Youth Advisory Council

Meet the 2016-2017 Youth Advisory Council

Anna Rose Mohr-Almeida | Tempe, AZ

Anna is a ninth grader and attends Mesa Community College and New School for Arts and Academics in Tempe, Arizona. Anna founded Kids Climate Action Network, a 501c3 with the focus of engaging youth in the climate crisis conversation. An active member of Beyond Coal, Anna was the Youth Keynote at Arizona State University's Local to Global Teach-In 2014, and was the Grand Canyon Chapter of Sierra Club's (GCCSC) Outstanding Youth 2014. Anna publishes quarterly youth activist articles in the GCCSC newspaper, which is mailed to 11,000 Arizonans. Anna is a Palm Oil Action Leader with Rainforest Action Network. 


Anika Bagaria | Skillman, NJ

Anika is an eighth grader from Skillman, New Jersey. After visiting a school in Guatemala City that could not afford a health and wellness program, Anika founded an organization called Prevention by Attention in order to provide education to thwart bullying, illness, and stereotyping. The organization primarily focuses on public schools in Guatemala, Mexico, and Ghana, providing health packages, books, DVDs, posters, as well as pamphlets and letters created by student volunteers. Anika is a state finalist for the Veteran of Foreign War (VFW's) Patriot's Pen Essay Writing Contest, which has helped raise awareness for the VFW's cause. Every summer, she enjoys helping at a special needs academy in Bombay by teaching math and serving as a recess supervisor to younger students. Also, since second grade, she has been an active member of Move It to Lose It, an organization that raises awareness of childhood obesity and diabetes. Through Special Needs Community Outreach Program for Empowerment (SCOPE), she has come to meet and bond with kids who - despite the challenges they encounter daily - nevertheless share an uplifting look on life. Service has always been and will continue to be a crucial element of Anika's life. 


Sarah Bartoloni | Chanhassen, MN

Sarah is a senior in high school and is a leader of a service club at her high school called Teens Taking Action in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The goal of this club is to focus on hunger issues in the local community and engage more teens in service. She is also a member of a club called Back Pack Tutoring, where high school students are partnered up with an elementary school student from an inner city school. The program focuses on improving math and reading skills while forming one on one relationships with the kids. Sarah has been involved in this program for two years. She is also involved in other service clubs at her school and loves volunteering with her church or within her church community. Sarah is a 2014 recipient of The President's Volunteer Service Award.


Carson Bold | Arlington, TX

Carson is a junior in high school in Arlington, Texas where he has served as  an advocate for youth volunteerism and also founded Carson Cares, an organization which demonstrates the act of giving back and connects children of any age with non-profit organizations that need help. Carson Cares works to bridge the gap between non-profits and eager volunteers, while providing role models for children who are new to volunteering. Carson also supports SafeHaven of Tarrant county, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. He holds fundraisers annually for their children's program and was named youth volunteer of the year in 2011. He has also received numerous grants for his projects from Youth Service America and Arlington Alliance for Youth. In 2013, Carson was a regional winner of the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program for his service, and in 2014 he received the Mirabeau B. Lamar award from the Greater Arlington Lions Club and the Arlington Masonic Lodge. He also received a grant in 2014 from Radio Disney and Youth Service America for his Season of Giving project and was featured on Radio Disney for his accomplishments. In August of 2015, Carson was honored by Texas State Representative Tony Tinderholt for his significant service to the community.


Aulona Grahm-Simms | Atlanta, GA

Aulona is a returning YAC member. At the age of 14, she engaged over 600 students to make and sell art accessories. The profits bought canned goods for kids in need through Kids for Change: Nourishing Minds, Battling Hunger. She has also been involved with Wear Jeans for Canned Goods which motivated students to collect over 2,000 cans of food. She has inspired students from three local middle schools to get involved and raise awareness around childhood hunger. Aulona has organized many projects that help the homeless in her community through generationOn's Make Your Mark on Hunger campaign. She has also started a continuing service projecs through Disney's Friends for Change called Ghost Out. This project brings awareness to underage drinking by having students dress like ghosts and refrain from speaking. This project simulates what it would be like to lose friends due to underage drinking. Aulona has also started a project called Sunday Supper where she gives out snack bags to the homeless on Sunday while the soup kitchens are closed.


