Youth Advocates Program
Partnering with Youth to Reimagine Services and Systems
California Children’s Trust, in partnership with the California Coalition for Youth (CCY), has made an organizational and financial commitment to youth-led mental health systems change with the expansion of our Youth Advocates Program and the establishment of our Youth Advisory Board (YAB). Co-developed with its five founding youth members, the YAB guides and grounds CCT’s work with the voice and experience of young people, and empowers youth leaders to continue taking action for youth mental health reform after CCT sunsets in December 2024.
Youth Advisory Board
The Goals of the Youth Advisory Board are to:
- Guide and influence CCT’s work and decisions,
- Center youth leadership in all aspects of CCT’s advocacy work, and
- Empower youth leaders to continue CCT’s work in partnership with other advocates and leaders after CCT sunsets in December 2024.
If you are a youth interested in learning more about the Youth Advisory Board, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
2022-23 Youth Advisory Board Members
Sriya Chilla - She/Her
Sriya Chilla is a Freshman at UCLA pursuing a degree in Psychobiology on the pre-med track and exploring new clinical and research opportunities. Just as she did in high school, Sriya will continue to advocate for the expansion of peer-to-peer programs in high schools across the state, and is already working to bring peer-to-peer to her UCLA campus. Sriya’s youth mental health advocacy work started in high school when a friend reached out to her about their struggle with mental illness and she was at a loss for words. She later realized that she and many of her peers didn’t know how to provide support in a crisis, despite the fact that youth are more likely to confide in their friends than an adult. When looking at her school’s mental health resources, she found a lack of support services from youth to other youth. From then on, Sriya committed herself to establishing peer-to-peer mental health programs in high schools across California. Knowing that her work might have an impact on someone’s life or bring a smile to someone’s face keeps her motivated. In addition to being a member of CCT’s Youth Advisory Board, Sriya is the Co-Chair of the Youth Advisory Board at the California Coalition for Youth (CCY), the Co-Chair of the Community Affairs Committee at the California Mental Health Advocates for Youth and Children (CMHACY), a crisis counselor at the California Youth Crisis Line, and a panelist at several conferences on youth advocacy in school mental health. Sriya continues to use her voice to ensure that no student is at a loss for words when it comes to their mental health.
Jade Davis - She/Her
Jade is the Administrative Assistant for the California Coalition for Youth (CCY), supporting the work of the organization’s Youth Advisory Board. She is also an active member of CCT’s Youth Advisory Board. She is currently attending GCU to get her master’s in Business Administration. For undergrad, she attended Saint Mary’s College of California to study Business Administration. She grew up in the Bay Area and loves it here. Growing up in a single-parent home taught her the importance of community because that’s where most of her time was spent. From the YMCA to Girl Scouts, to being a volunteer anywhere she could. Jade has always been a huge part of her community. Because of this, she advocates for all youth from all walks of life. She sees the need for youth to be included in everything because it affects them too.
Nghia Do - He/Him
Nghia Do is a Freshman at Stanford on a full scholarship to pursue his Psychology degree. Do is the Founder of a youth-led organization with members nationwide, YouthMindsAlliance (YMA), which raises awareness about the importance of mental health and transforms systems to better serve young adults through policy advocacy. YMA was recognized by U.S. Congressional representatives and the California State Senate for their suicide prevention campaigns. Do was inspired to start YMA when his personal struggle with depression turned into a passionate journey to advocate for youth mental health. He is also the Project Director of the Youth Advocacy Board, a partnership of California Children’s Trust and the California Coalition for Youth, and he is a member of the Board of Directors at California Mental Health Advocacy for Children and Youth (CMHACY). He is working to transform the California mental health system by working on public policy to implement peer-to-peer programs within high schools. If Do is not working, you will find him swiping TikTok, reading books, or watching shows (and crying.)
Ashley Monterrosa - She/Her
Ashley Monterrosa is a San Francisco native, educator, organizer, advocate, strategist, and storyteller.
In June of 2020, Ashley lost her brother, Sean Monterrosa, to state-sanctioned violence during the George Floyd uprisings- just a day before her twentieth birthday. Since the tragic loss of her brother, she has emerged as a social justice warrior championing causes such as public safety, social justice, and youth mental wellness.
Turning her pain into power, Ashley is a Program Coordinator at Horizons Unlimited of San Francisco and is teaching social justice issues, community organizing, leadership development, life skills, and policy advocacy to elementary, middle, and high school students.
Ashley is a firm believer that those most harmed are always closest to the solution. She also has been passionate about policy advocacy and has galvanized alongside many key California stakeholders to Pass SB 2- Police Decertification. Ashley currently is a San Francisco Chapter Coordinator for one of the largest survivor networks, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. Through lived experiences, she continues to advocate for safer communities and victims compensation for families affected by state sanctioned violence.
When Ashley isn’t fighting for justice and trying to better her community, you can catch her surfing, traveling, or hiking!
Kassy Poles - She/Her
Kassy Poles is a 24 year old Bay Area native, community college student, and youth mental health advocate. Having been a recipient of mental health care services for more than half of her life, she is committed to fighting to make a change in social inequality by advocating for youth involvement and more accessible substance abuse resources, especially for those under 30. She remains resilient and wants to empower others by showing them it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, you are in the driver’s seat, and you can make your life what you want it to be. When she’s not occupied with work or travel, she’ll either be reading, cooking, painting her nails, or cuddling with her partner and their two cats, Buster and Ash.
