Click on one of the departments below to learn more about the 2017-2018 Southern California JSA Cabinet and find their contact information! Feel free to email us with any of your questions, ideas, or concerns.
Patrick Aimone, Governor
Patrick Aimone is a senior at Servite High School. He has been a part of JSA since his freshman year, when he was introduced to JSA by two avid seniors. He was quickly enamoured with the unique opportunities JSA offers at the intersection of political engagement and student leadership, and how it allows students to put their voice to purpose.
Since then, Patrick has had the opportunity to attend eleven overnight conventions, as well as Georgetown Summer School and the Montezuma Leadership Summit, which helped him broaden his horizons and learn more about JSA nationwide. Having served as the Servite chapter president, the SER Director of Debate, and the state Director of Debate, he looks forward to leading the Southern California Junior State into a new year full of heightened levels of discussion, activism, and engagement.
Outside of JSA, Patrick participates in Lincoln-Douglas debate and community service. These days, he can be found agonizing over his Common App essay, playing Frisbee, or making puns.
Max Sweeney, Lieutenant Governor
Max Sweeney is a senior at Garden Street Academy. He decided to join JSA halfway through his freshmen year, eager to see if the conventions would live up to their ballyhoo. At that year’s Winter Congress he witnessed passionate speakers debate on a wide range of topics and fell in love the open and accepting atmosphere.
Since Winter Congress 2015, Max has become a dedicated leader in his chapter, attending conventions, and participating in JSA campaigns and summer programs. This year Max is excited to focus on expanding the scholarship program, supporting chapters of all sizes and strengthening civic engagement among the youth of Southern California.
Outside of JSA, you’ll likely find Max singing, playing his guitar, practicing kung fu, shooting hoops (missing most), listening to reggae or walking his generically named dog, “Sparky.” One thing you won’t find him doing is eating pineapple on pizza. Max would love to hear from you and is eager to continue the fun in this coming year.
Adam Cohen, Speaker of the Assembly
Adam Cohen is a senior at Tarbut V’ Torah. He has been a part of JSA since his freshman year. At first he was taken aback by the welcoming community in JSA and the delegations eagerness to advocate for their positions on important social issues. Over time he became intrigued by the unique opportunities JSA had to offer and how it would allow youth to voice their opinions on any issue they felt passionate about.
Adam has attended 11 overnight conventions. He takes pride in having been apart of state cabinet for two years previous as a Chapter Coordinator and as Speaker Pro-Tempore. Serving this year as head of the advocacy department and assembly, Adam looks forward to enhancing delegates eagerness to debate their passions, become active in their communities, and their need to create the change they want to see in their nation.
Outside of JSA, Adam works at a fluorescent microscopy lab at University of California, Irvine. When not hard at work at lab or on his college essays, Adam enjoys playing the piano, reading interdisciplinary books about philosophy and science, and binge-watching a show on Netflix.
Eleanor Halloran, Chief of Staff
Eleanor is a senior at Harvard-Westlake school. She first became involved with her school’s JSA chapter in her freshman year, after hearing about it from a friend at another school. She joined a chapter with three active members, and over her years she worked to bring that up to about twenty active members, and she hopes for even more growth during her final year of high school. Eleanor has served on cabinet since her sophomore year, first as regional Director of Debate, and then as Director of Moderators, and while she still harbors a soft spot for debate, she is ready to help every department on cabinet be the best it can be as Chief of Staff.
While Eleanor spends much of her time on JSA, and prides herself on attending as many conventions and one days as possible, she also occasionally does other things. Outside of JSA she participates in quiz bowl, improv, and the GSA at her school, and she volunteers doing phonebanking for the ACLU. She works as a babysitter, and as a camp counselor during the summers, and she loves spending time with children. During her small smidges of free time after all her extracurriculars and school and work, she enjoys watching political dramas like Madam Secretary and the West Wing, baking delicious treats, and cooking healthy vegetarian dinners. Eleanor is thrilled to spend the next year working with everyone on cabinet, and working for everyone in JSA.
Yvonne England, Program Director
Yvonne England joined The Junior Statesmen Foundation in 2016 and the Southern California Program Director. Before joining JSA she worked with President Obama’s reelection campaign as a Staging Location Director for the Riverside office. She also worked for three years in the non-profit world in fundraising, community development, and youth engagement.
Yvonne received her Masters Degree from California State University, Fullerton in American Studies and wrote her thesis, titled A Punk Practice: The Development of Punk Political Activism from 1979 – 2004, on the rise of youth political activism in the punk rock scene. She also has two BAs from the University of California, Riverside in History and English.
Yvonne grew up in the Southern California area as a punk rock kid going to punk rock shows. She has two awesome cats, a dog, and a loving partner who is kinda famous on the internet.
Gabriel Avalos, National Director of Fight Apathy
Gabriel Avalos is a senior at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California and is extremely excited to serve on National Cabinet as the Director of Fight Apathy. He joined JSA during his sophomore year would later serve as the SoCal Director of Expansion where he had the pleasure of introducing JSA to new schools around the state. He is now eager to engage the most people possible as they get involved in political discussions and is looking forward to sparking interest in issues that deal with social justice.
Gamin Kim, National Director of Fundraising
Gamin Kim is a senior at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, California. She joined the Junior State of America towards the end of her freshman year and has since been enamored with the organization due the passion, engagement, and political involvement it brings out of students. Gamin has previously served in the Southern California State Cabinet as the Director of Assembly Outreach and has also studied International Relations at JSA Summer School at Georgetown University. As the National Director of Fundraising this year, she is excited to lead the Junior State accomplish various fundraising initiatives. Gamin believes fervently in the significance of fundraising to increase the opportunities this organization provides without any financial challenges imposed on students. She is ecstatic to be working alongside the Council of Governors, the state Directors of Fundraising, and the JSAF this year.
Outside of JSA, she works on different non-profit organizations and local campaigns. Gamin is the Regional District Director for the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council and contributes to Byline, an online student-run media organization. In school, she is the Opinions Editor of her school newspaper and is involved in Mock Trial, Model United Nations, FBLA, and the Stock Market Club. In her spare time, Gamin can be seen listening to podcasts or reading while drinking a cup of coffee.
Anna Sarukian, AR Senator
Two years ago: Anna Sarukian, a freshman at West Ranch High School, undoubtedly introverted, and completely oblivious as to how she would grow in a short year’s time.
Today: Anna Sarukian, a junior at West Ranch High School, Angeles Region Senator.
She found an immense passion for debating and love for an engaged audience the first time she spoke at the Harvard-Westlake One Day, and so, the paradigm shift of how Anna viewed the Junior State became what it is today, and she immediately became enamored by its mission and works to implement it.
Since then, Anna not only attended her first convention – Spring State 2017 – but also fully immersed herself into the environment she found at JSA; the same environment in which her zeal led her to run off the floor for Angeles Region Senator; which later indeed marked her victory! Throughout her tenure as a Stateswoman, she has served as a Chapter Coordinator as well as an attendee of the Institute on California Leadership and Politics at UC Davis – not to mention her weirdly consistent attendance at an abundance of One Days. It was within this very organization that Anna has not only forged her strongest friendships, but also developed as a leader.
When she isn’t counting down the days until the next JSA event, you can usually find Anna enlightening others about the Armenian Genocide, competing in tennis tournaments, perfecting her eyebrows, and “periodically” cracking chemistry puns (haha). Anna is ecstatic to now serve as an Angeles Region Senator and is willing to give up just about everything – besides her trademark Armenian eyebrows – to make every single JSAer find pride in her work…at the very least.
Louie Kahn, AR Senator
Louie Kahn is a senior at John Burroughs High School. He has been in JSA for four years, getting involved after hearing of the Junior State in middle school. After serving on chapter cabinet his sophomore year, Louie served as Assistant Director of Development on Southern California cabinet during his Junior Year. This year, he will be serving as one of the two Angeles Region Senators. Through JSA, Louie had the opportunity to intern on a winning state senate campaign in the last election. Outside of JSA, he is the Student Body President at John Burroughs High, the Vice President of his Jewish youth group, and volunteers for multiple organizations. His favorite part of JSA is watching people passionately debate about controversial issues at one-days and conventions. In his free time, Louie enjoys spending time with friends, going to Dodger games, and watching his favorite reality television show called the Trump Administration.
Chaney Lieberman, SER Senator
Chaney Lieberman is currently a Junior at the Orange County School of the Arts where she studies opera in the classical voice conservatory. She has been part of JSA as of sophomore year, and was in midyear cabinet as a fundraising agent. As of this last year, Chaney attended the Montezuma leadership conference in San Jose, allowing her to learn more about the junior state and explore her passion for political discourse that this program offers.
In her free time, Chaney is a Sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department explorer program, and is a member of their color guard and competition tactics team. She also has created her own non-profit organization, TACK (Taking Action Centered on Kids), which helps raise awareness and give help to victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. She works at the Artemis Defense Institute as a systems operator and junior instructor, and shoots competitively in long distance rifle and pistol matches.
Farhan Khan, SER Senator
Farhan Khan is a SER Senator of SoCal JSA and the Co-President/Vice‐President of Northwood High School’s Junior State of America Chapter. He began his involvement in JSA during freshman year due to his keen interest in politics and strong background in Speech and Debate. JSA has become a central aspect in Farhan’s life, and he has made many of his closest friends through the program. As SER Senator, Farhan Khan hopes to foster greater involvement and participation at conventions and one days.
Nicole Thornton, CIR Senator
Nicole Thornton is a senior at Camarillo High school and has been actively involved in JSA since her freshman year. JSA quickly grasped her attention as it involved politics and public speaking — two of her major interests.
Throughout the years, Nicole has attended eight overnight conventions, the UCLA JSA Burd institute and several one days/socials. She has moved her way up from chapter delegate to Secretary to Vice President and now President of her school’s chapter. Past experience and a growing passion for the Junior State inspires Nicole everyday to better the organization in any way she can, either through actively encouraging speakers or creating new debate topics.
