Profile in Courage in Public Education: The Washington Legislative Youth Advocate Council

Courage written in chalk on a blackboard with a heart for an O.

Brandon Dao, Director of Public Affairs
Local members: Vindhya Adamala and Gavin Cruz – Thurston County
Mayah Ping – Grays Harbor County and Will Cummings – Lewis County

The Youth Advocate Council is empowered by law to represent all 1.6 million young people in Washington State. It serves in an official, non-partisan capacity as a voice for youth to the Washington State Legislature. The 14–18-year-old student members are from a wide variety of geographic, political, and socioeconomic backgrounds and are given an opportunity to make tangible changes at the state level by:

  • Meeting with legislators to advocate for policies relevant to youth.
  • Testifying before state committees to support or oppose legislation.
  • Advising government officials, policymakers, and leaders in various fields.
  • Collaborating with nearly 200 community organizations (including ESDs) to promote change.
  • Hosting events around the state with hundreds of youth attendees.
  • Talking with media outlets such as the Associated Press and KING 5 News.
  • Partnering with the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health to provide perspective for youth.
  • Writing actual laws.
  • Making sure youth are at the table when decisions are made!

Students must submit a formal application to be considered for selection to this advocacy group. Only 12 slots are available from all applicants. Personal experiences, motivation, and diversity are all considered in the selection process. Members are chosen based on the congressional district in which they reside. The members work with Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck and other legislators.

One notable member from our local area is Vindhya Adamala. She has already written one law that the state legislature considered. Her presentation on the topic of malnutrition is available on Ted Talks. She is also doing research for Yale University while attending high school classes at Olympia High School.

Other members are equally passionate. They simply believe that all legislation that involves young people should include their voices in the decisions.

Thank you for your courageous work with community organizations and legislators. Congratulations on being our June 2024 “Profiles in Courage.”

Would you like to nominate someone for our Board of Directors to honor as a profile in courage?

  • Any employee, resident, volunteer, or student in one of the 44 school districts and one tribal school represented by Capital Region ESD 113 is eligible to submit candidates to Dale McDaniel for consideration.
  • Please keep submissions to 400 words or less. Photos are encouraged.
  • A small committee will review the applications. The Board Chair will read one selection each month prior to our Board meeting. In addition, that month’s submission will be prominently featured on our ESD 113 website.

Think about the heroes in your life who have done courageous things to support our students and staff members. We want to honor the wonderful role models who have been working in our public schools!