Champions of Change
Zach Garafalo is the Assistant Director of YOUTH POWER! (YP!). YP! is a cross-systems advocacy organization that brings the voices of young people with disabilities to government officials in New York State. A skilled community organizer, Zach built a career focused mentoring program for youth with disabilities who are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. Under Zach’s leadership, YP!’s mentoring program was recognized by the New York State Office of Mental Health for its positive impact on the social and emotional development on children and teens, their families and loved ones. Additionally, Zach has spoken extensively on engaging with marginalized youth and young adults, including in presentations to a United States Department of State delegation of young people from Belarus and transition-aged youth from the Netherlands. As a young person with ADHD and a learning disability, Zach has learned how to use his high energy levels to his professional advantage. In 2011, Zach was presented the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from his alma mater, Southern Vermont College. Zach is active in his community and serves on the Albany County Juvenile Community Accountability Board and as a member of the Board of Directors of Literacy New York Greater Capital Region. A tireless advocate for equality and opportunities for all, Zach consistently advocates for youth and young adults to have opportunities to provide input into service design and public policy discussions.