Meet our 2024 Youth Advisory Council

Last November PYD launched a Youth Advisory Council, called the Empowered Voices Council. The goal of the council is to make tangible change at PYD and to foster leadership and decision-making skills in youth who value PYD’s mission and can provide feedback for addressing current barriers in our programming.  

Four current/former PYD participants were chosen through an application process starting in late summer/early fall of 2023. The council is wrapping up its first year of service and accomplished the following:

  • Revised the youth intake form to improve accessibility
  • Reviewed the PYD website for accessibility
  • Created and completed an action project on the importance of youth voice.    

For their action project, the Council interviewed past Youth Leadership Forum peer leaders and participants about the importance of youth voice and incorporated their feedback into a series of posters that were shared on social media and with partner organizations. Council members received a stipend for their year-long participation and suggested an increase to eight council members for next year.  

Read more about this year’s Council members:  

Raven Roberts: A curious self-starter, Raven is passionate about the intersection of social impact, marketing and culture. She is an enthusiastic junior strategic communication student at Morgan State University. On campus she serves as Vice President of the MSU Chapter of PRSSA, Vice President of the MSU Chapter of AAF and Social Media Manager for the MSU Chapter of NABJ. Prior to serving on the Council, Raven was a PYD Spring Communications & Media Fellow, where she worked on a guidebook preparing high school students with disabilities for their next steps. She has also worked with the Maryland Department of Disabilities, NBA, NFL and more.  

Brian Edwards: From Dartmouth, MA, Brian is pursuing a college degree in Mathematics. In September 2023, Brian embarked on an internship with PYD, where he contributed to the monthly disability newsletter. Notably, he started a column highlighting free and low-cost mentor/mentee event ideas. Brian actively supports the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) project, supplying invaluable assistance through regular meetings and the review and editing of 41 online learning courses. Brian served as a Youth Leadership Forum Peer Leader and Young Leaders Rising Fellow at PYD from 2020 through 2023. He has also been a website youth advisor at SPAN Parent Advocacy Network in Newark, NJ, since March 2023 and represents the Youth Services Coalition in website creation decisions. 

Daniel Benson: Prior to joining the council, Daniel worked at a retirement home in his hometown of Lexington MA, which was a great place for his favorite hobby of trying to make people smile when they are sad or just need a little light in their day. Daniel’s biggest strength is his ability to listen to others and desire to help out when he can. He participated in PYD’s Career Readiness program during the 2023-2024 school year.  

Edwidji Vincent: Since joining PYD in the Fall of 2022, Edwidji has been committed to many PYD programs, including arts programming, Youth Leadership Forum, and Career Readiness. He joined PYD because he loves to fix things that are broken and because he is passionate about art. In high school, Ewidji participated in mock trials and debates and was an honor roll student. He is currently at UMass Boston in a non-degree program called Think College/Institute for Community Inclusion and plans on studying criminal justice.