Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action (MYLA)

Program Overview

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MYLA logoThe City of Virginia Beach Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action (MYLA) is a group of socially, economically and ethnically diverse middle and high school youth from across the city. The group was created with the belief that young people, if given the opportunity, could be meaningfully and successfully involved in making and impacting decisions that affect their lives. 

MYLA is a youth-led program that exists to be a positive force in the community through leadership, service, education, and representation. 

  • Leadership: develop and/or enhance youth leadership skills such as time management, organizational skills, decision making, teambuilding, goal setting, and mentoring​
  • Service: volunteer opportunities through city events, building camaraderie amongst the group to inspire and motivate others, build relationships, show a commitment to the community, and develop professionalism
  • Education: share knowledge and facilitate learning through training youth and adults on various topics, facilitating and coordinating leadership workshops and retreats, developing creativity and public speaking skills
  • Representation: opportunities to serve on city and community boards and committees and provide a youth perspective as well as networking opportunities

 Join MYLA


​Youth are accepted into the program through a selection process led by current MYLA officers. Prospective youth must submit an application, two (2) recommendation letters, and a copy of their most recent report card to Pending review, applicants will be notified of their status. An interview and program visit may be scheduled. Apply below. 

What will you gain as a member of MYLA?

  • ​Have your voice heard
  • Learn how to be an effective leader
  • Feel valued as a member of the community
  • Make a difference in the lives of others
  • Network with community leaders
  • Learn about your community
  • Gain the knowledge of community partnerships

Membership Resources

 About Us

About Us


President: Tristen Gambito
Vice President: Swara Chokshi
Secretary: Malav Shah
Historian: Naman Chowdhary
Membership Coordinator: Devante Granby-Etheridge

High Schools Represented:
Bayside High School
First Colonial High School
Kellam High School
Ocean Lakes High School
Princess Anne High School
Landstown High School​

Middle Schools Represented:​

Bayside Middle School
Great Neck Middle School
Larkspur Middle School 
Plaza Middle School
Old Donation School

MYLA has been recognized with the following awards:
  • ​​Debra L. Elam Outstanding Youth Volunteer Group Award​
  • Debra L. Elam Outstanding Youth Volunteer Individual Award​
  • Virginia Beach Best All Around Youth Group Award
  • Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP) Conference Mini Grant
  • Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP) Conference Wheeler Award

 MYLA Today Newsletters

MYLA Today Newsletters

MYLA newsletter jun 19-jul 20.png MYLA newsletter july-dec 20-2.png MYLA newsletter jun 19-jul 20.png 

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Quarantine Corner



MYLA worked in partnership with the Teen Media Studio to create videos for the Season for Nonviolence, the Mayor's Brunch event, and a playlist of children's stories, crafts, and fitness videos.

Mayor's Brunch

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MYLA Challenge & Quarantine Survival Guide

The Mayor's Youth Leaders in Action (MYLA) challenge you to TRY SOMETHING NEW. To participate, add a picture of you trying something new to Instagram and use the hashtag #MYLAQuarantineChallenge or tag @myla_vb. Check out the MYLA Quarantine Survival Guide for inspiration. 


“The MYLA program is the single biggest asset to both Virginia Beach and the young people who comprise this innovated and talented group. As a roughly 3 year MYLA alum and a rising college senior, the program has prompted discussion in interviews and has shaped not only an extensive resume for myself, but has shaped myself as well. Thanks to MYLA, I developed confidence in my voice as a young person and have not been quiet since. Truly thankful for a program that cultivates the minds and spirits of Virginia Beach’s brightest!” 
- Katelyn Jordan

​"I started with MYLA in my freshman year. Joining this group was the greatest decision I made in high school. It was an amazing opportunity to plan events, encourage a better community for the youth of the city, and to meet the people that work tirelessly day in and day out to leave the city in a better position for all. Through MYLA, I learned time management and prioritization. This played a key role in college as I was able to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting in just three years. It is because of MYLA that I have become goal oriented and self-motivated and I have MYLA to thank for the person that I have become today. It was just a plus that I was able to land a great job with everything that I learned in MYLA. I am currently working at Hanes Brands Inc. as an Internal Auditor." 
-Elizabeth “Liz” Friss​

“Since joining MYLA, my daughter Destinee Pearson has matured in many ways. I have watched my daughter go from a shy quite young lady to someone that is willing to lead and looking for more ways to get involved in her community. MYLA offers young people the opportunity to be leaders in the community and role models to their peers. MYLA has helped mold my daughter into a committed young lady who has shown a responsibility and passion to change her community. Her mother and I are very proud of the positive change that MYLA is making in her life." 
- Pastor Virges Pearson Jr.

“Communication is important. Learning how to respond to emails in a timely manner has been one of the most important skills that I've used and continue to use in college. Learning how to interact with professionals from the various commissions that I sat on has also been an important skill as well as learning Robert's Rules of Order and how to facilitate group meetings has helped immensely in the various student organizations I have helped lead.” 
- Joseph Camano

“From my experience in MYLA, I learned how to take initiative in my own abilities in a leadership role and felt that I was able to make an active difference in my community. It was from MYLA that I realized that I was able to make an impact based on my actions and representation as a youth in Virginia Beach. Now, as a college student at VCU (I'm a third-year now), I am able to look back on all I have been to able to accomplish the past few years, from serving as a mentor for underclassmen and as a role-model for my residents since I work as a Resident Assistant (RA).” 
-Cara Chou

“Being a part of YLA cemented my mindset as a leader. I'm able to organize and drive a variety of projects in both my personal and professional life. Examples include, hosting a family reunion for close to 100 people in New York or leading a Kickstarter campaign that raised $60,000 for a film. A lot of what I learned through YLA and other leadership activities in my youth have all played a crucial role in making me who I am today.” 
-Meagen Hagans  

 Photo Gallery