Apart from JSA Nicole runs cross country for her high school, is a third degree black belt and instructor in Taekwondo, and volunteers at the Ronald Reagan library.
Leo Glikbarg, CIR Senator
Leo Glikbarg is a junior at Dos Pueblos High School. He has been a part of JSA since the first week of freshman year when he attended his first chapter meeting. He was amazed to find an organization that allows everyone to express their beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs may be, and decided he wanted to become more involved. Leo then had the opportunity to attend five overnight conventions and many one-days. Having served as the Dos Pueblos treasurer and chapter coordinator, he looks forward to leading his school’s chapter and representing the CIR as Senator.
Besides JSA, Leo is a proud member of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy and is on a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team. These days, he can be found watching Netflix while stressing about how much homework he has to complete.
Eunice Park, Speaker Pro-Tempore
Eunice Park is both humbled and delighted to serve as this year’s SoCal JSA Speaker Pro-Tempore. This will be her third year on cabinet, and fourth year in JSA. JSA has been incredibly influential throughout her high school experience. With student led activism opportunities and passionate debates, JSA has motivated Eunice to advocate for social and political causes, and has given her the chance to meet a community of inspiring high schoolers. As Speaker Pro-Tempore, she hopes to create a supportive, accessible, and energizing environment that allows to SoCal JSA to embody the motto “Be the People.” She truly loves this organization that has empowered her, and will work her hardest to give back to a community that has given her so much.
Andrew Hwang, Director of Youth Advisory Boards
Andrew is a senior at Arnold O. Beckman High School where he serves as the current Chapter Vice President. Last year Andrew had the honor and privilege of serving JSA as Deputy Director of Expansion for Greater SER, and now he is beyond grateful and ecstatic to enter his second year in JSA Cabinet as Director of Youth Advisory Boards.
Andrew first became involved in JSA during his sophomore year, and immediately fell in love with JSA’s energetic and welcoming environment. Since then, Andrew has constantly been inspired by such a diverse, talented, impassioned and driven group of individuals, all of whom motivate him to be his very best.
Currently serving as a member on an Assemblyman’s Youth Advisory Board as well as an intern of an Advocacy Team at a local nonprofit, Andrew hopes, with these experiences, to help more JSAers to become civically engaged in all levels of government, voice the opinions of youth, lobby for youth interests, and push and propose meaningful legislation.
Outside of JSA, Andrew is a competitive swimmer. During his free time, Andrew enjoys playing piano or improvising jazz on Alto Sax. Andrew is also an aspiring standup comedian.
Julia Van Der Colff, Director of Political Activism
Julia van der Colff is a senior at West Ranch High School. Joining JSA in her sophomore year, she fell in love with the organization and all it has to offer, and most recently attended the UC Davis Institute on California Politics and Leadership. She is positively ecstatic to work with such an amazing and passionate group of students, and cannot wait to see what the year will bring.
Outside of JSA, Julia works on local campaigns, serves as a juror for the Santa Clarita and Los Angeles Teen Court, and in school, is involved with several different clubs, service organizations and teams, including Young Americans for Freedom, stock market team, and NHS. On any given day, you’ll probably find her playing tennis on her school’s varsity team or obsessively watching Criminal Minds.
Sarah Saboorian, Director of Political Activism
Sarah Saboorian is a senior at Sage Hill School. Her passion for JSA developed after her first event during her sophomore year, where she was able to engage in political discourse and meet a wide variety of people. This transformative experience enabled Sarah to cultivate her interests in government and legislature, allowing her to further develop as a student and a citizen. Since then, Sarah has attended numerous overnight conventions and has had the honor of serving as Sage Hill chapter president and the state Director of Youth Advisory Boards.
Outside of JSA, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and friends and is heavily involved in her school’s Model United Nations, debate, and mock trial teams. She is also an avid piano player and member of the investment club and volunteers as a peer tutor within her school.
Zachary Gaber, Director of Political Activism
Zachary Gaber is a senior at Corona del Mar High School. Having realized the power of JSA to bring together individuals of different backgrounds and opinions, Zachary became inspired to plan and lead JSA activism initiatives in order to benefit both JSA members and the Southern California community. He wants all JSA members to know that “A change in thought can lead to a change in action.” Zachary wants to make each and every JSA member’s voice heard and believes that he can achieve that through engaging all JSA members in political activism. Zachary is excited to have a role in establishing the next generation of politically active citizens and to be a Director of Political Activism this year! Outside of JSA, Zachary enjoys expressing himself through creative writing and helping his community through community service.
Areni Chorbajian, Director of Political Activism
Areni Chorbajian is a junior at Pilibos Armenian School and she has been a part of JSA since her freshman year. She continues to enjoy it because of the wonderful opportunities that are offered; JSA has substantially increased her interest in politics and has shed light on the possibilities of youth engagement specifically. Areni has attended numerous overnight conventions and one days, which have built her passion for JSA. On her free time, Areni looks forward to reading, watching documentaries, and playing on her school’s volleyball team. She is an active leader of her Armenian Boy Scouts troop and also works to advance the goals of a free, independent, and united Armenia. She also volunteers her time helping out her local hospital and working with Greenpeace. Areni is excited to be more involved in JSA this upcoming year!
Ariana Kretz, Director of Political Activism
Ariana Kretz is a sophomore at John Burroughs High School. She first became involved with JSA at the beginning of her freshman year, and became hooked after speaking in her first chapter debate. Since then, Ariana has been able to attend three overnight conventions and the UCLA Gene Burd Summer Institute where she was opened up to a world full of diverse views and passions. This is Ariana’s second time serving on cabinet, and is honored to be working with the advocacy department this year as her passion lies in activism. She hopes to increase students’ opportunities to make real change in their communities through the Junior State by connecting them to other non-profit activism groups and their local officials. Outside of JSA, you can find Ariana onstage with the Burroughs drama department, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, and selling cookies as a Girl Scout. In her free time, Ariana enjoys binge watching Gilmore Girls, playing ukulele, and spending time with her friends.y
Juan Miguel Malana, Director of Assembly Outreach
Juan Miguel, or JM, as his friends know him, is a senior at University Preparatory. Since joining the Junior State as a freshman, he has attended many overnight conventions, as well as a few one days. Last year, he was proud to serve as the Chapter President for UniPrep, and will be continuing his service in the coming year. JM uses the drive and passion for politics that he gained during his time with the Junior State to push for increased social and political awareness at his school. Last year, he successfully hosted his chapter’s very first one day, centered on none other than the environment, his greatest passion. Besides ranting about the undeniable facts of climate change and the threats of human activity to the planet, he is known to spend countless hours watching movies and documentaries covering topics ranging from food to covered-up government conspiracies about the existence of aliens.
Saahil Iyer, Director of Assembly Outreach
Saahil Iyer is a senior at Whitney High School who has been a part of JSA since his freshman year after signing up during Club Rush. He quickly fell in love with the debate setting, the activism, and the opportunity that JSA gives to students who want to speak their mind.
Since his first Fall State, he has attended 6 other overnight conventions and has served on the Whitney Chapter Cabinet this past year as Director of Logistics and Assemblyman. Now as one of the Directors of Assembly Outreach, he hopes to encourage JSA members to not only get involved in their communities, but to get involved within JSA through the Assembly.
Outside of JSA, Saahil is a part of Whitney’s Mock Trial team and participates in community service. He can often be found watching movies, poring over his college applications, and taking care of his little brother.
Jaden Gerard, Director of Assembly Outreach
Jaden, a rising sophomore at John Burroughs High School, joined JSA because of the engaging environment and political discussion that could only be found at JSA functions. Inspired by other Statesmen, Jaden attended many one days, every convention, the Gene Burd Institute on Media and Politics at UCLA, and the California Institute on Leadership and Politics at UC Davis. Jaden is thrilled to have the opportunity to inspire others as her fellow Statesmen inspired her. Outside of JSA, Jaden participates in Teen Court and National Charity League; these organizations have taught her how to help those in need and always give people a second chance to empower themselves to do better. In her free time, Jaden enjoys reading Shakespeare, fiction, biographies about politicians, and Harry Potter. She also loves to spend her weekends hanging out with friends, listening to music, and binging movie marathons.
Carah Hwang, Convention Coordinator
Carah Hwang is a rising senior at Northwood High School. She has been in JSA since her freshman year and has since fallen more and more in love with everything this organization stands for. She is now serving her second term as Northwood’s Chapter President and is so excited to see how her chapter will grow this year.
In addition to JSA, Carah is an active member in Speech and Debate and ASB. She hopes to carry positivity and good work-ethic in everything she does! In her free time, Carah enjoys going to the beach, playing volleyball, going on foodie adventures, discovering new music, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix!
Samantha Wasserman, Assistant Convention Coordinator
Sam Wasserman is a Junior at Beckman High School in Orange County and is entering her third year in SoCal JSA. She will be the Assistant Convention Coordinator for the 2017-2018 JSA year. In addition to involvement with the Junior State, she is the Assemblies Commissioner of her school’s ASB and watches Rick and Morty during her nights. She is passionate about politics, patriotism, and partying, and is prepared to help make the best JSA conventions yet.
Thomas Martinez, Director of Operations
Thomas Martinez a senior at Orange County School of the Arts(OCSA), where he studies Culinary Arts & Hospitality. Though much of his education is art driven, his fondness of food is only paralleled by his innate passion for politics. Thomas has been a member of JSA since his freshman year, he discovered an appetite for civic engagement and allowing others to have their own voice. Immediately, aimed to achieve within the program and attended the Montezuma Leadership Summit: an impactful event where he discovered new friends and new horizons within JSA. He would continue his endeavors within the program as a Deputy Director of Debate and enter into his senior year as OCSA’s Chapter President and SoCal’s Director of Operations. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve and provide guidance to Southern California JSA.
