How to Become an Advisory Council Member?
The Youth2 Advisory Council is composed of youth and adults, all from Saratoga County. They meet monthly to review grant requests and promote volunteer action.
JACK SWEENEY BENZON
I’m Jack Sweeney Benzon and I live in Saratoga. I was born in 2009 and I’ve been with Youth Squared since October 2021. I’m interested in getting childcare and better family access for incarcerated family members and I’m excited to work with Youth Squared to accomplish that and many other tasks for the community!
ZUZU BOOTH I moved from Los Angeles to Saratoga Springs during the COVID pandemic and right before the start of my Junior year. In search of ways to get involved with the new community I was surrounded by, and need for extracurricular and volunteer activities for college, I found Youth2. I’ve been so exited to be a part of fundraisers and Community Care Pop-Up events because I’ve become aware of so many social issues that I’ve been able to help in one way or the other. I’m currently 17 and ready to grow my skills as a leader and a learner. I look forward to the many events and opportunities to come!
JON BRAYTON lives in Malta and involves both of his children, Zachary and Olivia in Youth2 ‘s activities. Jon graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in social work. He has been working with children and families in some capacity for the past 25 years. Jon began volunteering in high school and has been doing so ever since. He has volunteered for the Heart Connection for nearly 20 years. This is a program that provides camp experiences for children diagnosed with various forms of cancer. He feels that volunteering is an important part of young person’s development and is grateful to be a part of the Youth2 Advisory Council.
KATELYN BRUNET has a broad background in crisis, inpatient, and outpatient psychiatric settings. Katelyn was employed by a private psychiatric hospital for over a decade where she worked in various roles including mental health worker, admissions evaluator, inpatient child and adolescent clinician, and group therapist in an Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program (AIOP). Katelyn is currently employed as an outpatient community mental health clinician where she works collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team to provide individual, family, and group psychotherapy to children, adolescents and young adults. She also has experience working in a high-risk psychiatric emergency department conducting psychiatric evaluations on children and adults. In addition to her role as clinician and psychiatric evaluator, Katelyn is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor through the National Council for Behavioral Health. She has provided training to local school districts, social service departments, hospital staff, and community members. She has written and participated in grant projects that supported the development of therapeutic sensory oriented waiting rooms and treatment environments. Katelyn has provided clinical and task supervision to social work and nursing students through the University at Albany and SUNY Empire College. Katelyn is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She was born and raised in the Capital District of New York. Katelyn dual majored in Biology and Psychology as an undergraduate and furthered her educational background by obtaining her graduate degree in Social Work from The University at Albany.
ANDRE CULPEPPER-WEHR was born in 2006 in Saratoga Springs, NY. He joined the Youth2 Advisory Council in 2018. Andre enjoys being part of Youth2′s many events and l
ELLA DALEY was born in June 2007. She joined the Youth2 Advisory Council in 2019 and has enjoyed participating in the organization, including attending the Youth Empowerment & Sustainability Summit in February 2020. In her free time, Ella can be found on the Hudson River rowing for the Albany Rowing Club in the warmer months and on the ski slopes in the winter months. Ella is very excited about becoming a freshman at the Emma Willard School starting in the fall of 2021.
JEAN FEI I have over 30 years of experience working in non-profit organizations in a variety of roles. From Interim Executive Director and project manager to grants administration and special events planning, fundraising and legislative work, to training, curriculum design, not-for-profit administration and development. I am personally committed to working for social justice and have studied race and racism, homophobia, gender bias and interrelated dynamics of power and control since 1997. I design and deliver racism awareness and people of color empowerment workshops for schools, colleges, and human service agencies locally and nationally. I developed one of the first 10 Victim Assistance Academies in the nation to train crime victim service providers and helped to found the Seven Dancers Coalition working against sexual and domestic violence targeting Native women in NYS. During my work at the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, I began to incorporate the understanding of trauma and its impact on behavior into my work. I grew up living in countries including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Lebanon, Liberia, Switzerland, France and several U.S. states before settling in upstate New York. I recently certified as a Mindful Facilitator under Lee Mun Wah, a leading diversity trainer in the U.S and I serve on the Boards of the Social Justice Center of Albany, the Seven Dancers Coalition, and YouthSquared.
