DeJhari Finds Her Voice Through Youth Leadership United

Youth Leadership United has prepared more than 20 classes of young leaders to take on leadership roles in our community. As the program begins taking applications for its 24th class, we thought it was time to catch up with some past graduates.


In this mini series, we introduce you to three Youth Leadership United graduates. They share about how Youth Leadership United was a game changer for them — from furthering their knowledge of the community and connecting them to local leaders, to board placements and making lifelong friends.


DaJhari Woodard Youth Leadership UnitedMeet DeJhari

Currently a senior at Calvary Christian School, DeJhari applied to be a part of Youth Leadership United because she wanted to be more involved in her community through service. She never would have guessed her time in the program would teach her so much about advocacy and using her voice to make change. Thanks to Youth Leadership United, she knows the importance of advocacy and why the next generation must make their voice heard to create positive, lasting change in our community.


What did you like most about Youth Leadership United? 

What I loved most about the experience was the environment that was created. I was able to go into an environment that was filled with like-minded, inspired, encouraging, driven people. This was very refreshing even at 9:30 in the morning!


As part of the program, you were placed on the board of a local nonprofit. What have you learned through this? 

I am currently serving on the advocacy board at the Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY). I thoroughly enjoy my placement because the entire meeting is full of discussion of how legislation is either directly or indirectly affecting youth. We also discuss how youth can influence coming legislation. The way I described it to my mom was, “A current events class: legislation style!”


I believe that being placed on this board is opening up my eyes to the pressing issues that people unfortunately are not talking about or worst don’t know about, like homelessness. It is teaching me why it is so important for my peers to be knowledgeable. We need to stay informed and moreover play an active role in elections. Through being part of MCCOY I take the word ‘advocacy‘ to mean the way we assert our rights. Don’t forget that advocacy comes in many forms and is implemented in varying levels.


Related Article: 5 Great Benefits of Youth Leadership United


How did Youth Leadership United prepare you for college?

The program helped me better understand myself, specifically the characteristics of an introvert and how they differ from extroverts. I discovered how I can still contribute in a group of extroverts or a group of mixed personalities. It helped me become a better leader, because they defined the traits of a good leader, helped me evaluate my leadership style and coached me in the areas of leadership I was lacking in.


Youth Leadership United helped calm my fears that there won’t be people like myself (an introvert) at college. They said college is a melting pot and that there are going to be plenty of people like me so no reason to worry! I learned that introvert leaders, like myself, lead by example.


Why should young leaders apply for Youth Leadership United? 

I would encourage others to join the Youth Leadership United family in a heartbeat! It provides you with valuable experiences with peers, facilitators and people in your community. It connects you to a support system that, in effect, brings you closer to your community.


What was your biggest takeaway from the program? 

I firmly believe it helped me to more freely associate with my peers, in general and about things regarding our community. Our country. Our generation.


If you’re a young leader looking for a way to become more involved with your community, apply now to become part of the next Youth Leadership United class. You’ll connect with other young leaders, learn about the issues our community faces and develop solutions while serving on a local nonprofit board. It’s a unique opportunity that only comes one time a year — get your application in by October 31.




Know a young adult who would be interested in Youth Leadership United? Share this article with them and nominate them for the program now.