Investing in young people in a critical way is important. We can't move our work forward if we aren't moving young people forward.

Torie Weiston-Serdan is a scholar and practitioner with over eleven years of teaching and youth programming experience. She received her Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University at the age of 30 and has dedicated her life and career to teaching and mentoring young people in her community. She does extensive work with community-based organizations in support of their youth advocacy efforts, specializing in training mentors to work with diverse youth populations; i.e. Black, Latinx, LGBTQ, First Generation College Students and Low-Income Youth.

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Key take aways from Torie:

  • I’m grateful for the beautiful weather.  We really only have summer in California.
  • I had ideas.  I had visions.  But I didn’t think my life would be like this.  I didn’t see my life surpassing my mother and my grandmother.
  • I founded The Youth Mentoring Action Network in 2007.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I just started this thing.
  • The difference in access in a school just 15 minutes from where I live is what prompted me to start the Youth Mentoring Action Network.  I remember thinking, “How come these young people don’t have all the same opportunities that I had? And how can they be this close to where I was and not have a third of that access?”
  • Our mission is to leverage the power of mentoring for equity and justice; so we do everything that’s culturally sustaining.
  • We’re collaborating with young people to build critical spaces that serve them.
  • The big vision is to have global impact.  I want people that are working with youth all over the world to do critical youth work in a culturally sustaining way.
  • One of the biggest challenge for every non-profit is, “Do I have enough money to do the work that I’m setting out to do?”
  • Our big challenge right now is handling our growth.  We’ve grown from no-one getting to everyone wanting to have their hands in it in some way.
  • I’m still scared.  The world is a fickle place.
  • What concerns me the most is that I’ll disappoint the young people that I’m trying to serve.
  • I don’t think anyone that is successful could be without that small group of advisors who cheer you on; who tell you to slow down; who tell you to sit down when it’s time.
  • Word for the Day:  Sit tight and stay focused!  It’s time for the next level.
  • The process is just as important as the end results.  There are so many things I went through that I had to go through in order to become the effective CEO that I am today.

One Action To Blaze Your Trail:

  • Plan for your success. Write things down. Have a vision. Have a timeline.


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