I am really excited for I Am Why because we are honoring intergenerational leadership! For me, this is important because I grew up fast. I started translating English documents for my parents when I was only six years old. My parents looked at me as a bridge to the American Dream, and if I am the only one in the family who knows English I can be an asset to the family.
I shared this story because this has caused me later in life to reflect on the little bit of childhood I had. My childhood was rough, but it taught me how to live on my own, which equipped me with natural leadership skills.
We rarely see collaboration between youth voice and adult voice. We often acknowledge young people, but never develop realistic youth leadership positions where young people can be paid for their time and practice their organic leadership skills.
I Am Why is changing that. We are hiring new leadership, and have chosen to hire co-executive directors, consistent with our intergenerational model. One of these co-EDs will be a young person with proven leadership skills and vision. This youth will work in equal partnership with a co-ED with more experience.
This is really powerful to me. Since I have been part of this grassroots organization, we have valued young women and gender expansive young people’s strength, struggles, resiliency and visions for a better future across the nation—so the next generation of youth leaders will always know they have the ability to change the world.
Time does not wait for anybody and it is important to ensure strong youth leadership of I Am Why NOW! Intergenerational leadership is the right model because by giving young people true leadership opportunities and by walking alongside a young person, you truly are connecting and touching the hearts of emerging young leaders, and showing that change is possible and their lived experience is valued. For my adults out there, thank you for staying true to the social movement family and passing the baton to the next generation of rising leaders. Stay tuned!!!
-Xocheezy, I Am Why consultant and board member