Rockstar Feature: Wendy Lesko

With the announcement of the Youth MOVE National 2020 RAVE (Rockstar Awards Virtual Edition), we want to spend the next couple of weeks featuring some of our past winners and highlight some of the great work that was done to earn these folks awards in the past.

Remember, if you know a youth, youth advocate, or organization doing amazing work, nominate them for a RAVE!

Honoring Wendy Lesko

Recently, we checked in with Wendy to see how things were going since winning her award in 2019. Here’s a few words from this amazing Rockstar!

I’m continually inspired and learning so much from our Mental Youth Alliance, led by high school students from over 15 states. This teen-driven coalition is creating toolkits, advocacy guides, and drafting recommendations to increase mental health help that are critical given the multiple crises facing Generation Z.

Below is the nomination that Wendy received that earned her the award!

Wendy Lesko is one of the most ardent and accomplished advocates for youth voice in America. As a former community organizer and congressional reporter, Wendy has devoted over 30 years working with youth-serving systems to authentically engage youth as equal partners in decision-making. When community service was the focus for positive youth development in the 90s, Wendy pioneered youth voice in decision-making. She created the first youth engagement training for the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and developed statewide teen summits focused on top public health issues with the Louisiana and Florida Departments of Health. Wendy has presented over 1,000 keynote speeches and training to multigenerational audiences to promote full youth integration at the American Cancer Society, California Wellness Foundation, Jóvenes en Acción, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, United Way of America, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Maine Department of Education, among several other national and state NGOs and governmental departments in over 30 states. In health advocacy, Wendy was a key figure in crafting the Truth Campaign to fight Big Tobacco and guiding high schoolers from two Maryland counties to pass Healthy Vending Machine ordinances as part of the Sugar-Free Kids campaign. Among several toolkits, Wendy also published two books: “No Kidding Around! America’s Youth Are Changing Our World & You Can Too!” and “Youth! The 26% Solution.”

Wendy’s belief in the much-needed civic leadership of young people is unparalleled, evidence of her outstanding and continued commitment to youth engagement consistent with the highest standards in the field. Since Wendy’s selflessness prevents her from singing her own praises, I will sing them from rooftops. There is no other individual more worthy of the Dr. Gary M. Blau Professional of the Year award than Wendy Lesko.

Thank you, Wendy, for all that you do!

Remember, if you know someone who would make a great Rockstar, nominate them today! Deadline is October, 2nd, 2020

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