JONATHAN GREENE, born in 1984, is a community organizer and social entrepreneur. He is the founder of the Local Living Guide/Spa City Packs and Saratoga Wire. Jonathan’s passion for sustainable community development came from his advocacy work in high school, college and post-graduate. He sat on the Sustainable Washington Advisory Panel commissioned by the governor in 2002 as one of two youth representatives statewide. Jonathan was co-president of the Environmental Action Club at Skidmore College and founded an organization called the D-Hall Revolution, which sought to get more locally grown food into the dining hall. The D-Hall Revolution’s work resulted in several substantial contracts with local farmers. Jonathan believes that civic engagement from an early age fosters a happier existence and a lifetime of greater compassion for others. Jonathan also is a busy freelance musician in the greater capital region and the Program Curator for the Flurry Festival. You can see some of his music at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CkK-LM6Oe0
JAIME YOUNGS-HAMELIN lives in Saratoga Springs with her spouse and three school- aged children. I have had the blessing to travel the world and soak in the beauty of many different cultures. This experience has shaped me into who I am today, and has motivated me personally and professionally. My dream has always been to work with children and families and to help those in need. I was striving to be in a position where I was given the opportunity to continue to learn from others, while assisting individuals to be their healthiest self. Upon graduating with my Masters degree in Social Work from SUNY Albany, I went on to try out many fields in the helping profession such as foster care, community work with children and families, and a residential treatment for children/ teens. I began working in private practice several years ago in Saratoga Springs. This provided me the long awaited opportunity of being more active in my children’s lives, as well as in the community. I have been blessed with the ability to work side by side with my oldest daughter in girls scouts and serving the community in many volunteer realms. I went on to be a co-leader of my twin daughters Girl Scout troop for the past five years. We have had multiple experiences in working with organizations in Saratoga, as well as the surrounding communities. We have spearheaded fundraisers, organized donation drives, and volunteered at the Regional Food bank in Albany to gather items for families in need annually. I am excited to be a part of Youth2 to continue my journey within our community.
MACKENZIE HAMELIN is an 8th grader in Saratoga Springs. She loves animals of all types. Mackenzie enjoys volunteer work with animals as well as people. She has worked with cats at the Saratoga Animal shelter, helped Veterans with her Girl Scout troop, and organized a drop off to collect supplies for the Estherville Animal Shelter for her Silver Award. Visit her website on animal rights at https://siteid-1043043.onuniverse.com/
SAHIBA JASSAL was born in 2005 and I’m originally from Queens, New York. I’m in the class of 24′ at Saratoga Springs High School and I’ve been a part of Youth Squared since September of 2021. I wanted to join Youth Squared to help our community and help others help the community too. I’m passionate about acting and theatre and I enjoy music and reading. I’m so thankful to be on this board with others and I look forward to participating in more projects that Youth Squared does!
ELIZA KRACKELER was born in 2005 in Saratoga Springs, New York, and attends Saratoga Springs Public High School. She has been a part of the Youth2 Advisory Board since November of 2019. She enjoys volunteering, and has helped out Saratoga Stronger and the Giving Circle. She is grateful to be a part of the community through Youth2 and the amazing people on the board. In her free time she enjoys fencing, reading, and playing music.
Peter Krackeler was born in 2007 in Saratoga Springs New York. He joined the Youth2 Advisory Board in 2022 and is excited to work with Youth2 to help the community. In his free time he enjoys skateboarding, drawing, and rock climbing. Peter attends Saratoga Springs High School and plays on the school’s volleyball team. Peter is excited to work with Youth2 and see how he can help the community in the future.
BEVERLY LAZAR of Saratoga Springs is the Founder of Youth2. Aside from being an active mother with four grown children and five grandchildren with her musician husband Peter. Beverly has had a long history in human services creating the Saratoga Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect now known as the Saratoga Center for the Family. She has worked for and has helped to develop the Child Custody Stress Prevention Project. She created the Play Therapy Project, the Play and Healing Library Project, and “Make the Wait Count” all established at the Saratoga County Mental Health Center. She has worked with the National Humanistic Education Center, Displaced Homemakers Program and Transitional Services and is currently a supervising clinical social worker, of nearly 26 years, for Saratoga County Mental Health Center-Youth and Family Services Team. Beverly’s community service activities have included the World Quilt Project of the Saratoga Mentoring Program, the social action project “Los Ninos de Chirripo” (the children of Chirripo, Costa Rica) of the Pura Vida Dance Camp, Performer Housing and Program Book volunteer for the Dance Flurry Organization, Board Member of the Citizens’ Committee for Mental Health, Volunteer for the Humor Project, Coordinator of the Living in Harmony Festival for the Saratoga Springs Waldorf School, Saratoga Peacemakers and Saratoga Spa State Park, Board Member of Spring Hill School and Children and Nature, Saratoga.Beverly believes in engaging young people to think about issues that they care about and to create volunteer or social action projects for youth and by youth.
