Meet our 2020 Peer Facilitators:
A rising senior at Millennium High School, Alexandra joined YVote as a summer participant in the summer of 2020 looking to discuss issues affecting youth and the importance of voting. She became passionate about Environmental Justice and its effects, especially in New York City. She is also a YouthAction Member at the Citizens Committee for Children of New York collecting data from youth in NYC to create a youth agenda for the upcoming mayoral elections. In school, she leads the Model UN team and Green Team, promoting the importance of composting. She believes in the power of the youth's impact on politics and the value of voter education to maintain our democracy.
"Youth have an impact. An ability to make change. Power. And a voice. They just need to recognize it."
Asamia (she/her) is a first-generation Gambian who was born and raised in The Bronx. She majored in African and African American Studies and Political Science while at Lehman College. She is currently working full-time with the Alliance for Quality Education as the NYC organizer to fight for educational and racial justice in NYC public schools. Before AQE, Asamia organized with her political home BYP100 where she was the former co-chair of the NYC chapter and spent the last three years working with her fellow Black organizers on issues that impact Black people in NYC. She is also a freelance writer and workshop facilitator.
"YVote is doing the work to provide young people with the space to think critically about the issues and systems that impact their lives. Beyond that, YVoters are empowered with the knowledge and skills needed to actively fight for a better world. This is a space where young people are truly able to take direction over their lives and the world around them."
Chikodinaka (Kodi) Ejiogu
A recent graduate from the High School for Community Leadership from Queens, Kodi is a junior facilitator and Social Media Creator Corps member at YVote. Her love for social media content creation started in 2013 and she was able to utilize that passion for her budding interest in civics which started in the Summer of 2020 when she first joined YVote. After joining YVote, Kodi's passion for politics sparked into something she never thought it would. After casting her very first vote for the June 22nd Primary Election, she realized that politics and civic engagement were two things that she did not want to let go of. Kodi is headed to Stony Brook University in the Fall of 2021 hoping to major in Economics and minor in Political Science. With the knowledge that she has gained and will continue to gain from YVote, she hopes to make a true impact on her community and the rest of the world and is strongly considering running for public office in the future.
"I never really know why people ask 'If you COULD have one super power, what would it be and why?' We already DO have a super power and it's the right to vote! And in my humble opinion, that is one of the best super powers anyone can have. So don't let it go to waste. Use it. You'll thank me later."
Chris-Ann is a rising senior at New York University, where she double majors in Politics and Sociology. She joined YVote in the summer of 2017 as a founding member seeking to be more politically informed and has continued her involvement in YVote as a Facilitator since then. As a black woman, first generation immigrant, and first generation college student, Chris-Ann has been privy to inequalities marginalized communities face and the extent to which institutions contribute to this. Due to this awareness, she strives to aid black and brown youth in underserved communities have access to educational and career opportunities while also evoking aware of the impact they can have in the political sphere. With the rise of youth led social movements, Chris-Ann aims to assist youth in their leadership journey. Outside of YVote she has interned at law firms, works in Security Consulting, been a Clinique Campus Ambassador, is a College Leader for the 2021-2022 school year at NYU, and is an avid reality television watcher. She is excited to continue her journey as a facilitator and looks forward to meeting you all!
"Being civically engaged is the key to making sure your voice is heard. Even small actions can have big influences and invoke change. It is your responsibility to utilize your power and make sure you advocate for the change you want."
A recent graduate of Castilleja High School, Divya is a rising freshman at Stanford University where she hopes to study the intersection of political science and technology. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of Real Talk (learnrealtalk.org), a non-profit with the mission of empowering youth to engage in political discussion with empathy, curiosity, and respect. In her local community, she has served as the President of the Palo Alto Youth council, the designated liaison between teens and City Council, and at the international level was selected as a youth delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. In her various communities, she is a passionate advocate for cross-partisan collaboration and youth engagement as a means for a more productive democracy. She served this year as a member of the Next Gen Politics podcast team and is excited to join the YVote team.
"If we all turned our instagram stories into votes, I think our democracy would change for the better."
