The Youth Advisory Council is a team of servant-leaders recognized for their dedication to youth leadership, service-learning, diversity, and educational achievement for all. The YAC advises NYLC on its programming and brings valuable youth perspectives to the organization’s work. They work across the United States, demonstrating how young people can contribute today.
YAC Mission: Exemplify servant-leadership while advising NYLC programs through shared decision-making to transform communities and create positive social change in the world.
Meet the 2019-2021 Youth Advisory Council
Carmen Lopez Villamil, The Beacon School
Carmen is a sophomore at Beacon in New York City. She has lived in the same house in Brooklyn for her entire life, and loves the city for its striking diversity. She is excited to address the intersection between racial inequality and the American education and food systems while serving on the YAC.
Carmen is most passionate about food justice, and its role in systematic racial oppression. Food justice is ensuring that everyone – regardless of economic status or race – has access to healthy food. It has a myriad of effects, and tremendous potential for change – mitigating racism, promoting personal health, and fighting climate change. She cares because food inequality flagrantly pervades New York City: the city boasts some of the world’s most expensive restaurants, while 1.2 million people struggle to eat. 300,000 students, 20%, rely on soup kitchens, most of whom are black and brown. The solutions range from creating community gardens that produce food, to reinforcing school food or educating individuals about health.
She currently volunteers at a community molecular biology lab in Brooklyn and is an avid member of Beacon’s environmental club. She is also a Young Leader of the New York City Football Club and the captain of her school’s JV soccer team. As a debater, she has learned to meld her passions into cohesive strategies for creating a just and equal society for all, she volunteers with the Urban Debate League to provide urban public schools with access to debate. Carmen is passionate about empowering young people of color to challenge American norms and create systemic change through soccer, STEM, debate, and education.
Isabella Sullivan, Clarksville High School
Isabella (Bella) is very passionate about equality. She believes that civil liberties should be protected for all people, and that all people deserve compassion, protection, and equity. She is also passionate about volunteering her time to help members of her community feel dignified and loved. She works on the youth leadership team Lead United with the United Way to address social injustices in her community. She is on the leadership team of honor societies at her school so that she can take part in planning and implementing community volunteer service initiatives that are impactful in her community. She believes that you are never too young to accomplish great things.
Zahra Ali, Prior Lake High School
When Zahra was much younger she moved away from her predominantly Somali community and into a town where her family was one of the first non-white families. Growing up in such a community she experienced all kinds of microaggressions, but rarely seen any consequences towards the aggressors. She grew up learning that if she spoke up she became a snowflake, someone who was weak and couldn’t take a joke. But it’s not a joke. Microaggressions cause real harm to Muslim and African American peers. She is passionate about social justice, especially as it relates to African American young people and cultural understanding.
Meet the Youth Advisory Council Mentor
Ananya Singh, Morris County School of Technology
Ananya Singh is a freshman at Morris County School of Technology, in NJ, and has a passion for service and activism. She began Youth United Making An Impact, a group for youths to learn about issues in the world, and take action. While participating and organizing service-learning projects, she has recognized the impact that people can make. Her inspiration to take on bigger projects and more effective campaigns has only been growing, and she is constantly planning and organizing events, meetings, and actions. Some achievements that she has accomplished include being awarded with the Morris County Superintendent’s Leadership Award, being a part of the National Junior Honor Society, being recognized by Greenpeace as a lead activist and volunteer in the spotlight. Her goal as part of the YAC is to learn and grow as a leader, and effectively develop service-learning and education equity. Serving on the YAC is an experience she is extremely honored to have, and she is excited to collaborate with an amazing organization and insightful members.
Aside from service, she enjoys expressing creativity through hand lettering, writing, and dance. Her personal mission statement is: “to bring happiness and compassion to those around me, make positive choices that are good for me and the environment, act fearlessly and dedicatedly, and reach out of my comfort zone to improve the world.”
Meet the Youth Advisory Council Interns
Abdihamid Mohamed is a junior at Blaine High School in Minnesota. He is a member of his schools track and field team and is excited to be interning at NYLC this summer. He participated in NYLC’s first Nurturing Identity and Civic Engagement trip to Turkey where Minnesota Muslim youth explored their faith and civic identities through a cultural education immersion experience. The experience is what inspired him to apply with NYLC and further his leadership development.