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Youth-founded. Youth-led. Youth-operated.

You will notice the phrase “Youth-founded. Youth-led. Youth-operated.” throughout our website. This is front and center because we believe this makes us unique. Founded by two high school students during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, YAS was born out of youth vision, passion, and leadership. That recipe continues to be successful. 


Our programs are designed and led by YAS leaders, and continually improved with feedback from YAS members. Our day-to-day operations are managed by students, and we have a unique dual leadership structure that prioritizes youth voice through a formal student board alongside a separate governing board of professionals (we like to think of them as our grown up advisors!). 


We hope that by highlighting this in our work, we are explicitly inviting other organizations to be more curious about how to engage young people as valuable collaborators in achieving their mission. 


Keep reading below to learn more about the people who make YAS possible. 

Student Leaders 

Our students are integral to every facet of YAS from the day-to-day operations to program delivery and leadership. The young people listed below make up our official student board, and they work in collaboration with both the governing board and the YAS student members to achieve organizational goals. 

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Caroline Wang

Administrative Intern


Meet our Founder & Executive Director 

Sonali Ratnasinghe

Sonali is our fearless leader whose vision and infectious passion for service have ushered us into our current iteration. Now a full-time second year student at UNC-Chapel Hill, Sonali continues to provide strategic support to YAS including leading a governance board of directors, mentoring student leaders, fundraising, and managing our fee-for-service program

Check out Voyage Raleigh's profile of Sonali a few years ago when we were still General Services Foundation . 

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Sonali at St Marys School

(The Grown Ups)

Because we are young leaders with less lived experience, we don't know what we don't know. Our right-sized governance board of skilled volunteers provides critical oversight of mission integrity, fiduciary duties, and other legal compliance. These seasoned professionals help us navigate challenges, advise us on important business matters, and mentor student leaders. 

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Malenia Swinton

Board Chair


Youth Ambassadors of Service is by youth, for youth. We give power to young people by following your lead and decision-making at every level.


Our programs prepare young people to engage in impactful community initiatives and support the nonprofit ecosystem in North Carolina by training and developing civic-minded leaders.


Whether you are a young person looking to get active in your community, a nonprofit partner in need of intern support, or another collaborator, we hope you're inspired to get involved! 


We began four years ago as a small initiative in a single high school. Read more about our journey from General Services Foundation to Youth Ambassadors of Service. 

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