Currently a rising sophomore at Georgetown University, Frank is majoring in Government with potential minors in linguistics and Portuguese. He is deeply interested in constitutional law and looks to navigate a viable path ahead towards a career in government litigation. Frank’s involvement in politics over the past year has largely entailed his association with GU Politics and the Fellows Program, where he has worked with Kevin Hassett and Doug Jones to coordinate presentations, facilitate discussions, and invite guest speakers such as Joe Manchin and Hillary Clinton to share their expertise with the Georgetown community. He has also actively engaged with the Georgetown Bipartisan Organization, and is also the policy advocate for the College Republicans on campus. Frank hopes to use his experience at Georgetown to help further build on his past summers facilitating with YVote and is of course excited to meet and interact with all of you.
“Voting is the concrete representation of all your beliefs, opinions, doubts, and perspectives. To reject its importance is to deny yourself even the remotest chance of influencing the very issues you care so much about."
A graduate of Staten Island Technical High School and rising freshman at Princeton University. She joined YVote in the summer of 2020, and is thrilled to be a first-time junior facilitator. Her passions span from politics and social justice to web development and environmental science. Giorgia is especially focused on the intersection between technology and human rights, and her goal is to narrow the digital divide among public school students in America. Outside of YVote, she sits on the executive board of the New York Youth Civics Initiative, an organization that connects students with civic engagement opportunities, and has interned for Lucy Lang’s Manhattan District Attorney campaign. She has also supplemented her environmental interests by serving on the NYC GreenThumb Youth Leadership Council and competing on her high school’s Science Olympiad team. Giorgia’s time as a YVote member has shaped her into a young leader who is not afraid to speak her voice or challenge the status quo, and she hopes to inspire new members to do the same.
“Political disinterest is not only a sign of privilege—it’s a sign of hatred. To be willfully apolitical means that you can turn off your empathy if the situation does not directly affect you. If we are awarded a chance to vote, we must use it to build a brighter future for everyone.”
A rising junior & Posse Scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont, Kai joined YVote as a summer participant in 2018 and ascended to be a peer facilitator last summer. She is an explorer at heart and is energized to learn as much as she can about art, education, immigration law, disability rights, political advocacy, & student empowerment. In 2019, she worked at the Brooklyn Museum as a Gallery/Studio Teen, a teen program providing free art classes and opportunities to teach younger artists. Last summer, along with working at YVote, she was an undergraduate legal intern at UnLocal, Inc., an organization that provides direct immigration legal representation and community education to New York City’s undocumented immigrant communities. This summer, she is working at the Van Gogh Immersive Experience exhibit. A firm believer that nothing works in isolation, she sees how all her passions & interests are interconnected struggles & issues. She believes in the power of students and communities. This summer, she wants to learn with and from YVote students as much as she can.
“I think that movements, feminist movements, other movements are most powerful when they begin to affect the vision and perspective of those who do not necessary associate themselves with those movements” - Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle
Katrice first joined YVote in 2017 as a founding member the summer before my junior year at the Boerum Hill School for International Studies. She just finished her sophomore year at Syracuse University majoring in policy studies and minoring in data analytics. She is a huge fan of traveling, watching Netflix, and putting in her best effort to make the world a better place!
“One of the reasons voting is so important is because it forces you to show up. There are so many issues in the world that require our time and attention. Voting is the just the first step and it empowers us to take the second.”
Kenisha Mahajan (she/her) is a rising junior at Stuyvesant High School. She joined YVote in the spring of 2020 as a forum member, joining the criminal justice action group in the following summer, and is passionate about criminal justice reform, specifically its intersectionality with racial justice, class inequity, and educational disparities. As an immigrant, she is deeply interested in immigration policy as well as gender inequality both in and outside of the US. Outside of YVote, Kenisha is passionate about writing and reporting as an editor for her school newspaper, The Spectator, and a part of the core team at an organization called the Decameron Project, which works to uplift youth voices. She also participates in advocacy outside of YVote working with organizations like the Youth Civics Initiative, MyVote, and Art and Resistance through Education. This summer, she is excited to grow as a facilitator and learn from other YVoters!
"Voting is the backbone of our democracy, it is the very way through which we can make our voices heard, and it is a part of our civic responsibility. Beyond the polls, we all can foster progress by building spaces where ideas can be shared, having tough conversations, educating our peers, and being active change makers in our community."
Marsela is a rising college sophomore double majoring in human rights and economics at Bard College. She’s been in YVote for four years now, and it really helped her develop her voice as an activist. While being first generation Albanian-American, she saw the inequities between immigrant communities and more affluent ones, and wanted to make a change. Beyond YVote, Marsela helps run an organization through Bard College that allows her to tutor immigrants from Latin and South America living in Dutchess County in upstate NY to help them improve their English and in some cases even go back to school.
