Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment formed the President’s Youth Council as a genuine effort to integrate youth input and decision making into The Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities campaign. The President’s Youth Council is a statewide, intergenerational body of youth and seasoned youth workers that provide thought leadership, youth perspective and candid feedback on The California Endowment’s campaign and strategies in the pursuit of Health and Justice across California.
The California Endowment values the energy, agility, and fearlessness of youth leadership and youth organizing in its many forms including local, statewide and online community building, and lifting the voices of those traditionally excluded from public conversations to create opportunities for their stories to be told and heard. Building Healthy Communities is driven by a vision of what constitutes a healthy community: one in which youth and adults thrive and all community members have the opportunities, supports and resources to develop their full potential, thus achieving greater health equity for marginalized Californians, especially those who have experienced disadvantage or historical injustice.
Through Building Healthy Communities, young people have stepped up to lead the fight for healthier schools, neighborhoods, and smarter health systems. PYC Ambassadors for Youth are lead thought partners in redefining wellness for California’s youth and providing youth perspective on expanding leadership roles for youth in advancing health equity and health justice campaigns to strengthen youth voice and leadership across communities, at a statewide level and nationally. We invite PYC Members, as Ambassadors for Youth, to help us realize an inclusive California with Health Equity and Health Justice for All.
PRESIDENT’S YOUTH COUNCIL
Maria Ambriz is a Health Equity Organizer with the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council. At MBCLC, Maria co-facilitates the Health For All Committee, which was instrumental in organizing the expansion of Esperanza Care. Esperanza Care allows undocumented Californians in Monterey County to receive certain medical services.
Prior to working at MBCLC, Maria was a full-time student of Politics at UC Santa Cruz. While at UCSC Maria participated in UCLA Labor Center Dream Summer Fellowship. In 2012, Maria was also a Health Career Connections intern with the East Salinas Building Healthy Communities site.
In the future, Maria plans to earn a Master’s degree in Public Policy and continue organizing in Monterey County and in La Estancia, Michoacan, Mexico where is she is a native.
In her free time, Maria enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts and cooking for her family.
Efrain Botello is a youth leader that was born and raised in Fresno, CA. He is now working as an Outreach Worker at Fresno Barrios Unidos, a community benefits organization that empowers youth and families through education, wellness, and advocacy. Some of his responsibilities at Fresno Barrios Unidos have included conducting outreach to many community members throughout Fresno and helping support the El Joven Noble rites of passage program. Through working with Fresno Barrios Unidos, Efrain has also been heavily involved with the Fresno Boys and Men of Color initiative where he has advocated for the improvement of his beloved community’s health. Some of the many issues Efrain has advocated for have included bringing safe parks to his community, creating healthy relationships between the Fresno Police Department and youth across Fresno, and making sure everyone feels safe in schools by making Fresno Unified School District a sanctuary for all. Efrain is now studying Sociology at Fresno City College and will soon transfer to CSU, Fresno to finish his education. After graduating, Efrain dreams of serving as a mentor and counselor for youth in his community. He wants to leave a positive impact on young people’s lives so they can be able to reach their full potential. In his free time, Efrain loves anything that will keep him active. Some of his favorite hobbies include playing soccer, weightlifting, listening to music, and hanging out with his loved ones.
A proud product of Long Beach, California, Christopher Covington has dedicated his life to a future where all who have historically been marginalized, made invisible, and unheard are uplifted and empowered to challenge and deconstruct the systems of oppression. He is a multiracial, queer person of color with many identities and lived experiences that deeply connects him to intersectional movements and spaces. Growing up working class, he was determined that he would not be boxed in by the limitations others placed on him. His dedication and determination to advancing issues led him to organize with his community in the fight for social justice. Their work produced major local and national policy, systems and cultural shifts in the fields of labor, education, LGBTQ+ and health. He is the Youth Leadership and Campaigns Specialist for the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network, empowering trans and queer youth to unite for racial and gender justice. In his free time, he enjoys caring for his dog, Leo and his houseplants, engaging in wellness practices and making memories with friends and loved ones.
