For the 2014-2015 academic year, we have selected five of our former leaders to serve a second term.
Meet the 2014-2015 YAC (Returning Members)
Tiffani Alexander | Covington, GA | Age 17
Tiffani is high school senior serving a second term on the generationOn National Youth Advisory Council. As a certified facilitator and advocate for child abuse prevention, she has served for over six years to increase awareness amongst parents and youth through the Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale progrem. Tiffany is also the founder of Butterflies, Beetles and Bees, Oh My!, a bug club she runs in partnership with the Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale program. The program teaches children how to care for and nurture small insects which inturn helps children learn to interact with other human beings in a caring and compassionate manner. Tiffani is also the founder of a leadership team called "Mark it Up." The team's purpose is to engage more youth in service. In addition, she is a member of the 21st Century Leaders Youth Leadership Council. In 2013, Tiffani placed first at the Georgia 4-H State Congress, a public speaking competition, in the category of Entomology, earning her the title of Master 4-Her. She is a recipient of The President's Volunteer Service Award, the 2013 11 Alive - WXIA KIDS WHO CARE award, the 2013 Porsche Driving Force Youth Award and a 2014 21st Century Leaders 20 Under 20 award.
Tyler Bleuel | Stamford, CT | Age 17
Tyler is a high school senior senior from Stamford, CT serving a second term on the generationOn National Youth Advisory Council. Tyler has developed and led national and global service projects and campaigns. He has also served as a speaker for various events focused on the power of youth. In 2011, Tyler founded A Few Good MENtors to empower and equip young men to become good men through mentoring to overcome negative cultural messaging in hopes of ending domestic violence within a generation. Studying in Shanghai in 2013, Tyler sparked student interest in volunteerism and began the first generationOn youth service clubs in China. In 2014 in Indonesia, he championed community engagement for youth as a strategy to share ideas globally in order to advance peace. Tyler was appointed to be the Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow to promote wider participation in constructive exchanges with China and improve future US-China ties through his own frontline experiences in China and Taiwan. The only high school student delegate appointed to the Taiwan-America Student Conference (TASC), Tyler was elected to the Executive Committee and is working to amplify conference's impact for 2015.
Aulona Graham-Simms | Macon, GA | Age 15
Aulona is a high school sophomore from Macon, GA serving a second term on the generationOn Youth Advisory Council. She remains a leader in her local community after organizing Kids for Change: Nourishing Minds, Battling Hunger, a youth-led program in collaboration with Volunteer Macon, where middle school students make and sell bracelets and other items to purchase food for local food banks. With a passion for creating projects and getting her peers involved, Aulona is currently working with Disney's Friends for Change on a continuing service project she founded called Ghost Out. Through this initiative, students dress like ghosts and refrain from speaking. The activity is intended to simulate the experience of losing friends to underage drinking. Another project created by Aulona is Sunday Supper which provides snack bags to the homeless on Sundays when soup kitchens are closed for weekends. As a youth leader with generationON, Aulona enjoys participating in co-facilitating workshops, reviewing grants, creating community change and encouraging her peers to do the same.
Rachel Ley | Stevens Point, WI| Age 17
Rachel is a high school senior from Stevens Point, WI serving a second term on the generationOn Youth Advisory Council. She is the founder of a program called Literacy for Little Ones which provides newborn babies with book packages and encourages their parents to read to them on a daily basis. With the help of a Hasbro Make Your Mark Week grant, Rachel expanded her program to a second Wisconsin community in 2011 and to a third in 2012 as part of generationOn's Community Action Heroes Needed initiative. Now, Literacy for Little Ones serves eight hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nicaragua. In five years, over 9,000 families have received book packages, over 700 youth have volunteered for the cause, and over $21,000 has been generated to support Literacy for Little Ones. Rachel has garnered many awards for her commitment to service including a Build-a-Bear Huggable Heroes Global Grand Prize, a Gloria Barron National Young Hero award, and a Green Bay Packers Community Quarterback Award.