“Y-Vote is showing young people that their experiences and voices matter and after all of these politically-tense years, it’s important to remember that politics impact us all and that we each have our own relationship with politics. What may seem to be unimportant to you may be life-altering to someone else, and having the power to use your voice and your vote to change it is the power of democracy.”
Melanie Kruvelis (she/they) is a lead facilitator with YVote, with a background in youth organizing, local and state advocacy, and civic education. Melanie most recently worked as Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy at Young Invincibles, where she led statewide advocacy campaigns on issues impacting young adults in New York City and State, including free college, student debt cancellation, and medical debt. Prior to joining Young Invincibles, Melanie used her background in policy research to inform policy making locally and federally, working as a policy associate with DC Appleseed, and receiving the Mariam K. Chamberlain Fellowship in Woman and Public Policy at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Melanie enjoys bikes, bagels, and bodies of water.
“YVote is building critical spaces where young people can not only connect with the issues impacting their neighborhoods, but connect with one another and build community.”
A rising senior at Talent Unlimited High School, Mia has been a part of YVote since Summer 2020. Since then, she has participated in the criminal and environmental justice action groups. As a young black girl from the Bronx, she felt that these issues were most prominent in her community and works towards creating solutions through civic engagement. She chose to educate herself on the process of voting and found that fulfilling once’s civic duty isn’t voluntary but necessary towards equitable systemic changes. Through her work on YVote, Mia aims to provide accessible civic education to all communities, particularly targeting demographics with low voter turnouts and have been historically oppressed.
“Civics is so complex, it’s more than civil disobedience, politicians, or even voting, it’s about nurturing the minds that will be innovative and effective towards creating change for their communities.”
Michelle Del Villar
Michelle is a rising sophomore at Macaulay Honors at the City College of New York, pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Political Science on the Pre-Med track. Her passion for civics did not emerge from a political standpoint, but due to the inequities and lack of humanity that the immigrant community receives in her neighborhood. In the future, she would like to focus on reconstructing the interconnection between marginalized groups and disparities in healthcare. Through the work of YVote, she attempts to transcend the definition of social issues from a set of numbers in a system to an authentic person. As a first-time facilitator, she would like participants to be aware that being a leader is not to be the smartest but to have the biggest heart. Humanizing and learning from one another as a community. This summer and beyond, we are respecting to be respected in a safe space where issues are the inspiration to build the future. In her free time, Michelle enjoys learning new languages and sharing about her culture from Spain. She is looking forward to a productive summer and personally growing from the discussions everyone has to offer.
"We can’t be waiting for other people to fix society. It is time for our generation to take the initiative from local and not immediate steps. Steps with a sense of responsibility such as voting, that is not just expressing one’s voice, but the voice of groups that are silenced and impacted by political decisions."
Milena is a native Ecuadorian who migrated to the U.S in hopes of overcoming the barriers set by her country's education. She joined YVote in the summer of 2020 as a young Hispanic female determined to break the barriers of systematic injustice set in the U.S. Throughout her last year of high school, Milena used the knowledge and empowerment from YVote to launch her own Political Science Club- realizing that this would be a pathway for young leaders at her school to discuss the political environment and learn to use their voices and rights to shape their communities. Aside from YVote, Milena will also stay another year at Aviation High school to obtain her powerplant license and work as a female aircraft maintenance technician representing the underrepresented gender in a male-dominated industry, while obtaining a college education in hopes of becoming a lawyer and running for city council one day. As a young, humble, and hard-working advocate, this summer is no different for her, as she is keen to work alongside Nelson Mandela Boys and Girls High School to build a community garden that will swerve as a green space to appreciate and learn about nature. Last but not least, Milena is more than eager to serve as a facilitator to many young leaders that like her, see the disparities consuming our communities, and is hopeful to be more than a guide a friend to the leaders of tomorrow!
"We, the youth are stereotyped as those who are not supposed to be interested in politics nor be educated in such. Yet what many don't realize, is that if we break those barriers and build new bridges through civic engagement, the world, starting with our communities, will be filled with true leaders rather than followers."