Outside of JSA Thomas participates in Leadership Initiatives: International Business Alliance Program and serves his community as a Candy Striper at his local hospital. He continues to provide for his community through his work as an Eagle Scout and by employing his skills in the kitchen at as many city events as possible.
Tyler Wong, Director of Social Activities
Tyler Wong is currently a Junior at Sage Hill School. As a Freshman, he attended Fall State 2016 and fell in love with JSA. He is grateful for the opportunities JSA has provided to learn about different political ideologies and his further explore aspects of his own. Tyler remains enamored with the program and is excited to serve a second year on cabinet.
He is excited to be working in the Convention Department and plans on implementing promising new activities to facilitate the social environment at overnights.
Some of Tyler’s other extracurriculars include but are (but not limited to): Model United Nations, Youth and Government, Progressive Direct Action (PDA), and Student Council. He can be found at Cha for Tea, which has become somewhat of his second home.
Jeremiah Hoppe, Convention Support Staff
Jeremiah is heavily involved in leadership at Rio Mesa High School, going into the new school year as Junior Class President and ASB Vice President. Although he has only been in JSA for one year, he is very excited for the upcoming JSA season. Also, Jeremiah is serving as the Chapter Vice President at Rio Mesa.
Jeremiah is an aficionado of crazy socks, bow ties, and tennis, but thoroughly enjoys a good debate. Other than JSA, he is a PragerFORCE ambassador for PragerU, a member of the Mock Trial team, and a part of Model United Nations on campus.
Mckenna Burns, Convention Support Staff
McKenna Burns is a junior at Harmony Magnet Academy. She has been a part of JSA since her sophomore year when her chapter president and biology partner highly encouraged her to join. McKenna became enthralled with JSA when she attended her first JSA convention. She has had the opportunity to attend Winter Congress 2017 and Spring State 2017.
Lucy Kim, Convention Support Staff
Lucy Kim is a rising junior at Harvard-Westlake School. She joined her school’s JSA chapter freshman year after overhearing a conversation about it on the bus, and she hasn’t looked back since. Last year she served on cabinet as a Deputy Director of Expansion after being accepted from mid-year applications, and she is excited to work on cabinet again. She is the middle child of her family and has four brothers. Her family is politically mixed, and while she is liberal, she’s always happy to engage in respectful and hopefully intense social discussions, especially about race/ethnicity and immigration. She enjoys playing soccer, though she’s never been much of a fan for watching. She loves culture and language and is currently developing her skills in four languages – English, Korean, Spanish, and Chinese. Her favorite hobbies are sleeping and eating, but she can be admittedly picky about food. Lucy is very much looking forward to this year and she knows we will have a great time!
Sofia Rizkkhalil, Director of Debate
Sofia Rizkkhalil is a rising senior at Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School, where she will be serving, for a consecutive term, as Chapter President. She has been a part of JSA since the beginning of her sophomore year, having been introduced to the wonderful organization by an amazing group of seniors. She was immediately drawn to the passion she saw in every one of her fellow peers, the enthusiasm they had to discuss prominent issues from around the world, and the fervor that always made them more than eager to speak out and voice their opinions on politics.
Outside of JSA, Sofia engages in community service, leads her policy debate team, and dabbles in writing short-stories. On her off-days, you can catch her babysitting her two younger sisters or visiting museums.
She’s honored to be serving as your 2017-2018 SoCal JSA Director of Debate and is beyond excited for the upcoming year.
Judy Zhang, Director of Moderators
Judy Zhang is a sophomore at Palisades Charter High School and was immediately attracted to the debating and public speaking aspects of JSA. This interest soon developed into a passion after she attended Fall State as a freshman and experienced what it felt like to be in a room where people truly cared about what’s happening to the country and were willing to do something about it. The intellectually stimulating conversations and meeting the most genuine, kind-hearted high school students of various backgrounds at One Days only solidified her love for JSA further.
Last summer, Judy had the absolute privilege of attending the JSA Stanford Summer School where she fell in love with the fact that other people cared just as much for the same issues that she was passionate about and that, simultaneously, she could have civil discussions with others that had very different opinions of the world. Currently, she serves as her chapter’s vice president and was selected as Deputy Director of Debate in her freshman year for mid-year cabinet decisions.
Aside from JSA, Judy participates in Mock Trial, Moot Court, Journalism, tutors high schoolers for community service, and has been avidly trying to learn all the lyrics to “Alphabet Aerobics” by Blackalicious. You can find her these days obsessing over 80’s music, watching political TV shows such as Veep or House of Cards, or reading. She is incredibly excited to meet new people this year and work with them to further develop JSA into a better organization than it already is.
Isabel Guzmen, Deputy Director of Debate
Isabel Guzman is a senior at McBride High School. She began her school’s chapter her sophomore year and since then has continuously worked to build, strengthen, and expand her chapter’s presence both at school and at JSA conventions. Besides JSA, Isabel participates in VEX Robotics, Ham Radio, Youth Leadership at her church, and is in the engineering pathway at her school. Isabel loves to combine her two passions of law and technology, and hopes to continue to do so in the future. Isabel aspires to go into a Computer Science major in college and then take her degree to law school where she will later become a patent attorney. She hopes later to become involved in politics and then inspire the youth by settling down as a teacher.
Jack Mckenna, Deputy Director of Debate
Jack McKenna is currently a senior at Dos Pueblos High School and is serving as your deputy of debate. Since his sophomore year, Jack has been heavily involved in JSA and had the privilege of being the Channel Island Region’s director of debate last year. Jack’s fondest memories in JSA include attending the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and writing and co-sponsoring the bill to ban pineapple on pizza for Winter Congress.
Outside of JSA, Jack is very involved in local government and politics, and is an intern for Congressman Salud Carbajal, a volunteer for various Democratic campaigns, and co-president and founder of his school’s Democratic club. Along with Politics, Jack is a competitive swimmer, being on club and varsity swim. Jack is incredibly excited to serve as deputy director of debate and can’t wait for what this year has in store.
Pradyun Biswas, Deputy Director of Debate
Pradyun Biswas is a senior at Beckman High School. He was introduced to the Junior State his sophomore year and since then fell in love with the program, and especially its political debates. While the debates were excellent, Pradyun believed he could take JSA’s principles of making change and improve the debates even further.
Since sophomore year, Pradyun has attended 6 conventions, and has taken an active role in leadership at the chapter level. Having served as director of debate for his school chapter this last year, and serving as treasurer in the upcoming year, Pradyun hopes to take the skills he has gained and apply them to the debate department, improving the quality and effectiveness of the debates. With more effective debates, the Junior State will have far more profound and engaging discussions and increased involvement.
Outside of JSA, Pradyun participates in Lincoln-Douglas style debating, Mock Trial, and community service with his volunteering group, Lionsheart. In his free time, Pradyun can be found crying over the state of current politics, swimming, or preparing for the day North Korea strikes the US.
Ara Yacoubian, Deputy Director of Debate
Ara Yacoubian is a junior at Rose and Alex Pilibos High School. He has been a passionate and committed member of JSA since his freshman year. Having immediately been captivated by the fast paced and substantive debates Ara become a devoted member of an organization the he values greatly. Ara believes that “JSA is the cornerstone of leadership building in our youth, and the epitome of our democratic system. It celebrates inclusion, freedom of expression, and the right to stand up for your beliefs. JSA is the perfect illustration, of our freedoms and the beauty in our right to free speech.” He has attended every overnight convention since his freshman year and continues to find himself in the company of his fellow statesmen whenever he gets the chance. Ara takes great pride in being part of this organization and always does his utmost to expand and strengthen JSA. He is the director of debate for the Pilibos chapter and has played an instrumental role in making the chapter one of the largest and most prominent in JSA.
His spirit and deep affinity for the Armenian culture have been important aspects in Ara’s life. His love of Armenian poetry and literature, have allowed him to become an active participant in many cultural and artistic events. Performing for such luminaries, as His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of The Great House of Cilicia, and the Prime minister of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
Ara’s experience in the arena of leadership has not been scarce. Ara is a cabinet member of the school’s student council. He is also a member of the Armenian cultural association [Hamazkayin] western region executive council committee, which is responsible for outreach and organization of cultural events and education in the diaspora as well as Armenian homeland outreach. He was appointed to the youth outreach panel on the French Consulate’s chamber of commerce which is responsible for increasing awareness of french culture through commerce and youth interest in economic sectors. Ara has worked on numerous campaigns, most recently holding the position of chief policy consultant for Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian reelection campaign, responsible for preparing the mayor on issues for the fifteen televised forums and debates. He was also recently appointed as a commissioner for the planning department at the city of Glendale after a stellar performance in the mayor’s campaign. Ara has also worked in District 1 of Los Angeles’s city council and was recruited as PR manager for the campaign of Joe Bray Ali a city council candidate. Ara is also on the board of cultural content for the english arts wing of the world renowned Paris-Sorbonne University, and is also part of the universities Directeur Régional Ouest Los Angeles (Regional Director Coalition).
In his new position at the debate department, Ara plans to build on the passionate connection he has to the artform of debate and the junior state. He hopes to collaborate with his fellow statesmen to improve, use the input and suggestions of other JSA members, and apply his experience and knowledge to ensure the future is bright and successful. He plans to bring substance and grow the debate department and ensure that the 2017-2018 year is a successful and memorable time for everybody.
Ava Ganz, Deputy Director of Debate
Ava Ganz is a junior attending Tarbut V Torah. She began her JSA career in her sophomore year. After her first time experiencing a Junior State convention, she immediately felt strongly inclined to become more involved within the state. The diversity of ideas and the exceptional political discourse among students that JSA fosters is what made Ava grow her passion towards the organization.
During her first year on cabinet, Ava hopes to see many new faces and hear many new voices in the debate room. She is determined to see JSA’s motto of “be the people” come to life at it’s fullest potential as her goal is to encourage as many people as possible to stand up and speak their mind in debate blocks. “JSA is a fantastic organization in which students can improve teamwork effort, compromising skills, and debate expertise. Every JSA attendee deserves this opportunity.”
