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Youth Member Spotlight

Meet a Youth Member Dedicated to Making a Difference

The energy that our youth members bring to Leadership Toledo is exhilarating, and their achievements are inspiring – both for their peers and for the adults they work with. Once each quarter, we focus on an individual youth member and talk with them about their work with Leadership Toledo's youth programs, how it has changed their life, and where they think their experience will take them.

Matthew headshot

Matthew Valachek

Student, Emmanuel Christian School

How and when have you been involved with Leadership Toledo?

My involvement with Leadership Toledo began when I was nominated by my school to take part in Youth Leadership Toledo as a Sophomore. As a Junior, I continued in LT programming by joining YIPEE and I learned a lot of important lessons about philanthropy and all of the amazing work that local nonprofits are doing for the youth of Toledo. And now, as a Senior, I have the honor of serving as a Youth Board Member for Leadership Toledo's Board of Trustees.

What was your favorite moment or takeaway from your involvement?

One of the most memorable experiences for me during my time in Leadership Toledo is when my YLT class had our retreat at the SeaGate center, and we were asked to fill out the Predictive Index test, which measures one's different drives, strengths, and needs. My results indicated that I was a Scholar. However, I was the only one in the 60+ group of sophomores from all over the Toledo area who had a Scholar profile.

This experience taught me that I can still be an impactful leader and make a difference, even though my way of approaching tasks and solving problems may be different from others. This experience also showed me that it is important to surround myself with others with different leadership styles and strengths, and that there is no one 'right' way to lead others to a common end goal.

How do you define leadership?

Leadership is the act of inspiring a group of people to come together in a unified way to accomplish a task that makes a positive impact. Effective leaders bring out the best in people and they show up whole heartedly each day. Leaders model the way for others to follow, bring people together around a common purpose, challenge the status quo, and they enable others to act authentically.

Leaders bring people together, respond well under pressure, and have an appreciation for perspectives that may differ from their own. Leaders are servants rather than bosses, and are willing to lead by example.

What strategies or resources do you find useful in order to continue your leadership development journey?

There are a lot of helpful resources that I have been exposed to in YLT that have been helpful in my growth as a leader. The Student Leadership Challenge activities that we did were especially helpful, and I often challenged myself to apply those principles in my day to day routine.

I also look to surround myself with other mentors that push me to be the best leader that I can be, because there is always room to grow and improve. By surrounding myself with others who have more experience and wisdom, it pushes me to always find ways to grow and improve my leadership style and approach.

How do you stay active in your community?

I still remain active in serving my school as a part of Student Council and National Honor Society, as well as serving at my Church. As a part of Student Council, I served as the lead person in charge of creating our first ever 8th Grade Leadership Conference. I got to lead alongside other Student Council members to plan out the conference and make sure that it was both a meaningful and fun experience for the students and staff alike.

What's new since your involvement in LT? 

I am now a Senior in High School at Emmanuel Christian and have been able to use my experiences with LT to make a huge difference in my community and at school. Since my involvement with YLT, I now hold officer positions in Student Council as the Technology officer and Secretary in National Honor Society. My gained experiences in YLT and YIPEE have been instrumental to my growth as a leader and in these opportunities at school.

What difference can you make through Leadership Toledo's programs? Contact us and we’ll explore the possibilities.

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