Youth Advisory Council

2015-2016 Youth Advisory Council

Anna Rose Mohr-Almeida | Tempe, AZ

Anna Rose Mohr-Almeida is in 8th grade and attends Mesa Community College and New School for Arts and Academics in Tempe, Arizona. Anna founded Kids Climate Action Network, a 501c3 with the focus of engaging youth in the climate crisis conversation. An active member of Beyond Coal, Anna was the Youth Keynote at Arizona State University's Local to Global Teach-In 2014, and was the Grand Canyon Chapter of Sierra Club's (GCCSC) Outstanding Youth 2014. Anna publishes quarterly youth activist articles in the GCCSC newspaper, which is mailed to 11,000 Arizonans. Anna is a Palm Oil Action Leader with Rainforest Action Network. 


Aulona Grahm Simms | Atlanta, GA

Aulona Graham-Simms is a returning YAC member. At the age of 14, she engaged over 600 students to make and sell art accessories. The profits bought canned goods for kids in need through Kids for Change: Nourishing Minds, Battling Hunger. She has also been involved with Wear Jeans for Canned Goods which motivated students to collect over 2,000 cans of food. She has inspired students from three local middle schools to get involved and raise awareness around childhood hunger. Aulona has organized many projects that help the homeless in her community through generationOn's Make Your Mark on Hunger campaign. She has also started a continuing service projecs through Disney's Friends for Change called Ghost Out. This project brings awareness to underage drinking by having students dress like ghosts and refrain from speaking. This project simulates what it would be like to lose friends due to underage drinking. Aulona has also started a project called Sunday Supper where she gives out snack bags to the homeless on Sunday while the soup kitchens are closed.


Sarah Bartoloni | Chanhassen, MN

Sarah is  a junior in high school and is a leader of a service club at her high school called Teens Taking Action in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The goal of this club is to focus on hunger issues in the local community and engage more teens in service. She is also a member of a club called Back Pack Tutoring, where high school students are partnered up with an elementary school student from an inner city school. The program focuses on improving math and reading skills while forming one on one relationships with the kids. Sarah has been involved in this program for two years. She is also involved in other service clubs at her school and loves volunteering with her church or within her church community. Sarah is a 2014 recipient of The President's Volunteer Service Award.


Carson Bold | Arlington, TX

Carson is a sophomore in high school in Arlington, Texas where he has served as  an advocate for youth volunteerism and also founded Carson Cares, an organization which demonstrates the act of giving back and connects children of any age with non-profit organizations that need help. Carson Cares works to bridge the gap between non-profits and eager volunteers, while providing role models for children who are new to volunteering. Carson also supports SafeHaven of Tarrant county, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. He holds fundraisers annually for their children's program and was named youth volunteer of the year in 2011. He has also received numerous grants for his projects from Youth Service America and Arlington Alliance for Youth. In 2013, Carson was a regional winner of the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program for his service, and in 2014 he received the Mirabeau B. Lamar award from the Greater Arlington Lions Club and the Arlington Masonic Lodge. He also received a grant in 2014 from Radio Disney and Youth Service America for his Season of Giving project and was featured on Radio Disney for his accomplishments. In August of 2015, Carson was honored by Texas State Representative Tony Tinderholt for his significant service to the community.


Jackson Campbell | Mount Sterling, KY

Jackson is a sophomore at Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Kentucky and is the Founder and formerly the president of g2c Youth Organization. g2c is an organization that empowers youth of KY to speak up for things that matter and change the world. This is done through yearly youth conferences, Open Mic programs and community service days to let students easily get involved in service. Jackson also founded the Montgomery County High School Happy Club. This is a club that inspires students to serve their community and respect others around them. The organization also does things such as send out friendly cards to students, put notes on bathroom mirrors in order to inspire social change, etc.


Olivia R. Russo-Hood | Deltona, FL

Olivia is an 8th grader in Deltona, Florida where she is the Founder of Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.).  The main initiatives of S.T.E.P. are to lead and participate in programs that are focused on locally living with our resources responsibly, raising awareness about social issues nationally, and whenever possible by giving back globally. Olivia drives several programs. The cornerstone projects are Leave a GOOD Footprint - gently-used shoe collection, S.T.E.P. Up to the Plate - community gardens and programs focused on healthy eating and eradicating hunger, Thirst Aid Stands - drink stands raising funds and awareness for the global water crisis, and S.T.E.P. Outside the Box - programs to engage youth in leadership and beyond.


