See the innovative projects our youth winners initiated for the 2021 Competition and the Adult Ambassadors guiding them on their journeys!


Improving the community through policy change and advocacy.

Fighting Prejudice in Homosexual Blood Donation Policies

Mayor Lynne Robinson

Mayor Lynne Robinson joined the City Council in 2014, and she has a long history of civic involvement. She is a champion for startups and small business, and has encouraged startup and equity crowdfunding workshops at City Hall. Her colleagues voted her mayor in January 2020, after she previously served a term as deputy mayor. She represents the council on the Eastside Human Services Forum Executive Board, King County Cities Climate Collaboration, and the King County Mental Illness and Drug Disability Oversight Committee. 

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Naveli Shukla & Songling Ngo

Naveli Shukla is a sophomore at Newport High School who greatly enjoys helping her community. She has a passion for working with other people and listening to the diverse perspectives around her. She believes youth involvement in civic leadership is important because youth should have a say in the things that impact them: improving the community through policy change is a huge part of that. Naveli was thrilled to hear of the Leaders of Today competition and share her thoughts on how we can improve our community when it comes to discriminatory blood donation policies. 

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Songling Ngo is a freshman at Newport High School with a passion for marketing, data analysis, and gender equality. She strives to draw awareness to social injustices. The connection between youth involvement and the community is something she strongly believes in, and she was incredibly inspired by Leaders of Today’s mission to strengthen this bond. After entering the 2021 Leaders of Today competition, she had a great time collaborating with other youth to propose policy changes and even receiving the opportunity to meet with the mayor of Bellevue to discuss blood donation equality, especially in regard to the LGBTQ+ community.

Connecting the Public with Current Events: FORUS App

Councilmember: Jeremy Barksdale

Jeremy Barksdale is a Bellevue City Councilmember and a User Experience Researcher at Unity, a company in downtown Bellevue that develops a platform for building games and extended reality environments. Jeremy has worked in the tech industry for much of his career. He uses his skills to promote equity, community engagement, and improvements in the city's services. Jeremy served on the City's Planning Commission prior to City Council. He earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science (with a concentration in HCI) and a master’s in Public Administration from Virginia Tech. Jeremy earned a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Production with a minor in Business Administration and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science with a concentration in software engineering from North Carolina A&T State University.

Mirabel Zou, Evelyn Lee, & Shrena Sribalan

Evelyn Lee is a student from Erindale Secondary School (Mississauga, Ont.) who absolutely adores learning, STEM, fantasy, and giving back to the community. Her ultimate goal in life is to make the world a better place than when she found it, hence why she loves spending her free time on projects and initiatives. Evelyn's dedication to her projects has led her to achieve great things, such as being a Youth Visionary for the 2021 Leaders of Today competition. Evelyn is very down to earth and always eager to make new friends, she can be contacted @evelyyn.lee on IG and evelyn#2917 on Discord.

Shrena is a driven, passionate and motivated student in the International Baccalaureate program. She has developed a passion for business, technology, social justice, as well as graphic design. For the past 10 years, Shrena has been playing the piano and learning an Indian classical dance form. In her spare time, she gives back to her community by teaching piano with OCOM, planning events with my town, bringing awareness to child hunger and lack of education as well as using social media to share COVID-19 updates. She also invests her time in creating innovative projects to change the world for the better, which is why Leaders of Today's mission really caught her eye. She is excited to see where she goes with her various projects and aspirations, including in the world of Leaders of Today.


Enacting change either through the private sector or the use of technological advancements.

Mirabel Zou is a rising sophomore attending Glenforest Secondary School’s International Baccalaureate program. She is passionate about technology, the sciences, and maths and aspires to pursue the field of chemistry and education in the future. Mirabel is experienced in graphic design, animation, and communication having worked with many organizations on their public affairs team. She is also passionate about giving back to her community. Delivering hand-made cards to senior centers, hospitals, and more. In her free time, she loves to compete in business and technology-related competitions. In her free time, she loves to dance, bake, and play the piano. Fun fact! She has two guinea pigs.

