Amit Paley

40 under 40-2021 Amit Paley
Courtesy of Amit Paley
  • Age
  • Title
    CEO and Executive Director
  • Company
    The Trevor Project

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are more than four times as likely to consider suicide as their straight peers. Since 1998, the Trevor Project has worked to prevent suicide among young queer people via a hotline dedicated just to LGBTQ youth. And since 2017, when Amit Paley took the reins as CEO of the nonprofit, the organization has dramatically increased the number of young people receiving support. Through a focus on innovation, technology, and research in the understudied field of LGBTQ youth mental health, Paley has expanded the number of staff working to help this vulnerable group and quadrupled the number of youth in crisis the organization serves each month. Paley also serves on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline steering committee and the executive committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. He told Fortune that being involved in the mental health space at large helps him advocate for LGBTQ youth and their specific needs. The Trevor Project also takes that advocacy seriously at the government level, working to end conversion therapy, oppose anti-transgender legislation, and establish “988” as the number Americans can call (starting next summer) to reach their Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Since COVID took hold of the world, Paley took the Trevor Project entirely remote for the first time, while dealing with nearly double the volume of calls pre-pandemic. Many LGBTQ youth are stuck in situations that worsen their mental health, like living in homeless shelters (LGBTQ youth make up a disproportionate 40% of homeless youth) or spending more time at home with unsupportive or abusive parents.

During the pandemic, Paley also led the organization in continuing its long-held commitment to intersectional activism, supporting queer Black, Asian American, and Pacific Islander youth during the outrage over George Floyd’s death and racist attacks on those in the AAPI community.