Sophia Hu | East Brunswick, NJ

Sophia is a senior in high school from East Brunswick, New Jersey. She is on a mission to improve the lives of others by expanding volunteering opportunities and increasing computer science awareness in her community. She has been a youth leader with the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute USA, for three years. Roots & Shoots promotes young people making positive change happen in their communities for people, animals, and the environment. When Sophia's not leading meetings as the president of her high school Code Club, she's practicing golf with the Varsity Golf team, volunteering for the Special Olympics, or planning events at the public library. In her spare time, Sophia enjoys writing, playing arcade claw machines and petting dogs. 


Elise Jackson | Plaquemine, LA

Elise is a ninth grader in Plaquemine, Louisiana.  She is an organizer of "Waste Matters" Brigade, designed to assist with the recycling of Kool-Aid Jammer and Caprisun pouches as a fundraising opportunity for her club and school.  Elise has expanded her recycling efforts by collecting and recycling eyeglasses for distribution to people in need in developing countries and shoes for the homeless in her local community.  Elise is also co-owner of E & Parks popcorn Korner, providing popcorn to children residing in local shelters.  Elise will begin a Spread the Bread campaign to inspire the gifting of bread with a note of hope, inspiration or gratitude to honor local hero's or help someone in need of a positive gesture.  Elise is the president of her 4H Club, a 4H Jr. Leadership member, and she has been 4Her of the year for the past 4 years and  a recipient of the 4H Award of Excellence.  Elise is also an active volunteer with Youth Volunteer Corps (United Way), member of the Youth Volunteer Corps Advisory Board, Youth Alive Member with the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum, National Jr. Beta Club member, Jr. Leadership Event Chairman and student volunteer with a local Domestic Violence CCRT.


Will Lourcey | Fort Worth, TX

Will is an eighth grader in Fort Worth, Texas.  He is the founder & CEO of the youth run 501c3 organization Friends Reaching Our Goals, Inc. "FROGs" mobilizes, inspires and empowers youth to make positive change in communities. Will founded the group after seeing a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: NEED A MEAL. It made him sad inside to realize there were hungry people in his community. Will knew he needed to take action, so he gathered friends to for a hunger fighting team. To date, FROGs has provided over 180,000 meals for the hungry and inspired thousands of youth to take action.  Will enjoys advocating for the hungry by speaking to schools and conferences spreading the message that "No matter how tall or small you are, YOU can make a big difference!"  Will was also selected as a Hasboro Community Action Hero in 2012.


Olivia R. Russo-Hood | Deltona, FL

Olivia is a ninth grader in Deltona, Florida where she is the Founder of Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.).  The main initiatives of S.T.E.P. are to lead and participate in programs that are focused on locally living with our resources responsibly, raising awareness about social issues nationally, and whenever possible by giving back globally. Olivia drives several programs. The cornerstone projects are Leave a GOOD Footprint - gently-used shoe collection, S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate - community gardens and programs focused on healthy eating and eradicating hunger, Thirst Aid Stands - drink stands raising funds and awareness for the global water crisis, and S.T.E.P. Outside the Box - programs to engage youth in leadership and beyond.


Jackson Salmon | Green Bay, WI

Jackson is a sophomore in Highschool in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Jackson is involved in his community.  In 7th and 8th grade Jackson was part of a program called SWAG (Student Wellness Awareness Group) through his school. SWAG based their objectives through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. They host district-wide events to promote healthy living for students and the community.



Eleanor Schoenbrun | El Paso, TX

Eleanor is an eighth grader in El Paso, Texas. She set out to help her community at the age 8, when Eleanor founded her service project, Pennies FUR Pets to help homeless animals. Eleanor was later recognized as one of the national awardees for Make A Difference Day. She then started Kans for Kids, at the age of 10, a service project benefitting food-insecure children in El Paso. To this date, Eleanor has been named the Youngest Woman of Philanthropy by the El Paso Community Foundation, been awarded the El Paso Veterinary Medical Association's Volunteer and Animal Activist of the Year, National Science Teachers' Association's Angela Award, and has received multiple grants. She is actively involved her middle school. Eleanor is the current founder of a generationOn Service Club, currently serves as Student Council President, along with being a school Ambassador, National Junior Honor Society's Secretary, and a member of Girl Power. Eleanor's motto since the third grade is that "Even the smallest person can make the biggest difference." Eleanor is continuing her service projects and focuses on helping homeless animals, food-insecure children and children in need.


