We inspire and mobilize youth leaders to reflect upon their values and beliefs, connect with others across differences and act together.

Youth LEAD (Leaders Engaging Across Differences) is a program headquartered at Emerson College that provides a year-long youth leadership and training opportunities for high school students grades 9–12 in Sharon, Massachusetts and surrounding towns. Youth LEAD has been operating programs in Sharon since 2004.

Youth LEAD provides students with an opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills by deepening their understanding of historical and present systems of oppression through a social justice framework. Students will also strengthen their collaboration and communication skills to continue to build more just and equitable spaces. Through this program, participants continue to deepen their knowledge, raise questions and take action within communities. 

Youth LEAD allowed me to take on a leadership role that taught me the true art of leading, a skill that I have used in many positions in college and outside since.

Program Overview

Youth LEAD will meet twice monthly on Sundays, 6 to 8 p.m. in person in Sharon, MA (Exact location TBD)

Program Commitment

Participants must commit to missing no more than two program meetings during the year. Youth LEAD will observe holiday, February vacation, and April vacation breaks in accordance with the SPS calendar.

Program Fees

This year program fees will be offered on a sliding scale from $0-$500. For more information and to register, complete this form: Youth LEAD 2021-2022 Program Application Form. A link to our secure payment portal will be sent upon submission.

History of Youth LEAD

In 1998 two synagogues in Sharon, MA were vandalized and town residents received hate mail from an out-of-state address. Sharon’s religious leaders, including Father Robert Bullock, a founding board member of Facing History and Ourselves and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Sharon, MA, called in the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to help the town take a stand against these acts of vandalism. With this support, the town united against the vandalism and hate-mongering.

After working with the clergy in town, the ADL created and supported the Sharon ADL Interfaith Youth Leadership Program from 1999–2002. Grateful for this initial support, Interfaith Action incorporated in 2004 and later in 2011 changed its name to Youth LEAD (Youth Leaders Engaging Across Differences) to reflect our broader focus on cultural, ethnic and religious diversity and to better express the pivotal role that youth play in planning and running our programs.

In 2018, Youth LEAD launched a new partnership with Emerson College’s Elma Lewis Center. All administrative functions have since been relocated to Emerson College with a satellite program site operating in Sharon.

Contact Us

For general inquiries, please contact our team at youthlead [at] emerson.edu (youthlead[at]emerson[dot]edu) or 617-824-8927.


Student Bios

  • Charlotte Pototsky headshot
    YouthLEAD Participant

    Charlotte Pototsky (she/they) is a student, leader, and activist ambitious to build a supportive and ethical community. They are passionate about and committed to healing social justice related difficulties including, but not limited to, racial inequity, women rights and empowerment, and environmental justice. She enjoys writing poetry, creating educational (yet simultaneously entertaining) videos, writing music, telling stories, and drawing visuals to prove a point. Through the fine arts, they hope to engage those who have not interacted as deeply in mending social justice issues. One day, Charlotte aspires to pursue a further education and a career as a leader for social change.

  • Ollie Katz headshot
    YouthLEAD Participant

    Ollie is a high school senior from the suburbs of Boston. He is Jewish and very openly gay. Ollie has a deep interest in folk music, specifically sea shanties and other work songs. This interest inspires much of his writing and related activism. He focuses on topics that are intersectional, anti-imperialist, pro-worker, and quite honestly idealistic. Ollie is someone who does not enjoy down time. He intentionally keeps a very busy schedule. He is a barista, a babysitter, and a volunteer. For over two years, Ollie has been volunteering as a call taker at a Massachusetts-based suicide prevention service. This is work that he has found very fulfilling. He feels honored that he has been able to help people while learning valuable communicating skills that he is able to transfer to other areas of his life.

  • Sahana Bharadwaj headshot
    YouthLEAD Participant

    Sahana Bharadwaj is from Sharon Massachusetts. She is 15 years old, in the 9th grade, and attends Sharon High School. She enjoys playing basketball and the piano. Sahana has been playing the piano since the first grade. She takes classes at Sharon Music Academy and recently performed a piece at Carnegie Hall, in New York City, for the Crescendo Music Competition, in which she won first place. Sahana has also been playing basketball for numerous years, since kindergarten. She has played travel, recreational, and club basketball. Aside from piano and basketball, Sahana also enjoys reading. Some of her favorite books include The Selection Series, the Percy Jackson series, and The Song of Achilles.

  • Shreya Gorrepati headshot
    YouthLEAD Participant

    Shreya Gorrepati (she/her/hers) is a Sophomore at Sharon High School and has been a Youth Lead member for two years. She is an Indian-American who has grown up in Massachusetts. Her interests are history, literature, and social justice, and she loves to travel to see new places and explore new cultures. Social justice issues she is interested in are sexism, classism, and racism. Her artistic expression is shown through ceramics, sculpting, and poetry. She also loves to paint random objects and visuals she sees throughout the day. As a student, she is interested in learning about history from a point of view that is not taught in school, and as an artist, she is interested in the portrayal of femininity intersected with race.

  • Anya Capone headshot
    YouthLEAD Participant

    Anya is an 18 year old senior who is passionate about ending class division, climate change and ableism in our society. She enjoys making unique jewelry, using collage in her art pieces and painting portraits. She has been diagnosed with POTS, a disability that causes unstable heart rate level and drastic changes in blood pressure. This has allowed her to be more aware of ableism, and in turn be able to advocate against it. She plans to attend Dean College in the fall to study psychology. Anya hopes to help her community in the future by becoming a psychologist for the adolescent. Youth Lead has allowed her to form a more educated understanding of the roots of many social issues and how to fight against them.

  • Nikhil Khanna headshot
    YouthLEAD Participant
  • YouthLEAD Participant
  • YouthLEAD Participant
  • YouthLEAD Participant
  • YouthLEAD Participant
  • YouthLEAD Participant