Kind Leader Spotlight Series
Introducing our Kind Leader Spotlight Series! Every Friday we will be showcasing leaders who demonstrate the positive change we hope to create in the world.
July 17, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Aya Brown.
Aya is an artist from Brooklyn that has been using her talent to highlight women doing essential work since COVID19 began. With the rise in media attention on police brutality, she has started devoting her work to the celebration of Black women in her community.
#art #expression #community #celebration #kindness #connection
July 10, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on good friends Autumn Gupta and Bryanna Wallace.
Bryanna and Autumn have been friends since college. When the video of George Floyd’s murder began circulating the media, Autumn wanted to be an ally to Bryanna but knew had some learning to do. Autumn worked with Bryanna’s oversight to create a resource, turned website, “Justice in June.” Their goal is to help others begin a daily learning practice to be a better ally and create real change, starting with just 10 minutes a day!
Check out their website and start learning today:
#justice #friendship #friends #community #action #awareness #kindness #empathy #connection #antiracism
July 3, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Jalen Thompson!
Jalen is a recent high school graduate who organized a peaceful protest with over 2,000 people in his hometown in Missouri. Jalen and his friends did not want to stay silent and, overcoming pushback, organized a successful and powerful opportunity for others to speak out against injustice with them.
#teenled #organizing #community #change
June 26, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on the Class of 2020.
We are inspired by the leaders of tomorrow and hopeful for the ways in which they will positively impact their communities. We wish the Riley’s Way graduates go on to shape the world into a kinder place. Congratulations Class of 2020!
#ClassOf2020 #leadership #kindness #empathy #connection
June 19, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on YWCA Brooklyn for their Emmy award winning video “Your Voice. Your Vote.”
We are proud to partner with the YWCA Brooklyn and their work to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice and strengthen communities. This video is a timely reminder that voting is June 23rd for NY. Make your voice heard this Tuesday!
Link to full video:
June 12, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Vera Ahiyya for empowering students to value their story and their voice. She created lesson plans and videos to teach kids about racism and how they can use their voice to make a difference.
“Beyond just the COVID virus, which is spreading, we also are combating a different kind of disease. This is not the disease that you catch from germs from person to person. But it’s something that happens with the way that people think…This is called racism. And racism has happened in the United States for over 400 years. That’s a very long time and by now, you would think that something so terrible would be gone. But it’s not that easy. Racism is everywhere and it is our job to stop it”
-Vera Ahiyya, a.k.a. The Tutu Teacher
For full video:
June 5, 2020:
This week’s kind leader spotlight shines on all Youth Activists in the fight for social justice. They have long been at the front of progressive movements and continue to advocate for justice in all realms.
Here are some youth led organization working to make justice a reality today:
May 22, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Ian Sandler, Proud Father of Riley Hannah Sandler & Riley’s Way Co-Founder, for reminding us of the importance of purpose and inspiring us to dream big. We celebrate Ian’s kind leadership and dedication to empowering the next generation of leaders.
“Our goal is simple: change the world, if slowly, by providing the infrastructure and support to youth to become kind leaders and bring lasting change to their communities.”
Read Ian’s full article from Thrive Global:
May 15, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Principal Michelle Haynes! We celebrate her for being a role model of empathetic leadership and kindness for Sisulu Walker Charter School of Harlem and the community.
Riley’s Way is working with Sisulu-Walker to set up a food bank and buddy reading program for their families. In Riley’s Way style, our Council members will be reading to their Kindergarten students and we are collecting kind letters of support from our community to add to the food bags.
May 8, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Siblings and teens leading with kindness in their homes.
Whether cooking meals, helping with homework, or looking after others, we recognize their extra effort during this pandemic.
For those supporting siblings with autism, check out this resource from Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT).
May 1, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Delivery Drivers & Mail Workers for continuing to travel through cities, deliver mail, and life saving packages.
In a time where delivery is the only option for many to get their life necessities, Delivery Drivers and Mail Workers are doing their best to get deliveries made.
Some ways people are showing kindness:
April 24, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Mr. Tafari Powis and Ms. Vanessa Burdier, Guidance Counselors from The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens.