LUNA MCDERMOTT Hi, I’m Luna. I’m 14 and I’m currently a 9th grader at Saratoga Springs High School. I swim competitively, play piano and rollerblade. I’m part of the Teen Advisory Group at my library, the Leadership Club at the SRYMCA, the Tri-M Music Honors Club at SSHS and I volunteer at many different places. I swam for the Maple Ave Modified Swim starting in 8th grade (but because of Covid-19 I couldn’t swim Modified this year), played piano since age 5 and I love to hike and swim in the Adirondacks. I’m passionate about what I believe in and I’ve attended marches in NYC and locally regarding Climate Change, Women’s Rights, BLM etc. I’m interested in law and science and I want to become either a lawyer or something in the Genetics field. I joined Youth2 because I’m passionate about helping others in my community and I love the programs they create and organizations they help! I look forward to helping and creating positive change in my community throughout my time in Youth2.
EVA NAGEL, PhD, is an educator, a psychotherapist and a seeker in private practice with her husband, Lee, in upstate New York where they created and taught The Mastery Program.
In 1980, she started Spring Hill School, now the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs and later co-founded Side By Side, a youth leadership program in NY, PA and LA. Eva has had the privilege of working with foundations in Cambodia and Zimbabwe. More recently, she worked with the Trauma Research Institute in Rwanda, Kenya, Haiti and in the USA with the Military and others.
Her essays have been published in books and magazines and authored a recent book.
She shares her life with Lee, four well-grown children who occasionally drop in, five brilliant grandchildren, two cats and an ever changing variety of fascinating guests. She can often be found out weeding between the cabbages and the kale or painting in the studio.
KATELYN ROGERS My name is Katelyn Rogers. My friends and family call me Katie. I attend Hadley-Luzerne Jr/Sr High school as a Junior. Next year, 2022, I will be attending the college SUNY Adirondack. I’m very interested in Psychology and sociology. I’m extremely passionate about animal rights and justice for domestic violence survivors. In school I’m apart of SADD (students against destructive decisions), drama club, and Jazz band. I’m an honor roll student and I’m in National Honor Society.
OLIVIA VENDITTI was born in 2006 and lives in Ballston Spa. She has been involved in Youth2 – Youth Helping Youth since 2019 and participated in the Youth Empowerment Sustainability Summit in 2020. She is the president of the National Junior Honor Society and is an avid rower for the Saratoga Rowing Association. In her spare time, Olivia likes spending time with her friends, family, and her puppies Koko and Ollie!
Alumni of The Advisory Council
As youth members graduate from high school and move to other regions of the country, they also graduate from the Youth2 Advisory Council and are replaced by new youth representatives. Below are youth and adults who have served time with us.
NOAH ASTRUC Class of 2017 at Saratoga High School, is a new member of the Youth Squared Advisory Council. After seeing the opportunity to form relationships while helping others in the community, Noah was excited to join the group. Despite being a new member, Noah is eager to continue meeting and helping people in the community. He loves to play bass, listen to music, compete in sports and interact with others.
DAWN BAIRD My name is Dawn Baird. I’m 13 years old. I was born in 2004. I’m from Greenfield, NY. I go to Schuylerville School. I have 3 siblings. I’m shy and I’m not a very good public speaker (yet). I love to draw and bike. I’m in the 8th grade. I wanted to join Youth2 because it seemed fun and I would love to help the community. My sister Emma told me about Youth2. Youth2 is pretty fun and you get to experience a lot of things. Bev is an amazing leader; she’s super sweet and nice. I think everyone should join Youth2; you get to meet new people and it’s super fun!
