The Executive Team
The Operations Committee oversees all other executive committees. They work closely with the Executive Director to make decisions on action plans for nationwide campaigns.
Executive Chief of Policy and Programs
Alvin Lee (he/him) is the founder and Executive Director of GENup. In this capacity, he oversees day-to-day operations of the organization as well as strategic development and expansion of the organization as a whole. He is a current Sophomore at Stanford University studying public policy and education. A proud graduate of California public schools and a Bay Area native, he has been deeply involved in California education policy since 9th grade and envisions an interconnected education system where student voice and leadership help drive policy creation.In the fall of 2019, he organized youth-led marches for education in three cities (Oakland, SF, San Jose) for the Schools and Communities First Ballot Initiative. After getting involved in local school district issues and noticing the lack of youth participation in education, he founded GENup: a national, youth-led advocacy organization that strives to advocate for education reform through the power of youth voices. Alvin believes that grassroots, community-oriented organizing is at the core of every successful movement.
Alvin is the founding member of the California Department of Education’s first Youth Advisory council, where students utilize youth voice to shape education-policy affecting all of California’s 6.3 million public school students. Alvin is also a co-founder of the California Student Board Member Association.
In his free time, Alvin enjoys music, hiking, and tennis.
Genavieve Koenigshofer (she/her) is a sophomore at University of California: San Diego. She is a pre-med student pursuing a double major in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Political Science: Public Policy. As Chief of Staff, she oversees all Directors on the Executive Team and coordinates GENup’s operations. Genavieve developed an interest in education policy as the 2019-2020 Student Advisor to the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees, representing almost 50,000 students. She is a founding member of the California Student Board Member Association and now sits on their Board of Directors. Genavieve has also served as the Operations VP for Congresswoman Katie Porter's Youth Advisory Board, as a UCSD campus leader for the UC Advocacy Network, and as the President of GENup Collegiate at UCSD.
Chief Operations Officer
George Ashford (he/him) is a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College and a prospective Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major. Before joining GENup's Collegiate policy team, George pursued his passion for youth advocacy and local government as the Chair of the Takoma Park Youth City Council and a Cohort Captain and Roundtable Facilitator with the YMCA Changemakers Institute. He has volunteered and organized campaigns including that of Senator Gary Peters and President Joe Biden in Michigan, worked as a communications assistant for Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, and interned with the Executive Department at FairVote, an electoral reform advocacy organization. He currently works as a research assistant for the Rose Institute for State and Local Government and as an intern in Congressman Jamie Raskin's DC Office. In his spare time, George loves arguing about tax policy, backpacking, skiing, and otherwise enjoying the outdoors. He is excited to join GENup in making higher education more equitable and accessible for students of all races and income backgrounds!
Executive Chief of
Ashlyn Bautista (she/her) is a freshman at UC San Diego from Yorba Linda, California who is majoring in Literature and English. As someone who grew up in a family of educators, she was exposed early to conversations around the disparities and hurdles that many students face within the education spectrum. After seeing the ways that her hometown's Board of Education has been actively trying to ban and condemn inclusive and important aspects of the school curriculum, she wanted to be a part of a group of like-minded people that have the chance to advocate for equitable, racially inclusive policies that have the ability to shape a student's life. Although she is new to the educational advocacy scene, Ashlyn wants to use her passion and talents to be a voice for previously marginalized groups and saw GENup as the perfect way to do so. She is currently a member of the GENup chapter at UC San Diego and the GENup Collegiate Director of Communications. In her free time, she enjoys doing anything artistic, writing poetry, reading a good book, and baking sweets for friends and family.
Deputy Chief of Policy and Programs
Alison Chiu (she/her) is a junior at Heritage High School in Brentwood, California. She is extremely passionate about making a change ever since she was young. She is a strong advocate for gender equality, student engagement, and mental health. Alison got involved with GenUP originally at a local level, joining her district's chapter. Then, she became a Director of Organizing, gaining much experience in how to communicate with members and learning a lot about local education systems. She loved learning about the different processes her chapter went through and the extensive advocacy her chapter did locally. She is currently the co-president of her district's chapter. Alison also has a lot of interest in environmental activism, having been Vice Chair and current Co-Chair for Sustainable Leaders in Action (the youth branch of Sustainable Contra Costa). There she is extensively working on the No Oil and Gas Drilling campaign with the rest of her team and is currently working on implementing an education program on water for young students with nearby water districts, along with many other initiatives. Additionally, another passion of Alison's is speech and debate. She has been on the board for her school's speech and debate club and is the current president of the club. Alison is proud of what GenUP, both locally and on a larger scale, has done, and she is absolutely excited to see what holds for the future!
