empowering youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change
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Board of Directors
YES! Board Chair
Hometown: Union, NJ Favorite Adolescent Age: My high school years were a time of significant political and social unrest in our country and it was probably my senior year when things began to crystalize for me. Young people were front and center, protesting the Vietnam War and becoming activists in the civil and women’s rights and environmental movements. We believed in the power of collective action and there’s no doubt in my mind that these experiences instilled values that I hold very deeply today. Why YES!?: I believe in the mission of YES! and have been very impressed with its impact in bringing about systems change through a powerful combination of advocacy, technical assistance, and training for and WITH youth. It’s an exciting time for the organization and I’m honored to be part of its growth and dynamism. Profession: Director of Community Leadership, North Carolina Community Foundation
YES! Board Vice Chair
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: 17. It took me a while to put all of the social pieces together in high school. Once they came together, senior year was a blast! Why YES!?: I believe in, and want to support, the mission of YES! I’ve seen YES! in action and it is impressively building up youths and their communities. I am excited to be part of this wonderful organization. Profession: Director of Corporate Compliance, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Hometown: I was born on Beale Air Force Base in California. I had many hometowns growing up in the military. I lived in California, Massachusetts, Alabama and Virginia during my childhood. I currently live in Sanford, NC. Favorite Adolescent Age: My junior and senior year of high school were my favorite times; I was 16 and 17 years old. Why YES!?: I believe the youth voice is a powerful voice. It is exciting to see youth present themselves professionally and assert their knowledge to influence real change. Profession: Policy Director, FirstHealth of the Carolinas
Hometown: Tuscon, AZ Favorite Adolescent Age: All of high school! I loved going to a fine arts magnet school and valued the rich and diverse experience it offered. I have fond memories of music classes, dance, and photography which were part of our daily curriculum. Why YES!?: One of my first forays in advocacy professionally was supporting youth groups across the state focused on tobacco control efforts. Their accomplishments at such a young age are truly an inspiration to the work we do in public health advocacy. Profession: National Grassroots Director, American Heart Association
Hometown: Greenville, SC Favorite Adolescent Age: Seventeen was an exciting age characterized by increasing responsibility and freedom. It was also a time of significant transition as I prepared to leave home to attend college and begin a new phase in my life. Why YES!?: Young people have always been a powerful catalyst for social and public policy change. I’m excited to support YES! as they work to empower the next generation of youth leaders to chart their own course and contribute to the improvement of our communities and our state. Profession: AssociateDirector of Evaluation, The Duke Endowment
Hometown: Browns Summit, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: Sixteen. At this age I began to value my ability to think critically and independently of others. I also had my most memorable high school experiences at age 16 while participating in marching band – where I developed a stronger appreciation and understanding of diversity, and had the opportunity to lead and positively influence others by putting my talents to use. Why YES!?: Working in the legal system has allowed me to see and hear about the problems and issues that are negatively impacting our youth. YES! will allow me to be apart of an organization that has a strong record of positively impacting our youth and empowering our young people to tackle the problems and issues facing the world. Profession: Attorney, W. Allan Blackwell Law, PLLC
Hometown: Wilmington, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: Sweet 16 would have to be my favorite adolescent age. I was one of the first out of my friends to get my driver’s license and thanks to a very nice aunt, had a second hand car to drive. Sixteen was also the year I joined yearbook at my high school. I met some of my best friends through that class and found a way to creatively apply myself to school. Why YES!?: Young people have always been a powerful catalyst for social and public policy change. I’m excited to support YES! as they work to empower the next generation of youth leaders to chart their own course and contribute to the improvement of our communities and our state. Profession: Communications Specialist at UNC Injury Prevention and Research Center
Profession: Managing Director, Community and Youth Engagement, Truth Initiative
Hometown: Asheville, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: I was really excited to start high school – it seemed like my world was becoming so much larger and richer with opportunities. There were good friends, new and old, new music I was being introduced to, and I was really getting into sports for the first time – tennis. My academics also came with more freedom; I was able to choose my classes, take AP courses, and pilot an online class. I think about some of my high school teachers and lessons I learned during that time on a daily basis. Why YES!?: Alongside the increased freedoms that come with adolescence comes choice, in all shapes and sizes. The world of choice can often be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. By effectively helping to inform our youth, we can empower them to make decisions that not only positively affect themselves, but their families, schools, communities and further. Profession: Freelance Human Resources Consultant