EMMA BAIRD I was born in 2001 at Saratoga Springs hospital. I’m currently a junior at Schuylerville High School. I moved to Schuylerville last year as a sophomore, but I’ve lived in Saratoga for 10 years. I’m becoming a member of FFA at Schuylerville High School. I joined Youth Squared last year, but the end of this year will be my first full year. I am currently attending BOCES in the morning. I’m quite interested in becoming a nurse in the maternity field. I’m very interested and excited to help others and the community through Youth Squared. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I work at the elementary school on the after-school program. I love to swim, horseback ride even though I don’t do it often and I also love to help others and to go on bike rides. I was a girl scout up until 7th grade. I’m the oldest of my siblings but if you count my step-siblings I’m the 4th oldest. I look forward to Youth Squared this year and I hope it turns out wonderful!
JADE BAIRD I joined Youth2 when I was 11 years old. I’m from Greenfield, NY. My birthday is March 7, 2007. I like to do gymnastics. I have 3 siblings. I have 2 dogs and twelve hens and 1 rooster. I moved to Schuylerville in 2016 and I go to the Schuylerville Elementary School and I’m in the 5th grade. I have a stepdad and 3 step-siblings. I technically have 6 siblings. I wanted to join Youth2 because my older sister Emma joined it before me and she was saying all these fun things about it and that’s why I wanted to join. I believe in the following quote- If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
WILLIAM BISHOP is a recent addition to the Youth2 Advisory Board as of this past 2nd Annual Giving Fair. Inspired by the message of youth helping youth, William aspires to be a diligent member of this organization and is grateful for the opportunities that Youth Squared gives him to be productive within his community. Being a student at Saratoga Springs High School, William has learned to appreciate the numerous life skills that he has acquired from his current curriculum and the various values that Youth Squared has instilled in him in a very short period of time. Will finds the community involvement of Youth Squared invaluable and cannot wait for a future full of additional opportunities.
JOSEPH BOKEN was born in 2000 and is currently a student at Saratoga Springs High School. Having been involved with Youth2 since 2015, he has enjoyed participating in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service projects and helping plan the Trailblazing Training. Coming from a family which values community service, Joe has for years assisted with hands-on maintenance and service projects at St. Clements School and St. Peter’s church. He rows for Saratoga Rowing Association on Fish Creek, and also enjoys working at his family’s local business and spending time outside with friends.
DEREK BRUCE was born on August 6, 2000. He is currently 15 and a sophomore at Saratoga Springs High School. He joined Youth Squared in August 2014. He found interest in the organization the year before at a presentation of the Humanitarian Games, but put off joining due to a busy schedule. He still has that busy schedule including Robotics Club, recreational sports, playing an instrument but has managed to find the time to fit it in. His goals of being in this organization are to help as much as he can for the Saratoga community and beyond.
MUSTAFA CHAUDRY is a senior international student from Pakistan studying at Skidmore College, majoring In Management & Business. His passions include entrepreneurship and marketing. His interests range from Philosophy to Politics to Religion to Sports in particular Football otherwise known as Soccer in the U.S. He is also currently working for a not for profit Seeds for Peace, where he is actively engaged in restructuring the organization and creating an engaging social media presence for it, in a bid to make it self-sustainable and expands its outreach and effectiveness.
RYAN CHERRY was born in 1999 in Saratoga Springs. Class of 2017 at Saratoga Springs High School where he is a National Honor Society member and has been a member of the Youth Squared advisory board since eighth grade. Ryan enjoys learning about technology and history. He has participated in the DEP Tech Club’s annual competition for Robotics as well as Robotics camps at RPI. Ryan is interested in improving the community and providing needed services. When he is not busy with school activities Ryan enjoys spending time with his friends and family and his dog Kipper. He loves to swim, bike ride and travel to new places.