Outside of JSA, Ava is the founder and president of the Speech and Debate Club at her school as well as the Young Americans for Freedom Club.
Claire Prall, Deputy Director of Debate
Claire Prall, junior at Palisades Charter High School, has been a passionate participant in the Junior State for the past two years. Brought to her attention by a close friend, JSA has since become an essential resource for social, educational, and political growth.
Claire has attended three overnight conventions to date and plans to attend as many as possible in both the near and more distant future. Each of these conventions, in addition to other JSA events and programs that she has not yet been able to take part in, are avenues for the free expression of ideas. Claire especially enjoys the Junior State’s ability to make heated debates into an environment where one person can learn from the conflicting opinions of another.
In her spare time, Claire enjoys painting at her art studio and engaging in fervent, albeit alarmingly detailed discussions regarding minute trivialities of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. She can often be found cramming after an impressively immense period of procrastination or else combing through the stacks of books littered across her room to find the one that has not yet been read.
Rachel Metry, Deputy Director of Debate
Rachel Metry was first introduced to JSA in her freshman year through Santa Monica High School’s Club Day. There she met the legendary Chris Alba, whose acted as her tour guide through adventure known as JSA. She soon fell in love with JSA and all the social & educational opportunities it has to offer. She attended club meetings every week and became more politically active.
Since then she has served on State Cabinet as Deputy Director of Debate, attended seven overnight conventions, and attended UCLA Summer Institute. There, she met some of her closest friends in JSA as they all embarked on an educational journey through politics. She’s also participated in the Fight Apathy campaign outside of conventions.
Outside of JSA, Rachel enjoys walks to the park for a friendly game of basketball, pulling all-nighters with her friends to watch Netflix, and catching up with nature through her camera lens.
Saba Johnson, Deputy Director of Debate
Saba Johnson is a sophomore at Palisades Charter High School. She joined JSA in her freshman year, thanks to advertisements in her sociology class. Since then, she has fallen in love with the community and the endless opportunities JSA has to offer.
Saba applied for Mid-Year Cabinet in her freshman year, and this year she will have served as Deputy Director of Debate for two consecutive years. Also working as Co-Director of Publicity for her chapter, she plans to better the environment for the diverse population of JSA.
When she is not debating, Saba participates in ASB, Mock Trial, and lacrosse. You can find her reading a comic book, drawing, or re-watching Iron Man 2.
Vincent To, Deputy Director of Debate
Vincent To is a sophomore at Westlake High School. He has been a part of JSA since the beginning of his freshman year. Before then, he was a member of his middle school’s debate team, so a path in JSA was a logical step in the beginning of his high school career. Although he did not like it much at first, Vincent soon grew to love JSA in it’s entirety, from its many debate opportunities, to its large and friendly community. Although, he has only had the chance to attend two JSA conventions over his entire high-school career, he feels that JSA has given him a home, and looks forward to serving as a Deputy Director of Debate for the next year. Outside of JSA, Vincent also participates in his school’s music program, serving in both the band and the marching band. He can usually be found either practicing his saxophone, or procrastinating practicing his saxophone.
Hallie Wagner, Director of Chapter Affairs
Hallie Wagner is a Junior at Palisades Charter High School. She fell in love with JSA the minute she joined at the start of her freshman year, and has been involved ever since. She has been thrilled to attend several One-Day conferences, summer programs, conventions, and the Montezuma leadership summit. In addition to JSA, Hallie is an active member of her school’s debate and mock trial teams and is also involved with Youth and Government. In her free time, Hallie can be found sleeping, watching obscene amounts of television, and hanging out with friends. Hallie is starting her second term as president of her chapter and has previously served on state cabinet as a Chapter Coordinator. Hallie is excited to lead the Chapter Affairs department this year and is looking forward to another great year.
Meghan Wang, Assistant Director of Chapter Affairs
Meghan Wang is a senior at Valencia High School. With her first JSA One Day in her freshman year, she immediately became interested with the amazingly detailed organization of JSA. Through JSA, Meghan has been able to not only learn from and participate in debates but also become a member of this exceptional student based organization.
Upon becoming a JSA member, Meghan has learned more and more about politics, recent controversial topics, and how students can speak with such eloquence. With every convention in JSA, Meghan began to feel more and more comfortable as a JSA member and also hopes to make others feel the same. This is her third year serving on Cabinet, as a Chapter Coordinator sophomore year and Assistant Director of Chapter Affairs last year.
Besides JSA, Meghan is also a member of her school’s Science Olympiad team and a number of service clubs. She also enjoys taekwondo, playing piano, making science puns, and spending time with family and friends.
Chloe Kim, One Day Coordinator
Chloe Kim is a Junior from Centennial High School. Encouraged to join Junior State by her older sibling, she was introduced to activities and debates as early as eighth grade and officially became a tax paid member her freshman year. Completely captivated by her peers passion for free speech and political activism, she wanted to expand that experience JSA has given her to others.
Ever since her first one day she has been an avid member going to as many conventions and events as possible. Although she has not gone to a summer insitute yet she hopes to in the future. She has served in convention support staff which was a catalyst to her desire to expand and help more.
Other than JSA, Chloe plays varsity tennis for her school and volunteers at a hospice. In addition she likes organizing and cleaning to help destress.
Franky Alvarez, Chapter Coordinator
Franky Alvarez is a Senior at Alliance Tennenbaum Technology High School where she is the Vice President of her JSA chapter. She has been a member of JSA since the beginning of her junior year and was immediately amazed by the amount of passion each student possessed. After her first one-day, she was ready to actively serve JSA in any way she can. Although she is fairly new to JSA, she is dedicated to her role as Chapter Coordinator and is excited for the 2017-2018 year.
Aside from JSA, Franky enjoys writing, reading and collecting posters of her favorite movies and bands. She participates in her school cheerleading team, debate, and often volunteers at Lincourt Stables where she works with horses. In her free time, she enjoys going on spontaneous adventures with her friends and family.
Ji Yoo Jeong, Chapter Coordinator
Ji Yoo Jeong is a senior from Valencia High School and has been an avid JSAdvocate since her freshman year when she stumbled upon the opportunity to attend her first JSA convention. Her 3 days and 2 nights at the 2015 Spring State Convention had completely transformed her outlook on global, national, and state issues and reinforced her belief on how every voice matters.
Ji Yoo has put to practice this belief and perspectives for three years since her first encounter with the people of JSA. She now serves as Valencia High School’s Chapter Co-President as well as one of your Chapter Coordinators!
When not involved in JSA or periods of hibernation, Ji Yoo spends time making art, resisting the urgency of social media, and creating new memories with everyday.
Joann Song, Chapter Coordinator
Joann Song is a senior at Crescenta Valley High School. She has been involved with JSA since her freshman year and has served as a chapter coordinator for the last two years. Outside of JSA, Joann is dedicated in writing about community involvement for her local newspapers. In her free time, she enjoys reading sci-fi and hanging out with her friends. She would like to give a memorable JSA adventure to others.
Jose Miranda, Chapter Coordinator
Jose Miranda is currently a senior at Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School. During the summer of 2016, Jose got the opportunity to go to the UCLA leadership institute, where he was introduced to JSA. The warm, friendly environment and the youth empowerment intrigued him into joining JSA. His initial hesitation of fitting into the JSA family were quickly dissolved by the time he attended his first convention: Fall State. He was fully fallen in love with JSA and with the numerous opportunities it gives youth to express their valuable opinions.
His Junior year has been a complete blast. He’s attended every convention and has met so many great people. His senior year seems to be even more promising since he’s been given the chance to be Mohan Chapter President and and a SoCal Chapter Coordinator. He hopes to make even more friends at JSA and bring in new family members.
Although JSA is one of his biggest passions, Jose also does community service and enjoys being a youth group member at his local church. Jose also finds joy in playing basketball, going bowling with his family, and watching Friends on Netflix. He hopes to meet you all very soon!
Natasha Shapiro, Chapter Coordinator
Natasha Shapiro is a senior at Milken Community School, and has been a part of JSA since her sophomore year. She was drawn in by and still enjoys the combination of debate and the ability to learn about current issues in our political climate.
Since then, Natasha has attended six conventions, as well as several one-days at multiple schools. Last year, Natasha served as Convention Support Staff and is excited to fulfill her role as Chapter Coordinator and Vice President of her school’s chapter this year!
Outside of JSA, Natasha is President of her school’s Speech and Debate and Russian Culture clubs, and plays the piano. These days, she can be found listening to the Most Necessary playlist on Spotify, waiting in line for clothes, and being indecisive about college.
Nelia Cortes, Chapter Coordinator
Noelia Cortes is a senior at John Burroughs High School and has been involved in JSA since her sophomore year. She was drawn in by the passion she saw in her friends at debates and wanted to be a part of the massive impact that JSA makes in the community. After attending her first Fall State, she knew this was an organization she truly believed in. Noelia has previously served her chapter as Director of Activism and Treasurer, and was elected Vice President for the coming year. She greatly appreciates the opportunity to serve on Cabinet and looks forward to doing all she can to better the Junior State.
Raymar Lagos, Chapter Coordinator
Raymar Lagos is a junior at John Marshall High School. His first experience with JSA was during his freshman year, where everyone welcomed him with open arms and guided him through the ever so fabulous world of politics. Since then, Raymar has gone to multiple overnight conventions and one days, and would take any opportunity to learn more about what’s going on in the world around him. Outside of JSA, Raymar can be seen being involved in other clubs in his school and volunteering in his community. In his free time, Raymar can be spotted shopping or eating. Raymar is ready to take on this upcoming JSA year as a chapter coordinator and as the co-chapter president of John Marshall.
