6th Annual Youth & Government (Y&G) and Teen Excellence Leadership Dinner

March 9th proved to be an extraordinary evening as 400 guests gathered at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel to celebrate outstanding teens at our YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles 6th Annual Youth & Government (Y&G) and Teen Excellence Leadership Dinner.  The special event, hosted by LA Y Board Member Chet Pipkin, recognized exceptional teen members who serve as role models in their community while exemplifying our core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

Mark Helm, YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles Board Chair & former Y&G Youth Governor, presented the Spirit of the YMCA Award to San Pedro & Peninsula YMCA’s Alia Atkins and Westchester Family YMCA’s Parnian Soheili.  An active volunteer for the Y and member of her Youth & Government delegation, Alia culminated her three years of Y&G experience as an elected officer and statewide Chaplin.  Parnian, a Y camper since elementary school who now serves as a Counselor-In-Training, parlayed her leadership and passion for justice into her most recent role as Y&G California Attorney General.

Jonathan Garcia of Pasadena-Sierra Madre YMCA and Gabrielle Straton of Torrance-South Bay YMCA received the 2017 Civic Commitment Award. Holding numerous Y&G leadership positions, Jonathan also serves his community as a member of and volunteer for the Pasadena Police Department’s Police Activities League. Gabrielle, in her third and final year of Y&G participation, was elected to serve as Stateside Legislative Committee Chair.  Among her numerous accomplishments outside of the Y, Gabrielle is a founding member of her school’s Club Shalom, a Kiwanis member, and volunteers for Laugh Zone, an organization supporting children with autism.

The Excellence in Youth Leadership Award was presented to Gabriel Lizer, a 12-year member of the East Valley Family YMCA and Ricardo Ruiz of Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA.  Volunteering in several leadership positions at the Y, Gabriel notably served as the President of his branch’s Y&G delegation.  Using the skills he learned from our Youth Institute of Media Arts, Ricardo created a mini Youth Institute at KIPP LA Prep, teaching video and graphic design to middle school students.

Johnathan Franklin, former NFL running back, UCLA All-American and Community & External Relations representative for the LA Rams, delivered the evening’s keynote address while 70th Youth Governor Cole Cahill (South Pasadena San Marino YMCA) and 69th Youth Governor Ariana Trujillo (East Valley Family YMCA) offered opening and closing remarks. 

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