HALLEY CHOY lives in Saratoga Springs and was born in 1996. She attends Saratoga Springs High School. She loves to play sports, such as volleyball, skiing, and running. She is presently running on the Saratoga Varsity Track Team. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family. She really enjoys being part of Youth2 for so many reasons. One reason that she likes Youth2 is that the organization helps people help other people and that the theory of helping others is spread around. It has been a great opportunity for her. Whenever she attends the meetings or helps out somewhere, she feels warmth in her heart. This lets her know that what she is doing is right for her; to help people who really need and appreciate it. As she helps others, she feels great inside, because she knows she is not only making a difference in other people, but also in herself. She has volunteered many times for many things and she has donated her time and effort to many organization who are in need, such as the Salvation Army, St. Clements Horse Show, and the Public Library. She really feels great inside when she reaches out and goes the “extra mile” for someone or something. People appreciate it and they decide to help another. It makes her feel great that even though she is so small in this universe, that she can make a difference just by helping someone. That person who was helped can help another, and it can just keep on spreading, making our world a better place for everyone.
HUNTER CHOY Class of 2017 at Saratoga Springs High School. He has been a member of YouthSquared since the Eighth grade and designed the 2015 “Youth Create” open mic talent show held at Cafe Lena. Hunter has been an active Boy Scout since six years of age and is currently working on the rank of Eagle. He also enjoys historical reenactment, performing music, playing soccer, and the outdoors.
OLIVIA COCO attends Saratoga Springs High School and joined the Youth Squared team in November 2010 around the time of the Annual Giving Fair. Olivia is the 2011 Secretary of National Honor Society and has enjoyed getting involved with local community service. A lifelong equestrian, Olivia grew up in Vermont and moved to Saratoga in 2007. She plans to attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina in the Fall of 2011.
AMALIA CULPEPPER-WEHR– was born in 2002 in New York, New York. She has been a part of Youth2 since early 2018 and enjoys working on the Advisory Council. Outside of the organization, Amalia has founded and leads the African American Studies Club at Saratoga Springs High School. She is a 2018 alum of the Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS) at Cornell University, where she studied identity in contemporary media. In her free time, she plays tennis, runs, and acts in the Ad Astra Troupe’s main stage productions.
LAUREN DILLON attends Saratoga Springs High school. She enjoys many sports and is currently on the crew team, she also loves being with her friends and family. She has raised money to give medicine and antibiotics to people in Africa, and has served on the volunteer staff for make a difference day for many years. She enjoys Youth squared because it’s an amazing opportunity and she thinks that it feels good knowing that you’re helping to give back to your community.
MAGGIE FRONK is the executive director of Wellspring. She has watched the work of Y2 since the organization was founded. Members of Y2 have supported Wellspring’s work through projects associated with the Martin Luther King Day events, the Humanitarian Games, and the Community Giving Fair. Maggie has been a presenter for several years at the Trailblazing Volunteer Training is always so inspired by the passion and activism of the youth who attend the training that she needed to become more involved with Y2 and is delighted to be on the Advisory Council. While Maggie herself volunteers for many local organizations, she realizes that individually one person can only do a small part but collectively our individual contributions can have a big impact. So she’s committed to inspiring leadership and community volunteerism and giving youth and adults the skills and confidence to be effective leaders.
ZACHARY GARNER– Zach is a Freshman at Ballston Spa High School. He enjoys running, Track and Cross Country. He likes drama and singing and he really enjoys being a part of the Youth2 Advisory Board.
RYAN HEALY, age 18 attends Saratoga Springs High School. Ryan has helped on “Make a Difference Day”. He has done volunteer work at Saratoga Shelter and worked on the Museum Exhibit at the Saratoga Military Museum. “I think Youth2 is a great opportunity to get involved in your community by helping kids just like you do projects of service”.
SABRINA HERLICK was born in 1997 and is 17 years old. She has been a part of Youth Squared for 7 years. She first joined when she brought a grant to the board to raise money for children in Africa by giving bed nets to reduce malaria. With the help of YouthSquared she exceeded her goal making a total of $1,300. Soon after she joined the Advisory Council. Sabrina also participates in volleyball and enjoys photography. As Sabrina continues on her journey community service will always have the biggest place in her heart and YouthSquared helped that become a reality.
ALEX HITE Class of 2017 at Saratoga Springs High School who enjoys playing basketball, skiing, and being outdoors. Alex originally got involved in Youth Squared due to his sister, Leah, who is a former member of the Advisory Board and current sophomore at Dartmouth College. It didn’t take long for him to realize how much he loved the organization and everyone in it. Alex says that it has been truly amazing to get the opportunity to understand what goes into promoting unity in a community and learning about the infrastructure behind how a city like Saratoga Springs stays as beautiful and amazing as it is. He believes that taking time out of your schedule, no matter how busy, to give back to your community is an excellent way to take a step back from your life, especially amidst the stress of high school, and truly be thankful for your surroundings. He looks forward to helping Youth Squared and his community for as long as he possibly can.