Rinah Reysen, Chapter Coordinator
Rinah Reysen is a senior at Orange County School of the Arts, where she focuses on Classical Dance. She joined her school’s JSA chapter at the beginning of sophomore year, and has been an active participant ever since. This is her second year serving as a Chapter Coordinator, and she is very excited for another great year of JSA. Outside of JSA, Rinah holds the rank of Corporal at the Irvine Police Department’s explorer program, where she works alongside law enforcement professionals. She also volunteers at her local hospital on a weekly basis. When she is not working, Rinah can be found hanging out with her pug, Sparkles.
Aidan Yoo, Chapter Coordinator
Aidan is a junior at Venice High School and is excited to head into his third year in JSA and second year on cabinet. He is the current chapter president at his school and devotes a great amount of time into the club. He was first introduced to JSA three years ago as a timid freshman and was drawn to everything the club had to offer. It offered insight to the world around him, offered him a place to share his opinions and allowed him to mature into who he is today. He is ready to serve and help spread JSA and these opportunities with as many peers as possible.
As Aidan heads into his third year of JSA, he will have attended 5 conventions and a multitude of one days. This is also Aidan’s second year on cabinet where he will again serve as a chapter coordinator. He is excited to be working as such a vital component of the junior state and helping to keep the state connected as a whole.
Outside of JSA, Aidan can be found juggling school and life. He will often be seen stressing over APs and more clubs than he can handle. He also serves as class president and captain of the solar cup team.
Melinda Zou, Chapter Coordinator
Melinda Zou is a junior at Whitney High where she served and will serve as Director of Expansion for sophomore and junior year.
After attending her first conference, Winter Congress in 2017, Melinda couldn’t get enough of JSA and had the amazing opportunity to attend One Days, another overnight convention, and the Montezuma Leadership Summit. All of which, further heightened her dedication for JSA, and the people in it.
When Melinda isn’t thinking about JSA, doing JSA related work, or talking to people in JSA seen can be seen serving customers at Chick Fil A, doing community service or playing tennis, she can also be seen (or not seen frankly) at home eating Alfredo.
Jonah Stern, Chapter Coordinator
Jonah Stern is a sophomore at The Buckley School in Los Angeles. Because of his family’s involvement in the Junior State, he was lucky to be a part of the organization starting in 8th grade. He attended four overnight conferences and was immediately drawn to the organization’s mission to promote and spread civic education.
Since then, Jonah has attended eight conferences and been a member of the Southern California JSA Cabinet. He served as a Chapter Coordinator last year and was able to meet other members of the Junior State, improve his skills as a statesmen, and learn more about the Junior State as a whole. He is currently serving as a Chapter Coordinator and the Vice President of the JSA chapter at Buckley.
In addition to JSA, Jonah serves as the Treasurer of the Model United Nations chapter at Buckley and will attend his second National High School Model United Nations conference this year. Finally, Jonah is also an avid musician, he is a member of the school choir, attends a performing arts camp in New York and is a part of the annual musical theatre production as Buckley.
Petik Tangikyan, Chapter Coordinator
Petik Tangikyan is from the AR region and is currently a sophomore at Rose and Alex Pilibos High School. He has been a part of JSA since his freshman year, during which time he quickly understood the concept of JSA and how much it impacts himself and others. JSA gives a voice to everyone and allows anybody to speak about their ideas, while others respectfully listen to them; leadership and awareness are important traits that JSA instills in its members.
Petik has been attending every convention since his freshman year and has gained the necessary experience to serve his members.
Apart from JSA, Petik takes numerous AP and college classes, volunteers at his local hospital, and is part of a community emergency response team. He also enjoys traveling, going to theme parks, and having new experiences. Petik is very ecstatic about his new role, and cannot wait to serve as Chapter Coordinator.
Sade Neri, Chapter Coordinator
Sade Neri is a sophomore at Downey High School. She started in the beginning of her freshman year, introduced by her speech and debate teacher. After her first convention, she found something she was avid about and was so ready to become an active JSAer. Ever since then, she decided to get more involved. She spent her time attending one days, earning a midyear position, and becoming her school’s next chapter president. She looks forward to influencing her chapter in the best way possible and helping out the chapter affairs department. Outside of JSA, she plays with her dogs and niece often and explores new places all over Southern California with her sister.
Alexandra Ivanov, Director of Expansion
Alexandra Ivanov is a senior at Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles. She hopped onto the JSA Bandwagon at her school as a sophomore, only to become the Chapter President at the end of that very year. With little to no experience, and passion for the organization as her only propellant, she was able to bring fifty members to the first convention in which she lead her chapter. By the end of the year, Alexandra had doubled that number, with 104 members – a third of her high school – who attended at least one convention that year. She lead the largest delegation at Spring State, sending two buses filled with a total of seventy-one underclassmen from LA to Irvine! With that said, it is no surprise she will be leading the 2017-18 Southern California JSA Expansion Department.
When she is not standing on top of a chair, trying to project her voice in a room filled with 70+ students on Wednesdays during lunch, or somehow convincing a freshman who hasn’t the slightest clue what JSA stands for to come to next week’s meeting then commit to the upcoming convention, you can find her daydreaming about her (provisionally) hypothetical Manhattan apartment. Or trying to learn Daenerys Targaryen’s full title, of course!
Miss Ivanov is incredibly humbled to be serving as your Director of Expansion, and is beyond excited to see what the ambitious group of Statespeople she has the pleasure to work alongside will accomplish this year…especially her Expansion team!
Leonardo Soto, Director of Outreach Chapter Development
Leonardo Soto, or just Leo, is a senior at Alliance Alice M. Baxter College-Ready High School in San Pedro. He has been apart of the JSA organization all of his high school career and even had the great opportunity to start a chapter at his school. JSA has changed his life for the better. It has provided him with the opportunities that a person in his financial and social situations would never would have dreamed of having.
Leo’s journey in JSA has taken him to Stanford and Princeton to take on challenging courses and live the college life for several weeks. He now plans to take the next steps in making a positive impact not only for himself and his peers at school, but as Director of Outreach Chapter Development, where he plans to make new chapters feel welcomed and part of the JSA SoCal family.
Anna Vovk, Deputy Director of Expansion (Santa Barbara)
Anna Vovk first became involved in JSA three years ago during her freshman year at San Marcos High School. After going to her first Fall State convention, she quickly fell in love with the organization because of its kind people and accepting environment, and the opportunity it gave her to become politically engaged.
Since then, Anna has attended seven overnight conventions and countless one days all over Southern California, served on last year’s cabinet as Deputy Director of Expansion, and has been elected as her school’s chapter president. This year, Anna looks forward to reaching new heights in the Expansion Department, as well as growing her chapter and helping her school become politically engaged.
Outside of JSA, Anna is an Executive Director for her school’s newspaper, a volunteer at her local hospital and Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, and president of her Youth in Government delegation. Nowadays, she can be found stressing out over school, making awkward jokes, and talking to her grandma on Skype.
Megan Hedges, Deputy Director of Expansion (Ventura)
Megan Hedges is a junior at Westlake High School in Ventura County, California, where she joined JSA shortly before Winter Congress of her sophomore year. Megan was introduced to JSA by a friend who knew of her love for law and politics, and she fell in love with it at her first convention. She attended the Institute on California Leadership & Politics at UC Davis this past summer, which only strengthened her love for JSA. Now the Junior State feels like a second home to her, and she is dedicated to expanding the Junior State as far as possible in the hopes that it will change other people’s lives in the same way it changed hers.
Outside of JSA, Megan is a member of her school’s varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams, and is the coach of the Westlake girls’ elementary school lacrosse team. She is also a member of the Vista Robles chapter of National Charity League, where she primarily volunteers at Shelter Hope and the Conejo Schools Foundation. Megan spends her free time going out with friends, practicing lacrosse, tutoring her fellow students in math, and discussing politics with anyone willing to listen.
Adam Al-Nihmy, Deputy Director of Expansion (North Los Angeles)
Adam Al-Nihmy, your SoCal JSA Deputy Director of Expansion, is currently a senior at Glendale High School in Glendale, California. After his first Fall State during his freshman year, Adam found a passion in civil duty, debate, and activism, hallmarks of JSA that would completely transform his experiences as an individual from then on.
In the three, going on four, years of being an active member of the organization, Adam has attended a total of 9 conventions, as well as a plethora of ‘One-Days’ and other JSA related events. Having a deep interest in the cultivation of not only each Chapter, but rather JSA as a larger entity, Adam ventured into Junior State leadership positions, such as the one he currently holds.
Aside his contributions to JSA, Adam likes to spend time playing his saxophone or bass drum as well as swimming and often playing water polo in his school team. He can also be found at NHS club meetings or in the ASB room, volunteering at NYLF: Medical, and interning at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles or his local law firm.
Wendy Figueroa, Deputy Director of Expansion (East Los Angeles)
Wendy Figueroa is a junior at Alliance Dr.Olga Mohan High School. She has formed part of JSA since her freshman year when a poster that read “We want you! For JSA”, which was displayed on a classroom wall, caught her attention. She decided to attend a meeting and fell in love with the positive, heated yet respectful and professional environment that JSA offers. JSA gave her a platform where she can continue to enhance her knowledge on politics as well as broaden her perception towards different aspects.
Since then, Wendy has had the opportunity to attend three overnight conventions, two one days, as well as Stanford Summer School, the Gene A. Burd Institute on L.A. Media and Politics, and the Montezuma Leadership Summit, which helped her expand her knowledge on JSA not only statewide, but nationwide. Having served as the Mohan chapter historian, she looks forward to taking the Southern California Junior State to greater heights through expanding it. She is excited to promote JSA and its values in the hopes that other young adults, like herself, develop a love for advocating for their beliefs through debates and thought talks.
Outside of JSA, Wendy participates in Mohan’s Associated Student Body(ASB), soccer team, and cheer team. She loves to dance, write, listen to music (mostly pop, trap, rap, and indie), and spend time with her family/friends and pets.
