Meet the Core Team
Sanda is passionate about helping young people connect their interests and beliefs with how they can make a difference, at and beyond the ballot box. In response to the complex times we’re living in, the vulnerability of democracy being demonstrated, and the desire to support young people in being on the front lines of change, Sanda is thrilled to be a cofounder of YVote. She also serves as Program Director for Civics Unplugged, a new nonprofit committed to empowering young people with an understanding of their roles and responsibilities as citizens, helping them participate fully and contribute positively to shaping a more just world.
Melody is a Youth Advocate and organizer working on issues that impact the youth of color in the education and criminal justice system. After studying Political Science and Education Policy at Villanova University, she worked at Class Size Matters as the Research and Advocacy Associate supporting efforts by parents and schools to end school overcrowding, high-stakes standardized testing, the privatization of public schools and many other issues. Most recently she worked at a Program Associate at College Access: Research & Action (CARA.) For several years prior to that, Melody worked in education advocacy & youth organizing at the YA-YA Network to dismantle the school-to-prison-pipeline, demanding that youth are involved making decisions in policies that impact their lives and have opportunities to lead these discussions and drive change in our communities.
Yessii is a young passionate latinx, second-generation boricua, womxn pushing to get younger people to practice their right to vote. Yessii joined YVote in Fall 2017 while a student at the NYC iSchool, and now serves as a facilitator. She is a huge advocate for environmental issues in society such as environmental injustices when it comes to race and the crisis the human population is causing towards the environment. Yessii believes social media combined with powerful in-person interactions can be the right platforms to engage youth. Currently, a third-year student at Baruch College (CUNY) majoring in Finance and minoring in Political Science, Yessii enjoys playing volleyball and strength training on her free time. Yessii is exploring and gaining intellect in the world of politics while at the same time encouraging others to be politically involved in their community, city, state, nation, and world.
A founding member of YVote and a returning facilitator. Her interest in politics started in 2014 due to the Ferguson Riots and the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. After joining YVote, her interest became her passion. Currently, she attends New York University with a double major in Politics and Sociology on the Pre-Law track. She has interned at the law firm Skadden Arps LLP and as an Analyst working in litigation support and security consulting. She has also served as the Director in Chief of Security at the National Security Institute at NYU. With the legal knowledge that she has and will continue to gain, she hopes to one day be able to start a nonprofit organization for restorative justice in minority communities.
Santana is a Dominican and Haitian Afro-Latina from Brooklyn, New York. She is a recent graduate from CUNY City College, where she studied Adolescent Psychology and Legal Studies. In 2019 she took on the role of Deputy Director for Programs/Acting ED at the Resilience Advocacy Project, where she managed youth-led programs designed to highlight their voices in the fight against social injustices in NYC. She currently serves as the Teen Arts Program Manager at Free Arts NYC. Maria aims to fully dedicate herself to positive youth development and advocacy by furthering her education in law and simultaneously supporting the youth-led work to which YVote is committed.
A Cameroonian-born organizer and facilitator at YVote. Divine’s entrance into social justice began at at program in her middle called GirlsTalk/GuysTalk which was centered in community building. She then went on to work on the #OurVoice Campaign in 2014 to challenge the targeted advertisement of unhealthy beverages in low income Black and Brown and Latinx communities before finding her way to The YA-YA Network where she works as the Director of Youth Development. As a founding YVoter, Divine works to create a sturdy foundation of political education on which future members can stand upon in their cultivation of YVote’s #2020 vision campaigns centered on the goal of increasing youth accessibility to and participation in civic engagement. Her vision for the future includes an immense shifting of the political landscape where young folks have greater agency and influence over their local, federal, and global ambitions for civic engagement and community organizing, with YVote at the forefront of sustaining such leaders. Alongside her passions for social justice, Divine is also a rising junior at City College University, pursuing studies in political science, international studies, and business. Her recent entrepreneurial endeavor is the cultivation of ForeSee Miracles: a natural, organic, vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free black-owned hair care business. This falls in line with her social justice initiatives in striving to increase representation, this time, among Black people with 4-type natural hair.