The past ten years as executive director of this wonderful organization have been the most exciting of my life. I’m so proud of all we have done together to support LA’s hardest-to-reach youth.
I first met founder Laura Leigh Hughes in 1999, when I volunteered to write a grant. I went down to Central Juvenile Hall to experience the program first-hand, and it changed my life. I saw young men from rival gangs put aside their differences to create art, and I knew that she had created something special.
In 2005, when I became executive director, our board members, staff and I set to work on creating partnerships to expand our services and to be the best we could be for youth. Today, we’re reaching over 600 youth each year in LA’s most under resourced neighborhoods and over 10,000 community members. And we’re expanding services to reach even more system-involved youth through our exciting new collaborative, the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN).
Unusual Suspects’ success is a testament to the powerful voices and resiliency of our youth and to our dedicated stakeholders, like you. I’m happy to say that 15 years ago that first grant that I had ever written was funded, and I’m excited to see what the future will bring for this mighty organization. Two years from now, we’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary empowering youth. Here’s to 25 more!