Milestone Moments: Celebrating 10 Years of Youthprise!
From left – right: Maya Beecham, Karen Kingsley, Marcus Pope*, Wokie Weah*, Sheila Gothmann, Elizabeth Rau*, Rudy Guglielmo, the original Youthprise leadership team.
As Youthprise celebrates our 10th Anniversary, we wanted to take a trip down memory lane. Each month we will be sharing a “milestone moment” from our history. One moment from each year that we think exemplifies who we are! That being said, when thinking of our first milestone moment it was obvious. Why not start at the beginning?
In March 2011, Youthprise very quickly emerged as one of Minnesota’s newest intermediaries. After two years of research, analysis, conversations, and planning the McKnight Foundation recognized that youth have nearly 2,000 hours of discretionary time each year—nearly twice the time they spend in school, and because of that Youthprise was founded and funded to increase the quality, quantity, sustainability and innovation of beyond the classroom opportunities for young people in Minnesota.
When looking for someone to lead this newly developed organization, the Youthprise board wanted a candidate who would bring energy, urgency, and high expectations to the job. There was only one clear and obvious choice, Wokie Weah. And very soon after Ms. Weah was selected to be the organization’s first president. Before taking the reins, Ms. Weah served as Senior Vice President at the National Youth Leadership Council and had extensive experience in education, youth leadership, and youth development. “Asking me to lead an organization destined to be a catalyst for policy and systems change was like asking me to take sand to the beach,” said Ms. Weah.
Back then the mission was a little different. When asked about Youthprise during that first year, Ms. Weah said, “Our vision at Youthprise is to lead the nation in accelerating leadership and innovation beyond the classroom. We want to put Minnesota back on the map as a state that invests in its young people; we want to ensure that out-of-school time for all of our youth is truly enriching and transformative.”
Well, it’s been ten years since she took the reins of Youthprise, but throughout her time, Ms. Weah has been a major catalyst and a disrupter in the field. Sure, the language and the verbiage of our vision have changed, but our focus on youth has not, which is why we want to take a moment to thank and recognize the original Youthprise leadership team who paved the way 10 years ago.
The Original Youthprise Leadership Team:
- Wokie Weah (President)
- Maya Beecham (Executive Assistant)
- Sheila Gothmann (Finance and Operations Director)
- Rudy Guglielmo, Jr. (Program Officer)
- Karen Kingsley (Director of Public Policy and Communications)
- Marcus Pope (Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach)
- Elizabeth (Libby) Rau (Youth Engagement Strategist)
Over the years, Youthprise has grown, evolved, tackled new challenges, and embraced new opportunities we never dreamed were possible. And after ten years at the helm of Youthprise, Ms. Weah is putting on her “retirement shoes” and handing over the reins. But they aren’t going very far! The current Vice President and original Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach, Marcus Pope will step into the role of president in 2022!
You can visit the “Our Team” page to meet our current Youthprise team members, board members and consultants.