For the past four years Jasmine, along with countless young people in South Stockton, has been finding ways to build community and civic engagement. Life for her and many Stockton youth have elements of social and economic poverty, and it is her personal experience that drives her to do this work. Jasmine has worked on issues related to disadvantaged student opportunities. She has served as a site director for summer programs with the Housing Authority and the University of the Pacific to promote literacy. In addition, she has worked with 100 students over the past four Summers to help them design and execute community action plans, thereby developing active solutions to the problems facing their community. In her role as Student Organizer for the South Stockton Schools Initiative since October 2015, she and other South Stockton partners have created a park beautification campaign aimed at reducing blight, graffiti, and gang-related crime with the goal of increasing the number of families who use neighborhood parks. She has worked to help bring access to fresh produce in food desert areas in south Stockton and is currently working with students to fight for education improvements through policy change. Currently, she partners with Stockton’s Mayor Tubbs, Facebook, Street Code Academy and EnCorps STEM teacher fellowships to bring more access to STEM and coding opportunities for students in south Stockton. Jasmine will continue to dedicate her time and heart to uplift, empower and equip the future generation to reach their highest potential.
Deyaneira is an undocu-queer mujer seeking to disrupt cycles of violence in her community. She is an active community organizer in her hometown of Santa Ana currently working on immigrant rights, queer liberation and youth power. She supports youngsters in her city to transition into leadership pipelines and works as a Wellness Coordinator for California’s statewide Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat.
South Los Angeles
Nile Haynes-Irby is a full-time student at George Fox University. He studies Engineering with a focus on the mechanical side. He enjoys building objects that affect human emotions. Before PYC, Nile served on a South Los Angeles Youth Council. The council helped Nile build leadership and awareness of issues in the community. Peace Over Violence was another organization he participated in that helped prevent domestic violence through art. In addition, Nile worked with Brotherhood Crusade in building young men to strive for success. Other work includes designing a youth survey across California to gather ideas of what youth think about their community. Recently, he has been a Grant Advisor for The Pollination Project helping fund youth grants. Nile graduated from View Park High School. After receiving his degree, he plans on building his own engineering company. Nile loves to go swimming and play video games. Fun Fact about Nile is he drank a FIJI water bottle in FIJI. He continues to support his family and community.
Binti Musa, recently finished her last year at Grossmont College with two associate degrees in Sociology and Social Work. She is hoping to transfer to the University of Las Vegas, Nevada to major in Sociology. She was born in Somali and came to the United States in March 2004 at the age of nine. She has been living in San Diego ever since. Before PYC, She was a full-time student and employed. In addition, Binti has been involved with many community groups: City Heights Youth For change, Parent Student Resident organization, Food Justice Momentum team, Somali Bantu association, Say San Diego, and and Sisterhood Circle.
She is interested in doing community organizing with upon graduation. She loves giving back to her community and working with them. Whenever she is out, she is at community meetings and listening for her community’s needs and how she can better assist them. She loves being outdoors, hiking and trying something different.
Karla Ortiz’s journey started back in high school Junior year 2015, when her mother, Yanira Jones, encouraged her to become more active in her community. Karla comes from Boyle Heights, a small but powerful community fighting for its justice against gentrification and a home to many immigrants. Karla’s mom found The East Los Angeles Women’s Center (ELAWC), which centers its focus to ensure that all women, girls and their families live in a place of safety, health, and personal well-being, free from violence and abuse, with equal access to necessary health services and social support, with an emphasis on Latino communities. Through ELAWC Karla discovered her voice, and the power she has. She became and continues to be empowered by other powerful women for whom she now has much gratitude. Karla volunteered for a year with The East Los Angeles Women’s Center and was later hired as a Youth Organizer. Since then she has fallen in love with the movement, fighting for social justice and sharing her knowledge. Karla attended Sisterhood Rising in 2015 and describes herself as a lotus terrified of letting her guard down. She now sees that she has blossomed into a powerful and courageous leader. Now three years later, she has found herself helping other young female-identified women to also grow and blossom. Karla has a position in the planning team and makes the effort to ensure that Sisterhood Rising is a safe space for young girls to finally step out of the box in which society puts them. For some of these young women, Sisterhood Rising is the only space that makes them feel capable of breaking through that small box. Now that she is on the PYC team, she wants to make sure that her voice is heard and that she is able to create a change within her community and the movement starts with her. What Karla wants the world to know about Boyle Heights: “This may be a small city but don’t underestimate us, with the power of organizing we are stronger together”.