The Organizing Committee reaches out and makes connections with all GENup chapters. They provide a one-on-one line of communication to the GENup Executive Team and are also instrumental in rolling out new campaigns.
Daniel Dolan (he/him) is a senior at Del Norte High School in San Diego, California. They have a strong passion for political advocacy and youth leadership, stewarding numerous projects at Del Norte as part of the local GENup chapter & Civics Club. Some of these projects include debates between students on different sets of issues (including domestic & foreign policy), voter registration drives, panels with minorities on campus, and interviews with Congressmen. Daniel also works with their district on advocating for increased CTE-focused policy to open up career pathways for Del Norte students and is in youth leadership as a CTSO state president and commissioner of their student body.
Chief Organizing Officer
Sanya Dhama (she/her) is a first-year at Pitzer College in the Joint Medical Program in Claremont, CA, pursuing a major in Human Biology on a path to become a physician. In high school, she represented her peers as class president and student representative on her school site council. It was these experiences and her involvement within the Mayor’s Youth Council that opened up her eyes to the world of advocacy. Since then, she has promoted civic engagement within youth through hosting rallies and conferences in her role as Region 11 President for the California Association of Student Councils and Far South Regional Director for the Empowerment Collective. Her advocacy efforts range from health equity to racial justice to education, and beyond. Deeply passionate about minority representation—both in and out of medicine—, she serves as an intern for the Keck Science Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and for the United Nations Women USA Los Angeles Chapter, working to promote diversity and gender equity. She even had the opportunity to speak alongside Asm Medina in support of AB 101 for Ethnic Studies at a statewide press conference. As the co-founder of GoToTutors (a free, virtual peer-to-peer tutoring service), she greatly values education and emphasizes community engagement as an avenue towards creating solutions to support those in need. Sanya finds her greatest inspiration from her peers and thus always looks to support and uplift the voices of the leaders of today—aka YOU! On her free time, she loves listening to music (recently into French and Ukrainian music), watching basketball, swimming, and going on spontaneous trips.
Director of Organizing
Diane Chau Nguyen (she/her) is a current junior at Hayward High School and has been recently elected to be her school's student board representative for the 2023-2024 school year. Her interest in activism sparked in 2020 during the midst of the pandemic and social injustices finally coming to light. She used her platforms as a way to spread awareness and promote actions that people could do to help. Her drive for activism carried onto her sophomore year being the sophomore representative for her past high school's dress code reform committee. Furthermore, she is also a part of the marketing team for Dear Asian Youth, promoting intersectional activism, solidarity with other marginalized communities, and equality and equity. She is excited to be a Director of Organizing and be able to work with local chapters, campaigns, and activists all around to help support and reform the education system. In her free time, you can find her reading, playing tennis, video editing, or out and about with her friends either wandering around SF or doing community service.
Director of Organizing
Sahngwie Yim (she/her) is a sophomore at The Harker School in the Bay Area. She is mainly interested in the intersection between policy and health, especially topics concerning equity and diversity. She has always been interested in politics and the long-lasting, widespread impact it can have on our community. At school, she is an officer in various science and political clubs and is a member of her varsity debate team. In her free time, she enjoys ice skating, reading historical fiction books, crocheting stuffed animals, visiting new restaurants, and eating good food.
Director of Organizing
Ella Kraynak (she/her) is a junior at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. Her passion for activism began as a child through witnessing injustices while volunteering in her community. Later, after the United States government made the heartbreaking decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Ella continued her quest for change through the My Body My Choice club she founded at her school. Through raising money and educating her community about the importance of abortion rights, Ella began delving into other issues inside her community. Spending time working with underprivileged youth at Camp Hollygrove, creating backpacks for the homeless with the Giving Spirit, and delivering meals to older individuals through Meals on Wheels, Ella learned the importance of equitable access to education and the effect it can have on ones’ future. Joining the organization as one of the Directors of Organizing for GENup K-12, Ella strives to advocate for equivalent access to education for all, as she believes education should be a right, not just a privilege. In her free time, you can find Ella on the soccer field, spending time with friends and family, or reading on the beach.
Director of Organizing
Sarah Lee (she/her) Sarah Lee is a sophomore at Troy High School, MI. Her interest in educational activism sparked when she realized the inequity in her community regarding equal access for education. She founded a student-run nonprofit called The New Page Project where she's donated over 14,000 books to schools in need. She hopes to increase literacy levels in areas with majority POC members. She recognizes the educational gap between different races of people and wants to continue bridging the gap. She places a lot of emphasis on her Korean identity, translates for her church, and is extremely active in the Korean community. She also is a big advocate of seeing representation in media and advocates for more diverse literature curriculums to be placed. In her free time, you will find her taking a nap, playing the cello, or scrolling through WEBTOONS.