Sophia Hu | East Brunswick, NJ

Sophia is a junior in high school and is from East Brunswick, New Jersey. She strongly believes that commitment to community service is essential to being a well-rounded and responsible person. She is a member of the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute USA.  The organization promotes young people making positive change happen in their communities for people, animals and the environment. Sophia also conducts outreach for ProjectCSGIRLS, the country's largest computer science competition for middle school girls. Further, she serves on the Youth Advisory Boards for the National Teen Council, a network of student leaders, iMatter, a youth-driven organization dedicated to raising awareness about climate change, and Do Something, one of the world's largest organizations for young people and social change.


Elise Jackson | Plaquemine, LA

Elise is an 8th grader in Plaquemine, Louisiana.  She is an organizer of "Waste Matters" Brigade, designed to assist with the recycling of Kool-Aid Jammer and Caprisun pouches as a fundraising opportunity for her club and school.  Elise has expanded her recycling efforts by collecting and recycling eyeglasses for distribution to people in need in developing countries and shoes for the homeless in her local community.  Elise is also co-owner of E & Parks popcorn Korner, providing popcorn to children residing in local shelters.  Elise will begin a Spread the Bread campaign to inspire the gifting of bread with a note of hope, inspiration or gratitude to honor local hero's or help someone in need of a positive gesture.  Elise is the president of her 4H Club, a 4H Jr. Leadership member, and she has been 4Her of the year for the past 4 years and  a recipient of the 4H Award of Excellence.  Elise is also an active volunteer with Youth Volunteer Corps (United Way), member of the Youth Volunteer Corps Advisory Board, Youth Alive Member with the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum, National Jr. Beta Club member, Jr. Leadership Event Chairman and student volunteer with a local Domestic Violence CCRT.


Sharon Lin | New York, NY

Sharon Lin is a Junior in high school in New York City. She has volunteered and led efforts through Kiwanis International for five years as a past Builder's Club President, New York District Key Club Bulletin Editor and Public Relations Committee Chair. She has been named a Distinguished Key Clubber and an Internationally Distinguished District Editor at the 2015 Key Club International Convention. She also serves as the New York State Technology Student Association (NYSTSA) President, where she leads her state delegation in technology education and STEM outreach. She is a founder of StuyHacks, a student-led high school hackathon that helps promote computer science to urban teens and youth, as well as "Bit by Bit", a computer coding camp for middle school girls. In addition, she is part of the Executive Team for ProjectCSGIRLS, the National Teen Council, eSTEAMed Students, and Science Expo Ontario. She was recently invited to the White House Astronomy Night as a high school representative for STEM education. She is a recipient of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award, the Presidential Youth Service Gold Award, the NextGenVest 18 Under 18 Global Award, and the 2015 National Liberty Museum TD Bank Young Heroes Award.


Will Lourcey | Fort Worth, TX

Will is a 7th grader in Fort Worth, Texas.  He is the founder & CEO of the youth run 501c3 organization Friends Reaching Our Goals, Inc. "FROGs" mobilizes, inspires and empowers youth to make positive change in communities. Will founded the group after seeing a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: NEED A MEAL. It made him sad inside to realize there were hungry people in his community. Will knew he needed to take action, so he gathered friends to for a hunger fighting team. To date, FROGs has provided over 180,000 meals for the hungry and inspired thousands of youth to take action.  Will enjoys advocating for the hungry by speaking to schools and conferences spreading the message that "No matter how tall or small you are, YOU can make a big difference!"  Will was also selected as a Hasboro Community Action Hero in 2012.


