“If you live in a place where the status quo is that you don’t have a voice – that place is wrong, you are not.” —A message to fellow youth from Katie, Youth Leadership Council member
I’m from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities, so I grew up in quite a privileged area. At the same time, it’s a very traditional area in the sense of age roles and generational roles. Children don’t really have a space in really any type of conversation other than, “Oh, that’s nice honey. Go play with your toys.” So, growing up kind of like a rebel – someone who is trying to push back on the status quo – it was very hard. Because of that, I had a lot of generational issues within my nuclear family, and also with the larger society I grew up in. That really informs my view on the role that children and youth have to play in their own lives and the lives of others.
My favorite memory is probably making pickles with my grandma – going to the farmers market, getting cucumbers, and pickling them. I feel like that’s something, especially most Americans, cannot imagine.
Right now, I am the Programs and Operations Coordinator for the Accountability Lab. The Accountability Lab is an international nonprofit that works on good governance around the world. We’re currently in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and moving into Latin America. I have the opportunity to work with people from all around the world, which is this little Midwestern girl’s dream. I was able to lead the youth program at our Open Government partnership summit this past year, and I’m currently leading the youth collective that has come out of that. I’ve always been interested in international issues.
Note: Check out an Open Government Partnership piece Katie wrote about the Open Gov Youth Collective here.
It was almost by accident. My Executive Director got an email from Global Fund for Children: “Join this webinar! We are going to introduce our Youth Leadership Council.” He goes, “Hey, Katie. Can you just like take some notes and go to this?” So I did. [I was] really interested, asked a great question, as of course anyone doing a webinar should do, and afterwards I sent the notes off to my Executive Director. He goes, “You should email them and see if they’re looking for members. You should see if you’d be able to join.” In that moment, I remember thinking, Why would they want me? I’m some nobody, and that was a big learning moment for me – for him to be like “No, just try, put yourself out there.” And I did.
I’m most excited about seeing kind of how I can push the envelope. Like I said, when I was younger, I was a bit of rebel. I liked to push whatever the status quo was. I really want to push the expectations of what Youth Leadership Council members can do for this organization and with this organization. I don’t believe that consultation is enough. It needs to be more of youth participating in a lot of different ways, whether that’s through decision-making, implementing, problem solving, designing … these are things that youth should be doing.
Youth are not just your social media gurus, not just your photo-ops, not just the people in your photos. Youth-led means youth are in your design thinking, implementation, monitoring and evaluation … they’re in every step of the way. For me, leadership doesn’t necessarily mean the person at the top needs to be under 35. That’s great, but I’m more of a nose-to-the-ground type of person. The implementer, the taskmaster, so having youth at every stage of the game … that’s youth-led.
I think my favorite part of the GFC process is step number one: identifying innovative organizations. I am a true believer in that we’ve already had another Einstein. We’ve actually had ten. They just didn’t happen to be born in places that decided to utilize that – to utilize their intellect, their ideas, their passions, their creativity. Finding innovative organizations, from whether you want to call them “disadvantaged” or “vulnerable” places, that is something that I’m very passionate about. And I think that’s what makes Global Fund for Children special.
Any kind of ball! I played so many different sports. You name it, I played it.
This is a very interesting trajectory. I went from firefighter/police officer, to military, to teacher, to anthropologist. Now, it’s a US Diplomat.
I grew up on corn, beef, potatoes, and not much vegetables. I actually haven’t eaten that much weird stuff, but at the same time my parents will fondly tell you how, when I was a kid, if there was a stick of butter laying around, I would literally eat it like a popsicle!
I feel like I should say something funny, but kind of my pet peeve is fake ‘niceties.’ I’m just a really blunt and straight-to-the-point kind of person.
Teleportation. That’s easy.
You can listen to the full interview with Katie here.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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