The Story of Youth Leadership America

Youths don’t just have to be future leaders of tomorrow, they can be leaders of today! Many adults see us as just student leaders but we can be leaders at home as well as in the community. YLA was founded by youths, for youths, and to be lead by youths — a true peer-to-peer leadership program that builds up anyone involved to positively impact our local community and anywhere we go.
— John Nguyen, Founder

Youth Leadership America is the outgrowth of Youth Leadership Anaheim, a program that was founded in 2002 by a group of high school students in Anaheim, California. Inspired by the vision of program founder John Nguyen, these youth created a leadership development program that was operated by high school students for high school students.


John approached Leadership Anaheim, an Anaheim-based not-for-profit, with his idea to inspire youth to lead by giving them the opportunity to interact and work with community leaders. Chartered as the youth component of Leadership Anaheim, Youth Leadership Anaheim was born. Each year a youth board of directors comprised of ten to twenty high school students operated and expanded the program. Under the guidance of youth board and holding to the belief that “Leaders are made, not born,” Youth Leadership Anaheim flourished as it molded young people into skilled leaders.

Three years later, John Nguyen, along with some other founding board members, facilitated an intense weekend of goal setting for the 2005-2006 youth board. It was here that the youth board decided that they wanted to share the benefits of their program with young people all across the United States. This goal setting session inspired Alexi Robichaux, one of the co-founders with John Nguyen and others, to envision a new YLA, a Youth Leadership America, that would be its own nonprofit commissioned with spreading the YLA model across America.

In January of 2006, with the support of our youth members, community partners, and Youth Leadership Anaheim, Youth Leadership America was officially founded as its own 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. To this day, we continue to excel as Anaheim’s premier youth leadership program and aggressively pursue our vision of exporting our community-centric leadership development model throughout all of America.

Care. Connect.  Change.