Director of Organizing
Eric Yue (he/him) is a junior in Leland High School in the Bay Area and is one of the Directors of Organizing for GENup K-12. After attending various political events, Eric realized the societal inequality in our world today, especially in the accessibility of education for many lower-income families. He became more involved in political activism throughout his high school years and joined GENup's K-12 Executive Team to further expand on this passion and interest. As a Director of Organizing, Eric will work closely with other teams within GENup to support local chapters, campaigns, and activism. He is excited to work with youth leaders around the state on issues impacting the educational system! In his free time, Eric is always down to a late-night boba run, watching endless hours of YouTube, or simply chatting with friends online and through voice calls!
Director of Organizing
Ramit Goyal (he/him) is a junior at The Harker School in San Jose, California. His motivation for advocating for reform in the education system comes from his early days in his school's speech and debate club, where he learned about different issues such as residential segregation and its effect on public education. Because of his experience there, he has now started drafting and articulating more of his thoughts on different issues. He was promoted to Vice President at his school's Civil Discourse Club which serves to promote an environment safe for everyone to share their personal possibly controversial opinions on different relevant topics. To continue his fight for reform in the educational system, he is interning with a local politician, Rishi Kumar. In addition, Ramit is passionate about the right to education for every child. He feels that in order to create a just, fair and wonderful society for the future, we need to start with providing the right to education for every child not only in the United States but in the whole world. There are millions and millions of smart kids who are deprived of the opportunity to contribute to society and to the planet earth just because they didn’t get basic education. With this in mind, he is part of a non-profit, Equal Access Robotics. The mission of the organization is to help teach kids in not only unprivileged neighborhoods in California, but also in other parts of the world. He joined as a teacher to teach different STEM courses including programming to these kids. Based on his passion and time commitment, he got promoted to VP of Class Operations. In his free time, Ramit likes to play piano where he is able to pause on everything else going on in his life.
Director of Organizing
Carter McKinzie (he/him) is a sophomore at Laguna Beach High School, CA. His interest in educational activism sparked when he discerned inequity in his community regarding equal access for all and No Child Left Behind. As an advocate of mental health, Carter plans on working at the community level on improving the resources available to students. In addition, he serves as a coordinator for Laguna Beach High School's Model United Nations program which strives to educate students about pressing UN issues such as gender inequality, nuclear regulation, climate change, and fair sustainable development. In Carter's free times, you will find him playing water polo, spending time with friends, or reading a classic novel.
Director of Organizing
Esperanza Booher (she/her) is a senior at Rosemont High School and an incoming student at American River CC pursuing a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics in Sacramento, California. She became interested in student civic engagement through participation in speech and debate, being an ambassador for the CA State Seal of Civic Engagement, and being a member of her school district’s Student Advisory Council. Through these activities, she was able to learn about the flaws in education, especially those against marginalized and underrepresented communities, and learned that students have the ability to advocate and have their voices heard despite what they have been made out to believe due to their age. She joined GENup as an avenue to gain civic and political literacy, and is currently a part of SCUSD’s chapter as their president. Outside of civic engagement, she loves music, astronomy, fashion, and community service and either leads or participates in several groups that suit her interests (such as Key Club, band, color guard, astronomy club, and more)! She is excited to serve GENup by supporting and connecting all local chapters, and cannot wait to see what students across the nation can do for educational reform in the near future!
Director of Organizing
Aryan Batada (he/him) is a senior at Lambert High School in Suwanee, Georgia and is a Director of Organizing in the K-12 Organizing Department. He’s been involved in climate advocacy since his freshman year of high school, organizing protests in downtown Atlanta and channeling youth energy into a push for change. Outside of climate action work, Aryan is involved in several advocacy groups, through which he’s increased political participation in marginalized communities throughout Georgia. He’s excited to bring his experience to the GENup team, working to build collective action towards policies that support, strengthen, and modernize our education system.
Director of Organizing
Sophia Shah (she/her) is a sophomore at The Harker School in San Jose, California. Her journey is marked by a deep commitment to women’s equality, climate activism, and an unwavering dedication to making a positive impact on her community and beyond. As a Youth Commissioner for the last four years, she actively engages with her local community. She was selected to the advisory council of the National Charity League, where she creates training programs for over 240 chapters. She has advocated the San Jose City Council for free feminine hygiene products for girls in public libraries and has personally created over 500 packs for unhoused girls. Sofia is an avid debater, and involved in several school clubs, including founding Fem Club. In her free time, Sofia enjoys dancing in diverse styles from modern jazz to tap to ballet.
The Policy Committee develops most new campaigns for GENup to pursue. They are also in charge of drafting educational policy, reaching out to legislators and tracking key bills that GENup may support.