Dahlia Michael, Deputy Director of Expansion (West Los Angeles)
Dahlia Michael is a junior at Santa Monica High School and has been a member of JSA since her freshman year. She began her love affair with discussing politics and social justice about a year before this and knew that she wanted to join JSA from the moment she heard about it. She most appreciates the platform JSA gives students and the leadership skills she and many others have developed through this organization.
Since joining, Dahlia has attended five overnight conventions. She is currently Santa Monica High’s chapter secretary for her second year and is serving as Deputy Director of Expansion for her second year in cabinet, as well. She is truly looking forward to playing her role in the growth of the Southern California State.
Outside of JSA, Dahlia participates in Santa Monica High School’s Associated Student Body, Black Student Union, and community service delegation. She is an avid reader and 90s R&B enthusiast that can be found taking photographs in her free time.
Raj Vora, Deputy Director of Expansion (South Los Angeles)
Raj Vora is a junior at Whitney High School and is in his 2nd year of JSA. He enjoys learning and understanding the multiple different perspectives of each person within JSA. He hopes to spread the same knowledge and excitement that he feels at each convention to as many schools while he is Deputy Director of Expansion. He wants to spread the experience to every single high schooler in the nation.
During his time in JSA, Raj has attended 3 overnight conventions and multiple one day conventions. He now serves on the cabinet within his local chapter and plans to spread the hype of JSA to entice his friends and classmates to attend JSA conventions. His goal is for everyone to join the JSA Family.
Outside of JSA, Raj partakes in clubs like Model United Nations, Ping Pong Club, and Mock Trial. He also is a Lakers Basketball Fan and loves collecting sneakers, especially Yeezys.
Isabella Guerrero, Deputy Director of Expansion (North Orange County)
Isabella Guerrero is a senior at Sunny Hills High School. She joined JSA her freshmen year after a senior on her water polo team convinced her to sign up at club rush. She loved the idea of being able to voice her opinion and share ideas with her peers. She has since attended 7 overnight conventions and a handful of one days, served as a chapter president, and is very excited to spend her senior year on the SER cabinet. When she’s not talking about and participating in JSA, she plays water polo and swims, volunteers with Giving Children Hope, and most importantly watches conspiracy theory documentaries about the Kennedy family.
Isabella Yang, Deputy Director of Expansion (South Orange County)
Isabelle (Seo Jeong) Yang is a senior at Arnold O. Beckman High School. Drawn by JSA’s vibrant energy and admiration for curiosity, Isabelle has been a apart of the JSA family since sophomore year. After attending her first Fall State, she was certain that this was the place for her to not only express her political passions but immerse herself with people just as interested. JSA provides a second home where she can be a leader while engage with others all throughout.
Isabelle has been able to work closely within her school to help foster JSA to flourish by discussing in meetings, attending conferences, and participating at conventions. Having previously served as the Director of Debate for her region, she is ready to take on the upcoming year’s worth of commitment in Expansion.
When she is not working on something JSA-related, you can find Isabelle at her local tennis courts in the evenings. She enjoys to spend her free time drawing and is always looking for new, creative ways to express herself.
Ali Gutierrez, Deputy Director of Expansion (Inland Empire)
Ali Gutierrez is a senior at the Orange County School of the Arts in the Musical Theater Conservatory. In her first JSA meeting, Ali was absolutely terrified of the new people and ideas that surrounded her, but her passion for JSA was evident from that day her sophomore year. Since then, Ali has attended every convention and meeting she could and that same passion continues to grow with each new JSA experience. Last year Ali served on SoCal JSA State Cabinet as a Chapter Coordinator and is looking forward to using the skills she learned in that position to help grow her JSA state in the expansion department this year.
Outside of JSA, Ali loves photography, going to Disneyland (her favorite place), and spending time with her family and friends. She also trains in Musical Theater both in and out of school, and is intrigued with the idea of politics & art and how the two go hand in hand. When not performing in “commercial” theater, she uses her theatrical skills to spread awareness of current events both in and out of our country.
Oliver Eccleston, Deputy Director of Expansion (San Diego)
Oliver Eccleston is a senior at John Burroughs High School. A member for four years, he has spent a majority of his High School career doing JSA things. Having come for the politics and stayed for the debates, Oliver now spends more time worrying and preparing for conventions and debates than sleeping.
Disregarding his lack of sleep, Oliver really does enjoy JSA and considers them a part of his life. Because of this, he dreads May. May means graduation and no more JSA. He currently serves as the John Burroughs Chapter President, having held the positions of Deputy-Director of Expansion in West LA, Vice-President of Internal Affairs, and Director of Marketing.
Outside of JSA, Oliver serves as an intern to State Senator Anthony Portantino, Secretary of his High School Site Council, and Captain of Business on his community FRC team. Oliver would do other stuff, but he has no free time.
Analaura Amezquita, Director of Development
Analaura Amezquita is a current senior at Whittier High School. Her involvement in JSA started her sophomore year, where she realized that to have relevant opinions in today’s society, she needed to be politically aware. The Junior State has given her countless opportunities, and overall has made her into a person that values and respects each and every opinion, no matter how different it may be from her own.
She attended the JSA Summer School at Stanford University where she became a permanent moderator for her section. Due to her magnificent experience there, and her passion for JSA’s mission, she decided to become more involved in the organization. Last year, she was a Chapter Coordinator, and this year is the Chapter President of her school as well as the Co-Director of Development. She looks forward to leading the department with Olivia Rybus, and is sure that together they will work tirelessly to ensure everyone has the opportunity to attend JSA regardless of their socioeconomic background.
Outside of JSA, she’s involved in her school’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) as the second year president. When she has free time, she enjoys reading, writing, running, and listening to any type of music.
She’s thrilled and honored to serve in this year’s cabinet one last time, and is positive that this will be the best year the Junior State has ever seen by far.
Olivia Rybus, Director of Development
Olivia Rybus is a senior at Orange County School of the Arts. She joined JSA at the beginning of her sophomore year as she was immediately inspired by the intense passion and dedication of this organization’s community. She currently serves as the Vice President for her OCSA chapter. Olivia feels that JSA gives young people an incredible outlet to share their ideas and opinions. Outside of JSA, she loves being involved in various service projects, Girl Scouts, student leadership, musical theater, eating sushi and spending time with friends. She could not be more ecstatic to serve her second year on SoCal JSA cabinet!
Casey Curtis, Assistant Director of Development
Casey Curtis is a junior at Palisades Charter High School. Since joining JSA at the start of her freshman year, she has become very involved in the organization. She was initially drawn to JSA by a friend who encouraged her to go to Spring State, and has since fallen in love with everything JSA has to offer. Since joining, Casey has served as vice president of her chapter, and fundraising agent, been to 4 overnight conventions, and attended summer school at Princeton. She is currently serving as treasurer of her chapter and is excited to be Assistant Director of Development for the new year! In her free time, Casey can be found studying, shopping, snapchatting, adopting her friends mannerisms, and eating immense amounts of sushi.
Yeslie Barrios, Director of Summer School
Yeslie Barrios is a rising Junior at Dr.Olga Mohan High School. She has been part of JSA since freshman year, when introduced to JSA by her advisor, Ms.Richmond; she was quickly astonished how JSA allowed individuals to express their opinions regardless of being a minority and coming from a different background. It was unbelievable yet fascinating for her to see that her generation truly cares about the current issues in our society. Yeslie immediately fell in love with the JSA atmosphere because it believes in student potential; she believes everyone has the potential to contribute to society. One she fell immediately in love with JSA, she wanted to become more involved, so she ran for fundraiser director of 2016-2017 school year and was elected; moreover, she was elected as secretary for 2017-2018 school year. Since then, Yeslie has attended 4 overnight conventions, the Gene A. Burd Institute on L.A. Media and Politics in 2016, as well as Stanford Summer School in 2017, which helped her become more open-minded of other foreign issues notwithstanding U.S political issues. She looks forward as Director of Summer school to provide other intellectuals with an insight of the unique opportunity that comes within the impeccable experience of attending summer school. Outside of JSA, Yeslie participates in ASB, and she does community service hours at her church. These days you can find her playing the guitar or watching Riverdale.
Alexa Kushner, Deputy Director of Development
Alexa Kushner is a senior at Orange County School of the Arts. She began her JSA journey in the beginning of her sophomore year and is so grateful for all of the opportunities that this organization has given her. This past summer she attended the summer institute at UCLA where she was able to learn more about media as well as the intricacies of state and local politics. Outside of JSA, Alexa is very involved in the theater community, where she performs and volunteers at locals theaters. However when she has free time she enjoys going to the movies with friends and watching funny youtube videos. Alexa is thrilled and looks forward to a great year in JSA!
Ariel Frig-Levinson, Deputy Director of Development
Ariel Frig-Levinson is a senior at Milken Community High School, and this year will be his 2 year in JSA, and first on cabinet. He was first introduced to JSA by alum Saba Amid, and fell in love with the diversity, passion and ambitions of the students and the organization. Ariel has had the opportunity to attend two conventions, and looks forward to playing a bigger role in the organization on a statewide level this year. Outside of JSA, Ariel can be found at La Scala, eating his favorite chop salad, volunteering at his lab or hanging out with friends.
Elliot Hyon, Deputy Director of Development
Elliott Hyon is a junior at Cleveland High School. Since this is his first year serving on cabinet, he is ecstatic at the opportunity to be more involved within JSA. He came into the organization during his sophomore year and quickly became enraptured with the message of fighting apathy. Political engagement became a pivotal goal of his and he strives to always be an informed citizen.
Although he has not been in JSA for a long time, he has been involved in many enterprises. Chief among these was Georgetown Summer School, which gave him a key look into the world of college and taught him how to pull off consecutive all nighters. He was able to meet people from numerous regions of the United States and is now aware of the different perspectives that characterize people’s experiences.
When he is not working for JSA, Elliott enjoys reading fantasy novels and binge watching Game of Thrones. He is devoted to his Yorkie, Saranghee, as well as his K-pop idols.
