Meet Windy Ly PRO Youth and Families Youth Civic Engagement Specialist. Windy runs a variety of programming including Youth at City Hall in Rancho Cordova, Life Skills and Mentoring at Valley HS, as well as the Advocacy & Leadership Program with the Hiram Johnson Law Academy.
A San Francisco native and daughter of Vietnam War refugees she grew up feeling the stress of poverty.
“For a long time, my family depended a lot on the city for government assistance. I remember bouncing from neighborhood to neighborhood for section 8 housing, and for the longest time we depended on food stamps. Stability and security were words I had a hard time understanding and relating to.”
With her family’s support Windy became a first generation college student and found her calling in public service.
“I wanted to give back to the community and help those that were in the same socioeconomic class as mine, especially in attaining higher education and empowering youth to be active stakeholders in local government.”
Through her experience as a student in Youth fellow in CORO Exploring Leadership Program in San Francisco, Student Delegate to the SF Board of Education, and an intern for a CA State and U.S. Assembly member she has seen first-hand that change is possible in many different ways.
“I hope that students accept that any action is better than inaction. Something as simple as volunteering for their local community organization for even just 2 hours a month is still meaningful and impactful than simply not just doing anything at all.”
Windy’s work at PRO is helping highlight youth voice in Sacramento so they can be agents for change.
“Young people have the power to challenge the status quo for a more just, fair, and equitable community in their corner of the world; they just don’t have the opportunity.”
Windy believes that the point of view of youth is extremely important and their input is not only valued but necessary.
“Oftentimes when it comes to decisions being made about and for youth, young people are excluded from the discussion and decision making process and I find that extremely counter intuitive.”
“Who better knows the struggles and needs of youth other than youth? To not empower younger people to be more civically engaged or have a place for them at the table is a cultural and societal statement that their voices and actions don’t matter. To me, that’s heartbreaking. “
Through her programs Windy hopes to inspire youth to be strong and confident leaders in their community. This includes opportunities to meet city leaders, mentoring younger students in their community as well as participating in hands on projects with the City of Rancho Cordova, LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan) and the Reinvestment Coalition.
“I hope all my students can walk away with hope and confidence that they can make a difference in their community. By providing students a safe space and opportunity to hone in and develop their leadership skills, I firmly believe that they all have the abilities to not just positively change their lives, but their communities as well.”