This week Eric-John Szczepaniak will meet with fellow elected officials and national leaders in Seattle at the 13th annual National Convening of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network. At the convening, which is the largest gathering of young elected leaders in the country, Szczepaniak will participate in issue-based training sessions with nearly 100 fellow progressive elected officials from across the nation to learn best practices for resistance at the state and local level, and create proactive strategies to bring back to all 50 states.
Szczepaniak, 20, was elected to the Kenowa Hills Public Schools Board of Education in November of 2016 at the age of 18 and has been a member of the Young Elected Officials Network since the time of his election. He will bring his own unique perspective to the convening, sharing his experience as a future social studies educator and local school board member. Szczepaniak has also served as a GVSU student senator since the Fall of 2016 and most recently served as the Vice President for Educational Affairs in the 2017-18 school year. He is also running for the Kent ISD Board of Education in 2019.
“I cannot wait for this amazing opportunity to learn from other young leaders from across the nation and work together for progress in education.”
The Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, a project of People For the American Way Foundation, is the first and only national initiative to provide a network of support to the newest generation of progressive leaders at every level of elected office. Over the last decade, the YEO Network has grown to more than 1,200 members in every state and at every level of office.
The YEO Network is a cutting-edge program investing in the pipeline of progressive leadership and building sustained relationships with its members. It provides the resources young elected officials need to effectively impact policy, foster their own development and professional growth, and elevate their voices and their leadership in the broader progressive movement.
At the convening, young elected officials will discuss policy solutions and be immersed in solutions-based innovation labs on education, sustainability, economic opportunity, and social justice. Speakers and panels will also tackle issues related to women’s equality and workers’ rights. Attendees will hear from distinguished speakers including:
“I am excited about the opportunities that convening weekend provide both to the elected officials who will join us in Seattle and to communities around the country,” said Svante Myrick, Ithaca Mayor and director of youth leadership programs at People For the American Way Foundation. “No other space exists where young, visionary elected officials from every corner of our country come together to discuss issues critical to our communities and then work together to form common-sense, bold solutions. This weekend’s discussions have tremendous potential and are sorely needed – now more than ever.”
Eric-John Szczepaniak serves as a trustee for the Kenowa Hills school board and the President of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.