WASHINGTON, D.C.— People For the American Way Foundation is excited to announce that its Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2020. Since its inception, YEO has been dedicated to supporting, training, encouraging and providing leadership opportunities for young elected officials ages 35 and under, at all levels of government. The program was created to empower the next generation of diverse progressive leadership. It has made significant strides and has grown to include more than 1,300 elected officials across the country, in offices ranging from local school boards to the United States Congress. The network is proudly diverse, with a membership that is 39 percent women, 78 percent people of color, and 14 percent LGBTQ*. Well-known alumni of the program include Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, former HUD secretary Julián Castro and Congressman Joaquin Castro, former Georgia state legislator and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, and former Tallahassee mayor and Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, who founded the program. Julián and Joaquin Castro were founding members.
“I am so proud of the Young Elected Officials Network and our passionate, innovative young progressive leaders across the country,” said Svante Myrick, director of the Young Elected Officials Network. Myrick is also the mayor of Ithaca, New York, the youngest person ever elected to that position. “Our members are our country’s future, and YEO is a way for them to learn, connect with one another, and get the support and inspiration they need to lead their communities forward. YEOs are transforming our country and making millions of people’s lives better, every day.”
“Over the years, we have watched the Young Elected Officials Network grow and blossom into an amazing force for good in our country,” said People For the American Way Foundation President Michael Keegan. “YEOs embody the spirit of public service that should animate our elected officials and that we desperately need today. The YEO network has strengthened our democracy and is changing governance in America. I can’t wait to see what the next fifteen years will bring.”
“I love working with our YEOs and seeing their dedication to serving their communities and helping improve the lives of others,” said YEO Network Program Manager Raquel Jones. “For many young people and people from marginalized communities, YEO serves as a support system while they navigate public office. We help foster these young people’s growth so they are supported as they serve in elected office and work to change our institutions of government for the better.”
Throughout this 15th anniversary year, YEO will host a number of special events in addition to its regularly scheduled programs. These include Regional YEO Mixers, a 2020 Women’s Retreat, a special Policy Academy to boost the skills of the YEOs, and our largest-ever annual convening.
The YEO program offers many unique programs including its Front Line Leaders Academy, a six-month training program for aspiring community leaders. Participants admitted as Fellows in the program take part in four three-day weekend training conferences. These conferences cover a wide range of political and organizing skills and tactics, including how to be an effective campaign manager, finance director, communications director, field organizer and candidate. Attendees benefit from training by YEOs who are able to share their unique expertise. By graduation, FLLA Fellows have developed a wide range of political skills and have compiled a resources workbook that will help them to be effective local leaders.
YEOs also benefit from the network’s annual convening, where hundreds of elected officials from across the country share their experiences and their ideas for making government work better. At the 2019 annual convening in Miami, programming included informative panels such as Climate Change and Environmental Justice, The Future of Transportation and Mobility, Battling Xenophobia, The Role of Philanthropy in Supporting Progressive Governance, and more. YEO also hosts special convenings, such as its 2019 Women’s Convening and 2018 Justice Reform and Community Reinvestment Policy Academy.
* Note that identifying sexual orientation is optional for participants so this number may not accurately reflect totals.
About the Young Elected Officials Network
The Young Elected Officials Network (YEO) was founded in 2005 with the mission to unite and support elected officials ages 35 and under who share a passion for building communities that reflect values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity for all.
A program of, by, and for young, passionate progressives holding elected office across the country, the YEO Network is committed to policy aligned with our vision for a fair, just society. The YEO Network provides cutting edge programming, investing in the full pipeline of progressive leadership and building sustained relationships with our members. We provide the resources young elected officials need to effectively impact policy, foster their own development and professional growth, and elevate their leadership in the broader progressive movement.