In August, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the selection of 25 Indianapolis high school students to serve on the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council, an initiative to cultivate the next generation of leaders. “This group of talented and versatile students will have a role in making Indianapolis a safer, stronger, and more welcoming city,” Mayor Hogsett said. The Council is made possible by the Lilly Endowment, The Indianapolis Foundation (a CICF affiliate), Leadership Indianapolis, and the Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY).
Indy Midtown Magazine reached out to two Council members from Midtown and asked them to share their thoughts on the project.
by Ranya Abedelmalik
If I were to describe the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council in one word, it would be involved. The MYLC was introduced to the city of Indianapolis this year. The Council is a group of 25 passionate high school juniors and seniors who are interested in advancing our city. These students were all chosen through a selective application process to ensure that they are all innovative leaders who represent all nine Indianapolis townships.
Indianapolis is not one race. It is not one religion. It is not one gender. So our council representatives cannot be one race, one religion, or one gender. Different perspectives are essential when it comes to the progression and innovation of our city. A diverse council such as ours is important to the city because we are able to represent most of the voices needing to be heard. Even in the face of discrimination and violence, together our differences make a strong community. Being an African American Muslim female, I tend to be the minority in the most groups I participate in. Fortunately, this is not the case within the MYLC, where we have 17 females and 8 males. I am not the only Muslim nor am I the only African American.
You might ask, “If we have professionals working in the City-County Building then why would we possibly need high schoolers?” The answer is because the future lies in these high schoolers’ hands. It is extremely important to incorporate young voices into public decision-making because the issues being targeted affect them more than anyone. I appreciate my seat on the Council because I consider myself to be an advocate for justice throughout schools and communities. Leadership is an essential aspect of management that helps maximize efficiency and productivity in order to achieve goals. To me, leaders voice the opinions of the people so that everyone has equal say in what goes on in the community. Community leaders should not always have the same opinions, and that’s why diversity is important for every group. It causes individuals to come into contact with new ideas, new methods, and new perspectives.
A council like this is very effective due to the fact that all of the members are super-involved within their school and community and this makes them super-qualified for the position. Being in so many organizations allows you to truly understand how others around you are feeling. Being involved is important for the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council because we often are asked to give feedback from the community. In meetings, the topics are mostly picked by the council members. The mayor might ask for an opinion on a certain topic here and there but topics are mainly problems that we are seeing and experiencing throughout the community.
The Council meets monthly. At our first meeting, Mayor Hogsett proclaimed June 22 “Indianapolis Leadership Day.” It was an orientation day and we did a lot of self-discovery. We got to know each other, learned a lot about the program and finished the day eating dinner with the mayor. The second meeting was a Saturday morning and while not our first official meeting, we did go over a lot of etiquette and serious subjects, sort of like a mock meeting. There are 13 planned mandatory meetings and Council members often meet in between those dates as well to get to know each other personally and to discuss issues in a less formal environment.
Since June, I have grown extremely close to my co-members. I have really gotten to know them personally and I don’t think anyone is more qualified to hold these positions. When speaking to these individuals, whether it’s about their favorite music or something they want to change in the world, you see the passion light up the room. I assure you that this group of 25 students are beyond dedicated to the work that they do and this official position that they hold in the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council.
Ranya Abedelmalik is a junior at Shortridge High School.