Ya Ya Staff

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Youth at the Ya-Ya Network political education program are from 15-19 years old. The staff are predominantly organizers of color and generally 1/2 of the staff identify as LGBTQ, and the majority of the staff are women. We are a youth driven organization that maximizes the potential for involvement and ownership of the work we do in our communities. 

Ya-Ya Staff

Amy Wagner - Executive Director 


Amy Wagner joined the social justice movement when she was marching in utero to ban the bomb. 
Amy spent her formative activist years during the the anti-apartheid and Latin American solidarity movements. With a masters degree in Social Work from New York University, she worked for many years as a social worker in alternative public high schools. She founded YA-YA Network in 1998, and in its fourteenth cycle, the program is still cultivating the next generation of young activists. Amy also has served as the director of the Rose & Sherle Wagner Foundation since 1997.

Julian Guerrero - Youth Trainer & Mentor 


Born and raised in Queens, David Julian Guerrero is the first child of two that belong to Colombian immigrants who arrived to the United States in the last century. Brought up in a small one bedroom apartment with a family of four, he spent a lot of time learning and playing alongside his younger sister as the family spent many months traveling between New York City and Colombia. Once in High School, he became conscious of the world around him following the dramatic events in the early 2000's. Since then he has become a dedicated political activist and community organizer. He has been deeply involved with organizations that have fought against austerity and have that organized for Worker's, Immigrant's, and Student's rights and community empowerment. He is a senior at CUNY Hunter College majoring in Sociology. He plans to dedicate his life to community and labor rights organizing and empowerment.  

Sharmin Hossain - Youth Trainer & Mentor 


Sharmin is a Queens bred Bangladeshi henna tattoo artist, writer, and political educator. She is a YA-YA alumni currently working as the Communications Coordinator and Youth Program Facilitator. She enjoys frolicking through books of anti-colonial, antir-racist histories within South Asian and Muslim diasporas, while writing her history through poetry and intense conversations with comrades. She is organizing with the Jackson Heights Cop Watch team, building a femme of color bike ride gang in Queens, and coordinating with East Coast Solidarity Summer, a political education program for South Asian youth. 

Uruj Sheikh - Youth Trainer & Mentor 


Uruj's interest in social transformation has been shaped by her upbringing as a first generation Pakistani Muslim woman. Since 2005, during my second year of college, I began participating in grassroots struggles around a multitude of issues. I’ve focused on workers struggles to unionize, get fair pay, and receive benefits, student struggles, anti-war issues, civil rights issues, anti-austerity work, stop stop-and-frisk, and youth empowerment. She has worked in various capacities acting in solidarity, organizing relevant groups, coordinating coalition work and creating alternatives. She is a founder and member of the Organization for a Free Society. Uruj hopes to begin an herbal healing practice and combine that with grassroots organizing by providing healing resources for the movement. Uruj lives in a commune in Brooklyn, NY and is from Jersey City, NJ.

Suzanne C. Persard - Program Director 


Suzanne C. Persard is a queer Jamaican, Bronx-born & bred writer & activist (and a die-hard Yankees fan!). Literature & ink inspires her, as do movements inciting the decolonization of our world, centralizing LGBTQ rights, and fighting gender-based oppression. Suzanne has prioritized the work of LGBTQ issues and reproductive justice in the Indo-Caribbean community in her role as a founding member of Jahajee Sisters. Working with the phenomenal LGBTQ youth of color at the YA-YA Network is a dream come true for her. A self-proclaimed alter ego of Charlie Brown (though her friends affirm she's more Snoopy), writing has been her first love for as long as she can remember.  

Arlene Cornejal - Youth Staff and Organizer

Arlene Cornejal is an eighteen year old Chicana feminista and writer who currently resides in Elmhurst, Queens. Her road to social justice began a year and a half ago as a YAYA intern. Since then, she has actively implemented activism into her daily life through various acts. Arlene is in her senior year of high school and is looking forward to pursuing a higher education at State University of New York. She is also a vegetarian and is going through a process of self-growth.

Nancy Uddin- Youth Staff and Organizer 

Nancy Uddin is a South-Asian Muslim activist that is driven by a glimmer of the future. She is an avid explorer, an ambitious soul, and slightly rebellious. She interned at the Arab American Association of New York and is currently a blogger at Sadie Speaks. Even though she is a self-proclaimed city girl (born in Queens), she always yearns for the call of nature. Camping and hiking are among her two favorite things. Nancy also loves endlessly gazing at the sunset from her roof and reflecting. She finds solace through writing and dreams of traveling the world.

Ya-Ya Youth 2013: 

Naimah Iniss, Shayla Machado, Brian Dawson, Primi Akhtar, Arlene Cornejal, Cyrena Hayes, LeShone Sobers, Chantae Edwards, Samantha Ing, Andrew Opong, Georgia Owusu, Marvelous Nkrumah, Cynthia DeLeon, Emmanuel Luzon, Lily Johnson, Nancy Uddin. 

Ya-Ya's 2010-11

Zara Afridi, Khaleeq Alfred, Stormy Behlin, Kevin Davis, Jesse Graves, Lisa Flores, Melissa Kissoon, Anthony Ramirez


Ya-Ya's 2009-10

Ciarra Boyd, Zahyia Brown, Sajid Fernandez, Laasia Jones, Sharmin Hossain, Tracey Hobbs Jennifer Lee, Julissa Morban, Miguel Rodriguez, Denise Romero, Arleen Thelemaque


Ya-Ya's 2008-09

Dez Camara, Malika Evans, Tracey Hobbs, Quinn James, Michael Jones, Sabita Ramsaran, Enoel Reyes, Zaire Smalls


Ya-Ya's 2007-08

Juan Antigua, Adana Austin, David Emilien, Nakimuli Francis, Alexandra Manigat, David McNeil, Danielle Smith


Ya-Ya's 2006-07

Micheala Davis, Christine Feliciano, Sean Lewis, Adana Austin, Jessica Rivera, Farah Cruz