If you've visited NBW or seen us at community events in the last three years, it's likely you've met and been charmed by either Joshua or Gerry. Both are at NBW several days a week - assisting students in after-school programs, recruiting youth to NBW, drafting agendas, and leading meetings. We're seriously indebted to this often unrecognized and inventive pair.
I sat down with both of them to learn more about the Youth Council and Board of Directors which, respectively, they advise. We had a conversation about NBW's recent history and their vision for NBW's future.
To offer some background, Joshua is 17 years old and is President of NBW's Youth Council. Gerry is a long-time NBW volunteer (nine years) and is NBW's Board President. They each manage advisory boards and have rich histories participating and volunteering with our programs. When asked which programs they've completed or volunteered with, both listed every single program that NBW offers - a total of approximately 15 distinct NBW programs!
Remarking on NBW's recent history, Joshua explained that Youth Council recently re-organized itself to produce clear roles and expectations for each Youth Council member. He also explained how NBW moved into a new home and has used the new space to host events that it wasn't able to host at the previous location. Gerry reflected that the organization "grew up," improving programs by engaging youth in tiered classes, and focusing deeply on working with youth over the course of years, not just weeks.
Most exciting is their vision for NBW's future. Within minutes they each articulated bold ideas that could push NBW to a new level. Joshua sees NBW becoming a "national celebrity among the bike world" through building a National Youth Council network. He's also interested in launching a new entry-level youth program that centers advocacy and organizing skills. Gerry, noting that in five years NBW will be half way through its current lease, wonders if at that time NBW will begin planning to buy a streetfront location to become truly independent. Joshua added, the new place will be "even bigger, and NBW will grow into it." "It will attract more youth, and NBW will reach out to new organizations," Joshua continued. Gerry hopes to have at least one youth representative on the Board of Directors and to bring youth perspectives into leadership. The two bounced ideas off one another and Gerry wrapped up the conversation with this: "In five or 10 years, you [Joshua] will be back here running the place as the Executive Director."