Interview with Tanya Manocha, Co-Founder of Youth Executive Leadership!
Tanya Manocha is the CEO and cofounder of Youth Executive Leadership Program, a non profit which aims to educate underrepresented students about leadership and public speaking skills,alongside Rachel Georgian. Additionally she is an advocate for building education equity in underrepresented communities.
Interview by Aleena Kumandan
My name is Tanya Manocha and I am the CEO & co-founder of Youth Executive Leadership Program alongside Rachel Georgian. I am an incoming high school senior passionate about bringing education equity in underrepresented communities, and that's what my non profit aims to accomplish!
So how did you first get into public speaking? What sparked your passion for it?
So I have always been interested in public speaking from a young age as I used to watch a lot of Shark Tank, which is all about pitching ideas to a group of professionals, and that's really what sparked my passion. I really started getting into it after I noticed that there were not many opportunities, specifically in the Houston, Texas region where I live, to help advance student's public speaking skills and that's what motivated me to start an organization that focuses on building that core skill!
So how does your organization find/create opportunities for people to practice/be exposed to these skills?
We host workshops in partnership with school districts and after school organizations that focus specifically on core skills such as leadership, public speaking, effective communication, etc. We bring in a professional to talk about their experience with these skills, and how the youth can get start practicing them and then follow with an activity that allows these students to make use of the information that they learned in the presentation. We also work on international projects, specifically in rural areas, and teach students these skills through video & audio curriculum's and various writing projects.
Why do you do what you do?
I really envision the world in the future having equal opportunities for all students. My parents are both immigrants from India and I understand that there is a large education gap between different regions all around the world. As a person in the Gen Z community, I believe it is my mission to help advance the world to a better position and advocate for the improvement of lives in various areas, as these students have so much potential to be our next generation leaders, and we as a society must support them with the tools to do so!
That’s an incredibly potent and relevant mission. Is there anyone you’d name as a huge inspiration?
Oh that's a great question! There have definitely been many amazing leaders who have motivated me to pursue a non profit supporting education, like Malala. She is someone I strive to be even a fraction of in the future! However, I would definitely say that my Grandfather and Grandmother have been a huge inspiration for my work. My Grandmother was the first woman to graduate from her university with a major in math and my Grandfather helped support thousands of students in Liberia. They have helped me understand the conditions of education in some of these countries and how we must support the students there!
When did you start to transfer your passion for public speaking into community outreach?What were the steps you took in making that leap?
So I visited a school for a volunteer trip in the 3rd Ward of Houston, a historically disadvantaged community in the Houston, Texas region. I began to talk to many of the students there and they mentioned that the idea of public speaking and leadership had never even been spoken in their classroom. That really motivated me to start connecting with my community and creating change. I reached out to a mentor who supports STEM education, and she helped us with the filing process to become a non profit as well as connected us to many leaders in the Houston community who have supported our growth!
What are the parameters of a good community outreach organization?
I would definitely say creating long lasting connections with other organizations and people in your community. When we partner with an organization in our community, we try to stay in contact with that organization, even after the project we do them, and help support their growth as well by inviting them to speak at our personal workshops or just building a personal relationship with them. When you have strong community support, I believe that it's much easier to grow your organization!
Are there any ways your organization has tried to continue with outreach while under quarantine?
Although the coronavirus did stop our in person workshops, we have decided to partner with other organizations to host virtual workshops. We are still in the planning process for these workshops, however we should have all the information released very soon!
On your website it says that YELP operates in 8 different countries, how were you guys able to grow your organization to that level?
So we reached out to other organizations that work in these 8 different countries and that have the same mission to bring about education equity, just by email! Something that I realized when starting this organization was that cold emailing is essential to grow your organization! A lot of international programs would be thrilled to partner with your non-profit, but you really just have to put a name out there in order to grow internationally!
Do you have any advice to other teens interested in starting their own community outreach organizations?
I would say definitely start it! I have learned so many professional skills and built my own character just by starting my own organization. These skills help prepare you for the real world and learning them at a young age can help advance you a lot in the future. If you are passionate about something, don't hesitate to pursue it! There are so many people willing to help you in every step of the process, so reach out to leaders across the world as everyone is so supportive!
Any final thoughts?
Yah, something I am really passionate about and want to bring awareness to is education equality! Definitely research a little about it as their are so many facts that I never knew about the education systems around the world! Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about education or starting an organization! And thank you Cliche Teen Journal for hosting this interview :)
Thank you for a wonderful interview and your work with your non profit!
Thank you so much! And thank you for conducting this interview! The questions were amazing! Let us know if you need anything from us in the future!