There’s little more rewarding than when a former Youth Bureau kid “comes home” to give back. When alumna Jessica McKenzie ran into Executive Director Frank Williams at a recent event, she wasn’t sure at first that she recognized him – it had been 13 years since she’d last seem him as a high schooler enrolled in the Youth Bureaus Youth Employment program. The summer before her senior year of high school, the Youth Bureau helped Jessica get a job at the White Plains YMCA, and she says it was the springboard that launched her professional career. Today, she is the Director of Internal and Executive Communications at PepsiCo Beverages North America.
“The Youth Bureau empowered me not to feel disadvantaged by my circumstances,” Jessica said. “That first job helped me establish a good work ethic, exposed me to local community leaders, and taught me to value and nurture long-term relationships.”
Now, Jessica is committed to helping the Youth Bureau provide that same spark for other young people, and recently spearheaded a full-day mentoring event entitled Pathways to Leadership Program: Turning Your Passion into Purpose. Sixty youth met with professionals, learned interview techniques, and had the opportunity to be a marketer for the day by creating their own taglines for a PepsiCo product. “It was definitely a full circle moment, and I’m so grateful to give back to the organization that gave me my start in the workforce,” said Jessica.