My name is Emily Flower and I’m joining Generation Citizen as the Rhode Island Program Associate.
From a young age I was surrounded by civic influences. I woke up early everyday to watch a re-run of The West Wing with my dad before work and would follow my mom to community meetings after school. The family tree on my parents’ dining room wall dates back to 1316 and holds the stories of the Mayflower and a former New York governor. As I got older, I quickly learned that civic engagement isn’t just something you hang on a wall or watch passively.
I realized the importance of personally taking action and ownership when I was in high school and my school faced severe funding cuts. I helped organize a letter-writing campaign and was able to testify before a House Committee on education funding in my home state of Ohio. The campaign was successful and educational funding cuts were avoided, allowing my school to serve more students the following year. This transformational experience showed me the importance of taking action in our government and our communities.
Much of my previous work centered on employment skills. While I realized many people needed professional skills, including how to dress or speak professionally, most groups I worked with lacked the knowledge of the employment system and the belief they could succeed in using it. Teaching problem-solving and self-advocacy within the context of employment was exciting, but after working with high school students on these skills I realized there could be a bigger impact beyond securing employment. Students could translate these job-ready skills to help change their communities, too.
I am thrilled to be joining an organization that challenges young people to think outside themselves, to solve real problems, and to actively create their future and their country’s future in the process.
~Emily Flower, RI Program Associate