In the Fall of 2022, CCYP invited youth to gain board governance experience as youth members on their Board of Directors.
Brenda Okorogba and Anjali Gaur seized a unique opportunity to gain board governance experience at the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP).
In the Fall of 2022, Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP) welcomed its first-ever youth Board members. It was an exciting time, as CCYP now officially had young voices at every level of the organization.
In order to recognize, appreciate and share this approach to youth engagement and co-creation, the Youth Engagement Strategies team alongside the Youth Council set out to capture and amplify Brenda and Anjali’s experiences.
Part of this initiative involved sitting with and interviewing the Board members to hear their stories and experiences to date. We set out in hopes of hearing about: What brought them to CCYP and the Board, What they hope to gain through this experience, How they anticipate leaving their mark, and How the process has been so far (orientation, governance support).
This is where our Youth Council members came in! The following is a written account of the interviews Haruka Aoyama, Tori MacBeath and Victoria Barclay conducted in January and February of 2023.
We (Haruka, Tori and Victoria) conducted interviews with Brenda and Anjali, early in their term, to learn about their experiences. Here’s what we heard.
Anjali and Brenda were already doing work aligned with CCYP’s mission and were eager to continue these efforts as youth board members.
“A lot of the work that I've done with youth, although it's very impactful, it's been very local at a smaller community level, [...] so I just wanted to see if the trends that I'm seeing with my youth, like if they are just local trends, or if it's kind of Canada wide. [...] I wanted to build my own capacity and see how I can help in CCYP's mission.” - Anjali
“My reason for joining the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity is because of my passion and dedication to youth empowerment, education and employment.” - Brenda
New experiences can also mean new challenges. Despite their excitement, neither began the opportunity without worries, but CCYP worked to minimize these concerns.
Brenda expressed concerns about whether the board experience would be meaningful for her and whether the organization would facilitate the tools needed for her success.
“Am I actually going to have the opportunity to contribute my voice and represent young people when decisions are being made at the Board of Directors?” - Brenda
The approachability of current board members were helpful for Anjali’s initial uneasiness.
“The current Board members have been very, very supportive and just answering any of my questions that I've had. I've reached out [to board members], just to ask really redundant questions, in my opinion, and they've had no issues explaining things to me 5 times if needed.” - Anjali
Anjali also explained that she had a great experience at her first board meeting and felt comfortable enough to use her voice.
“I didn't feel at all as if my voice wasn't being heard, I felt comfortable enough to speak. They gave room for me to speak, which was also very helpful, because again it's my first time on a board.” - Anjali
Brenda identified the notable impact of the Osborne Group “immersive” training.
“The learning experience has been very immersive, so when it comes to the coaching I received from the Osbourne group, I learned a lot in a very short time. The orientation was also very good for all the worries and concerns I had and [setting] the expectations … because there is orderliness and clarity of direction and that makes me feel very thankful to the entire team.” - Brenda
When asked about the impact, Anjali questioned her role in bettering youth, since the Council also engages with employers.
“I'm very curious to know how CCYP again can directly impact [youth], especially if we're going down the route of primarily engaging with employers.” - Anjali
Both Anjali and Brenda were definitive that they’d recommend this experience to other youth.
“I believe that young people deserve a seat at the table. Young people deserve to be in rooms with decisions that affect them… Their voices are very important to all decision-making processes. So, being a youth board director with CCYP, I would definitely recommend such an opportunity to other young Canadians.” - Brenda
As these Board members continue to grow in their roles, we will continue to track and capture their experiences. Stay tuned for additional insights in the coming months.