Biographies - No Minimum Age: Youth Activism and Social Change

WENDY LESKO

Wendy Lesko is president of the Youth Activism Project and author of several books including Youth! The 26% Solution, which she wrote with 19‐year‐old Emanuel Tsourounis. This national clearinghouse located in Washington, D.C. seeks to maximize youth impact in the public policy arena from school boards, law enforcement, transit authority, city council, statehouse to Congress. Currently Wendy is involved with youth‐led campaigns across the country to stop the school to prison pipeline and to extend voting rights to 16‐year‐olds in municipal elections and local school boards. Together with 100 Maryland youth, Wendy coordinates the 10‐year‐old School Girls Unite initiative with its sister organization in Mali, West Africa that advocates for gender equality and “Education for All.”

Wendy has collaborated with many organizations to deepen youth engagement including the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Jóvenes en Acción, Sugar Free Kids Maryland and U.S. Health & Human Services. Catalyst! Successful Strategies to Empower Young Advocates is her latest toolkit designed to increase authentic multi-generational advocacy. Her expertise in youth‐led advocacy and community action is enhanced by her prior professional experience as a community organizer with Cesar Chavez and a reporter covering the U.S. Congress.

Twitter: @Activism_Wendy
@SchoolGirlsLead
Email: wendy@youthactivismproject.org

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ISABEL BATE
Isabel Bate is eighteen years old and lives in New Haven, CT. They are a core organizer at The LGBTQ+ Youth Kickback, a youth-led group on the front lines of educating and advocating for young people, queer and trans people, and people of color in the New Haven area.

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JEREMY CAJIGAS

Jeremy is a sixteen-year-old sophomore at High School in the Community in New Haven. Since he was young,Jeremy has always focused on how he can make a change in his community but it was not until high school that he really was able to branch out, begin making a change and let his voice be heard. Being a part of a school that is about bringing about social change made me get involved in issues like racial profiling, police brutality, and any other issue that had to do with race. He became a community organizer within my school and city, working with a small group of students to organize events which had Mayor Toni Harp in attendance , as well as the NAACP and other community leaders. Jeremy has been the host and main organizer of three events which all revolved around raising awareness of racial issues in America. He also helped to organize a Black History Month event, spoke at a social justice symposium, and presented at a Police and Youth Relations Conference in Hamden. Jeremy was a panelist at a NAACP Youth Criminal Justice Town Hall Meeting. His major goal is to create an impact in his community by breaking racial stereotypes.

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MONTREL MORRISON

Montrel Morrison is a Youth Organizer and Mentor from Hamden, Connecticut, who works with numerous young people and stakeholders in New Haven. Montrel is currently a junior at Southern Connecticut State University. His major is Political Science, with a minor in Criminal Justice. Montrel is the outgoing Juvenile Justice Chair of SCSU-NAACP and has been The Juvenile Justice Chair for the past two years. He is the founder and organizer of the First and Second Annual SCSU-NAACP Juvenile Justice Expo, which focuses a theme relevant to what youth in the Juvenile Justice System or young people generally in the local community go through. Expo guests have included Appellate Court Judges, Mayors, Assistant District Attorneys, Clergy, Educators, Commissioners and Executive Directors of Non-Profit Organizations. Montrel has also been a featured panelist with other young leaders at the first Annual State of Connecticut NAACP Division’s Criminal Justice Town Hall Meeting on Stopping Gun Violence and Police Brutality. He is the recipient of the 2016 Most Involved E-Board Member of the SCSU-Multicultural Heritage Ball, based on votes from his peers for his dedication and commitment, creativity, and advocacy for social justice inside of the SCSU-NAACP Collegiate Chapter and on the SCSU-NAACP juvenile Justice Committee. Montrel is currently a mentor working with Gang of Dads, a faith-based youth mentoring program located in New Haven, Connecticut, and also mentors a high school student. Montrel wrote a forthcoming book called Young Brothers of Color, which focuses on the lives of adolescent males and the issues they contend with. Montrel plans to attend law school and to make a difference inside of his community, race, culture and society. Montrel is passionate about working with young people and helping the next generation become successful and productive members of society.

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CAROLINA BORTOLLETO

Carolina Bortolleto is co­-founder and coordinating committee member of CT Students for a Dream. Carolina was born in Brazil and moved to Danbury, CT at the age of nine with her parents and twin sister. She studied at Western Connecticut State University, and graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in Biology and minors in International Studies and Anthropology. She proudly describes herself as “Undocumented and Unafraid” and has been a leader active in immigrant youth movement. In 2010, she co­-founded CTStudents for a DREAM, a statewide youth-­led network fighting for the rights of undocumented youth and their families. She seeks a society where immigration status is not a barrier to education, and served as the C4D College Access Coordinator until 2014. She also currently serves on the United We Dream board. Her ultimate goal is to build a community of undocumented youth and to empower undocumented youth to reach their full potential and actively take on their future.

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