Introducing the National Council of Young Leaders
The National Council of Young Leaders is a diverse body of young leaders from across the United States who advise policy makers and funders on issues affecting low-income youth and their communities. From both urban and rural low-income areas, The National Cuoncil of Young Leaders reflects the enormous untapped intelligence and talent of our nation's young people. Meet the council here:
Jamiel L. Alexander
Affiliated Organization: YouthBuild USA
Jamiel Alexander, is a graduate of the Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter School in York, Pennsylvania and an AmeriCorps alumnus. As Youth and Family Education Programs Manager at Crispus Attucks, Jamiel is responsible for a wide variety of activities, including the running of afterschool programs, family education workshops, community service projects, and blood drives. He also assists with counseling, consulting, event planning and fundraising.
Despite struggles during his youth at which time he dropped out of high school and was at risk of incarceration, Jamiel has become a rising star in his community. This year, York Mayor Kim Bracey nominated Jamiel to the General Authority Board, which oversees the financing of municipal projects and parking operations, saying that “I’m excited about Jamiel’s appointment because he is able to bring a community perspective to the board.
Earlier this year, Jamiel’s colleagues on the YouthBuild USA National Alumni Council elected him as their Vice President. In that role he is charged with advocating for issues of concern for alumni graduate. A frequent speaker on panels and at conferences about issues affecting low income youth and their communities, Jamiel deeply believes in “Service Above Self”
Anays T. Antongiorgi
Affiliated organization: Public Allies
Anays Antongiori, 25, is a senior at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), majoring in social work. Born and raised in Chicago, where she was the first in her family to attend college, Anays is a leader in NEIU where she is the chapter founder and president of Delta Tau Lambda Sorority, Inc., a Latina-based service organization. She now mentors young women and also works as a program coordinator for the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs at NEIU.
Anays credits BUILD, Inc., a youth service nonprofit in Chicago, with providing her crucial support during her teenage years, and in helping her gain leadership skills and her first opportunity to work with youth. She says that Public Allies, which she joined in 2007, provided her with a supportive network and helped her acquire new skills, to become a professional in the field.
After completing her studies at NEIU, Anays is considering pursuing a joint degree in nonprofit administration and law. Her favorite quote which guides her view on life is: “All that we are is a product of what we have thought.”
Affiliated organizations: Jobs for the Future and the Philadelphia Youth Network
Ramean Clowney, 19, recently began his freshman year at the Community College of Philadelphia. A native of Philadelphia and a product of the Pennsylvania foster care system, Ramean overcame personal struggles – exposure to violence, drugs and abuse – to graduate with honors from the One Bright Ray Community High School, where he was a member of the basketball team and participated on the drum line.
Ramean is currently Chief Youth Ambassador for the Philadelphia Youth Network, one of the city’s leading youth programs, in this role, he is one of several advocates for local youth.
Rameon, who aspires to one day run for a seat on the Philadelphia City Council, intends to study political science at Howard University, and eventually attend law school.
“Retrospectively (speaking), I guess you can say I was in search of me . . . . now I no longer settle for mediocrity – excellence is a must.”
New Orleans, LA
Affiliated organization: Youth Leadership Institute
Ryan Dalton, 23, attends Southern University at New Orleans, where he is pursuing a business degree. He works as a trainer and manager for Café Reconcile’s culinary training program in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. He also serves as an advisory board member for The John Besh & Bride Mayor Scholarship at Chefs Move!, which prepares aspiring chefs for positions in the culinary profession; and in this role, Ryan is working to recruit young minority chefs from New Orleans
During his youth, Ryan faced tremendous hardships: he was the victim of violence and experienced the murder of his brother and cousin; he and his family were displaced by Hurricane Katrina; and he had to leave high school without a diploma to help support his family. Yet, not only has Ryan attained great success in improving his own life circumstances, he has assisted many young people in doing the same.
Reflecting on his childhood and his ability to overcome personal challenges, Ryan says that, The solution must come from within.”
Ladine Daniels, Jr.
Affiliated organization: The Corps Network
Ladine Daniels, Jr., 31, graduated at the top of his class at the Sustainability Institute’s Pathways to a Green Economy. He is currently a crew leader and mentor for the Institute’s Energy Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program. He is also a 2012 Corps Network Member of the Year.
Ladine has accomplished much since he was incarcerated for drug trafficking and burglary. A high school graduate and star quarterback, while in prison he tutored fellow inmates helping them to obtain their GEDs.
