Our Youth Leadership Council (YLC) provides a platform for young activists who believe in our mission and want to be a part of building healthier, safer communities. Every year, we welcome a mix of returning and new members who want to work with our staff to make sure alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs have no place in the lives of youth.
Oftentimes, youth who join the Youth Leadership Council are already working hard to make a positive difference in their local communities. Every year, YLC members further hone their leadership skills by attending two skills-building trainings, TST’s Statewide Summit, and monthly conference calls. In addition to those activities, members also get the chance to further engage in prevention work. As members of the YLC, youth strengthen their critical thinking skills and enhance their ability to advocate for community change. Because of the training and support they receive, youth often re-apply to the YLC and serve multiple years as members. During their time with TST, new doors open – and new opportunities for them to shine are created.
Each year, TST selects at least two youth to attend the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Mid-Year Training Institute with TST staff. At the conference, YLC members participate in CADCA’s 4-day Youth Leadership Training, where they are able to connect with and learn from other youth who are working on similar prevention issues around the country.
In 2016, YLC co-chair Andrea Marquez attended the CADCA training with TST for the first time. Inspired by her experience, she applied to be a part of CADCA’s Youth Leadership initiative and has since become a trainer for the program, where she’s helping the next wave of young leaders become passionate about prevention. But that’s not the only area where Andrea has put her leadership skills to use. In addition to her work with CADCA, Andrea is involved in several other community service organizations and has presented on the issue of youth engagement in prevention work at multiple national conferences. Continuing on her remarkable path of public service, Andrea will soon start her freshman year at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA, where she’ll major in political science. (Watch the video below to hear Andrea’s speech about youth empowerment and prevention at CADCA’s 19th Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner.)
Last Thursday, our very own Youth Leadership Council Member, Andrea Marquez, spoke at CADCA's 19th Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner. Andrea shared her passion for youth empowerment as well as her involvement with prevention efforts in her community in partnership with Texans Standing Tall. Congrats Andrea!
Posted by Texans Standing Tall, Inc. on Monday, October 23, 2017
Youth Leadership Council co-chair Katy Turner has also demonstrated stellar leadership skills in her time as a YLC member. Her passion for youth alcohol and other drug prevention shines through in her work with the YLC and other community organizations to which she dedicates her time. In addition to presenting with TST on effective youth engagement at national conferences like CADCA Mid-Year Training Institute and the 18th National Alcohol Policy Conference (AP18), she was one of three YLC members who received a Traffic Safety Scholarship for the Lifesavers National Conference. An incoming junior at the University of Houston, Katy also served on the Board of Directors for the local prevention coalition in her home town of Lufkin, TX.
Along with Katy, second-year YLC member Nikolai Petty and fourth-year YLC member Jesus Cabrales, received Traffic Safety Scholarships to the Lifesavers Conference. The conference was particularly eye-opening for Nikolai since he hopes to become a police chief of a major Texas city one day. Attending Lifesavers not only allowed him to receive educational training alongside current law enforcement officers, but further strengthened his resolve to join their ranks once he’s completed his studies at El Paso Community College.
For Jesus, who also hopes to work in law enforcement or run for public office one day, the conference was a great way to gain exposure to the many opportunities available in the worlds of prevention and public safety. In addition to attending Lifesavers, Jesus, an incoming senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, is involved in his local church and advocacy organizations and has co-presented with TST staff at the Texas Interdisciplinary Addiction (TXIA) Institute in San Antonio. Stepping further into his role as a young leader, Jesus recently joined the TST Board of Directors, where he will use his voice to help guide TST’s prevention efforts in Texas.
Outside of conferences, YLC members are often found doing amazing work in their very own backyards. 5-year Youth Leadership Council member A.J. Cortez joined the YLC to work on changing people’s perception of alcohol in his community. Having joined the YLC at age 15 – a rare occurrence for the group – he has experienced tremendous growth both inside and outside of the YLC. The skills he’s gained over the years have helped him take on even more leadership roles when he started his undergraduate studies at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX. Now a senior majoring in social work, he is a mentor for the Leadership Initiative for Freshman Excellence, a Resident Assistant, and a member of the Worden Social Work Organization. He’s also a 2-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his work serving Texas communities.
Nathaniel Fomby is another long-standing YLC member whose skills and commitment to public service have been honed during his time on the council. An incoming senior at Concordia University, Nathaniel joined the YLC four years ago because of his interest in the effects of alcohol and public policy. He has spent this summer serving as the Youth Engagement Intern for TST. In this role, he has been able to directly apply his academic interests while also gaining professional experience. In just a few short months, Nathaniel has assisted with the development of webinars, activities and presentations focused youth engagement. He has also helped identify content for TST’s website as well as supported the organization’s day-to-day operations by participating in staff meetings and keeping educational materials updated and organized.
We strongly believe that the Youth Leadership Council helps open doors and inspire youth to fully embrace the power they have to create positive change. These young leaders have advocated to lawmakers, spoken to rooms full of experts, and tackled local prevention work in their hometowns and communities. We are proud of their individual accomplishments and what they mean, collectively, for the future of Texas.
Are you interested in becoming a part of the Youth Leadership Council or do you know a young leader who might be? Applications are open until September 15th! Click here to apply.