LEAH HITE lives in Saratoga Springs and attends Saratoga Springs High School. She is a rower and a cheerleader. She joined Youth Squared during her sophomore year of high school and has been with the organization ever since. She loves her time with the group, and has truly enjoyed her experiences with Youth Squared. It has presented her with an excellent opportunity to make a difference and to show others how fulfilling it can be to help others.
DAVEY KELLEY graduated from Saratoga Springs High School and is attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. He organized a volunteer project for eight years. Davey began the “Make a Difference Day” project by himself at age 9 on the USA Weekend designated Make a Difference Day (4th Saturday in October). At the end of the 8th year, over 100 youth helped to raise money for the Saratoga Center for the Family. Over the 8 years, the money raised totaled over $10,000.00. Youth2 provides a great opportunity for Saratoga County youth to help others. Davey also made awesome Youth2 cookies and a beautiful hand-painted Y branch to publicize Youth2. Over the years Davey has participated in many volunteer activities for the Saratoga Center for the Family including the chicken bar-b-que and the walk for support against child abuse. He was the President of the Agotaras Chapter of the National Honor Society from 2006-07.
CIARA KNOTT was born in 2001 in Albany, NY. She lived in Colorado for 8 years but has been back in Saratoga for the past 4 years. She is an 8th grader at Maple Avenue Middle School. Ciara is an active member of the Cross Country Blue Streaks team and track team, she also loves singing and acting. She is a high honor student and enjoys being involved in the community. She was an active volunteer at Wesley over the summer. She is looking forward to being part of the Advisory Council of YouthSquared.
JESSICA KURTZ Born and raised in Saratoga Springs, Class of 2017. I joined youth squared last year when I realized I had a desire to be more involved in my community. I first got my inspiration at Wesley Nursing Home the summer after freshman year where I would go once a week and polish the nails of elderly ladies (occasionally men haha). The people I encountered and the gratitude I received just empowered me to do more and more, driving me to Youth Squared. I have certainly not regretted my decision. Since I joined I have been involved in various community service projects locally that always leave me walking away with a feeling of fulfillment that seems to be growing insatiably. Youth Squared has driven me to volunteer at places like Caffe Lena, the Wilton Food Pantry, and I have no doubt that I will continue to seek out more opportunities in our community. I’m so glad that I found Youth Squared.
NANCY WHITE MARTINEZ has served on the Advisory Council since its creation. She is a long time resident of Saratoga Springs and raised a family here. Nancy has worked in human services throughout her career, starting in casework practice and currently serving as policy and planning director for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Her community volunteer activities include teaching Sunday School and other church activities, volunteering at Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services and other community service activities as a member of Soroptimist International. Participation in Youth2 offered Nancy another chance to support community work. She has a strong belief in the kindness and community spirit of children and youth, and has seen Youth2 serve as a catalyst for young people to creatively and thoughtfully act on their ideas for helping others. “Youth Squared creates an ever-widening circle of youth working towards the common goal of improving the health and well-being of other youth, locally and across the globe. Serving on the Advisory Board is an opportunity for the adults to offer their organizational, grants-making and facilitation skills. Youth members are empowered to apply their creativity, kindness and wisdom to the development of opportunities for social action and service – to make a difference.”
MATT MOELLMAN is a Life scout in Boy Scout Troop 70 and has held various leadership positions in the troop. He attended the National Youth Leader Training Conference in the summer of 2007. Through scouting, he has had the opportunity to participate in many community service projects including assisting fellow Scouts, including his brother, with their Eagle projects and bottle drives. Matt supports Youth2‘s mission because it gives youth a chance to be active and valuable parts of the community. Matt is a student at Saratoga Springs High School for the ’08 – ’09 school year. He is also an active musician inside and outside of school. He plays piano in the school’s jazz ensemble and French horn in the school’s concert band. Outside of school, Matt participates in the Empire State Youth Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble. he also plays with a piano trio.
