Multnomah Youth Commission celebrates 25 years of community service

November 29, 2021

Multnomah Youth Commission 25th Anniversary Video

This year, the Multnomah Youth Commission is celebrating 25 years of community service. Founded in 1996, the Youth Commission started with 28 members and has since welcomed over 475 young people as past and present members.

Over the years, Multnomah’s youth commissioners aged 13 to 21 have lobbied for changes in policies affecting young people, including:

  • Advocating for an expansion of the Portland Public Schools YouthPass program to serve all young people in the tri-county area by providing them with free transit passes year round
  • Asking to push back the start times of high school
  • Funding of over 47 youth-led anti-violence projects
  • Engage thousands of youth in Multnomah County and the City of Portland through participatory youth-led action research efforts, candidate forums, focus groups and listening sessions

The efforts listed above have informed the work of the Multnomah Youth Commission over time and have helped the group decide which issues require the highest level of advocacy.

To recognize the youth who participated in the Commission, the county met with elders and captured how the Youth Commission led them to where they are today. Some alumni reflected on the skills they learned while others spoke about how their tenure had helped them explore their careers.

LaShawn McCarthy Jr. (he / him)

LaShawn McCarthy Jr. first joined in 2012 at the age of 13. McCarthy continued to participate during his high school and early years at university, which allowed him to learn more about policy advocacy and social change. Ultimately, the Multnomah Youth Commission was one of the defining factors that led him to earn a Bachelor of Social Science degree from Warner Pacific University. Shortly after graduation, McCarthy landed an internship as a project coordinator at a small consulting firm in Portland. McCarthy said that one of the many things he learned in the Youth Commission was “to be able to remain confident in front of stakeholders,” a skill he still uses today.

Gabriel Kjos (he / him)

As a junior at Reynolds High School, Gabriel Kjos joined in 1999 and completed his senior year in 2001. Kjos then attended the University of Oregon and earned a bachelor’s degree in planning, public policy, and management. After graduating, Kjos held a foundational position at a Portland-based renewable energy company. “MYC encouraged me to connect with other people, build those relationships, and then come together with goals to build a project. Today, Kjos is the national sales director of the same company.

Daisy Quiñonez (her)

Daisy Quiñonez was a student at David Douglas High School when she joined the school in 2009. Quiñonez then attended the University of Oregon and remained involved in the Youth Commission until 2012. She graduated with a BA in Planning, Public Policy, and Management in 2015. Quiñonez returned to Portland and recently received an MA in Urban Planning from Portland State University. Today Quiñonez works as a consultant in a small town planning firm. She said the Multnomah Youth Commission has an impact on the work she does every day. “I am always thinking about ways to make the voices of young people heard and to involve young people in my work today. “

Jacqueline Altamirano Marin (she)

In 2010 Jacqueline Altamirano Marin joined as a recent graduate of Gresham High School and was attending Mt. Hood Community College. Marin completed her two years at Mt. Hood while she was on the Youth Commission. She then enrolled at Portland State University and majored in political science with a minor in gender studies. Following this, she decided to pursue her Masters and attended Columbia University in New York. Now Marin is a program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice. “MYC allowed me to make my voice heard and gave me the resources to find my power, and now I am able to do this work with others involved in justice and help them make their voices heard. . “

Jason Franklin (he / him)

At 15, Jason Franklin, co-founder of the Multnomah Youth Commission, spent nine months helping plan and develop the new organization. Franklin was involved from 1996 to 1999. After graduating from Lincoln High School, he moved to Washington, DC, and studied political communication at George Washington University. Today Franklin is the Founder and Director of Ktisis Capital, a consultancy firm that helps move money toward racial, social, economic and environmental justice. Franklin said the Multnomah Youth Commission was the start of his own journey. “I was the one who pushed the mayor or the county commission to be more daring. And now, 25 years later, I find young people pushing me to be more daring.

Blanca Gaytan Farfan (she)

Blanca Gaytan Farfan joined us in 2014 as she was entering her final year of high school. After his freshman year with the Youth Commission, Farfan enrolled at Warner Pacific University. For two years, until 2017, she participated in the Commission while continuing her studies. Farfan graduated from Warner Pacific with a BA in History and minors in Political Science and Sociology. Farfan is now the Director of Programs for East County Rising Community Projects, a nonprofit organization. Farfan also sits on the New Portlanders Policy Commission and finds herself using what she learned from the Multnomah Youth Commission in her current role. “Knowing how a committee works, its structure and details allows me to integrate these aspects and use them in this committee. “

Perla Alvarez (she)

Perla Alvarez was 13 when she joined the team in 2008 and participated throughout her four years at Catlin Gabel School. Alvarez’s last year of attendance was 2013. She attended the University of Oregon, where she majored in Ethnic Studies and with a minor in Planning, Public Policy and Management, and Spanish. Today, Alvarez is the executive director of Oregon Voice. When asked how the Multnomah Youth Commission had helped Alvarez, she replied, “The involvement, networking and meeting new people at MYC have really helped me in my career path and in my career. involvement in policy development and civic engagement. “

Charity Dunlevy-Todd (her)

Charity Dunlevy-Todd joined the group in 2013 at the age of 13 and continued to participate while attending Franklin High School. After graduating, Dunlevy-Todd went overseas to attend college and left the Youth Commission in 2018. Currently, Dunlevy-Todd is completing his senior year at Aurora University in Illinois. , with a specialization in social work with a specialization in child protection. , with minors in criminal justice and psychology. Dunlevy-Todd said the Multnomah Youth Commission was a unique experience that allowed him to grow as an individual and explore his interests.

Isaura Ascensio (she)

In 2005, Isaura Ascensio was 15 years old and had just given birth. The same year, she applied to the Youth Commission and was accepted. After graduating from high school and participating for three years, Ascencio attended Portland State University. There, Ascencio specialized in community development with a specialization in international studies. Today, Ascensio works in Multnomah County, in the County Asset Department. Asencio helps businesses and businesses negotiate contracts and other work with the county. Thinking back to his years on the Multnomah Youth Commission, Ascencio said: “I would not have learned to navigate policies, systems and government in general if I had not started so early” .

Kaia range (she)

In 2001, Kaia Range was a college girl who was drawn to the Youth Commission. Once accepted, Range stayed for six years, until she graduated from high school. Range attended American University in Washington, DC, majoring in International Studies, with a focus on Latin America, and a minor in Spanish. Today, Range lives in Chile, where she teaches English online. Range said she incorporates empowerment when teaching her students, something she learned from the Multnomah Youth Commission.

Linh Oliver (they / them)

After being recruited by several participants, Linh Oliver joined the Multnomah Youth Commission in 2018 while in high school. Two years later, after graduating from Franklin High School, Oliver enrolled at the University of Notre Dame, where they are currently in their second year majoring in political science, with minors in public policy and poverty studies. “I see myself going back to Portland and getting involved in local government in one way or another.”

Sarah Reich (she)

After seeing an ad in the newspaper, Sarah Reich, a sophomore at the Metropolitan Learning Center, applied and became a member of the Multnomah Youth Commission first group in 1996. Reich continued her education at Oregon State University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental economics. and geography. She then continued her Masters in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. Reich now works as a senior project manager at ECONorthwest, an applied economics consultancy. Reich said the Multnomah Youth Commission had prepared her for success: “I entered college with public speaking experience and a better understanding of how government actually works for people. . “

Aurora J. William