I am delighted to be writing to you as the new CEO of Generation Citizen!
As an African-American woman, a descendant of enslaved Americans, the child of educators, I come from a community with a deep well of hope. It is not a light and breezy hope. Our hope—my optimism—is a tool of personal and collective survival. It shares a depth with the hope of Native Americans who have protected the land and their families through trials and the many immigrants who have come to this land over the centuries and made it home. It is the optimism of Langston Hughes that stirs me every day to help make an America that has never been:
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
These words have fueled me through years of work to strengthen democracy and advance justice, from the local to the national level, and they power me today. There could not be a more important time to be focused on how young people are going to lead our democracy forward. Because yes, this is a really hard time. We are now living in three crises at once. We have a health crisis, an economic crisis. And we have been in a long crisis around racial equity and injustice.
But there’s no question that young people are, in fact, uniquely impacted in all of these crises. And young people have so much to say based on what they’re seeing, based on what they’re experiencing and what their ideas are. They’re a key part of what’s going to help us get out of this difficult moment, and help us create a new kind of future for this country.
This is an organization full of leaders. And so I’m excited about the chance to bring my ideas and lift up the energy of the students, the teachers, local and associate boards, everyone who’s been a part of driving Generation Citizen for the past 12 years.
I will be embarking on a period of deep listening, especially to young people, and look forward to sharing what I’m learning along the way. I’m proud to join a dynamic team and look forward to working alongside them and you in continuing Generation Citizen’s work across the country.
Liz Clay Roy
CEO, Generation Citizen
Follow me on Twitter @lizclayroy