Chief Policy & Legislative
Fiona Lu (she/her) is a senior at Northwood High School in Irvine, Orange County, California. She is extremely passionate about educational equity, racial justice, and youth advocacy. She is a student representative on the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) Youth Advisory Council, where she and 11 other students advise policymakers and educators towards implementing equitable practices in the education system. She is also involved in the California Association of Student Councils (CASC) as the State Vice President where she oversees the organization’s state-wide efforts, including leadership conference planning, legislative platform, and student engagement. Her fight for racial equity includes leading a local chapter of Dear Asian Youth, an organization that works to empower Asian youth through intersectional activism. In her free time, she loves creative writing, watching Criminal Minds on loop, and spending time with her family.
Director of Policy
Akul Gupta (he/him) is a Biomedical Sciences major at the University of South Florida and serves as Director of National Policy. He spearheads projects on a global scale in underserved communities focusing on preventative care and sustainable development targeting inadequate accessibility through novel methods of communication. Currently on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations, Akul has run projects in Latin America, Africa, Vietnam, and India. He has published an app to serve as a database on phytomedicine and a book that teaches patients how to manage osteoporosis in their daily lives. Akul has presented at multiple conferences across the country and hopes to help GENup expand their scope of practice within his capacity as Director of National Policy.
Collegiate Chief Policy
and Legislative Director
Ryan Lenney (he/him) is a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College studying Public Policy and International Relations. Ryan’s interest in policy began in high school as a founding member of Welcoming Neighbors Home, a community initiative to support housing based solutions to ending homelessness. Last summer, Ryan traveled to Finland on an Appel Fellowship to conduct research on the country's approach to housing and homelessness. He currently works as a research assistant at the Rose Institute of State and Local Politics, where he continues to study local government policy. As a proud graduate of a California public school and community college, Ryan understands the importance of meeting students' basic needs to ensure their personal educational success. He is excited to continue working to enable student success as a Director of Policy with GenUP!
K-12 Chief Policy
Sue Oh (she/her) is a junior at Sunny Hills High School in Orange County. As a Director of Media, she handles communications on a graphic level and aids the outreach of GENup. Sue has always been passionate about leadership and uplifting student perspectives in the education system. On the school, district, local, and even state levels, she has vocalized her support of youth voices. She fundamentally believes that everyone can make a change, and hopes that she can help others find their passion. Through GENup, she hopes to guide others through their school life and embrace change starting from students!
Director of Policy
Kate Rodgers (she/her) is a member of the class of 2025 at the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, she is pursuing a dual degree and Math and Economics. Kate has been interested in politics since childhood, but she got involved in educational advocacy in high school. Through serving on the student council and running free academic resources for her classmates, she realized that she has a passion for education-related political issues. As a result, Kate co-founded a student protest organization advocating for racial equity in the education system by updating curriculums and removing police from schools. Going forward, she hopes to continue this work as a Director of Policy for GENUp by engaging with statewide policy. Kate hopes to continue her advocacy beyond her school years by pursuing a career in politics or law.
Chia Ying Wong (she/her) is a 2nd year at University of California, Los Angeles pursuing a double major in English, as well as Education and Social Transformation. Stemming from her fervent passion for championing educational equity, she has volunteered with various non-profits to tutor disadvantaged youths since 2019. She is the current executive coordinator of SCOPE's Youth Empowerment Program, which offers holistic mentorship for underserved elementary children. She also holds leadership positions in offices within UCLA's student government (USAC): as Program Support Director in USAC Community Service Commission, she works with student service groups on large-scale programming efforts to promote community engagement and awareness of social justice issues. As Platforms e-board Member of USAC Student Wellness Commission, she has co-programmed health fairs and a conference championing health and wellness on campus. Chia Ying is also actively involved in multiple education research projects with UCLA Center for Community Schooling, UCLA Lab School and UCLA Bear Lab, including a research practice partnership supporting the college transition of first generation students of color.
Lorena Ford (she/her) is a second year student at San Diego State University. She is a pre-law student pursuing a major in Political Science and double minor in Spanish and Honors and Interdisciplinary Studies. Lorena developed an interest in decreasing the disparity between those who receive Special Education, English Learners, and general education in middle school. Since then, her interest has evolved into a passion of making sure students have a seat and a voice at the table where decisions are being made on their behalf. Since graduating high school in 2022, Lorena has interned with the San Diego Unified School District to engage, empower, and support students, student advocates, leaders and student board members. She is excited to join GENup in creating a space where students can be partners in their education, not just recipients in order to make public education more equitable, accessible, and inclusive.
