By Ha Nguyen, Development and Communications Associate
Photos and Videos Courtesy of AALEAD staff
On April 6, 2018, we hosted our annual breakfast fundraiser Aspire to LEAD at the Top of the Town conference facility. This annual event is an opportunity for the AALEAD Board Members and Staff to gather with our community members and share with them the stories of our AALEAD youth.
Neel Saxena, AALEAD’s Executive Director, shared his vision of the organization as AALEAD is on its way to celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year:
“I envision AALEAD expanding on our 20 years of direct service to fill the void of a national voice inclusive of low-income APA youth perspectives.
I envision an AALEAD that provides safe spaces where youth can find a community to express their truth; create a culture of support which allows youth to share in each other’s successes, and rally to uplift others in times of difficulty and the stability that ensures youth know they will always have a place to go and trusted people to talk to.”
Aspire to LEAD is unique each year because of the stories of our youth from different AALEAD programs getting told by their own voice. This year, we listened to youth from VA, DC and MD programs talked about their AALEAD journey and what AALEAD means to them
Aisha, who has been with AALEAD since middle school and now on her way to transfer to University of Maryland College Park next spring to continue her degree in Public Health, shared with the Aspire to LEAD’s audience her unique experience:
“Throughout programs, AALEAD has taught me the importance of being comfortable with our own identity, and how teamwork can make an individual stronger. […] AALEAD has given me the opportunity to grow and understand myself better. Looking back, I realized how much I grew from AALEAD programs. Since the time I joined since middle school, I built up on skills such as networking, leadership, and educational empowerment. But what I believe what I got most from the program was personal development. I was able to create achievable goals throughout my time in college. I definitely feel stronger with myself than I did in the past.”
In addition to Aisha’s story, the audience also watched our DC Elementary School Program youth together with other AALEAD youth shared what they have experienced #BecauseofAALEAD