Eleanor Sewell - She/They
Eleanor Sewell is a 6th grader at Roosevelt Middle School in San Francisco where she supports her peers and friends in their mental health journey and advocates for better mental health support across the school.
Eleanor started advocating for youth mental health changes in elementary school as vice president of her Student Council. She is also on the Youth Advisory Council for the San Francisco Youth Soccer League where she launched a Mental Health Awareness workshop for coaches and players.
The soccer field is one of her favorite places to clear her head and connect with friends—two great ingredients to strong mental well-being.
Aria Rani Sindledecker - She/Her
Rani Sindledecker is a 9th grader at Mountain View High School where she is an advocate and activist for mental health. She is the President of a high school club chapter of Bring Change to Mind, a natural advocacy leadership role after previously founding the Empathizers at her middle school to help destigmatize mental health and promote youth voice in mental health conversations. She is an active speaker on the topic, having presented at the Krause Center of Innovation, on a panel for UCSF and the Commonwealth Club, at the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies and more. Rani is also a documentarian, having created two award-winning short films, “Stigma-Free Nation: Pathway to Parity” and “Power to Save a Life”, that spotlight issues surrounding mental health. She is on the Youth Advisory Board of the California Children’s Trust. She is a member of the Teen Advisory Council at the Community Health Awareness Council and a HEARTS Youth Mental Health Ambassador and Research Intern at UCSF. Her goal is to be a doctor someday to help change and save lives.
Ella Kligman - She/Her
Ella Kligman is a 10th-grade student at Head-Royce School in Oakland. She is a mental health advocate with a passion for public policy. Her interest in mental health policy began when she joined the debate team at her school, where she discovered the positive impacts of public policy. This past summer, Ella interned for the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, a nonprofit organization that advocates for children in California through policy. She created a blog aimed at providing youth with information on innovative policy solutions in California, tackling the state’s most pressing issues. Ella also worked as an organizer for GenUp, advocating for the passage of the California Assembly Bill 665. Ella’s ultimate goal is to work in the legal field and use legislation to improve the lives of young people.
Youth Advisory Board Alumni
Levi Deatherage – He/Him
Steven Greene – He/Him
Divya Mamidi – She/Her
Ted Ngatia – He/Him + They/Them
Chezia Tarleton – She/Her
Youth Advocates in Action
February 28, 2022: California State Assembly Joint Hearing, Child and Youth Behavioral Health Panel
Sriya Chilla and Nghia Do, Youth Advisory Board Members with California Children’s Trust and California Coalition for Youth, provided expert commentary on the youth mental health crisis and the need for more relevant and accessible school-based supports, with a focus on peer-to-peer, to help youth heal and thrive. Watch the hearing in its entirety here, or click on the images below to jump to Sriya and Nghia.
“SB 803 is a great step forward in the peer-to-peer world but it needs to be followed up with more legislation that includes youth under 18 at the high school level. It’s our responsibility to set up the next generation with the mental health tools they need to succeed at school and in life.”
– Sriya Chilla. Watch Sriya’s testimony.
“What will the state do to incentivize and promote student-centered initiatives such as peer-to-peer so students are not just at the center of care, but are also at the center of engagement—allowing us to be the agents that help others.”
– Nghia Do. Watch Nghia’s testimony.
March 2022: Aria Rani Sindledecker takes first prize in national C-SPAN documentary competition
Congratulations Aria Rani Sindledecker for your first prize national win in the middle school division of C-SPAN’s 18th annual StudentCam documentary competition! Rani won for her documentary, “Stigma-Free Nation: Pathway to Parity,” about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Rani is a middle school student, youth mental health advocate and Youth Advisory Board member with the California Children’s Trust and the California Coalition for Youth. Watch the documentary.
Youth Advocacy Fellow Submits Letter of Support on AB 586 for Increased School Mental Health Services
“I believe there are two critical things that students need to feel more in control of their own mental health and wellness. First, teachers and students themselves need to have the training and support to really listen to each other and build trusting relationships–in the classroom and embedded in the culture of the school. When we feel secure with our relationships, it lifts the stigma of mental health, and we are in it together. Second, we need programs that educate everyone about mental health and social-emotional wellness. It is something that permeates our levies, and students want to be seen as full people, not just people who are stressed about grades. These types of comprehensive and relationship-building supports take time and investment–they take the commitment that I’m seeing from AB 586.”
– Isabel, excerpt from letter of support for AB 586
Youth Advocacy Fellow Joins CCT for Public Testimony, Assembly Health Hearing on the DHCS Telehealth Proposal
Following on CCT’s recently released report, NO GOING BACK: Providing Telemental Health Services to California Children and Youth After the Pandemic, CCT youth advocates shared their lived experience to amplify key recommendations and advocate for the inclusion of phone and text messaging for all Medi-Cal providers in DHCS’s Telehealth proposal.
“If I’m struggling on any particular day with my issues, I reach out to my therapist first via text because I know she’ll get back to me as soon as she can. She will text with me and stay on the thread as long as I need to get stable and go on with my day.”
– G, Oakland, 20 years old; Full Testimony.
Youth Advocacy Board member engages in Historic Medi-Cal Managed Care Re-Procurement Process
Levi Deatherage, board member of California Coalition for Youth and CCT Fellow, responded to the DHCS Request for Information back in October 2020, urging the state to involve youth in the process and stating:
“Mandating inclusion of the youth perspective and voice in MCP contracts, especially to inform MCP partnerships with community-based organizations and schools, is a critical first step.” Full response.
If you are a youth interested in learning more please contact us at email@example.com