Amina Ghorob, Deputy Director of Development
Amina Ghorob is a sophomore at Westlake High School. She has been involved with JSA, since the first day of school, and absolutely fell in love with it. Since it is in Amina’s interest for working in politics, she loves how everyone can speak in discussion, engage in activism, and create in unity.
Outside of JSA, Amina is very involved within her community. She has her own skincare company NatNatNatural for three successful years, is the president of YEACal organization, and is the teen advisor for Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks. On her free time, Amina is most likely playing her drums or piano, trying to invent or create something new to make her life easier, or watching her shows on Netflix.
Shayna Gerard, Deputy Director of Development
Shayna Gerard is a sophomore Junior Stateswomen from John Burroughs High School where she serves as the Director of Fundraising for the second year in a row. She initially joined because she wanted to exercise her public speaking and leadership skills in an effective way to encourage people to see both sides of debates. JSA has helped her realize her love for fundraising as she served as Regional Deputy of Development her freshman year.
Shayna has attended numerous One Days, all three conventions, and the California Leadership Institute at UC Davis. On a typical day, when she isn’t working on JSA initiatives, she can be found listening to her self-made playlist consisting of indie rock music and classic musical theater songs, working with several organizations through National Charity League, playing volleyball, randomly bursting out into song and dance or playing her piano, and doing yoga in the park with her fellow statesmen. She is extremely thankful for all of the friendships she has made and looks forward to making more in JSA.
Cathy Sun, Director of External Publicity
Cathy Sun is a politico, social activist, and avid writer. She is a senior at University High School in Irvine and extremely passionate about engaging youth in the political process. She currently also serves as the National Programs Director of the High School Democrats of America, and hopes to inspire more high school students to organize and mobilize around issues that impact their present lives and futures. Cathy has been involved in various Democratic campaigns and is a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood. She is almost always online and never sleeps, so never hesitate to shoot her a message.
Katie Smith, Director of Internal Publicity
Katie Smith is a rising senior at Irvine High School and serves as her chapter’s vice president. Although she joined JSA as a sophomore, she quickly immersed herself in the program and searched for opportunities to become more involved, working as a photographer in the publicity department since the middle of her sophomore year. She looks forward to contributing through her department for her final year of JSA.
Aside from JSA, Katie spends most of her time writing and recording music in her room. In addition, she enjoys going to concerts and taking photos of her friends.
Aren Melkonian, Assistant Director of Technology
Aren Melkonian is a Junior at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School. He joined JSA in freshman year and has developed a strong liking towards it, attending seven overnight conventions. He has specifically appreciated the open environment JSA provides to his political views, although many do not agree with them. He has served on his schools chapter cabinet as Public Relations Officer and is now serving as Assistant Director of Technology of SoCal JSA.
Outside of JSA, Aren loves to build drones, research, and volunteer. He is the owner of his Non-Profit Organization called Student Helping Students. Additionally, he started his own volunteering program at Ararat Home, an Armenian Elderly Home. He also is the president of his International Business Alliance Program Team, working with Businessmen in Nigeria. Last summer he took an internship program at MIT and spend his time taking Physics and Intro to Engineering classes. Another hobby of his is playing Piano, Accordion, Violin, and most of all Pokemon Go.
His goal this JSA year is to improve technology interaction with JSA members, and surpass the limitation currently placed on technology. He is open to all suggestions for improvement.
Marisa Umeh, Assistant Director of Videography
Marisa Umeh is a rising senior from Diamond Bar, CA. She loves to learn, but more than that she loves to share what she has learned through filmmaking so that it may enlighten and better other’s lives. Her film she co‐directed titled “In & On” received second runner up in the Green IS category at the Girls Impact The World Film Festival hosted by ConnectHer and the Harvard Social Innovation Collaboration. She is a host for the #LikeHer, a web series, presented by Girls Learn International in which she interviews influential women in multiple fields. On campus, she is actively involved with organizations such as Girls Learn International and JSA, and enjoys her positions on Mock Trial and yearbook. Marisa looks forward to another exciting year on the JSA cabinet as she produces thought‐provoking visuals as Asst. Director of Videography!
Jane Lee, Assistant Director of Photography
Jane is a Senior at John Marshall High School. She is Co-Chapter President alongside with Raymar Lagos. When she is not fully engrossed with JSA, she dabbles with knitting, fountain pens, overthrowing her school’s student government, reading, and binge watching American Dad. Jane has had the pleasure of taking part of the Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer debates, and she looks forward to taking great photos of everyone at JSA events.
Anthony Huynh, Photographer
Anthony Huynh is a junior at Westlake High School. He was introduced to JSA during his sophomore year by his current chapter club president. He was drawn in by the passion and livelihood that his fellow delegates possessed while debating. Anthony also fell in love with all the opportunities that allow him to voice his opinions and make a change in his community.
He also volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club and participates in various clubs such as FBLA and Key Club. In his free time, he likes to vlog and listen to music.
Josephine Choe, Photographer
Josephine Choe is a junior at Santa Monica High School. She has been involved in JSA since her freshman year. She loves the supportive community and encouraging environment JSA fosters and loves all the organization has to offer. She is excited to capture incredible moments this year through the lens of her camera, an intersection of her passions: political activism and photography. Outside of JSA, Josephine goes by her nickname, Joey, plays the flute, and participates in her high school’s community service delegation. She is an artist who always explores new mediums and can often be found reading a variety of magazines, from Teen Vogue to the Economist, and shooting more personal subject matters.
Joy Chen, Photographer
Joy Chen is a junior at Northwood High School and currently is involved in JSA as a Photographer. She fell in love with the activity after seeing the multiple friendships created and, its ability to promote activism through its members. Wanting to become more involved, she felt inspired to join both a club that advocates change as well as, creativity. Outside of JSA, Joy can be seen participating in Congressional debate and randomly taking photos of my friends, when they are not expecting it. Joy is excited to serve JSA’s cabinet this year!
Zachary Hagen-Smith, Mayor
Zachary Hagen-Smith first encountered JSA at John Burroughs High School’s freshman orientation, after being roped in by some very cool sophomores. He quickly came to cherish the spirit of debating, the discourse of ideas, and the friends he made in the club. JSA and Zach were meant for each other: within a year he was secretary of his chapter and the Angeles Region Event Coordinator. Now he is Mayor.
Zach likes to keep up with politics. He has interned with a local political party and a local politician, and encourages others to engage politically as well. At his high school he is also involved in Habitat for Humanity, theatre (he once played Mrs. Bumbrake in his school’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher), and far too many APs. In his free time he enjoys reading, watching movies, and quality television (e.g. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Veep etc.). He also appreciates organization, cheese, and listing things in groups of threes.
Ismael Diara, Vice Mayor
Ismael Diara is a senior at Cerritos high school and joined JSA after being introduced to the organization by a close friend. This is going to be his third year in JSA After becoming enthralled with JSA and the political platform that it provided for students he decided to become more involved. Although this is the first time he is on cabinet he is extremely excited to give back to the organization. He’s enjoyed attending every conference has attend and looks forward to the new experiences that will come from this position. Outside of JSA Ismael can be found playing baseball for his high school team and the french national. He also is featured on The Audio List every wednesday on K-Beach radio.
Grace Chung, Events Coordinator
Grace Chung is a senior at Faith Baptist High School. She has been a part of JSA since her freshmen year, when a senior convinced her to join. She was quickly drawn into the atmosphere, people, and debates. JSA provided a place for intellectual political discussions and activism, something that she loved to be involved in.
Since joining, Grace has been captivated by this club, and eagerly awaits the conventions and one-days. She has served as vice president and chapter president of the Faith Baptist chapter, as well as served in the convention department as support staff which fuels her desire to introduce this club to more students.
Outside of JSA, Grace likes to play the guitar, to do calligraphy, and to tutor younger students. Additionally, she enjoys cheesy jokes and puns because laughter is the best medicine.
Jacob Simon, Events Coordinator
Jacob Simon is a senior at Milken Community High School. He joined JSA during his sophomore year when he was introduced to it by his friends, and was instantly hooked by how JSA fostered a strong community centered around activism, leadership, and politics. Always having a keen interest in debate and thought-provoking conversation, Jacob found a home at JSA.
Jacob has attended 4 overnight conventions as well as a one-day event and is now serving as the Events Coordinator for the Angeles Region. Outside of JSA, Jacob participates in his school’s speech and debate program, is on the school’s tennis team, and works on completing a full-length film script he created during a screenwriting course.
Audrey Ancheta, Director of Communications
Audrey Ancheta is a sophomore at Whitney High School. After attending Spring State towards the end of her freshman year, she grew to love everything that JSA had to offer; from the unique debate structure to the supportive, lively atmosphere and the amazing people. This newfound passion for JSA motivated her to become more involved in not only her chapter’s cabinet, but state cabinet as well.
This year, she looks forward to serving her first year on cabinet as one of the Directors of Communications and is excited for the great things yet to be accomplished. More importantly, she looks forward to seeing new faces at regional events because she firmly believes anyone interested in an event in the slightest should have the opportunity to go.
Aside from JSA, Audrey is a part of several other clubs and organizations, such as Future Business Leaders of America and Model United Nations, and is even a member of the cross country team. In her free time; she enjoys writing, experiencing other cultures, and listening to music.
Rebecca Hochman-Fisher, Director of Communications
Rebecca Hochman-Fisher is 16-year-old junior at Palisades Charter High School. Not one to shy away from voicing her opinion, the freedom to truly express herself during a debate was what drew her into JSA. After attending her first SoCal Winter Congress, she knew she wanted to take on a more active role in the JSA Community.
More than just a debating society, JSA is a community full of vibrant and interesting people from all different walks of life. The ability to meet as many of those members as possible is what initially piqued her interest in becoming Communications Director. She looks forward to engaging with as many chapters as possible, and is very thankful for this opportunity.
Outside of JSA, Rebecca can be found reading novels written before she was born, attempting to act, trying her hand at coding, or browsing the Instagram explore page.
