How I’ve Grown Because of the Youth Advisory Board

Dear YTH Youth Advisory Board,

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was on the cusp of finishing high school and speaking at my first conference, YTH Live 2013. I was beyond thrilled to be attending a conference filled with young leaders who were changing the world, and I distinctly remember the presence of the Youth Advisory Board (YAB). “I want to be a part of that,” I thought to myself. I vowed to find a way to make it happen.

Later that summer, I saw that YTH was accepting applications for its Youth Advisory Board, and I immediately sprang into action and got a letter of recommendation from one of my colleagues at Scenarios USA. I was thrilled to learn that I’d made it to the interview stage of the application in August, and when I was accepted a few weeks later, I couldn’t believe I was going to be a part of the YAB!

As a YAB member, I was given such incredible opportunities—blog and media training, mentorship, and even the ability to help shape the direction of YTH Live. I could feel myself growing every step of the way and finding more and more confidence in my leadership abilities. When I joined YAB and was given this responsibility and opportunity, I realized that I was a leader and that all of the incredible people I was working with were my peers. I was a powerful agent of change, just like they were.

YAB Quote for blog ErinOne of the most incredible experiences with YAB was the chance to work as a digital communications consultant. The sex education non-profit BACHE (Bay Area Communities for Health Education) was looking to hire a paid intern for the summer to help them develop their social media strategy. I was connected to BACHE, and they ended up wanting to bring me on board as a consultant instead of an intern! This experience allowed me to blossom and start what would become my very own freelance consulting business. I will be forever grateful to the YAB and YTH for this opportunity.

Later on, while I was still in college at Ohio University, I learned that YTH was looking to hire a communications intern to help them shape their blog and social media strategy. I wasn’t sure how they would feel about hiring a remote worker but decided to talk with YTH staff about the position. Ultimately, I decided to apply and got the job! I was even able to get mentorship from former YTH staff who I admire, like Jenna Gaarde and Jamia Wilson. To this day I’m still shaped by my time with them—I still work side-by-side with Jamia in the trenches of online feminism.

I loved working with YTH, and because of what I’ve managed to do there, I decided to take a chance on myself and pursue a career as a freelance writer. And now I’m the Communications Associate at YTH!

After YTH Live 2015, I had a tough decision to make. I knew I wanted to solidify my place in the YTH family yet felt like my time as a YAB member had finished. So after much deliberation, I decided to exit the board and give another young person the chance to grow as I have in this role.

As I look back on my two years as a YAB member, I see so much growth and development in myself—more than I ever could have imagined. I see someone who is confident, self-assured, successful, and driven. When I ask myself what shaped me into the woman I am today, the YTH Youth Advisory Board is one of the first things that come to mind. I’ve participated in a lot (and I mean a lot) of groups and organizations, and I can honestly say that the YAB has been one of the most fulfilling.

So thank you to all of my fellow YAB members for standing by my side, inspiring me, and cheering me on—I know I’ve found lifelong friends! And thank you to everyone at YTH who has believed in me and helped me grow as a young professional with big dreams. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to be a YAB member, and will continue to look back on this time with fondness.

Sincerely,
Erin


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