Sebastian Barajas

Photo of Sebastian BarajasThroughout his school career, Sebastian Barajas failed repeatedly to internalize several of the key prejudices—such as ageism—that are required learning for young people. A recent graduate with a degree in classics from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, he has written and argued extensively in favor of youth rights. During the summer of 2016, he completed an internship with Dr. Robert Epstein, author of Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence, during which he studied how “adultness” is related to age. Sebastian hopes to build off his work with NYRA by pursuing a career in the service of child and youth advocacy.

Neil Bhateja

Photo of Neil BhatejaAs an adolescent, Neil began developing an interest in the way society treats its youngest members. He realized that young people aren’t afforded rights that others consider basic, such as property ownership, freedom of movement, freedom from violence, and political representation and wanted to do something about the culture in our schools and families that doesn’t always treat youth like people, and often wields authority over them improperly. After learning about NYRA, he began to follow campaigns on a variety of issues such as the drinking age. When youth leaders in San Francisco introduced a ballot measure to lower the voting age to sixteen in San Francisco, he joined the San Francisco Youth Empowerment Academy and spent hundreds of hours helping to organize the campaign, recruit volunteers, and lead canvassing. Neil joined the board of NYRA in 2017, where he hopes to contribute by promoting this issue and others. He holds two bachelors degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Leslie Hernandez

Leslie HernandezLeslie Hernandez, a recent graduate from SUNY Oneonta with a degree in Communication Studies and Africana and Latino Studies, has always had a passion for human rights. Through her ongoing knowledge of social justice issues, she has made it a goal to be the voice for young people; specifically advocating lowering the voting age to 16. Leslie has worked for the Summer Youth Employment Program in which she was apart of a team that helped give the youth of New York City an opportunity to work summer jobs, allowing them to gain professional and educational experiences with the guidance of the program. Leslie is eager to continue her work with nonprofit organizations, and during her time with NYRA, strives to be both an educator and ally for the youth in the United States.

Alex Koroknay-Palicz

Photo of Alex Koroknay-PaliczAs a high school senior, Alex successfully led a campaign to change the policy of several age-discriminatory stores in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. He then became involved with NYRA while attending American University in Washington, DC and worked to grow the organization over the next twelve years, serving as Executive Director from 2000-2012. Under his leadership NYRA attracted national and international press attention including CNN, Fox News, PBS, the New York Times, LA Times, USA Today and most major newspapers in the country, and achieved important victories for youth rights at the local, state and federal level. Currently, Alex is a member of the Board of Directors, serves as NYRA’s primary media contact, helps to maintain and expand NYRA’s digital presence, and manages NYRA’s policy advocacy, outreach, and coalition building activities.

Alessandra Latina

Photo of Alessandra LatinaAlessandra is a senior at Saint Louis University, studying public health. She has a passion for human rights and public health. She aspires to change the way society looks at and treats young people. While working at NYRA, she will be focusing on student rights, including punishments in schools and how they affect youth.



Abby Laver

Photo of Abby LaverAbby is a first year college student at Salt Lake Community College who is receiving her Associate’s Degree this summer and will attend the University of Utah in the fall. She plans to major in social work and eventually go to law school. She has always had an interest in social issues and a passion for advocacy. In high school, she was a member of the Peer Leadership Team in her student government and organized and ran campaigns for students. While at NYRA, she will be researching youth topics related to voting. She is eager and excited to be able to work with a youth rights organization and wants to encourage youth to be more active participants in their communities.

Joseph Malick

Photo of Joseph MalickJoseph Malick is a first-year student at Susquehanna University, where he is pursuing a dual-major degree in finance and philosophy. In high school, he served as the president of his Future Business Leaders of America chapter, and went on to become a virtual chapter member of Pennsylvania’s Phi Beta Lambda business organization. He also served as a representative for his student senate committee, providing a voice for all of his classmates. Joseph is very passionate about providing research-based information on youth rights to the public. During his time at NYRA, he will be working on researching laws relating to youth rights.