Tinsae Birhanu (she/her) is currently a first year student at UC Berkeley. She is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Public Policy. She has previously worked in GENup through helping found and leading as the President for the Elk Grove GENup Chapter for three years. Tinsae’s interest for policy work developed through being part of her high school’s Student Equity Council and from that, has had the opportunity to be a part of state-wide initiatives and speaking at Assembly bill meetings and working on legislation at both the local and state level. Tinsae is immensely passionate about student advocacy and working to bring tangible change to schools California-wide through policy reform and uplifting student voices.
Bella Santos (she/her) is a senior at Westview High School in San Diego, California. She serves on the State Superintendent's Youth Advisory Council advocating for racial justice and youth voice with educational policymakers. Bella also works with Ten Strands Climate Change and Environmental Justice Project's Steering Committee to implement interdisciplinary environmental curricula across the state. She's passionate about climate justice as a campaign member with Youth v. Oil, calling on Governor Newsom to justly phase out fossil fuels in California. As a Girl Scout, Bella loves spending time in the outdoors and working as a camp counselor during the summer!
Byron Chan (he/him) is a second-year attending UCSB planning on double majoring in Political Science and Economics from the Bay Area, California. In his extremely limited free time, he loves listening to music, working out, and sleeping. His favorite type of policy is that of the civic engagement variety.
Kaviya Chidambaram (they/them) is a Boettcher and El Pomar scholar at Colorado College ‘27 studying international political economy and environmental science on a pre-law track. They are a firm believer that education is the basis of equity and enjoy working towards community centered institutional reform through a variety of organizations and teams.
Maria Davila (she/her) is a junior attending the 21st Century Learning Institute in the Beaumont Unified School District, Riverside County, California. Her main interests include socioeconomic equity in education and youth advocacy. Her future goal is to support people through the legal track. She is the 5th District Youth Advisory Council Commissioner, representing 23 school districts by leading meetings, scheduling volunteering events, and giving reports of student input during Riverside County Youth Commission Meetings. In this role, she is also able to fulfill the position of Secretary of the Riverside County Youth Commissioners. She is also the Governmental Affairs and Policy Director of the California Association of Students Councils Region 11 cabinet. Through her work with governmental officials, lobbying, and proposing bills to improve the California education system, she has become a youth advocate for those students, especially Latinx students, who may not have the opportunities to raise their voices. She is beginning her non-profit organization, Nuestras Narrativas, and starting a Diversify Our Narrative and GENup local chapter to bring additional youth advocacy to her small-scale city. She strives for an accessible and encouraging education system for those who are underrepresented, which is why she also has involvement in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the California Association of Student Councils. During her free time, she watches over and hangs out with her younger siblings or uplifts herself by enjoying various artists' music such as The Weeknd, Lana del Rey, Christian Nodal, and Selena!
The Campaigns Team creates resources to assist chapters in successfully operating and executing campaigns.
Director of Campaign Development
Eve Youkana (she/her) is a junior at Grace Davis High School in Modesto, California. She is very passionate about my culture and an advocate for gender equality. As a first-generation Assyrian, her parents immigrated from Iraq and have taught her the importance of education and how detrimental the reality of unequal access to education is. This inspired her to pursue an interest in education reform, as she is determined to create an environment that ensures all students are given the opportunity to thrive. To reach this goal at her own school, she has created clubs that aim to foster an equitable campus, like Project HER, which combats gender inequality in her community. She was inspired to join GENup after discovering their efforts in passing the AB 367 bill and the Women’s Caucus Campaign. In her spare time, she likes going shopping and discovering new trends in fashion. She also serve on her School Site Council committee, where she represents the voices of the student body in the decisions our administration makes. She is also involved in student government, CSF, mock trial, speech and debate, and key club, which have refined her experience in community involvement and public speaking. Her love for advocacy propels her aspiration of becoming an attorney, as she is on a constant endeavor to fight for justice not only in our schools, but also our society.
Chief Campaigns Officer
Maegha Ramanathan (she/her) is a high school student at Dublin High School! From a young age, she has always been passionate about change-making and community service, and has gained over 200 volunteer hours solely dedicated to changing the environment--which is part of why she joined GENup. As a Campaigns Director of GENup, she helps design toolkits for chapters and ideates ways GENup can improve and expand. Apart from GenUp, she is a passionate swimmer, debater, and volunteer at many organizations.
Director of Campaign Development
Kelly Ha (she/her) is a junior at Rancho Alamitos High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District. Before moving to California in 2021, Kelly lived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Being able to see the differences in education across the world has motivated Kelly to fight for the importance of education, and especially for equity within the education system. She has dedicated her life to advocacy and social justice, finding a passion for politics and campaigning from a very young age. In middle school, Kelly started a non-profit organization, Benevolentia, with the purpose of educating fellow students and her community on important current events, and then creating campaigns in-person and on social media in order to raise awareness and fundraise to donate to valuable causes. With GENup, Kelly hopes to work with other student leaders to create a lasting and meaningful impact on the world.
