Smitha comes to YLI from the youth mental health advocacy world, where she saw health and education systems struggle to engage and include young people in their decisions. She studied Public Health and Public Policy at UC Berkeley and advocated with fellow students to secure remote counseling, confidential peer counseling spaces, and close gaps in Berkeley’s counseling services. She also worked with young people as a Health Educator for national nonprofit Peer Health Exchange, and facilitated campus-community collaborations as part of the school’s Public Service Center.
Since college, she has worked with No Stigma No Barriers, a Transition Age Youth advocacy collective, as well as with the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). Smitha‘s journey has led her to youth empowerment and engagement, and she looks forward to helping lift barriers to youth advocacy in her role as Program Coordinator. In her role, Smitha will be supporting youth in advocating around substance use inequities in their communities, including as one of the advisors at YLI for our alcohol advocacy arm, Friday Night Live.
In her free time, Smitha enjoys travel and a good milkshake — usually together.