Emma May | Tennyson, IN

Emma is an 8th grader in Tennyson, Indiana.  Her service passion was launched in 4th grade when she created and hosted a gift wrapping party to donate wrapped toys to her local hospital.  For the past 3 years she has been serving on the Board of Directors for her local generationOn Club. Emma enjoys facilitating meetings and creating community change through developing local service projects and campaigns, while encouraging her peers to do the same.  In addition to being secretary for her 4-H club, she is currently part of a second community service club founded by 4-H.  They participate in a wide variety of service projects including a monthly donation to local organizations.  Serving children is also a passion that she fulfills through her volunteer efforts at her church.  As an essay winner for drug and alcohol prevention, she was a speaker at a local elementary school raising awareness for the cause.  Through these organizations she has planned and participated in well over thirty community service projects. Emma was a recipient of the Warrick County Coalition Communities that Care Award for Outstanding Youth.


Topanga Sena   | Orlando, FL

Topanga is a sophomore in high school in Orlando, Florida. She founded Dare to Care Reading Buddies for children throughout Central Florida who reside in homeless shelters. Dare To Care Reading Buddies offers children access to books. Volunteers take time to sit with the children and read with them assisting them in early childhood education and reading comprehension. The program advocates volunteerism for teens across Central Florida to help raise awareness to a growing issue in their community. Topanga received the Disney's Friends for Change grant to contribute to her efforts and was the recipient of the Walt Disney World in the Community, Dreamers and Doers Shining Star in 2013. She was recognized by Radio Disney in 2015 for her community efforts. She serves on the Youth Empowerment and Leadership Learning board (YELL) in her community and serves on Teen Voices as a Teen Advisory Board member in Orlando, Florida.  She is a participant of the First Tee of Central Florida where she encourages youth to participate in golf while learning the Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits.


Jackson Salmon | Green Day, Wisconsin

Jackson is a freshman in Highschool in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Jackson is involved in his community.  In 7th and 8th grade Jackson was part of a program called SWAG (Student Wellness Awareness Group) through his school. SWAG based their objectives through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. They host district-wide events to promote healthy living for students and the community.




Ryan Traynor | Emerald Hills, CA

Ryan is a junior in High School from Emerald Hills, CA.  In 2013, Ryan founded Youth for Literacy to empower and equip youth to increase literacy rates in their communities through advising community leaders, and designing and implementing literacy programs. Some of his programs, which are implemented in multiple locations include; STEM kits for kids, Book Drive Tool Kits, Money Smarts for Teens, and Family Board Game Days. Ryan has collected over 30,000 books which have been distributed to 10 schools, 6 libraries, 24 charities, and 6 community fairs.  240 kids attended STEM classes, 1300 teens completed financial literacy classes.. He has raised over $55,000 to implement his various literacy programs and has been a speaker to 1800+ people. In addition, Ryan is Editor-in-Chief of Amazing Kids! Magazine, he impacts almost 1 million readers a year worldwide. Ryan has garnered many awards for his commitment to service including 5 Gold Presidential Service Awards, named to the International Literacy Association's list of "30 under 30" literacy advocates worldwide, featured on Good Morning America as a Person Making a Difference, featured on the Disney Channel as a Child Making a Difference, national Daily Point of Light winner, Youth Service America Everyday Young Hero Award, ABC7 Star, Red Cross Hero Award for Volunteerism, and regional Jefferson Award Winner.


Ellie Zika | Peoria, IL

Ellie Zika is a freshman at Peoria Notre Dame High School in Peoria, IL. She is an active student participating in FIRST Lego League, swim team, Teens for Life, Key club, and Lumen Christi. Ellie's story begins at the age of nine when she met Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and New York Times bestselling author. After meeting Immaculee, Ellie founded KidKnits, a non-profit organization that originally purchased the handspun yarn from the women in Rwanda to package into knitting craft kits so she could teach her friends how to knit hats. KidKnits quickly grew and began to purchase yarn from women living in Chile as well as Rwanda. In addition to selling over 10,000 balls of yarn, Ellie also visits and teaches knitting in local schools and youth groups to share about the foundation of KidKnits and her belief that "You're Never Too Young to Change a Life on the Other Side of the World." In addition to her KidKnits volunteering, Ellie is an active member on her FLL team, helping to lead them to first place finishes in their regional and state events and a top 3 finish in the world. Ellie was one of ten students to receive the 2015 Hasbro Community Action Hero award because of her work with KidKnits. Ellie's story has also been shared by, Discovery Girls magazine, Kiki magazine, Simply Knitting magazine, and the Peoria Journal Star.