Director of Campaign Development
Anuj Patel (he/him) is a first year at Claremont McKenna College studying Biology and Public Policy. His interest in politics began in high school, when he joined the California board of Students Against Voter Suppression. Serving on both the state and national board, he grew an appreciation for large-scale as well as grassroots policy change. This inspired him to start his own organization focused entirely on local organizing. He has been involved in bills to institute an ethnic studies graduation requirement in California and expand menstrual product access in high schools across the state. He hopes to incorporate his interests in policy and healthcare to advocate for student health at GENup.
Director of Campaign Development
Arvind Salem (he/him) is a student at Novi High School in Novi, Michigan. He is active in many political organizations including High School Democrats of America, the Institute for Youth in Policy, New Way Forward Strategies, and U.S. RENEW NEWS, with a foccus on breaking down complicated political issues, culminating in the publication of his book Intro To Politics: A Student's Guide.
The Partnerships Committee is in charge of all communications and relationships with partner organizations. They develop resources for campaigns in partnership with other organizations, and help mentor smaller youth-led civic organizations.
Chief Officer of Partnerships
Phillip Nguyen (he/him) is a junior at Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District. When he was an eighth grader, his interests in advocacy and reform emerged after he witnessed how political decisions can have a significant impact on students at all levels of their education. As a sophomore, Phillip entered the world of advocacy by serving as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for his local GENup chapter. Since then, he has worked with State Senator Thomas J. Umberg through the inaugural Young Senator program for State Senate District 34. As the Director of Partnerships, Phillip collaborates with the Partnerships Team to strengthen GENup’s campaigns by developing and maintaining relations with different organizations. Outside of advocacy, Phillip studies Mandarin Chinese through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship. By learning Mandarin, he hopes to create a lasting impact in Sino-American relations, peace, and global education. In his free time, Phillip enjoys listening to music, studying history, and reading.
Director of Partnerships
Avery Im (she/her) is a freshman at Crean Lutheran High School. Ever since she was little, she has been working to promote equity and inclusion within schools and society through journalism and communication with administration. Avery strives to create equality in an unjust world through her efforts in advocacy and her fight for racial justice. She has served in student leadership for a total of 5 years and has involved herself in countless school clubs and nonprofit organizations that seek to build opportunities for the voiceless. Avery also uses her small businesses to empower minority communities and raise awareness for prevalent societal issues. Currently, Avery engages in political policy and works to diversify unjust systems through action and advocacy.
Chief Officer of Partnerships
Sheila Menon (she/her) is a junior at Canyon Crest Academy in the San Dieguito Union High School District in San Diego, CA. From observing instances of racial and social-based hate within her own community, and police brutality nationwide, Sheila became passionate about advocating for social justice and equity work within the education system. As President of her district’s chapter of Diversify Our Narrative, she has worked to incorporate representative curriculum and diversity, equity, and inclusion resources within k-12 schools, in order to educate and dismantle internal biases in youth at a young age and promote continuous inclusion practices. Through her work in DON she has led numerous initiatives focused on social justice and educational advocacy, including the development of original curriculum lesson plans focused on Stereotypes & Prejudice, Asian American History, Microaggressions, Feminism and Women’s History. She and her club have presented to over 200 students since 2022 and continue to lead presentations with more students district wide. In addition to social justice advocacy, Sheila is a strong advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. She has been assisting with a PhD student’s research on childhood depression at the Gabrieli Lab at MIT since summer of 2022. Sheila is excited to begin work as a Director of Partnerships for GENUp: she hopes to bring her experience and passion for effective communication and collaboration to enact lasting change within the educational system, specifically focusing on work that supports marginalized student populations. Outside of advocacy, Sheila loves to read, listen to music, ice-skate, and watch a variety of tv shows.
Director of Partnerships
Aashi Jhawar (she/her) Hi! My name is Aashi, and I'm so happy to be part of GenUp's Partnerships Team. Along with GenUp, I am also the California Co-State Lead for Voters of Tomorrow and in my free time, enjoy reading, singing, baking, spending time with friends/family, and trying new foods! I hope to become a health lawyer and policymaker in the future.
The Finance Committee manages all monetary affairs. They are also in charge of all fundraising efforts, such as developing new, innovative fundraising ideas and applying for grants.
Director of Finance
Shreya Prashantha (she/her) is a sophomore at Irvington High School. She became involved in GenUp post-pandemic as a student ambassador for her high school after experiencing a disassociation between diversity education and academic education. She has been in student leadership over the past two years and continues to serve as a financial representative in her high school's ASG, developing an understanding of the impact of community events on an individual's morale. As one of the co-founders of an organization, which is working to support the unhoused through activities that provide financial assistance, hygiene resources, and innovative projects, she has become aware of the lack of opportunities available to certain groups in her community. In her free time, Shreya likes photography, cooking without avocados, and spending time with her younger brother. She is excited to use this opportunity as part of the GENUp team to create and support opportunities for change, as well as endorse diversified education in the school system.
