marginalized community members, LGBTQIA+ youth and adults, resonates deeply with me as a trans man of color who myself have sought identity and gender affirming services and systems. I know this is sadly not every person’s experience especially while accessing the basic needs of housing, food, mental health and healthcare,” Johnson shared.
Most recently, Johnson served as Executive Director of the Rainbow Community Center in Concord, California. The Rainbow Community Center is an LGBTQIA+ serving organization that offers mental health services, transitional housing, youth programming, support groups, professional development, and more.
“After an extensive nationwide search, we feel extremely fortunate to have found Kiku Johnson; he shares our values and vision and has the skills to move Outside In to the next level,” says Board President Steve Jones. “I am excited to start working together!”
A natural storyteller, Johnson leans on his lived experience as an intersectional, queer, Chinese, trans man to create and implement culturally-responsive, trauma-informed, and accessible approaches and content for broad audiences.
Johnson’s deep compassion for folks – especially young people – who face adversity inspires his work at all service levels. This desire to provide necessary services in the short term while enacting positive change on a larger scale for the long term will serve Outside In well.
Johnson officially began at Outside In on Monday, November 28th. Since relocating to the Portland area, Johnson and his partner have enjoyed getting to know the new city they call home. They are learning by exploring the incredible Portland area as they build a new chapter in the Pacific Northwest by walking to nearby bridges and the many parks at every turn.
“Education is key in mitigating fear and broadening the scope of how we better understand and create change within all our communities. It is one of the most important tools with a harm reduction approach. Education is how I was able to access and become my full self and what brought me to Outside In and Portland,” says Johnson.
When Johnson isn’t working, he loves the arts, has taught stained-glass workshops, finds liberation on the dance floor, and is a reader and a writer of lived experience.
Since 1968, Outside In has transformed thousands of lives by helping break cycles of chronic homelessness, poverty, and poor health among the LGBTQIA+ community, people of color, immigrants, and the underserved in the Portland area. The agency strives to provide safe, affirming, trauma-informed spaces for people to receive judgment-free care and to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
To learn more or to give a gift to support Outside In’s critical work, visit our donate page.