Our Staff 


The staff of Youth on Board bring over thirty five years of experience in youth organizing and youth development.

Jenny Sazama, Director & Co-Founder


Jenny is a nationally recognized leader in the youth organizing and youth development fields. She has spearheaded successful youth engagement efforts in Boston, all over the country, and overseas. Her work is based on the idea that building strong relationships is the key to effecting real change, and the belief that everyone benefits when young people have a say in the institutions and policies that affect them.  Working closely with the Boston Public Schools, Jenny co-administers the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC), a group of elected student leaders that seeks to influence policy on the school and district level.


Jenny is a founding member of Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation (YOUNG), a group seeking to create a common vision, unifying message, and shared strategy for collaborative youth-led education organizing in Boston.


Prior to Youth on Board, Jenny established and directed Youth in Action, a program designed to empower teens to take leadership in their neighborhoods, and founded the Resource Center for Youth and their Allies, a nonprofit that organizes ongoing support groups for youth workers, disabled young people, teen mothers, and other groups. Jenny has authored or co-authored nearly 10 publications pertaining to youth involvement, including Your Guide to Youth Board Involvement and the Law, Get the Word Out, and 15 Points: Successfully Involving Youth in Decision Making.


Rachel Gunther, Associate Director


Since 2002 Rachel has been involved in all aspects of Youth on Board.  She has worked for over twenty years with adults and young people to strengthen community involvement and ensure access to high quality education and services. Rachel  brings a wide range of experiences to her role including strategic planning, training, writing and editing publications, marketing, program design and evaluation, and financial administration. In 1994 Rachel became inspired to work with non-profits after her experience volunteering with young people in the Summer of Service program.  Since then she has served at a diverse array of public and non-profit institutions, including almost a decade at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health where she worked to improve access to primary health care.


Other work Rachel has done includes designing and evaluating after-school programming in New York City for The After School Corporation, conducting a meta analysis of summer programming for the Harvard Family Research Project, and produced several educational films for Seftel Productions. Rachel received her bachelors from Tufts University and her Masters in Social Work from Boston University with a focus on public administration.


Maria Estrada, BSAC Student Engagement Manager, Boston Public Schools Office of Engagement

Maria Estrada co-administers Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) and has demonstrated her commitment to youth leadership and student engagement through a wealth of professional experience serving in several non-profit organizations. Past positions include: Director of Bikes Not Bombs, focused on promoting community based education and projects involving recycled bicycles and environmentally sustainable transportation; Co-Director of Boston Do Something, focused on challenging and supporting young people in their efforts to make Boston a better, more just place to live; and Trainer for Youth on Board, where her work centered around successfully involving youth in decision making within organizations, committees and/or board of directors.


Maria’s role at the Office of Engagement brings true student involvement through nurturing rapid growth of the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) and providing training and support to teachers and staff on student engagement at the school-based and district levels.

Karen S. Young, Founder & Consultant


For the past two decades Karen has been actively engaged in advocating for the empowerment of young people. A graduate of Humboldt State University, Karen began as a college student organizer and rapidly became a national voice for student action. Serving on staff at the Campus Outreach Opportunity League, she was involved in the development of the National Service Act of 1990. In 1991, she was appointed by President George Bush to be a member of the United States Commission on National and Community Service where she pushed for young peoples’ involvement at all levels of the emerging national service field. Her role expanded to the international front when she was selected as one of 13 participants to participate in the Youth in Action forum of UNESCO. Her experience as the youngest member of the Commission, combined with her experiences as a student and community activist, were her inspiration for starting Youth on Board. Karen also has extensive experience addressing Asian cultural issues and is a good friend to many young people.

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© 2017 by YOUTH ON BOARD