The Communications Committee is in charge of all written communications from GENup. Some of their duties include writing press releases, open letters, website content, blog posts, and editorials. They also run the GENup podcast and manage email communications.
Chief Communications Officer
Thy Luong (she/her) is a junior at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, California. She is dedicated to educational justice and youth leadership and is particularly passionate about the intersection of foreign relations and policy. Her experience in a variety of educational instutions--ranging from the public and private school system to homeschooling--pushes her to further the educational opportunities for all ages, genders, income levels, and other factors. Aside from her work at GENUp, she is the founder and Executive President of Learn4Justice, a student-led organization cultivating young social justice advocates by providing underserved students with crucial humanities programs. She is also heavily involved in Speech & Debate and serves her class as Vice President. Her passion for foreign policy and language, meanwhile, has led to her involvement in the Department of State's NSLI-Y program and Stanford's China Scholars program. In her free time, you'll find her writing poetry, singing, or binging vast fantasy sagas.
Mariam Ndao (she/her) is current junior at Dr. Tj Owens Gilroy Early College Academy, pursuing an Natural Sciences AA. She has always been interested in hearing various experiences of people in my community and learning how she could take action to better her community. She serves as an executive member on the Mt. Madonna YMCA’s Youth Board, planning and executing events to promote youth engagement and community support. Additionally, she sits on the boards of numerous organizations that aim to bring awareness to prominent social issues and community support. She hope to bring intersections between race, healthcare, and education to light through this initiative. In my free time, she love to read anything fiction, write, dance, and watch Netflix!
Catherine Yang (she/her) is a senior at West High School in Iowa City, Iowa. She first became involved in educational reform after participating in student efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to improve equity throughout her school district. She later expanded on this interest by serving as a state delegate to the World Affairs Seminar, a youth initiative centered on understanding national and global subjects through exploring student perspectives. As a recipient of the Department of State's National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship, she’s passionate not only about language learning, but also about enhancing her communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills by expanding her perspective and understanding of current affairs. Additionally, serving as captain of both her school’s debate and robotics teams has helped Catherine become aware of local and national equity issues, driving her to improve her community through local efforts to boost student accessibility in education. In her free time, Catherine enjoys music, creative writing, and spending time with her family and friends. Catherine joined GENup due to its effective, youth-led advocacy and is thrilled to help impact educational reform on a national level through GENup’s community empowerment and policy development.
Arpita Shanbhag (she/her) is a freshman at Emerald High School in Dublin, California, and has always strived to make a change and give back to her community. From a young age, she has always been interested in education, curious about what the world can offer her. Arpita wants to make a meaningful impact and give everyone the resources they need, one child at a time, and that is why she joined GENup, in hopes of providing all of the public school students equal education across the state. She is also part of a high school that only ~350 freshmen attend as it just opened and she has made it her goal to foster an inclusive environment where everyone receives equivalent opportunities for their future. One of her biggest aspirations is to see more women in the STEM field and she hopes to expand education in this field to them, to join her in her future majoring interest. In her free time, she participates in various clubs that her school offers her: Speech and Debate Club and DHS CodeHers Club, and is a treasurer of the Science Olympiad Club and EHS Girls4Sports Club. Outside of school, she is apart of VEX Robotics, a Workshop Facilitator at STEMpathize, and a tutor at Learn To Be, imparting free education to vulnerable children across the nation. She has over 100 volunteer hours across her volunteering organizations and is a dancer at heart. Ultimately, Arpita hopes she can make a difference in California through GENup.
The Technology Committee handles a variety of tech-related activities, from managing the website and other online platforms, to setting up webinars and our digital outreach tools, and much more!
Director of Technology
Pranavi Sammidi (she/her) is a rising sophomore at Westview High School. She has a strong interest in empowerment and the need for student support. While attending schools with a lack of diversity and inclusion, she saw firsthand how the teaching of awareness slipped through the cracks of formal education. She strives to bring equity into the classroom, ensuring that people feel welcomed in their learning spaces and community. Pranavi truly believes that grassroots organizing is such an amazing way of creating change and is adept at empowering the individual. She has been involved in activism all throughout her life whether it be attending protests, volunteering or speaking up in the face of injustice. She joined GENup to meet inspiring people and chase her passion of advocacy. Pranavi takes part in different cultural activism organizations and clubs specific to empowerment in the classroom. In her free time, Pranavi likes to sew, listen to music and code.