Favorite Adolescent Age: I have to admit that adolescence was an incredibly challenging time for me. I faced a lot of challenges at home, in my neighborhood, and in my school… but one bright point for me was getting involved with a nonprofit organization called The Children’s Place when I was 15 years old. It was the early years of the AIDS epidemic and crack cocaine had also hit our neighborhood with a vengeance. The Children’s Place was a hospice home for infants and toddlers who were born HIV positive and/or drug exposed. They needed folks who could hold them, feed them, change their diapers, and offer them some comfort. As it turned out, they offered me comfort, too. It was an opportunity for me to experience being a change agent and a positive force in my neighborhood. Through that experience, I realized that working in social justice was a path for personal and collective healing and transformation. Why YES!?: I believe in the leadership model of YES! and the organization’s commitment to truly listening to young people’s perspectives and ideas. What I have seen from YES! over the years is not just a theory of youth leadership, but a real willingness to live into it through action. Profession: Founder, Tepeyac Consulting
Hometown: Durham, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: When I was 14, I was truly fearless without any responsibility other than to learn and live life! Some of my best memories came from this age, through travel, working with Question Y program, and participating in the marching band. It was truly a memorable age. Why YES!?: I am a true believer in the value that YES! brings, not only externally for the communities impacted by the change that takes place, but also internally for the confidence and lifelong skills that the youth staff acquire by being a part of the organization. As a former youth staff member, I can truly say that the YES! Youth Empowerment Model WORKS and I’m humbled to be a small part of something that is changing the world individually and globally. These are exciting times! Profession: Quality and Regulatory Manager, General Mills
Hometown: I spent my first 12 years in southern New Jersey, most of them in Woodstown, NJ, a small town with one traffic light. Favorite Adolescent Age: I’d have to say that 17 was the best. That’s the year my high school field hockey coach took three of us to an alumni game at her alma mater, Madison College in Harrisonburg, Va. Meeting the college coaches and realizing that I really could go to college opened a new world for me. The mentors who helped me rise to the challenges of college years remain my friends to this day. Why YES!?: I enthusiastically support the YES! mission. I’ve seen the results the dedication of the impressive adult and youth staff of YES! have produced– positive community change right now. Realization of the YES! vision, communities where empowered youth leaders work alongside adults to create positive change, is not only energizing and inspiring to me, it is the only way to create the kind of progressive community in which I want to live. Profession: Director of Evaluation & Learning, NC Center for Health & Wellness at UNC Asheville
Gwendolyn McMillian Reilly
Hometown: Lumberton, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: I would say my Junior and Senior year of high school. Those are the years I found what I wanted to do with my life. Accounting just resonated with me and I have been working in the field ever since.
Why YES!?: I wasn’t able to go out or have much of an opinion when I was younger and always felt isolated from everything and everyone so being a part of an organization that champions our youth to have a voice and help mold and shape leaders is so inspiring and I definitely want to be a part of that.
Profession: Manager, Small Business Advisory, Blackman & Sloop, CPAs, P.A.
Hometown: Charlotte, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: As tumultuous as high school years can be, I think back on them fondly as the time at which I gained independence and began developing an understanding of my own passions and skills to guide my future path to where I am today. Spending time with high school students now is my favorite way to be reenergized and reminded of what’s important.
Why YES!?: I believe deeply that until all people are afforded the access and opportunities to reach their full potential, our community as a whole cannot reach it’s full potential. I love that YES! is working to provide these opportunities for students- empowering them to become the leaders to create change in their communities. Profession: Business Director, Student U
DeAndrea Newman Salvadore
Hometown: Charlotte, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: Seventeen has to be my all time favorite adolescent age. It was an incredible time for me because as a rising senior I finally felt comfortable and confident in my shoes as a teenager. I additionally was able to direct my confidence to leadership positions within the school which were incredibly fulfilling. I always look back fondly to that year.
Why YES!?: As a former YES! Youth Leader the mission and impact of the organization is evident. I frequently look back to the immense skills I learned throughout my work with YES!. I am incredibly honored to be able to contribute to an organization that had such an everlasting impact on my adolescent years. Profession: Founder and Executive Director, Renewable Energy Transition Initiative
Hometown: Greenville, NC Favorite Adolescent Age: 17-18 because young people are living the space between being a considered a teenager and an adult. It’s an exciting time of independence and new opportunities but also risk as many of the safety nets put in place for “children” fall away.
Why YES!?: The mission of empowering youth for positive change is what I strive for in my clinical and research work. I serve as a primary care physician to young people ages 12-26. My clinical approach is to provide high quality medical care to youth through respect for each individual, support of their physical and emotional growth, and education to empower them to be thriving, independent adults. In my advocacy work through health policy and research, I employ youth-centered and participatory methods to highlight their strengths, expertise and perspectives. My research explores innovative strategies that leverage behavioral economics and technology to improve youth well-being, and I study the impact of health policy on young people. Profession: Adolescent medicine pediatrician and health services researcher at Duke University