Ladine has turned his life around – and he hasn’t looked back. In addition to his work with the Sustainability Institute and The Corps Network, Ladine has immersed himself in a number of activities to advance his career and support his community: he is part owner of IMSEI Weatherization Company; manages the kitchen at the Charleston Riverdogs Baseball Team; operates his own landscaping business; is a church usher – and he volunteers with youth, always “reminding them of the importance of getting an education and staying out of trouble.”
Affiliated organization: Year Up
Cherise Flowers, 23, is an associate campaign specialist at the email marketing company Responsys, where she earned her full-time position through Year Up Chicago.
At 17, Cherise left high school without her diploma; and while she quickly obtained her GED, she has faced the major hurdle of having to seek employment with a record.
In 2012, Cherise graduated from Year Up. Following her one-year internship, she was able to acquire gainful employment at Responsys, where she edits, tests and launches email campaigns through interactive programs using the Responsys platform.
“Young adults where I come from face many hardships. Our challenges consist of unstable homes, inability to find employment, crime, teenage parenting, childcare, transportation, lack of mentorship and positive role models, amongst many other adversities. . . . I believe we have to find ways to motivate young adults . . . because if no one cares about their situation then why should they?”
Los Angeles, CA
Affiliated organization: Young Leadership Institute
Francisco Garcia, 26,is a professional artist. A student at Rio Hondo College and Art Center College and Design in California, he works as a public muralist in California and Arizona. As a teen he left his hometown of Los Angeles and became involved in illegal graffiti and other activity following his move to Phoenix, Arizona.
A life changing event occurred in 2003, when Francisco attended a church-sponsored youth night in Mesa and found his calling as a result of a testimonial rap performance, which he says, led him to evolve from illegal street artist to public muralist focused on social activism.
Since 2009, Francisco has been a mentor to emerging graffiti artists, teaching them the benefits of creating art for the community and for social change. He credits a number of programs, including AmeriCorps, Chicanos Por La Causa, Public Allies and Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), with having a positive influence on his life. –It was YLI that facilitated a trip to Washington DC, where he was interviewed by members of Congress about youth jobs and his community art..
Of his art and mentoring he says, “I believe God blessed me with many talents, and one of those talents is being able to paint murals and work with youth at-risk. . . . It brings warmth to my heart when I am a witness to youth making a difference in their own community and living their dreams.”
Affiliated organization: Public Allies
Shawnice Jackson, 24, is a young professional committed to the advancement of positive youth development through mentoring and advocacy. She currently works as a customer relations specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake (BBBSGC), where she is responsible for the recruitment, screening, and training of volunteers who are matched with at-risk, underserved youth in Baltimore City and surrounding counties.
A native of East Baltimore, Shawnice graduated from Eastern Technical High School and is currently in her senior year at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she is majoring in criminology and social deviance.
An alumna of Public Allies in Maryland, she has served as a project coordinator for a Baltimore Rising program: Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents, and as volunteer and coordinator at BBBSGC. As a volunteer Big Sister at BBBSCG, she continues to give of her time in support of the well-being of young people in her community. A court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children with CASA Baltimore City, Shawnice hopes one day to begin her own youth development program and to become a juvenile court master.
Affiliated organization: Opportunity Nation
Christopher Prado, 22 is a first-generation college graduate. He was the president of his student body in his senior year at California State University, East Bay. A former intercollegiate athlete, he majored in political science and spent the fall semester of his junior year interning for a member of Congress in Washington, DC, through the current US Secretary of Defense, Leon & Sylvia Panetta’s Institute for Public Policy.
Christopher witnessed the struggles that his father faced: leaving high school before obtaining his diploma to help support his family, a move that impeded his ability to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Christopher chose a different path by investing in his education.
Concerned about the economic and social problems of his hometown of Stockton, Christopher returned to Stockton to work on a local city council campaign and as an after-school educator at Aspire Langston Hughes Academy.
Armed with a sense of urgency about the need to change conditions in his community (and inspired by Dr. King quote), Christopher says, “We can’t allow the tranquilizing drug of gradualism to stop us from efforts to make change now.”
Affiliated organization: Opportunity Nation
Rolanda Schand, 27, is a junior at Miami Dade College and works as the America Reads coordinator and as a Strong Woman Strong Girl mentor. Earlier this year, she was reelected to serve as student government president.