JENNIFER OGRODOWSKI currently works as the Head of Youth Services at Saratoga Springs Public Library. She grew up just outside of Rochester, NY and moved to the Capital Region to pursue her MLS. She strongly believes in equity of access to education and other human rights. Before moving to the Capital Region, Jen studied English and Psychology and was a student teacher for middle and high school. Believing that public libraries are vital part of a democracy and provide access to education for all, Jen decided to pursue a degree in Library and Information Studies. She continued to focus on working with young people in the hope of doing something that encourages and provides them with opportunities to experience the world and nurture the expression of who they truly are. In her spare time, she enjoys creating through yarn and needle crafts as well as cuddling with her dog and three cats! A few years ago, she was also fortunate to travel to Denver to participate in the International Sweet Adelines competition with Saratoga Soundtrack Chorus and perform on guitar with the local Mega Band and on vocals with local rock band, Vinyl Evolution. These days, she mostly sings in story time! She is proud to be part of a group like Youth Squared that does so much good in the community.
MEG PAROBECK attended Skidmore College and decided to reside in Saratoga after college. She is married with 2 children and 2 active dogs. Meg has volunteered for the Saratoga Historical Society and the Children’s Museum at Saratoga. For many years, she gardened at Yaddo as a volunteer gardener and served on the Yaddo Garden Association Board of Directors. Currently, Meg works for the Saratoga Mentoring Program, a program of Catholic Charities. The Mentoring Program matches youth with a mentor. Meg has always been interested in helping others and she enjoys serving on the Advisory Council of Youth2. There are so many opportunities out there for teens to participate in and she loves that Youth2 seeks to connect them with those opportunities.
MAXWELL RIVET was born on January 26, 1998. He joined YouthSquared in 2012 along with his sister and mother. He has volunteered throughout the Saratoga Springs community from a very young age. Some of the organizations in which he has volunteered are: Saratoga Plan, Children and Nature Saratoga, Saratoga Arts Fest. He enjoys marketing projects as well as promoting events for YouthSquared.
ARDIE RUSSELL born in 1970, Ardie was raised in the Adirondack Mountains and moved to Saratoga Springs in 1994. She raised two children here and has devoted her entire career to working in the non-profit realm. She has served on the boards of several arts and environmental organizations. She joined YouthSquared, along with her children in 2012 and enjoys working on fundraising and marketing activities.
ARIK TORKELSON (born 1993) became a Board Member following applying to YouthSquared for a grant for his teen social action group. Get In GEAR- Get Educated, Get Active, Get Real. Arik is in his 4th year as Varsity Rowing with several national titles, including the National Men’s Youth Pairs Championship 2010. An honor student and artist, Arik enjoys films and documentaries, game designing and playing piano, and regularly contributes to the efforts of groups like Rebuild Together and The double H Ranch. Arik has spent the past 5 summers exploring the Canadian Wilderness and having just completed a 4 week Wilderness Leadership Program plans to lead youth expeditions in the coming summers. Arik will be pursuing degrees bridging Environmental Sciences and Game Design.
LANSING WARD is a current high school student who has been on the Advisory Council with YouthSquared for the past couple of years. Lansing joined YouthSquared to do community service in an organized group setting and YouthSquared seemed like a great option. Lansing’s passion is computer hardware. Lansing is working on redesigning the website as part of his advisory contribution.
GAIL WILLNER-GIWERC lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband, Ralph and three children, Molly, Sara and Max. A special education teacher for the past 20 years, Gail is committed to endeavors that support the youth in our community. In addition to being co-PTA, Gail also assists with the school art show, student directory, and community service projects and is a member of the arts in education committee. Gail is excited to be part of Youth2 because it provides her with the opportunity to further her own knowledge about volunteer opportunities in our community. She is especially excited to see youth involved in volunteering because then hopefully it will become part of who they are. Creating the next generation of volunteers is the best way to help not just Saratoga County today, but in the future as well.
CALLA WOODWORTH I am attending Middle School at Saratoga Springs. I am have been giving back to the community and Africa for a long time. I have Helped with Drilling For Hope and traveled with many other small groups like Crosse Cultural Solution. I play Lacrosse and Tennis. I look forward to helping my community more by being able to give back in every way. I am so happy to have just joined Youth Squared and happy to come up with ideas for the future.