Ya Ya Staff
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.
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.
Denise Romero - Youth Trainer & Mentor
Denise Romero Franco is an undocumented [unapologetic & unafraid] immigrant, born and raised in Mexico, now residing in Queens, New York. She is a former participant of Global Kids and alumni of the Ya-Ya Network where she worked in counter military recruitment, organizing against the revoking of student metrocards and educational justice work. She studies at the City University of New York majoring in Latin American Studies. She was formerly a campus organizer with New York Students Rising and Students United for a Free CUNY, fighting against budget cuts and tuition increases. She is now working in political education and activist training using a popular education model and focusing on youth empowerment. She is currently working with the Migrant Power Alliance, Radical Arts Collective, and a NYC based Feminist/Womynist Collective. She is a vegetarian and a self-proclaimed artist and writer.
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 Hossain is a Queens bred, South Asian womanist, writer, hip hop head, student at CUNY Hunter College, student organizer and youth activist trainer at the Ya-Ya Network. She is alumni at the Ya-Ya Network, where she organized in counter military recruitment, anti-war, education and the fight for student metrocards in 2010. Before attending Hunter College, Sharmin was a student at SUNY Albany, where she organized with Save Our SUNY in solidarity with New York Students Rising to fight against budget cuts, tuition hikes and the shutdown of departments. Sharmin is currently working in popular political education and youth empowerment through activism, a NYC based Feminist/Womynist Collective, and studying in the South Asian studies and Political Science department. She is working and organizing in Jackson Heights alongside a radical arts collective seeking to connect socio-political and cultural work with her vision and desire for community building and movement through collective action.
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.
Shalena Broadnax Krumm - Organizational Development Consultant
Shalena Broadnax Krumm is committed to her native hometown of Brooklyn, NY. She began her social justice path at the age of 17, as a YA-YA Network youth activist. Shalena spent the next few years working on youth leadership with organizations like The Door, Global Kids, Scenarios USA, and Save the Children-Malawi, which focuses on strengthening communities and developing next generation talent. For three years she worked with Echoing Green, an organization that supports over 500 social entrepreneurs and aspiring changemakers to develop careers with social impact. There, she was able to thrive at the crossroads of social change and communications, and played a key role in the organization's rebranding and marketing initiatives. In addition to her work with Ya-Ya Network, she consults with a human rights and activism organization working throughout China and Southeast Asia. Shalena is a 2012 recipient of the Dalai Lama Fellowship, New York University Catherine B. Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship and StartingBloc New York Fellowship. She is a founding board member of Brooklyn Movement Center in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
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.
Primi Akhtar- Youth Staff and Organizer
Primi Akhtar is an eighteen year old self-identified writer, intellectual and student of life. As a Queens-bred Bangladeshi second generation immigrant she finds resistance and growth in the reclaiming of our languages, identities, and institutions. She is a blogger for SadieSpeaks.com, a radical young womyns site and work closely with The Sadie Nash Leadership Project. Her organizing work involves counter-military and campaign organizing in High schools for the YA-YA Network. Challenging privatization and educational issues also sprouted her passions to help build a NYC Student Union, with the intention to develop student leadership and power in our educational system and schools. She can be found organizing, reading, and talking to strangers in the city.
Shayla Machado- Youth Staff and Organizer
Shayla Machado is an eighteen year old radical activist proudly born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Shayla is known to be very outspoken and vibrant, not afraid of voicing her opinions to various crowds. As a high school senior, she is looking forward to pursuing higher education in the upcoming semester. She advocates for anti- gentrification and human rights while practicing her core values in her everyday life.
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.
Zara Afridi, Khaleeq Alfred, Stormy Behlin, Kevin Davis, Jesse Graves, Lisa Flores, Melissa Kissoon, Anthony Ramirez
Ciarra Boyd, Zahyia Brown, Sajid Fernandez, Laasia Jones, Sharmin Hossain, Tracey Hobbs Jennifer Lee, Julissa Morban, Miguel Rodriguez, Denise Romero, Arleen Thelemaque
Dez Camara, Malika Evans, Tracey Hobbs, Quinn James, Michael Jones, Sabita Ramsaran, Enoel Reyes, Zaire Smalls
Juan Antigua, Adana Austin, David Emilien, Nakimuli Francis, Alexandra Manigat, David McNeil, Danielle Smith
Micheala Davis, Christine Feliciano, Sean Lewis, Adana Austin, Jessica Rivera, Farah Cruz