Meet Girl Up's 24 new Teen Advisors who are here to prove 'the present is female'
It’s a major moment for Generation Z, but specifically for teen girls. Eugenie Park — one of the newest teen ambassadors for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up — knows it. “Not only is the future female but the present is,” the 16-year-old beams in a Girl Up video from her native Washington state. “I can’t wait to prove that to everyone — one project at a time.”
Park, like the 23 other new Teen Advisors, is already proving it. As co-president of an organization dedicated to social change (the Seattle Young People’s Project), she balances the responsibilities of high school with a passion for fighting injustice and participating in events like the March for Our Lives.
As a Teen Advisor, her focus will shift to gender equality — a key facet of Girl Up’s mission.
Launched in 2010, the female-run organization uses education and leadership training to inspire girls across the globe to take action to promote gender equality. With help from Teen Advisors, the organization hosts fundraisers, plans lectures, and implements leadership skill training, all in an effort to get closer to equality.
In a statement released Friday, the organization expanded on the roles that each of the 24 teens will take on during the 2018-2019 academic year.
“Teen Advisors are passionate changemakers who lead advocacy efforts, energize others to take action in support of United Nations programs for girls, and provide crucial feedback on Girl Up’s club programs,” the statement reads. “These young leaders come from 17 different U.S. states and five countries — the United States, Mexico, Brazil, France, and England.”
As rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, this year the Teen Advisors were chosen from a pool of 400 activists, marking the ninth class (and the largest) of girls to take on the role. The teens are recognized as the “backbone” of the organization, which has now grown to include 500,000 supporters from 2,200 clubs in 103 countries.
In the eight years since the organization began, Teen Advisors have helped push women one step closer to equality. Whether it’s through raising millions of dollars for U.N. programs or helping refugee girls access education, their roles — and achievements — have been profound. Being a Teen Advisor is a role that Alex Riginos, one of the Teen Advisors’ co-chairs, takes very seriously.
“Teen Advisors are a testament to what happens when girls stand together in solidarity to achieve gender equality,” said 17-year-old Riginos. “I know that girls are powerful when we stand alone but unstoppable when we stand together.”
While the majority of Teen Advisors hail from the U.S., the five advisers from other countries are equally eager to make a difference. Valeria Colunga, a 17-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico, founded a local Girl Up club in her community before becoming a Teen Advisor this year. Through her local club, she and her peers started a clothing line, organized a leadership summit in Mexico, donated 10 bicycles to girls in Malawi, and hosted a panel with girl heroes.
“It took 12 months for five girls to make a change in their community and start a conversation,” Colunga says in the Girl Up video. “Remember, you can always help a girl up.”
The 2018-2019 class of Teen Advisors includes:
Abigail Estrada, 14, Elgin, Ill.
Alessandra Mitchell, 14, Washingon, D.C.
Alex Riginos, 17, Charlotte, N.C.
Ali Cohen, 17, Tempe, Ariz.
Anusha Tandon, 17, Acton, Mass.
Aya Labban, 17, North Potomac, Md.
Desiree Junfijiah, 17, Upper Darby, Pa.
Elana Denver Foerester, 17, Ojai, Calif.
Elina Govil, 17, Cincinnati, Ohio
Elizabeth Libby Foster, 17, Prospect, Ky.
Eugenie Park, 16, Bellevue, Wash.
Eva Jones, 16, Hood River, Ore.
Fatimata Cham, 17, New York, N.Y.
Helena Branco Gouveia, 16, São Paulo, Brazil
Ina Bhoopalam, 17, Lincoln, Neb.
Ines Gartote, 15, Bourg de Péage, France
Kavita Rai, 16, Camarillo, Calif.
Laura Solano-Florez, 16, Wallingford, Conn.
Leena Abdelmoity, 16, Overland Park, Kan.
Rebecca Fairweather, 16, Rego Park, N.Y.
Salomee Levy, 16, Henderson, Nev.
Shushu Crevoshay, 17, San Diego, Calif.
Toni Bamisaye, 17, London, England
Valeria Colunga, 17, Monterrey, Neuvo León, Mexico
Girl Up’s Teen Advisor program and recent global expansion has been made possible through its partnership with Oath Foundation — whose mission is to build opportunities for girls, women, and underserved youth to become future leaders. Oath Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Yahoo’s parent company Oath.