This blog post is a part of the YTH Staff Interview Series, where we feature an in-depth Q&A with each member of our staff. This time around, we’re speaking to Erin McKelle, the Communications Associate at YTH. Erin has worked as a writer, community manager, youth leader, consultant, and digital strategist for many organizations, including YTH partners Scenarios USA and The Positive Women’s Network, Adios Barbie, Bustle, Stop Street Harassment, Rewire, and more. In addition to her work at YTH, she is also a digital entrepreneur who freelances in social media marketing & works to empower people through spirituality as an intuitive coach. I spoke to Erin about her extensive experience at YTH, giving back, and her role in youth empowerment.
JADE: What are you most thankful for about your experiences with YTH?
ERIN: I’ve been involved in YTH’s programming for about 4 years now, which is amazing to be able to say. I was first introduced to YTH through YTH Live in 2013, where I was speaking on a panel as a part of a sexual violence campaign I was running with Scenarios USA. I remember seeing all of the other young people at the conference, particularly the Youth Advisory Board and thinking “I want to do to that!” When applications to join were released later that year, I jumped at the chance to make it happen and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since then, my role has continued to evolve as I grow as a professional. I first worked with YTH in an official capacity as an intern in my final year of college. I then stayed on board as I graduated and went into freelancing and became a core staff member on the communications team.
It’s so hard to choose just one thing, but I think overall, I’m the most thankful for the opportunities for growth that YTH has given me. From the time I was a YAB member, all the way until now, I’ve been able to dive into so many projects and learn new skills, and have always been respected as a valuable member of the team. Whatever I’ve wanted to do, learn, or gain experience in, YTH has backed me 100%. That’s a rare quality to find in an organization and team of people nowadays and I realize how lucky I am to have that support.
JADE: Do you see yourself helping other young people get those experiences?
ERIN: Absolutely! I know firsthand how important it is to support the young leaders that we get the privilege of working with. I also see how adults supporting me in my journey when I was younger really made such a huge impact in how I developed, that I want to be able to do the same thing for other young people, now.
Firstly, I try to make myself as open and available as possible. I don’t edge out young people who might be a part of a conversation or project, or look at them as a second to what my thoughts are; if anything, I value their input more than mine! I think those very subtle dynamics are actually what stick out to a young person the most, because it’s easy to just highlight youth when it’s convenient or makes you look good. It matters more what you do behind the scenes, when nobody’s watching.
Since I run all of YTH’s social media channels and platforms, I also try to highlight the words and work of young people, as often as possible. It’s important to me that we use our voice to amplify theirs!
JADE: How else can one give back?
ERIN: There’s so many ways and I promise you that if you look, there are’s ’ probably opportunities right under your nose to help and give back to youth.
With that being said, I think mentorship is one of the most critical aspects of giving back. Having mentors as a young person is so important to your personal and professional development, especially as you are making connections and building your career. It’s also incredibly rewarding to be able to help someone whose shoes you were in once, so I encourage everyone to mentor. It also connects you to youth in a more personal way, which often doesn’t happen in more professional settings, like a conference or a meeting.
To learn more about Erin and her work, read her full bio here.
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