Cavanaugh believes that young people are whole people. In 2005, he became the youth representative with the Heartland Safe Schools Initiative and subsequent chair of the Gay-Straight Alliance Resource Collective. Now with decade of experience alongside queer and trans youth, his work still focuses on cultivating leadership and autonomy in young people in order to create space for them to express their own needs, identities, and desires. Through arts practice and analysis, Cavanaugh engages young leaders and adults alike in deconstruction of institutionalized systems of oppression, seeking to change not only the way we understand our world but also how we engage with one another in it. He has worked with school administration and faculty members, mental health clinicians, and other youth service providers as well as student unions, summer camps, and experiential education services.
In addition to his work with Dreams of Hope, Cavanaugh teaches comprehensive sexual health education for queer and trans youth and offers consultation, technical assistance, and training for service providers focused on the needs of LGBTQIA+ people across multiple areas. He also sits on the board of Camp Unirondack, a residential youth camp in the Adirondacks, where he previously directed programming. Cavanaugh holds a B.A from Sarah Lawrence College, with dual concentrations in neuropsychology and sociolinguistics, and a minor focus in applied languages. He is currently pursuing graduate education in social work. He believes in honesty, self-education, and radical kindness.