The Media Committee makes content for and manages all GENup social media. They also edit GENup videos and the GENup podcast.
Chief Media Officer
Durriya Ahmed (she/they) is a rising Junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, pursuing a degree in History and Geography/Environmental Studies. As a community college transfer from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, Durriya has been a strong advocate for community colleges and educational equity. During their time at Orange Coast College, Durriya led the advocacy branch of their student government and represented Region VIII in the Student Senate for California Community Colleges: working closely with legislation that actively impacts California Community College students and incorporating bills that GENup has worked with closely in Orange Coast College's legislative advocacy work. As a high schooler, Durriya worked heavily with March for Our Lives California and interned with former Councilmen Gil Cisneros in 2020 throughout their junior and senior years, advocating for gun reform and control. As they move forward in their collegiate career, Durriya hopes to continue working in higher education as a Professor and later move on to Administration.
Director of Media
Natalie Checherina (she/her) is a high school senior from Los Angeles, CA, with a strong affinity for words and art. She is a zealous advocate for educational equality, especially for underrepresented youth in her community. Her passion for pushing for increasing diversity in literature can be seen through her work in starting a community based, youth-led literary magazine called San Francisco Youth Anthology, in which she furthers this mission through encouraging and publishing the works of high school and college students of diverse backgrounds from around the world, while leading a group of ten other editors. In addition to her magazine, Natalie has been actively involved in sharing the joy of creative writing through various service initiatives, such as through volunteering at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting under-resources students in writing, as well as founding a youth writing circle in partnership with her local library to foster increasing joy in writing. In her free time, Natalie loves listening to new music, indulging in vintage cinema, and discovering new fashion.
Director of Media
Dayton Phan (he/him) is a junior at Garden Grove High School, situated in Southern California. Serving GENup through the position of Director of Media, Phan seeks to intertwine his passion for arts and advocacy in a manner that benefits both students and teachers. Possessing a rebellious yet creative mind throughout adolescence, Phan saw inspiration take root in middle school from the discovery of punk rock music and thus a newfound desire to change unfavorable social policies through creative means. Phan became more informed of the inequitable circumstances of some educators and students through his mother, a lifelong high school teacher, thus fueling this desire further. Authoring a variety of activist and satirical pieces including essays, graphics, films, and more, Phan has utilized his skills for a diverse array of organizations. These include positions such as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper Argolog, founding the skateboarding advocacy group Skate Club, serving in various committees, and much more. Phan is dedicated to actively working to foster change in entities encompassing education by encouraging artistic and creative expression in schools, curbing excessively restrictive policies, making the system more equitable for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, and much more. In his leisure time, Phan enjoys playing guitar and drums with his rock band, skateboarding, filmmaking, and creating artistic pieces of many different mediums through various labels.
Director of Media
Elaheh Khazi (she/her) is a senior at Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) in Fremont, California. Currently, she serves as the Media Director for GENup and is responsible for GENup’s various media publications. Elaheh is also part of several GENup caucuses, including the Women and Marginalized Genders’ (WMG) Caucus and Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) Caucus; she serves as the Social Media Director of the former and the Caucus Chair of the latter. Furthermore, she previously served as a School Ambassador for GENup Fremont. Elaheh initially joined GENup to engage more deeply and widely with her community, specifically by amplifying student voices. In her time with GENup, she has become further inspired to get even more involved with activism and advocacy. She founded and oversees the Fremont chapter of Bay Area Student Activists (BAStA), which brings student voices to sociopolitical spheres and figures. In the time since its establishment, Fremont BAStA has advised and supported the creation of this student group in high schools in the Fremont United School District, including MSJHS. She has recently taken her leadership as part of the organization to the main BAStA team as President. In her free time, Elaheh enjoys playing the piano, writing poetry, and painting.
Director of Media
Jarah Diop (she/her) Hi, I'm Jarah and I am a proud member of the GenUp Executive Team! Be the change you want to see.
Director of Media
Bethel Albe (she/her) is a current sophomore at Chaparral High School in Temecula CA. After experiencing educational reform issues on a local level, she decided to join the organization in an effort to make a difference. Bethel is passionate about advocacy and learning more about the people around her. She founded a local chapter of an anti-gun violence organization called March For Our Lives, and currently serves as the co-commissioner for her county’s youth advisory council. Within these positions, she is able to interact with her peers and provide direct support to local problems. Bethel decided to serve on the media committee for GENUp due to her passion about outreach and utilizing it in a positive way. She is currently the public relations and media manager for her school paper and is apart of the publicity committee for an on campus peer mentoring program. She is apart of other clubs as well such as Black Student Union, CSF, and Mock trial. In college, she plans on double majoring in anthropology and cognitive science with hopes of pursuing a career in academia, victim service, or developmental psychology post grad school.