Youth Leadership Conference (YLC)

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What is the YLC?

YLC 2022 is a virtual opportunity for high school students from the Greater Boston area to attend a weekend of leadership workshops facilitated by students of HKS and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Workshops and tools are aimed at empowering students to define what leadership means to them, and to envision ways to take their ideas forward, by blending purpose with insight and action. By the end of the conference, participants will have developed a community among peers and Harvard students that can support them in becoming agents of change within their communities. YLC also acknowledges that not all students in the Greater Boston community, across lines of race, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, and other differences have the same opportunities to develop leadership skills or envision themselves as part of the Harvard or higher education communities. We are committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of their differences, have access to participate in YLC.



April 9th, 2022, 9AM - 2PM on Zoom:

Lectures, workshops, and discussions with various Harvard professors, alumni, and students

April 10th, 2022, 11AM - 2PM, Harvard Kennedy School Courtyard:

Meet & Greet, Campus Tour & Lunch

Deadline: March 18th, 2022. First 100 applicants will receive HKS water-bottles and YLC 2022 t-shirts


April 9th & 10th Save The Date


Who we are

The YLC is a part of the Student Public Service Collaborative (SPSC) which is a graduate-student run organization sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) that seeks to actively engage in outreach within the local communities to encourage service to others through charity & volunteerism. The YLC specifically seeks to promote engagement with all youth throughout the area to help encourage informed life decisions and help them to see the many benefits and joys of a service to others.


Who participates?

Here is a glimpse of what last year’s cohort looked like:

  • 76 total participants between 9th and 12th grade (around 50% juniors, 25% sophomores, and a handful for freshman and seniors).

  • Students came from around 30 different local public high schools.

  • Around half would be the first person in their family to attend college in the U.S.

  • Around 30 percent were first-generation immigrants.

  • Around 55 percent female, 45 percent male.

  • 37 percent Black/African American, 24 percent Latin/Hispanic, 14 percent White, 13 percent Asian, 5 percent Middle Eastern/North African, 3 percent Caribbean.

  • More than 10 percent LGBTQ+ students


This year's theme:

This year the motto of the YLC is “Tomorrow’s Leaders Begin Today.” The idea is to demonstrate the various paths to leadership and show that no two roads are paved the same way. Speakers are encouraged to share how they were inspired to lead a life of public service and change. When did this inspiration occur? What are your origin stories? How can your path to leadership be applied to the high school students of today?


Our Phenomenal Guest Speakers

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Kenneth Herrarte


New York City Police Department

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Arthur J. Johnson


United States Navy

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Gabrielle Schonder

Television Producer


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Jim Urquhart


Freelance Journalist 

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Todd Rogers


Harvard Kennedy School

Kenneth Herrarte is currently a Captain in the New York City Police Department. He was previously assigned as the Special Operations Lieutenant where he oversaw narcotics enforcement and gun violence suppression cases. His experience stems from his work as an undercover detective working vice enforcement and narcotics cases. Kenneth is a former Coast Guard reservist, where he was assigned to the Coast Guard Police – Sector New York. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Rear Admiral Johnson graduated from the United States Naval Academy and earned his naval aviator Wings of Gold. He commanded at all aviation levels and logged more than 4200 flight hours while deploying extensively throughout the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and Pacific regions. His postgraduate education includes a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a master’s in National Strategic Studies from the National War College in Washington, DC. Passionate about youth development and aviation workforce expansion,  he serves as Chairman, Board of Advisors for Elizabeth City State University’s aviation program, on the Board of Directors for the Field of Firsts Foundation,  and a Founding Board Member and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors for Leadership LINKS, Inc.

Gabrielle Schonder is a multi-Emmy award-winning producer covering politics, national affairs, foreign policy, and national security for over a decade at Frontline, 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. Her groundbreaking report about members of Congress trading on inside information was referenced in the 2012 State of the Union by President Obama and prompted the bipartisan bill the STOCK Act. Prior to joining PBS, Gabrielle was an investigative producer at 60 Minutes, the highest rated news program in history. Gabrielle is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. She studied politics and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. 

Jim Urquhart is a Mountain West-based freelance photojournalist. Previously a staff photojournalist at The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, Urquhart has been freelancing for 11 years. He also works as a consultant and reporter for several news organizations seeking to improve their sourcing and security while covering the far right. He also covered the racial justice movement across the country, including Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd and covered the January 6th insurrection from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. A selection of the his work can be viewed at

Todd Rogers is Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is a behavioral scientist whose work: supports student success and attendance; strengthens democracy; and improves communication. At Harvard, Todd is the faculty director of the Behavioral Insights Group, faculty chair of the executive education program Behavioral Insights and Public Policy, and director of the Student Social Support R&D Lab. He is also Senior Scientist at ideas42 and Academic Advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team.


Our request to you:

Please save-the-date and begin to generate interest from high school students, with a focus on juniors and seniors. We will contact you in the future with specific details for prospective participants