Elijah Manley

Photo of Elijah ManleyElijah Manley got his start in youth rights by challenging ageist policies at his school. After successfully halting ageist dress code rules, as well as unconstitutional detention, he began his path towards reforming electoral laws. He fought to lower the voting age to sixteen in Florida, to change the age of candidacy, and to abolish curfew laws in Miami. Manley ran for President of the United States in 2016, directly challenging the ageist stipulations in Article 2 of the constitution. In an initial act of civil disobedience, his candidacy launched a movement to lower the age of candidacy. He is the founder and current President of the Continental Youth Assembly, a youth voice organization. Currently a high school senior, Elijah serves on the Board of Directors and plans to continue fighting ageism in the years to come.

Christopher Ogle

Photo of Christopher Ogle
Currently in College, Christopher is pursuing an Associates in Liberal Studies, with plans to continue education, and to hopefully attend law school. Since his early teenage years, he’s had an interest in social sciences, especially between different nations. This has given him a diverse perspective on civil rights, especially on how they fair in other countries compared to the United States. Learning so much about civil rights as a result of this interest, Christopher noticed the inequity of rights between nations, especially between the United States and fellow developed nations. This has formed his passion to advocate for rights, as he knew he may have a lower standard of them relative to his counterparts in the closest, most comparable nations. The issue of biggest significance to him is the United States Drinking Age and policy, as it’s one of the most obvious barriers of rights and social equity between the U.S. and the rest of the modern world. His passion for reforming the United States unreasonable and unethical drinking culture has driven him to advocate as a member of NYRA, and he plans to get involved with drinking age, along with other social justice issues as a legal profession, such as a lawyer or lobbyist.

Anne Sheridan

Photo of Anne SheridanAnne’s interest in youth rights began in high school where she started a group to fight against her school’s dress codes, restrictive bathroom use, and censorship of a student-produced newspaper. Later she served as an administrator at two Sudbury schools, Diablo Valley and Leeway Sudbury, the latter of which she also co-founded. Additionally, she has worked with youth in the foster care and mental health systems, always advocating for the rights of young people. She joined NYRA in 2005 as part of the Berkeley chapter where she worked on a proposal to lower the voting age there. Anne joined NYRA’s staff in 2015 and currently works on researching and maintaining NYRA’s policy advocacy resources and outreach. She supervises NYRA’s volunteers and serves on the Board of Directors.

Vignesh Siva

Photo of Vignesh SivaFrom a young age, Vignesh was dedicated to advocating for human rights and equality. Currently in high school, Vignesh wants to make a difference and provide people under 18 with equal rights to adults and is strongly concerned about the current searches of students in schools. Vignesh’s goal is to communicate NYRA’s mission to the media and congressman in order to provide teenagers, children, and youths with equality.

Julia Tucker

Photo of Julia TuckerJulia is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social and Public Policy along with a certificate in Child Advocacy from State University of New York Empire State College. She was previously an intern at Progressive Public Affairs, a lobbying firm in Chicago that implements public policy initiatives to make the world a better place one law at a time. Julia interned at Free Hearts, which advocates for children of incarcerated parents. She is very passionate about children and the well-being and rights of the youth in America. She hopes to make the world a better and safer place for children after finishing her education. While at NYRA, Julia will be researching youth rights topics such as curfew laws, student rights, and many others.

Brad White

Photo of Brad WhiteBrad has been a youth rights advocate with NYRA since 2001. He currently works in brand management at Procter & Gamble on the North America healthcare business in Cincinnati and is active with various social issues. Brad holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Master of Business Administration from the University of Missouri and currently serves on NYRA’s Board of Directors.

Connell Wise

Photo of Connell WiseConnell Wise,DDIv is the former Founder & CEO of the United States Youth Chamber of Commerce and former Youth Commissioner to the DC Mayor’s Commission on National and Local Service. Connell also served as an Executive Councilmember to the DC Youth Council. Connell currently serves as the Founder & Managing Partner of Connell Wise & Associates, LLC a boutique Business Consulting firm based in Washington, DC. Wise has been a member of NYRA since 2007 and helped reestablish NYRA-DC. Connell holds a two undergraduate degrees, an Associates of Business, a Bachelor’s of Arts and a Doctorate of Divinity. Wise is currently working on his Executive Masters of Business Admisntration at The Jack Welch Management Institute and serves on NYRA’s Board of Directors.