A rising Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, double majoring in International Relations and Religious Studies. After being devastated by the election results of 2016, she looked for opportunities that would allow her to learn, understand, and enact the processes necessary for civic change. Wahid began her tenure in activist movements at the age of 17 through Yvote’s summer pilot program. In 2018, during her first year of college, she ran for first-year class President, and then for student body Vice-President. While VP, she implemented the first Free-menstrual Hygiene Product initiative in the colleges’ 200-year history. While at YVote, Wahid has learned the principles and ethics behind pursuing equity within higher education, and launched her campaign for student trustee on those principles. Now as student-trustee, Wahid serves as an intern for the Hope Fund at the Legal Aid Society, works on HWS Votes, and is using this summer to learn and grow through being a Yvote Peer facilitator.
"These last 10 years, Voter apathy, alongside numerous other facets of our government, have decided the fate of millions of American-and we continue to pay for it every day. There is no such thing as 'I’m don’t want to be involved with politics,' regardless of what you want, you are involved. Every choice we make in our lives is a reflection of political action, and every consequence we face as a result of those choices is a reflection of political inaction. I just want people to realize that."
A rising senior at The Scholars’ Academy and a first generation immigrant from Guyana. Sharona joined YVote in the fall of 2020 which allowed her to discover her passion for civics. She now serves as a member of YVote’s Social Media Creator Corps and is also involved in YVote’s partner organization, Next Generation Politics. Being an immigrant herself, she’s extremely passionate about immigration rights and has also developed an interest in voting rights. Leading up to the recent NYC Primary election, she acted as a Ranked Choice Voting student trainer where she facilitated sessions in order to teach people about RVC. Sharona also serves as a YVote representative in the In Our Hands Coalition in which she helped organize opportunities for over 150 youth to register voters, sent out 15,000 texts to remind people to go vote, and supervised youth as they handed out over 200 voter information flyers. Now, she is super excited to be serving as a peer facilitator for the first time this summer and cannot wait to meet you all!
“No one person can inspire change themselves, it is the collective that has the power to move mountains.”
Steven Pineda Porfirio
Steven Pineda Porfirio (he/him) is a rising Junior at Skidmore College. He is actively engaged and interested in politics and issues regarding systemic inequality--healthcare, education, and juvenile justice. As a Latinx, first-generation college student from Harlem, he became interested in politics after seeing mass levels of gentrification occur in his neighborhood, hearing unjust stories from friends, and photographing various forms of activism. Previously, Steven has interned for teachers, reviewed pedagogical material, and advocated for students who were often undermined by the education system. Last summer, Steven took on a summer class--studying youth advocacy and legislation. He enjoys being a part of YVote, furthering meaningful discourse, and amplifying youth voices.
“‘Oh, I have ambitions, dreams but dreams don’t come cheap… Little did I know all my reading would be a bother… This a new vanguard, this a new vanguard. I’m the new vanguard.’--Noname, Song 33. We hold the power to pave the way for a future we want to see, through our everyday actions, and what we do beyond public sight. We hold the power to advocate for those who cannot!”
Yuleimy recently graduated Fort Hamilton High School and is an incoming freshman at Stony Brook University. She will be majoring in Nursing and her ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner. What sparked her interest in politics was the gun control protest she attended during her freshman year of high school in 2018, but she never really knew what to do with that interest until she joined YVote. She has been part of three action groups--immigration, gender justice, and criminal justice--and it has helped her learn about society as a whole. She hopes this experience will help her fight injustices in the healthcare industry.
"The world is going to rely on our generation, and it is up to us make it better or worse."
Zhen is a rising senior at Baruch College Campus High School. His interest in politics started in 2020 after the George Floyd incident and after being involved in his school’s social action project. He joined YVote right after that to gain a more nuanced understanding of the current governmental system in the country. As a first generation immigrant, he believes in the power of education, and his goal is to give back and advocate for the needs of his community through providing equality of experience for children from under-resourced, low income, and/or immigrant family backgrounds. Knowing the struggles he's faced in school as an immigrant, he loves to not only tell but also show students who he's worked with that with commitment and hard work, they are capable of anything they want to be. This summer, he hopes to be able to empower more people to feel that their voice is important, and be able to do his part to help formulate a country where everyone's voice is recognized.
“ 'Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.' Susan B. Anthony. The right to vote has been a long and arduous task to which many people have devoted their lives and for which some have lost their lives throughout history. Each and everyone has something that makes us special, which in turn, can make the work we do special, or even extraordinary."