Charlie Dodge, Director of Media and Publicity
Charlie Dodge is a senior at Temple City High School. She began participating in JSA as an eighth grader, and has been president of her high school chapter since the end of her freshman year. She loves engaging in political discourse with her peers, and JSA provides her with the perfect platform for that.
Since freshman year, Charlie has attended 5 overnight elections, and most recently participated in the Stanford JSA Summer School, where she broadened her political communication skills. She is looking forward to her first year serving on JSA Cabinet.
In addition to JSA, Charlie runs her school newspaper, the Rampage, and writes opinion pieces for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. She is an aspiring journalist and hopes to have her political cartoons published in the New Yorker one day.
Antonio Murillo, Mayor
Antonio Murillo is a senior at Servite High School. He is so grateful to have been in such a great organization like JSA since the start of his freshman year. From the welcoming environment to the challenging debates, JSA became not only a club for Antonio, but also a lifestyle. Through JSA, Antonio has found many colleagues who have encouraged him to grow to be the caring, involved person he is proud to call himself today.
Since then, Antonio has had the opportunity of attending ten overnight conventions, as well as attending the Gene Burd Institute at UCLA. Having served as the Deputy Director of Expansion, Officer of Recruitment, and Events Coordinator, Antonio is both prepared and excited to lead the Southern Empire Region.
Outside of JSA, Antonio loves being around his family and friends and is involved with his school’s theatre program, honor society, the International Thespian Society, and Academic Decathlon. When not at one of these extracurriculars, Antonio can be found eating sushi or watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Chloe Sweeney, Vice Mayor
Chloe Sweeney is a senior at Palm Valley School. She has been a part of JSA since her freshman year, when she sought an avenue for her love for politics and debate. She was quickly inspired by the opportunity to express her views and learn from others in a space that fostered friendship and understanding.
Since then, Chloe has had the opportunity to attend many overnight conventions and One-Days, which helped her broaden her horizons and learn more about JSA. Having served as a Palm Valley chapter officer and the Southern California State Scholarship Supervisor, she looks forward to serving as SER Vice Mayor this year!
Outside of JSA, Chloe participates in student government and community service. She is passionate about her faith and helping those in need. She hopes to return to the East Coast for college next fall.
Riley Garcia, Events Coordinator
Riley Garcia is a junior at Servite High School. He has been a member of JSA since freshman year, but became strongly involved during his sophomore year. Riley was introduced by two friends at his school, who also shared the same interests. He is intrigued by the political aspects of people’s views in the day to day life of young Americans. His love for debate and the strengthening of activism gives him the motivation to continue to work to improve JSA.
He is currently the SER Events Coordinator. Outside of JSA, Riley participates in multiple sports and is also a member of the Priory system at Servite, working to strengthen his leadership skills.
Cameron Kalantar, Director of Debate
Cameron Kalantar is currently a Junior at Northwood High School in Irvine, California. He joined JSA his sophomore year of high school due to the avid encouragement by the upperclassmen as well as his high interest in politics. Cameron fell in love with the program because of its combination of politics, leadership, and public speaking.
Since then, Cameron has attended two overnight conventions including Winter Congress and Spring State and has recently become his chapters head of publicity. With his experience as a state qualifier for speech and debate, orange county MVP for mock trial, and the holder of numerous club leadership roles, Cameron is excited to serve as the 2017-2018 JSA SER Director of Debate.
Aside from JSA, Cameron is involved in a variety clubs and programs including speech and debate, where he competes in congress and pofo. As well as clubs such as Mock Trial and CSF. Cameron also spends a lot of his time on the field playing both varsity football and lacrosse for his school. On most days, you can catch Cameron studying for his AP classes or the SAT and in his free time trying to find the best and newest restaurants or hiking with his friends.
Madelyn Nye, Director of Media and Publicity
Madelyn Nye is a Senior at Rosary Academy. She joined JSA her junior year when the club was created at her school. She attended her first JSA conference and quickly realized that she wanted to be more involved in JSA. Maddie is excited to attend more conventions and other JSA events, and looks forward to a productive year as SER Director of Media and Publicity.
Besides JSA, Maddie is a member of the National Charity League and a Nordstrom’s Fashion Ambassador. She spends her free time at Disneyland, editing pictures or videos, and going concerts with friends.
Tara Hashemi, Director of Fundraising
Tara Hashemi is a sophomore at Centennial High School in Corona. She has been involved in JSA since the beginning of her freshmen year when she learned of the club from her school’s chapter officers. Since then, Tara has developed a love for the organization and has continued her involvement. She has attended only three conventions in her time with JSA, but looks forward to much more. This year, she has earned a spot as her chapter’s historian and is serving on Cabinet for the first time as the Director of Fundraising for the SER. She is looking forward to another year with JSA and hopes to give to the organization what it has given to her.
Katelin Zhou, Mayor
Katelin is a Junior at Westlake High School. She has been involved with JSA since her freshman year, and is ecstatic to be serving this year as the Channel Islands Region Mayor. She is currently beginning her second term as the Chapter President of Westlake High School, which she revived just last year. Additionally, she has previously served on state cabinet as a Deputy Director of Debate, allowing her to further her involvement with JSA, and helping her to uncover her immense passion and love for this organization. She has since found her home-away-from-home within the Junior State and is beyond excited to improve it in whatever way possible next year. Outside of JSA, Katelin is involved with Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Junior Blind of America, and water polo. Her favorite TV shows are Friends and Parks and Recreation, and she is an avid lover of dogs and pet chickens. Katelin is looking forward to a wonderful year with the Channel Islands Region, and cannot wait to meet all of you!
Elizabeth Benke, Vice Mayor
Elizabeth Benke is a rising senior at Rio Mesa High School. She was first introduced to Junior State of America as a junior when she became Chapter President in hopes of reviving Rio Mesa’s chapter. After attending Fall Leadership conference, she became infatuated with the ability of her peers to confidently vocalize their views on American politics and the platform of open minded individuals that JSA created. Since then, Elizabeth has attended multiple overnight conferences and One Day events and the Rio Mesa Chapter continues to thrive. She is incredibly honored to serve as the Channel Islands Region Vice Mayor this year. Outside of JSA, Elizabeth is involved in her school’s Mock Trial team, Model United Nations club, and coaches at her former gymnasium. In her free time, she enjoys learning new languages (Arabic being her current obsession), watching TedTalks, and earnestly reading Tarot Cards.
Tiffany Garcia, Events Coordinator
Tiffany Garcia is a junior at San Marcos High School. After attending only a few chapter meetings, she easily found her passion in JSA and the platform it provides for student leadership and discussion. As CIR Event Coordinator, Tiffany is dedicated to creating a lasting impression on students at regional events through effective planning strategies and a strong determination for creating an open environment for student involvement. Outside of JSA, Tiffany runs competitively, interns for local political campaigns, and is also the president for local nonprofit Santa Barbara Speaks. She is incredibly excited to be serving the members of JSA as part of the CIR cabinet and is looking forward to an amazing year.
Logan Prince, Director of Debate
Logan Prince is a sophomore at Oak Park High School. He started a JSA Chapter during his freshmen year of high school because of his interest in politics and leadership. Because of JSA, he has acquired a multitude of skills that he regards impactful to his everyday life, such as the ability to think critically and developing his public speaking skills.
Logan’s chapter focused specifically on local matters facing their community; deciding to address the District of Choice (DOC) issue that threated 1,700 students in the Oak Park Unified School District alone. To confront the subject, Logan and his chapter assisted with promotion of a petition and received recognition from Oak Park’s Superintendent for their efforts in helping to save the DOC program. During the year they also held various in class discussions and debates.
Outside of JSA, Logan participates in club and school volleyball teams, Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate, his school’s student government, Boy’s Team Charity and is an Advanced Peer Counselor. In addition, he is creating an organization that provides underserved teens with debate programs, which are critical for understanding real-world issues and being able to appropriately defend your opinions.
Michelle Kidess, Director of Media and Publicity
Michelle Kidess is a senior at Santa Susana High School. After attending the UCLA Burd. Institute on Media and Politics in the Summer of 2016, she was inspired by the newly elected Cabinet members to start a JSA chapter of her own. In the fall of 2016, Michelle founded a chapter of her own, and she wouldn’t have done so without the help of the Expansion department. Michelle started a JSA chapter without knowing what it fully even was,but now credits her love of engaging in politics and to JSA.
Michelle worked to her very best while to handling a full schedule of AP courses and keeping her chapter afloat. She is proud of the progress she has made by almost more than 10 members and filling up classroom at meetings where hot debate topics were heavily advertised about. She learned not only how to manage her time better but how to market a club to gain new members by making eloquent presentations, creative posters and advertising her club on social media platforms.
Since starting her chapter, Michelle has created a bigger love for world politics and hopes one day to work as a Secretary of State. JSA has pushed Michelle to reach for greater opportunities like interning for U.S. Congressman Steve Knight and California State Assemblyman Dante Acosta this past summer.
Outside of JSA, Michelle is the Senior Class President of her school. Being a role model to her peers is something she prides herself upon. Michelle additionally loves playing tennis in her free time as she has won USTA Sectionals in her county for three years running.
Michelle graciously attended the UCLA Burd Institute on Media and Politics this Summer, this has pushed her even more to campaign for the rights of others around the globe and in her hometown of Simi Valley.
Hayley Kang, Director of Fundraising
Hayley Kang is a sophomore at Westlake High School. She first joined the club because her friend wanted to go but didn’t have anyone to go with. At first she regretted her decision in following her friend to the club because she was a little bit intimidated by some of of the members who were very vocal about their beliefs,
However, with time, she now loves JSA because it brought 57 different people with different personalities together. Before JSA, she was not a vocal person regarding her opinions and beliefs but through this organization , she was able to express who she is inside and also learn and grow from everyone else’s beliefs. This is her first year being part of the SoCal JSA Cabinet but she is looking forward to finding creative ways to increase CIR region’s funds.