When BBA President Paul Dacier and Executive Director Rich Page attended the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC), they saw a familiar face introducing Mayor Thomas Menino. That face was Ben Haideri’s, who represents his community of Roslindale on the MYC and interned at the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office through the BBA Summer Jobs Program last summer.
Beyond the Billable sat down with Ben to talk to him about his experiences with the MYC and BBA Summer Jobs Program.
We started by discussing Ben’s experience at the Dorchester District Court Branch of the Suffolk DA’s Office — where he spent most of his summer (you may remember him from this article). As an aspiring lawyer, he felt that the courtroom experience would be particularly valuable:
“I spent a lot of time in the courtroom watching trials. One of the trials lasted two days, and I decided that I would write a closing statement just for fun. I gave it to the prosecutor to review and she ended up using a chunk of it in her closing statements.”
While finishing up his senior year at Boston Latin Academy, Ben is also enjoying his second year serving on the MYC. As a representative, Ben participates in two meetings each month, identifies issues affecting his community, such as integration, and works with other representatives to brainstorm solutions. When we asked him to tell us a highlight from his time on the MYC, he mentioned his speech about the important of getting youth involved in government. It’s probably worth mentioning that the speech was given in front of 3,000 people, including mayors from across the country, at the National League of Cities Conference.
Ben is waiting to hear back from colleges and hopes to study political science before going on to attend law school. “I came into the BBA Summer Jobs Program knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer and the experience solidified it. Through the Mayor’s Youth Council, I gained experience with outreach, writing, and giving speeches. These skills are important because you need to be a good communicator to be an effective lawyer.”
It’s also worth noting that Ben’s position was funded thanks to contributions to the Boston Bar Foundation, which provided funding for 13 positions for Boston Public High School students to work at nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and courts last summer.
As you may know, the BBA has provided the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) with lawyer-mentors since its inception in 1994. To get a better sense of their experience, we sat down with Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero, who represented his community of East Boston on the MYC from 1997-2000. Rauseo-Ricupero is a Government Investigations associate at Nixon Peabody and a member of the BBA’s Litigation Section Steering Committee.
Why is it important to give youth a voice in the city?
“Youth are the greatest stakeholder in the city because they are some of the largest consumers of city programs. They attend the public schools, utilize community centers, and access city services. However, they do not have the ability to vote and voice their opinion. The MYC draws on youth and engages them in dialogue with top officials about the issues that affect them.”
How did MYC influence your future education and/or professional decisions?
“Mayor Menino was a great leader and inspiration. He showed me what a government can do if it’s genuinely dedicated and brings all voices to the table to make actual change. MYC is the reason I have stayed involved in civic affairs. I learned how to do creative work when working together.”
Why are attorneys uniquely qualified to serve as mentors for the Mayor’s Youth Council?
“A lot of the work the MYC does is public speaking and advocacy… Youth have wishes, dreams, and hopes but they need help channeling them into something constructive that acknowledges the other competing issues at hand… The main role of the mentor is to help high schoolers, who know their view but have trouble with other person’s views, understand the other perspective. Attorneys are trained in negotiation skills and understanding other perspectives.”
Rauseo-Ricupero remains committed to civic engagement and his city, which he attributes in large part to what he learned from Mayor Menino and the MYC. He currently is a member of the Board of the John William Ward Public Service Fellowship, serves on the City of Boston Scholarship Committee, and assists with programming for the MYC.
For more information on how to get involved with the Mayor’s Youth Council, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Friday night BBA President Paul Dacier and BBA Executive Director Rich Page joined Mayor Thomas Menino along with the current representatives and alumni of the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) at the 20th Anniversary Celebration. As you may know, the BBA is a longstanding partner of the MYC, combining efforts with the City of Boston and Northeastern University.
Here’s what BBA President Paul Dacier had to say about the event:
“It was such an honor to be part of the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Mayor’s Youth Council. The students selected for the program are an incredibly impressive group. I couldn’t believe what they have accomplished throughout our city in just the past year – connecting with hundreds of teens on important issues, getting the word out in every community about education and growth opportunities and working with local leaders on expanding youth initiatives. It is programs like this that truly empower the young people in our city, and the BBA is proud to be a partner.”
In addition to recognizing the accomplishments of the MYC, the event paid special tribute to Mayor Menino, who created the Council in 1994 and remains committed to Boston youth throughout his term in office.
See below for more photos from the event:
Stay tuned for more information on the Mayor’s Youth Council.
This past year, Christina Miller (Suffolk District Attorney’s Office) and Ed Gorman (Law Office of Ed Gorman) served as mentors for the group of Boston Public High School juniors and seniors who have been selected to represent their neighborhoods in the Mayor’s Youth Council. In their role as mentors, Miller and Gorman helped guide students thought their program goals and develop skills in various capacities including executing and leading meetings. The BBA has co-sponsored the Mayor’s Youth Council with the Mayor’s Office and Northeastern University since 1994.