Leslie was born in Acapulco, Guerrero in Mexico and migrated to the United States at the age of 2 to City Heights, a community in San Diego, CA. She is an active community organizer advocating to improve the living conditions of the youth of color in our state. Specifically, Leslie is working to reduce suspension and expulsion rates in the school system and eliminate the school-to-prison- pipeline. Leslie is now in her fourth year at UC Merced working to receive her bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She also serves as a Student Coordinator at UC Merced’s Services for Undocumented Students. She aims to continue her higher education and pursue a masters in Urban Planning to develop healthier communities across the state.
Olondis Walker was born in Oakland, CA, and has been involved in Community Work since 2006 after being in the gun crossfire near his home and shot 4 times. Upon recovery, Olondis decided that he would make music that would move his peers in a positive direction. With extreme passion he created songs with compelling stories and messages about street survival and positive choices. He also began to share more than making music with others. He shared his time, experience and studio savvy when he joined the Turf Unity Music Project to educate youth in the neighborhoods. He also helped start a Black Men’s Group called Determination with United Roots. He has toured throughout the Bay Area and has graced many a stage with artists like Kurtis Blow, Pep Love of Hieroglyphics, San Quinn, MistahFAB, Goapele, The Jacka and Too Short. His contributions to the The Turf Unity compilation led it to sell over 6,000 units independently, and also received a “Best of The Bay award” from East Bay Express.
Dean Welliver is a student at UC Berkeley, pursuing his degree in Sociology. He was previously an LGBTQ Equality Organizer for the Dolores Huerta Foundation. As the Equality Organizer, he mobilized LGBTQ youth and adults to advocate for policies and services to address health inequities and school climate affecting the LGBTQ community in Kern County. He was also a facilitator of the Teens 4 Equality program, where he focused on building the leadership of other youth leaders, providing recreational opportunities, and advocating together for more inclusive school climates, family acceptance, and spreading awareness in our community about LGBTQ identities and people. Dean was also a youth journalist for South Kern Sol and has been writing articles relating to community health, with a focus on education and LGBTQ communities, since early 2014.
Dean has been involved in LGBT advocacy and organizing since he was sixteen. In high school, he was a Youth Trainer with the GSA Network of Southern California, training groups of LGBTQ and allied youth about LGBTQ topics and rights in schools all over Southern California. At home in Bakersfield, Dean was a regular volunteer for the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield and worked as a canvasser and phone banker for the Dolores Huerta Foundation before being hired as an Organizer.
In the future, Dean hopes to continue doing community organizing and use his degree to conduct research studies aimed at assessing the needs of marginalized communities. In his free time, Dean enjoys spending time with his dogs, hanging out with friends and family, and reading.
Sompong Viengvilai was born and raised in Richmond, CA. Being involved with different non-profit organizations gave him the opportunity to pursue film production. Ever since then, Sompong received a B.A in Cinematic Art from San Francisco State University. His areas in emphasis within cinema are postproduction work such as editing, and minor work in animation. His recent film production includes videos for the 2019 TCE Youth Awards.
Like any other youth growing up in a low-income neighborhood, he’s been through rough times and his community was there to help support him and his family. Therefore, Sompong is passionate about giving back to his community, and others.
Founding Member (2011-2016) & Youth Engagement Fellow (2017-2019)
Community Affiliation: Eastern Coachella Valley
ALICIA DE LEON MENDOZA
Founding Member (2011-2018)
Community Affiliation: Del Norte
Founding Member (2011-2017)
Community Affiliation: Richmond
Community Affiliation: Stockton
Founding Member (2011-2016)
Community Affiliation: Fresno
Founding Member (2011-2017)
Community Affiliation: Sacramento
Founding Member (2011-2017)
Community Affiliation: Oakland
Founding Member (2011-2014)
Community Affiliation: Eastern Coachella Valley
Founding Member (2011-2016)
Community Affiliation: Boyle Heights