Senior Policy Analyst & National Youth Organizer
Center for the Study of Social Policy

Jonathan Lykes is a Black queer artist, activist and policy analyst. He currently works at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) as a Senior Policy Analyst and is the National Youth Organizer for the getR.E.A.L Initiative, addressing disproportionality and disparities that affect Black and Brown LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth impacted by the oppressive actions of deep-end systems (child welfare, mental health, homelessness and criminal justice). He is the former artistic director of Performing Arts for Effective Civic Education (PAECE) Program at the University of Chicago, where he used interdisciplinary art and performance to help youth realize their roles as civically active members of the community who thrive toward the achievement of systemic change and social justice. Jonathan’s interdisciplinary approach to art, activism and anti-oppression work, merges policy change, artistic expression and activism. Combining these forms of social transformation—and harnessing their synergy—Jonathan works to create awareness, promote personal healing, surmount institutional barriers and generate systemic change.

Jonathan’s current position as the Project Lead and National Youth Organizer of the getR.E.A.L Initiative, situates him to merge his multidisciplinary artistic background with public policy reform, community engagement and systems change work. Jonathan is a proud founding member of the House of Garcon's CDG Pro Initative. Lykes is also a community organizer, currently serving on the National Coordinating Council for Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a movement of young adults using a Black queer feminist lens to advocate for community and systemic change. Jonathan is also the current Artistic Director for BYP100’s freedom song and chant album, The Black Joy Experience, helping to teach holistic energy through the Black radical tradition. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received his master’s degree from the School for Social Service Administration.

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