Ruchita Zaparde | Plainsboro, NJ | Age 17
Ruchita is a high school senior from Plainsboro, NJ serving a second term on the generationOn Youth Advisory Council. In 2010, she founded Sew a Future, a non-profit organization, after visiting a rural village in India with her family. There, she met Asha, a 27-year-old widow with two young children struggling to make ends meet. Inspired by Asha's story of survival, Ruchita decided that she would provide sewing machines to widows with young children in India. With the machines, mothers are able to create and sell goods to assist in earning a living and sending their children to school. To date, 87 widows have been supplied with sewing machines and have become self-sufficient with a goal of supporting 100 more widows in this current school year. Currently, 41 schools and over 570 students are involved in this cause.
Meet the 2012-2014 YAC (Graduated Members)
Marc Berson | Tampa, FL | Age 17
Marc is the president of Cafe Freedom, a student organization dedicated to mobilizing youth to address critical community-wide issues. He has led literacy programs for young children in impoverished neighborhoods, collected books and resources for schools in developing nations, and worked with preschoolers in the Caribbean to support their learning. Marc organizes high school volunteers each year to host a literacy festival for low-income students, providing over 1,000 children with books to enjoy at home. Following the success of this event, the program has expanded to other area high schools. Marc's commitment is not only to literacy. When he learned that Florida has the highest accidental drowning death rate for young people in the nation, Marc, who is a competitive swimmer, co-developed an annual April Pools Day festival. This festival engages teens in outreach activities that promote water safety and drowning prevention. Marc has received the St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Kids Are Heroes Award in recognition of his service.
Nayah Boucaud | Miami, FL | Age 15
Nayah started Project FLVS (Florida Virtual School), focusing on teacher acknowledgement and appreciation and demonstrating the importance of education to local communities. The project accomplishes this by creating movies about the accomplishments of students and teachers. Over 50 students participated and contributed to the six-month project; with over 20 student-video submissions from all around the world, the movie was a great success. This commitment to virtual education has its roots in Nayah's experience traveling around the world for the better part of her life, learning via computer. Virtual education became not just an approach to learning but a full-fledged passion. Nayah continues to write relevant articles and blogs for Project FLVS and is always ready and willing to help new students and parents learn about virtual schools and how easy it is to learn online.
Cole Ettingoff | Memphis, TN | Age 17
Cole founded a service club for over 150 students in his area when he was in middle school and has now expanded this work into a comprehensive mentoring program where his fellow high school volunteers support middle school students. The program currently benefits over 300 students, harnesses the energy of 50 high school volunteers and receives overwhelmingly positive reviews from students, teachers and parents. In addition, Cole leads students from 13 area schools in carrying out a variety of other service projects, including packaging 56,000 meals for the local food bank. This commitment to service has earned Cole membership in the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Youth Caucus and the Boy Scouts of America National Hall of Leadership, in addition to a number of other awards, including the President's Call to Service Lifetime Achievement Award and the Volunteer Service Award.
Calla Gilson | Delta, OH | Age 17
Calla is an advocate for local migrant workers and the educational needs of migrant youth. She got her start volunteering with the Migrant Ministry, a program that provides educational support for migrant students and advocates on behalf of the migrant worker community. In addition to raising awareness about the challenges affecting migrant youth, Calla takes the lead on a variety of other projects, such as raising money for cancer victims. She is involved in these projects through her role as a founding member of the Toledo UCREW student advisory board, a youth development program focusing on service, leadership and social entrepreneurship. She also acts as a mentor to younger students through a Big Sis Little Sis program and serves as an officer for her school's Princess Club, raising awareness of the inner beauty and health of women and children through service in the community.
Kelsey Leeper | Olympia, WA | Age 17
Kelsey created the Summit for Advocating Youth Interests Today (SAY IT) which will act as the foundation for a youth action network in Washington state, demonstrating her commitment to helping youth make their voices heard in politics. She was inspired to take this initiative through her work as the Chair of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) for Washington state, where she meets with state legislators to advocate for the one million youth in the region. Kelsey also dedicates her time to the community at the local level, working in the Alzheimer's unit at an elder care facility.