Shaping the STEM Field: Women of Tomorrow 

Vladimir Bulovic

Vladimir Bulović is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holding the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology. He directs the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory, co-leads the MIT-Eni Solar Frontiers Center, leads the Tata GridEdge program, and is the Founding Director of MIT.nano, MIT's new nano-fabrication, nano-characterization, and prototyping facility. He is an author of over 250 research articles (cited over 50,000 times and recognized as the top 1% of the most highly cited in the Web of Science). He is an inventor of over 120 U.S. patents in areas of light-emitting diodes, lasers, photovoltaics, photodetectors, chemical sensors, programmable memories, and micro-electro machines, the majority of which have been licensed and utilized by both start-up and multinational companies.

Mary Grlic

Mary Grlic is a rising senior living in New York. Mary’s involvement in various areas of STEM has inspired her desire to include more women in the fields of science, math, and technology through a project called Women of Tomorrow. The ability to lead others and involve her community is incredibly important to her. She is honored to have been chosen as a youth visionary for Leaders of Today to accomplish her mission. Outside of the organization, Mary loves playing bassoon, singing, baking, and writing.

Creating a Parking Space Reservation App

Rutuja Jadhav

Rutuja Jadhav pursued her master's in Technology Innovation - data science from the University of Washington and Tsinghua University's joint venture, Global Innovation Exchange. She currently works as a machine learning engineer for Microsoft and is passionate about building AI products for addressing real-world problems. Besides being a tech enthusiast, she believes in contributing towards reducing the gender gap in tech and has worked on initiatives in the US and India.

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Andrew Cun

Andrew Cun is an 8th grader at Willows Prep. He loves being involved in entrepreneurship and innovation. Andrew loves to try new things to try to make the community better. He has helped the community in many ways, from making summer camps to one-on-one tutoring. Andrew strongly believes that younger people should have more of a say in the community. When he heard about Leaders of Today, he started to get to work putting together a video that made sure that his ideas were heard. Outside of his work in Leaders of Today, you can find Andrew with friends or playing Minecraft.

Exploring Nuances in Female Empowerment

Nicholas Merriam

Nicholas Merriam is the Founding CEO of sea.citi - a tech industry nonprofit - where he works extensively with tech companies and workers to build collaborative partnerships with local nonprofits and governments. He is a seasoned leader with global strategy and operating experience and expertise in building partnerships, engaging stakeholders, and delivering innovative solutions to global and local community challenges. Nick's background includes working for the Global Impact Hub, Vittana, Building Changes, a local venture capitalist, and Philanthropy Northwest. A Seattle area native, Nick graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor in Social Work and from Pepperdine with an MBA.

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Sophia Zhang

Sophia Zhang is a rising junior at Interlake High School who loves everything creative — whether it be drawing, sculpting, coding, making games, or anything in between. With Leaders of Today, she wants to use both her passion for creation and her own experiences as a teenage girl to give back to the community by allowing girls to feel more comfortable with themselves and their bodies. She is incredibly excited to use this opportunity to impact how girls think about themselves on a much larger scale than before, and looks forward to collaborating with her Adult Ambassador to make her vision possible!


Addressing community issues through local organizations and nonprofits.

Combatting Self-Harm in the Digital Age

Jackie Bui

Jackie Bui is YES’ Director of Community Services and Inclusion. She holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington, where she concentrated in Children, Youth and Families. She is a certified Child Mental Health Specialist and Ethnic Minority Mental Health Specialist for Latino and Asian Pacific Islander populations. She has worked in the Youth Eastside Services (YES) - school-based/community-based services settings for 20+ years, focusing on education and prevention areas and clinical work specialized in evidence-based training such as CBT/TF-CBT. She operates from a strength-based empowerment model, client-centered, community-building, and cultural sensitivity. She is bicultural and bilingual, Vietnamese.

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Christine Julia Alconis

Christine Julia Alconis is a STEM student at the Philippine Science High School - Ilocos Region Campus with a passion for social education and advocacy. She often ignites this passion by reading academic journals and listening to activism speeches. Accordingly, she likes writing about these topics especially about female empowerment and mental health which made her join the 2021 Leaders of Today Competition. She is one of the winners under the Community Engagement category for her essay, “Self-harm: More than Just an Internet Photo.” She is very grateful for this opportunity and is willing to do her best to help the community.


The 2021 Leaders of Today Competition Awards Ceremony can be viewed below.