Beyond the Billable asked Miller about her favorite moment of the year. Here’s what she had to say:
“I have so many favorite moments that it is difficult to pick just one. If I have to pick, it would be the time I conducted a mock interview for a student who is on the Mayor’s Youth Council. She came across as shy at first and minimized her achievements. Instead of minimizing, we worked on her maximizing her experiences. She worked on positively presenting her work and how that work contributed to the public and made her a better leader. We worked on her handshake and posture, as well as other markers of confidence. She reported that she felt great about the interview and felt more confidently about herself – focusing on maximizing! It felt great to help her find the confidence within herself.”
For more information on the Mayor’s Youth Council, please contact Katie D’Angelo, public service programs coordinator, at email@example.com.
Beyond the Billable recently attended a reception at Mayor Menino’s 2012 reception for the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC). Over the years the BBA has provided mentors for this initiative, and we chatted with two of them to find out how they feel about donating their time to the MYC. Here’s what we learned.
The BBA first became involved in what would become the Mayor’s Youth Council in 1990 through its predecessor, the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Corps. The Corps represented a public-private partnership among the City of Boston, the BBA and Northeastern University. The aim of the program was multifold – to show Boston youth how the city and its’ many institutions worked, to develop leadership, encourage community service and promote personal growth in today’s young people. The foundations of the MYC reside firmly in roots of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Corps.
Since 1994, the BBA has been proud to provide the MYC with lawyer-mentors. In addition to attending bi-monthly meetings at Boston City Hall, the mentors guide students through their program goals and help develop their skills in a variety of different capacities – including executing and leading meetings. Here at Beyond the Billable, we wanted to find out from our mentors what it means to give their time to the MYC.
Tonight, I begin my 8th year as a BBA mentor for the MYC. I participate because I support the BBA’s focus on helping Boston’s kids. Also, I like to think that my service honors the men and women who mentored me at a time when a professional career was anything but a certainty.
Our role as BBA mentors has numerous facets. Each year, the MYC representatives identify an issue or two that are important to their lives as teenagers. e.g., school nutrition, public safety and violence prevention, civility on the “T,” substance abuse, summer jobs, and after-school programs. With the help of the Mayor’s staff, the kids then design a program to learn more about the issues and to share what they’ve learned by “outreach” to their peers at schools, neighborhood libraries, and recreation centers. The mentors assist the MYC’s planning by steering the discussions to focus on the specific issue and goal. Sometimes, we ask questions to generate more thinking and discussion while at other times we try to answer questions, especially when the roles of law and government are pertinent.
Occasionally, we share an anecdote to illustrate a point. For example, a few kids scoffed at the notion of teens taking a minimum wage or no-pay summer job. I explained that I began working at 16 years old for $1.60 per hour. That employer is now a major client and I believe I was selected as its counsel in part because I had swept the floors. I also related how I volunteered many after-school hours working on a recycling program for my hometown, which in turn was the seed for a lifelong interest and career in environmental law. They now understand that our journeys begin with small steps.
I participate in Mayor’s Youth Council as a means to engage publicly with Boston-area high school students (a portion of the city’s population with which I would otherwise have little interaction) and to be a resource to those students as they embark upon their college years and begin to think about what they want to do with their lives.
The Mayor’s Youth Council has a lot in common with the BBA’s Public Interest Leadership Program. It is a year-long program made up of members selected after a competitive application process. The key goals of Mayor’s Youth Council are to foster leadership among its members and to serve as a vehicle for outreach to the larger community of high school students in Boston. In addition to attending regular meetings, MYC members are involved in planning and carrying out a limited number of projects through the year (for example, this year, the Council conducted a resume workshop).
Being a mentor is a rewarding and low-stress activity that involves attending the bi-monthly Council meetings at City Hall and facilitating debate and discussion among Council members regarding issues affecting youth in the City of Boston. Outside of regularly-scheduled meetings, mentors are often involved in facilitating the Council’s special projects. This year, I attended the resume-writing workshop with another BBA volunteer and provided tips and feedback to high school students preparing resumes for summer jobs and college admissions.
The MYC consists of 36 students selected to represent their neighborhoods as volunteers on this citywide board. Many of these young leaders are selected to participate in the BBA Summer Jobs Program. Each class of the Council establishes an annual program agenda and works to meet these goals throughout the year. The 2011-2012 MYC class focused on issues of education, health, youth development, neighborhood safety, environment and communications. They held meetings with community leaders including the Executive Director of the Boston Youth Fund to discuss Boston’s teen job strategy and a representative from the Boston Police Department to address concerns regarding healthy and positive youth and police partnerships.