4 fellows speaking at AYLF


Our Senior Fellows Are the Change They Want to See

By Natalie Travers, Associate Director of Development and Communications, AYLF

AYLF works with our fellows over the course of five years — one year of intensive leadership development, followed by four years of ongoing support through the AYLF network. Our fellows tend to be deeply curious about change and what it takes to make change happen — in their communities, in the world, and in themselves. Meet a few of our Senior Fellows and learn more about what it can mean to be a Fellow.

Image of Tyler smiling while participating in AYLF

Tyler Yarbrough
Delta 2018-19 Cohort

In 2018, Kroger, the primary grocery store in Clarksdale, a historic community known for the Blues in Mississippi where AYLF often hosts seminars, closed its doors after 75 years in the community. Accessibility to fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables is already limited here in Tyler’s hometown, and the store’s departure left many residents without a sufficient alternative for groceries and produce. This fueled Tyler’s passion to fight for health equity in under-resourced communities like his own. He now works at Partnership for a Healthy America, and has been leading the charge to link local farmers with places for distribution in and around Clarksdale, such as school lunch programs, a new farmer’s market, and renowned local music festival. In shaping this localized effort with its own brand, Rootswell, distinctly made by and for locals and grounded in bringing diverse groups together around agritourism and creativity, Tyler’s aim is to make farms a part of everyone’s collective consciousness.

Photo of Kisa

Kisa Jafri
Chicago 2021 Cohort

Kisa Jafri has been pursuing a career in healthcare since her graduation from the first cohort in Chicago, and has worked with AYLF along the way. She conducted a Global Health Policy Case study in the Moshi community in Tanzania the summer of 2022, working within the community to assess, implement, and address existing health disparities. She pursued a degree in Human Biology, Health, and Society at Cornell University, graduating just this May. Kisa also partook in the Aspen Institute’s Future Leaders Climate Initiative where she collaborated with other Aspen climate leaders to discuss critical climate change at Aspen Ideas: Climate 2023. Currently she is focused on her journey to medical school.

Kyah speaking at AYLF

Kyah Donald
St. Louis 2018 cohort

Kyah graduated from the inaugural St. Louis cohort in 2019, and has remained in the AYLF ecosystem, nurturing her passion for mentorship and navigating her college experience and career.

In 2022, she joined 12 other peers from AYLF cohorts in St. Louis to uncover what a program reset in the city might look like. They worked with a design consultant to reimagine the sustainability of the program in their city.

Meanwhile, Kyah was wrapping up her senior year at the Missouri University of Science and Technology — a top 100 engineering school in the country where she majored in business and science technology. She worked hard to receive a generous scholarship from Clayco, which supported her and gave her internship experience throughout her college career.

While in her senior year, Clayco introduced her to an opportunity with Schneider Electric, where she interned her senior year and is now in her first year of a three-year leadership development program with the company. Her leadership development program offers her the chance to be trained in different functions and departments within the company and prepares her to be a well-equipped manager upon her completion of the program, at which point Kyah will ultimately choose where in the company she would like to work.

This year, as Kyah continues to navigate her professional journey, she has been serving as a Youth Facilitator for AYLF’s first cohort in Miami, bringing her AYLF experiences, education and career full-circle. “I’m gaining exposure to corporate leadership programming, which influences what I can bring into the seminar space for new Fellows. Equally important, I am linking what I learn in leadership conversations in the seminar room to situations at work and discovering a true passion for mentorship, for which I am so grateful.” said Kyah in a recent call.

Discovering synergies like Kyah has, tapping into resources to bring big ideas to life, and utilizing all one learns in AYLF to launch community change are just a few examples of how AYLF Senior Fellows are leveraging their AYLF experience.