YMCA of the USA Prioritizes Youth Voice in Strategic Decision-Making, Establishes Inaugural Youth Advisory Council

YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the 2,600 YMCAs across the country, is excited to announce the establishment of the inaugural Youth Advisory Council. This council is comprised of 14 young individuals, ranging in age from 16 to 23, from across the country. The council’s role is to advise and support the Y-USA CEO, Executive Team and National Board on emerging issues, opportunities, programs, priorities and strategic decision-making, with a goal of ensuring that the Y remains relevant at the local, state, national and global level.

Nationwide, only 5.6% of YMCA board members are under the age of 30. As a youth-serving organization, the Y has a mandate to move the needle on the representation of young people on its governing boards. The strategy behind the Youth Advisory Council is to shift the paradigm and recognize young people as active contributors rather than passive recipients of programs and services. 

The inaugural Youth Advisory Council cohort will have an opportunity to shape the structure of the council moving forward. Members will serve a term of July 2023 to February 2025. They commit to providing input and applying a youth lens to emerging issues; working with Y-USA leadership to further develop the structure of the Youth Advisory Council; advocating for more youth representation on local, national and global Y initiatives; serving as strategic thought partners to the Y-USA CEO, Executive Team and National Board; electing a youth representative to serve on Y-USA’s National Board and much more.

"As a leading youth-serving organization, the Y is committed to empowering young people and elevating their voices, both in their communities and in our organization,” said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of Y-USA. “Our Youth Advisory Council involves young people in decision-making at the highest levels of our organization and creates new opportunities for them to influence the strategic direction of the Y and our work in communities." 

The application process for the Youth Advisory Council opened in February 2023. After a competitive process, the selection committee, comprised of Y-USA executive staff, board members, and key local YMCA staff invited fourteen young people to serve on the Youth Advisory Council in May 2023. The inaugural members include:

Adora Olise, YMCA of Southern Maine (ME)
Aishwarya Swamidurai, YMCA of Oklahoma City (OK)
Alissa Julien, YMCA of the Capital Area (LA)
Brady Sternberg, YMCA of the North (MN)
Eli Cooper, Kentucky YMCA (KY)
Ezekiel Lu, YMCA of Metropolitan Washington (DC)
Jacob Cece, Wyckoff YMCA (NJ)
Lakshanyaa Rajkumar Sudhakar, YMCA of Greater Des Moines (IA)
Nicholas Johnson, YMCA of Metropolitain Los Angeles (CA)
Raine McAngus, Valley of the Sun YMCA (AZ)
Scothorne Scothorne, YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties (WA)
Sia Minhas, YMCA of Long Island (NY)
Stephanie Granobles, YMCA of Metro Chicago (IL)
Yana Zenekfski, Door County YMCA (WI)