Changing the Game: Meet the New Youth Action Council Members

In July and August 2021, the Action Alliance hosted its second Honeycomb Retreat, a free arts and creative expression-based retreat for young advocates, activists, and movement builders ages 18-24. During the retreat held over three weekends, 20 young people (fellows) from around Virginia participated in political education workshops and creative expression sessions. The retreat ended with a session where fellows were asked about their visions for healthy and safe communities. Fellows’ responses included dreams of accessibility, mutual aid, green spaces, and leaning into/growing from conflict and disagreement.

These inspiring responses will help inform the community-level prevention strategies for the second cohort of the Youth Action Council that began in September with six brilliant and creative young people from across the state. During their two-year tenure, they will build their advocacy, organizing, and activist skills. They will participate in leadership opportunities such as building prevention curriculums, facilitating trainings, consulting with local programs who want to engage youth in their community, and working with the policy team on Legislative Advocacy Day.

Graphic recording of Honeycomb Retreat 2021. In the top left is a yellow "sun" with the words "A Youth Vision to Ending Gender-Based Violence in Virginia and Beyond" with five radiating rays in different colors expressing visions from youth fellows.

Meet our second cohort of the Youth Action Council (2021-2023) and discover why they are excited to join us:

Morgan (she/her): I’m 23 and I work as a physical therapy technician. However, I’m currently applying to a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. I really love to travel, read, exercise, and cook! I’m super excited to be a part of the Youth Action Council because I was so inspired at the Honeycomb Retreat. I want to keep that spark and passion engaged, as well as continue to learn, grow, and hopefully make a positive change! 

Syd (they/them): I am a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University pursuing a major in sculpture and a minor in gender studies. I am also the Art Editor at Amendment, a campus art and literary journal centered on social justice. I’m passionate about accessibility, neurodiversity, science fiction, queer and trans narratives, ecology, and community care. I am excited to be part of the Youth Action Council to connect with other youth and a larger community pursuing justice and an end to violence in central Virginia.  

Syreen (she/her):  I am a current MPH student at George Mason University. My alma mater is Randolph-Macon College, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science. Currently, I work as a Quality Control Analyst for MSD. My free time is spent assisting and connecting with my community. I serve as an Associate Member for the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Chair of the Young Alumni Board at Randolph-Macon, and a Next Generation Council Member for SOAR365.  I love to keep busy and give back to the things that have supported my growth. I am excited to be involved with the Youth Action Council to advocate and help promote healthy and successful relationships between individuals and within themselves.  

Jada (she/her): I am a graduate from James Madison University and have taken steps towards pursuing my passion in empowering youth of color, especially as it relates to interpersonal violence prevention. I enjoy cooking, eating, hanging out with my cat Mittens, and getting my nails done with a color inspired by the season! I am excited to be a part of the Youth Action Council to work towards a future without violence as it goes hand in hand with my personal goals in promoting youth resilience. I am also excited to have a space with other passionate young people to talk, reflect, and take action against societal and structural issues. 

Lexie (she/her): My name is Lexie and I’m 20 years old. I am an extreme lover of music and I recently have been getting more into digital art as well as gaming! I’m from a small town in Virginia called Warsaw, but after high school decided to enroll as a student at VCU studying Social Work. As of right now, I am still taking classes and working part- time+ as a front desk receptionist. I meet so many people every day doing this job and I love connecting and sharing experiences with all of them. Originally, I was an English major, but helping and just being present for others simply felt right, so I was hoping that the Youth Action Council would open different opportunities for me to continue doing it! 

Ximena (she/her): Originally from Bogota, Colombia, I have a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Economics from Minerva University. While pursuing my degree, I lived in seven different countries around the world (US, South Korea, India, Germany, Argentina, United Kingdom, and Taiwan) and was able to experience and learn about many different cultures, languages and histories. Throughout my studies, I focused on gender issues and worked with multiple non-profits that worked for the empowerment of women. In India, I worked for Voice 4 Girls, a non-profit dedicated to helping girls in rural India get quality education. In Germany, I was a fellow in an economic think-tank where I researched the positive impact women’s empowerment has on the economy. In Argentina, I worked in the Secretaria de Integracion Social y Urbana helping the Justice and Gender department create programs to empower and support survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in one of the biggest informal neighborhoods in the city of Buenos Aires. Finally, as part of my senior thesis, I researched the impact of gender-based violence during the Colombian armed conflict, which was largely informed by my time in the Colombian National Center for Historical Memory where I was able to do research and talk to groups of survivors of the armed conflict.  Most recently, I worked as the Court Advocate at the YWCA of Richmond, helping survivors of domestic and sexual violence navigate the criminal justice system, which included accompanying them during court hearings for Protective Orders.  I also supported numerous Spanish-speaking survivors at the YWCA by providing case management and connecting them to the necessary resources they needed to become independent from their abusers – from referring them to immigration lawyers to explaining how Richmond’s bus system works. I am excited to be part of the Youth Action Council as I am deeply committed to the prevention of gender-based violence and believe that youth activism is a critical part of the much-needed change our institutions and society needs for the advancement and empowerment of survivors. In my free time, I enjoy reading and embroidering – I am currently on a quest to read 55 books by female authors before the end of this year.  

An award with teal cause-awareness ribbon and the words NSVRC Visionary Voice Award VSDVAA's Youth Action Council 2021.

About the Youth Action Council

The goal of the Youth Action Council is to create leadership opportunities within the Action Alliance, the larger coalition, and membership. The first cohort created the Youth Are Curriculum, which supports young people in seeing themselves as leaders and change makers in their community and encourages adult facilitators, preventionists, and advocates to value the strengths, knowledge, and creativity young people bring to the movement to end violence. In April 2021, Youth Action Council received the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Visionary Voice Award recognizing their creativity and outstanding work to end sexual violence. 

If you want to learn more about the Youth Action Council and other youth engagement work at the Action Alliance, contact us at Be sure to check out the “Fostering Youth Development” section of our website to see what the last amazing cohort created during their time together and stay tuned to see what imaginative possibilities this cohort gets up to!

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