In 2010 and 2011, Rolanda received the gold-level Presidential Volunteer Service Award from Miami Dade, in recognition of her community service as a mentor to learning-disabled children.
Born in Queens, NY, Rolanda has dedicated much of her time to improve the lives of others. She wants change – she wants to speak for the younger generation and advocate for their concerns. She wants to show her fellow students that it’s never too late to take a stand and to make a difference; and while she says that she has experienced a lot, she has worked hard to achieve her goals and to set an example for others.
Rolanda, who frequently serves as a motivational speaker for young adults and who hopes to obtain a doctorate in global leadership, lives by the quote: “You can’t change the world unless you change yourself.”
Adam Strong, 21, is a student at the University of Kentucky. He is deeply interested in the medical field and is working towards his B.A. in medical laboratory science.
Raised by his father in an Appalachian community in Jackson, Adam attended his local community college, working as a security guard at a local coal mine at a time when the coal industry was in decline. Soon he found himself unemployed and without options; but was able to gain entry into the YouthBuild Hazard program.
At YouthBuild, Adam took part in community service and outreach projects, while receiving a stipend. The experience helped introduce him to new possibilities, opportunities and a new perspective on life.
After gaining admission to the University of Kentucky this year, Adam was selected to serve as a student representative on his college’s presidential search committee, and he was later elected vice president of the student government.
As a full-time AmeriCorps member, serving YouthBuild Hazard as a teacher’s aide, , Adam characterizes his experience this way: “It feels great to be able to give back and help youth see their potential and strengths.”
Affiliated organization: The Corps Network
Philandrian Tree, 26. born in the Edgewater Clan, is a member of the Towering House Clan of the Navajo Nation. She is currently interning as an assistant to the Coconino County District 4 Supervisor, tasked with community relations and communications between her office and tribal communities.
Philandrian served two terms as an AmeriCorps mentor and was selected as The Corps Network’s 2012 Corps Member of the Year. As an AmeriCorps mentor she had a great opportunity to work in her home community on behalf of the Coconino Rural Environment Corps and secured two memoranda of understanding between Coconino County and the Navajo’s Leupp and Tonalea Chapters.
This collaboration between the county and Navajo resulted in all 17 Navajo chapters receiving Coconino County weatherization retrofits; and in the process, AmeriCorps members benefitted from on-the-job training with participating local contractors in the Navajo Nation Weatherization Assistance Program.
In addition to her work with Coconino County, Philandrian serves as the chair of the Native American Parent Advisory Committee for Flagstaff Unified School District, where she works with families and the District to support and enhance the quality of education for 2,500 Native K-12 students.
Jamie Turner is a leader in the YouthBuild movement. Currently, the volunteer treasurer of YouthBuild USA’s National Alumni Council (NAC) and its past president, she also serves full-time as Transitional Coordinator at the YouthBuild Indianapolis program. She is on her way to acquiring her undergraduate degree in social work.
Jamie has overcome deeply personal challenges – homelessness, the struggle to reconnect with her education and to find meaningful work; and the loss of her husband, also a YouthBuild graduate, to cancer.
Now a proud homeowner and mother of three, Jamie is a frequent speaker at NAC and YouthBuild USA-sponsored events. A 1997 YouthBuild graduate, she often recalls the impact of the program on her life: “I needed to be on a path of transformation; I needed the love, support, guidance and the family atmosphere that you can truly get from a YouthBuild program.”
San Francisco, CA
Affiliated organization: Year Up
Sotheara Yem, 25, is a special projects coordinator at Year Up, where he provides data management support in human resources, and also a community manager at Urban Pioneer, a real estate agency in San Francisco.
During his free time, Sotheara volunteers at the Vietnamese Youth Development Center and supports youth transitioning into independent living, connecting them to jobs and housing services.
In 2009, Sotheara lost his sales associate job at Macy’s because of downsizing. . His loss of employment dramatically changed his life: he lost his possessions, and soon became homeless. It was during this period that he was introduced to Year Up.
Year Up changed his life as it offered Sotheara job training, providing a paid stipend, and important life skills which prepared him for life on his own. He is grateful to the organizations that supported him at a time when he felt he had nowhere to turn. Regarding his current job and volunteer work, Sotheara says, “I enjoy helping others and I feel like I owe my success to social support organizations like Year Up, because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”