Raised in Houston, TX, Zak faced homophobia, intolerance, and family instability. In a starkly gender-divided Southern culture, Zak was forced to conform to a highly feminine gender role and to push his transgender identity and sexuality deep into the closet. Despite this, Zak attended Brown University on scholarship and excelled academically. Zak spoke out about transgender youth issues, taking visible national leadership at a time when these issues were largely unknown and misunderstood, even within the LGBTQ community. Zak directed youth leadership programs at LYRIC in San Francisco and NGLTF in Washington, DC. He was a founding board member of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition in Washington, DC. In 2001, Zak received his master’s degree in Organizational Psychology, focusing on grassroots social justice groups.
Most recently, Zak founded Movement Generation, an organization that brings together the next generation of young LGBTQ leaders and allies to build a broad-based, progressive movement for social change. Zak received a master’s degree in counseling psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies and plans to address the impact of trauma in the activist community. He will work with LGBTQ leaders in the broader context of their organizational and social change work, as well as providing much-needed services to LGBTQ youth, especially transgender youth. He hopes to eventually pursue his PhD in order to increase the field’s competency around transgender issues through academic scholarship.