In4All adds student voice to the board of directors
In4All exists to challenge the narrative telling students they don’t belong, or they can’t succeed, or that school doesn’t matter. To do this effectively, it’s critical our board and staff understand this narrative and personally connect to the needs of students.
Fortunately, that comes naturally to our board members. Many of them are educators who are strong advocates for social justice. Others are actively involved in programming at In4All and through other non-profits. All of them bring a set of shared values and a passion for creating limitless possibilities for youth and a strong desire to learn more about the students we serve.
This desire for board members to learn prompted a conversation last year about how we can ensure student voice is always informing our direction as a board. The best way we could think to do that is to put students on the board. So we did!
I’m excited to share the In4All Board of Directors has voted to amend the bylaws to require two permanent student positions. The student board seats have the same responsibilities, accountabilities and voting rights as all other board positions. They will add a much-needed student perspective to our conversations.
For this first year, we filled the board positions through a partnership with the Portland Community College’s Future Connect program which provides scholarship and support for students who identify as first-generation or low-income. The In4All executive director, Elaine Charpentier Philippi, will be working with these students to co-facilitate monthly meetings of a student advisory council to identify what youth voice and success means for us and our programming. The student board members will represent their work in our board meetings.
This is a very important step for In4All as it focuses on creating limitless possibilities for students who have been historically underserved. I’m particularly excited to welcome the two student board members, Yesenia Morales and Adrian Tenorio, who have already participated in three board meetings and brought their voices to the room.
Yesenia shared a few reasons why this is important to her: “By being a board member, I will be representing student voice to tackle the narrative of students who are suffering and disrupting the misconception of students of color. I want to make the change that many have been hoping for! In4All needs student voice to guide them through this change.”
Later this year, we’ll share insights from both board members as they work with high school youth to understand how In4All can best engage with students in the future. We will seek even more ways our board can learn about the students we serve.
Matt Ringer is the 2019 In4All Board of Directors chair.