Topanga Sena | Orlanda, FL

Topanga is a junior in high school in Orlando, Florida. She founded Dare to Care Reading Buddies for children throughout Central Florida who reside in homeless shelters. Dare To Care Reading Buddies offers children access to books. Volunteers take time to sit with the children and read with them assisting them in early childhood education and reading comprehension. The program advocates volunteerism for teens across Central Florida to help raise awareness to a growing issue in their community. Topanga received the Disney's Friends for Change grant to contribute to her efforts and was the recipient of the Walt Disney World in the Community, Dreamers and Doers Shining Star in 2013. She was recognized by Radio Disney in 2015 for her community efforts. She serves on the Youth Empowerment and Leadership Learning board (YELL) in her community and serves on Teen Voices as a Teen Advisory Board member in Orlando, Florida.  She is a participant of the First Tee of Central Florida where she encourages youth to participate in golf while learning the Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits.


Maxwell Suprenant | Needham, MA

Maxwell is a seventh grader at The St. Sebastian's School in Needham, Massachuttes. He is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Catching Joy, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit which promotes volunteerism and acts of kindness beginning with kids, teens, and their families. He organizes hands-on community service projects that kids can do to let them feel the joy of giving. Maxwell's philanthropic awards include 2015 Hasbro Community Action Hero, 2015 John F. Kennedy "Make A Difference" Award, 2015 Peace First Semi-Finalist, 2015 Kohl's Cares Regional Winner, 2015 After School Awards Finalist sponsored by J.C. Penny, and 2014 Strike 3 Foundation "Play It Forward" Challenge." Maxwell has received the 2015 Martin Richard Bridge Builder Grant to promote peace and kindness; 2015 The Disney Friends for Change grant for National Family Day Of Service, 2015 and 2016 GenerationOn and Hasbro's grant for the Joymaker Challenge, and was selected as a 2016 GenerationOn and Hasbro Kindness Ambassador. Maxwell was honored to win "Honorable Mention" in the White House Student Film Festival, in which the theme was "The Impact of Giving Back." He was the 2015 Student Keynote Speaker at MassCUE (Massachusetts Computer Using Educators) Conference held at Gillette Stadium. He won the 2015 Jimmy Fund Big Idea Contest, a nation-wide search for a new idea to help fight cancer. Maxwell serves as a Kid Reporter for Sports Illustrated Kids and Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. He was selected for the Kids Advisory Board for Chop Chop Magazine.

Ryan Traynor | Emerald Hills, CA

Ryan is a senior in High School from Emerald Hills, CA.  In 2013, Ryan founded Youth for Literacy to empower and equip youth to increase literacy rates in their communities through advising community leaders and designing and implementing literacy programs. Some of his 27 programs, which are implemented in multiple locations include: STEM kits for kids, Book Drive Tool Kits, Money Smarts for Teens, and Family Board Game Days. Ryan has collected over 35,000 books which have been distributed to 10 schools, 6 libraries, 24 charities and 6 community fairs. 240 kids attended STEM classes and 1,300 teens completed financial literacy classes. He has raised over $75,000 to implement his various literacy programs and has been a speaker to 1800+ people. In addition, Ryan was Editor-in-Chief of Amazing Kids! Magazine for over 2 years, where he impacted almost 1 million readers a year worldwide and is now their Editorial Advisor. Ryan has garnered many awards for his commitment to service including 6 Gold Presidential Service Awards, named to the International Literacy Association's list of "30 under 30" literacy advocates worldwide, featured on Good Morning America as a Person Making a Difference, featured on the Disney Channel as a Child Making a Difference, a national Daily Point of Light winner, Youth Service America Everyday Young Hero Award, ABC7 Star, Red Cross Hero Award for Volunteerism, and regional Jefferson Award Winner.

Ellie Zika | Peoria, IL

Ellie is a sophomore at Peoria Notre Dame High School in Peoria, IL. She is an active student participating in FIRST Lego League, swim team, Teens for Life, Key club, and Lumen Christi. Ellie's story begins at the age of nine when she met Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and New York Times bestselling author. After meeting Immaculee, Ellie founded KidKnits, a non-profit organization that originally purchased the handspun yarn from the women in Rwanda to package into knitting craft kits so she could teach her friends how to knit hats. KidKnits quickly grew and began to purchase yarn from women living in Chile as well as Rwanda. In addition to selling over 10,000 balls of yarn, Ellie also visits and teaches knitting in local schools and youth groups to share about the foundation of KidKnits and her belief that "You're Never Too Young to Change a Life on the Other Side of the World." In addition to her KidKnits volunteering, Ellie is an active member on her FLL team, helping to lead them to first place finishes in their regional and state events and a top 3 finish in the world. Ellie was one of ten students to receive the 2015 Hasbro Community Action Hero award because of her work with KidKnits. Ellie's story has also been shared by, Discovery Girls magazine, Kiki magazine, Simply Knitting magazine, and the Peoria Journal Star.