Amidst the transition to online learning and social distancing, Ms. Burdier and Mr. Powis have continued to engage with their students meaningfully through interactive virtual sessions and daily outreach.
They were nominated by Principal Panday. Nominate the heroes and helpers of your life. Who is inspiring you in this tough time? How are they showing #kindnessincorona?
April 17, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Grocery Store Workers for their effort to keep people fed and stores safely stocked.
While there is no way to say thank you enough, there are things we can do to keep our essential workers safe.
April 10, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Religious and Spiritual Leaders from all faiths for finding ways to safely keep people connected.
We celebrate them for finding ways to keep people emotionally connected while physically distant in a time of social isolation.
April 3, 2020:
This week’s #KindLeaderSpotlight shines on Sanitation Workers across the country that are arduously working to keep our streets clean.
In New York alone, over 11,000 tons of household trash and 2,000 tons of recycling are generated every day. Sanitation workers keep our city recognizable and livable.
Some things you can do to make their work safer:
March 27, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on California Farmworkers & all those working to ensure food is getting from farms to markets to our tables.
Agricultural work is essential, and California supplies up to one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-third of the country’s fruits and nuts. Working where our food begins, farmworkers and growers keep the food supply going & nourish the nation.
March 20, 2020:
In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting those who are continuing to work hard on the front lines and supporting their communities amidst the #coronavirus.
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on MN CovidSitters and all of the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers taking care of their communities in so many ways.
A group of University of Minnesota (UMN) Medical School students has decided to lead through service. From child or pet care to grocery and pharmacy runs, this group of volunteers demonstrates that kindness is in the details.
March 13, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Grace Lee Boggs!
Her activism encompassed the labor movement, civil rights, the Black Power movement, women’s rights, and environmental justice. For over 70 years, she sought out new ways to promote the evolution of communities through connection and creativity.
“Do something local. Do something real, however small. And don’t diss the political things, but understand their limitations.”
-Grace Lee Boggs, #kindleader
March 6, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Julia Gross!
Julia has a passion for the arts and loves sharing it with others. For her Bat Mitzvah project, in lieu of gifts she is raising funds to create an adaptive arts studio at the Kings Bay Y and has been volunteering at “Sunday Funday” with children with special needs.
“My volunteering has shown me the impact arts can have when they are accessible to everyone.”
February 28, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Daud Mumin! He is making modern history with his work to empower a culture of voting in his community.
Daud is a voter registration activist working to combat voter disenfranchisement. With a grant from Eighteen x 18 he was able to transport community members to an otherwise inaccessible polling station.
“Through voter education and registration, I’m empowering immigrant voters to make their voices heard in the democratic country they now call home.”
February 21, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Jahkil Jackson!
Twelve year old Jahkil is making his community a better place with his passion for helping those in need. He created Project I Am, an organization that provides “Blessing Bags” for those experiencing homeslessness. Jahkil enjoys getting to work with other youth from around the country and helping to inspire efforts around the world.
When asked what advice he would give to other youth that want to make a difference, Jahkil said, “Don’t wait to be great. You can do it now. Start out small and build up from there.”
February 14, 2020:
We shine this week’s Kind Leader Spotlight on Marley Dias! She is making modern history by bringing awareness to the gaps in school literature and creating greater narrative diversity.
Growing tired of not seeing herself in the books she read in school, she founded #1000BlackGirlBooks, and collected and donated thousands of books with black girls as main characters.
“Each of us has a magic inside of us that we can use to make the world a better place”
-Marley Dias, #changemaker
February 7, 2020:
For Black History Month we honor the modern history being made by youth across the country as they continue a legacy of fighting for civil rights and making communities a better place for everyone.
We shine this week’s Kind Leader Spotlight on the youth leaders of Teens Take Charge!
Whitney, Nelson, Sokhnadiarra, Toby, Tiffani, Brandon, Lennox, Alex, Sophie, Ula, Shelda, Melody, Cameron, Dulce, Muhammad, Allison, and all of the young civic leaders they work with across New York.
Just last week, Teens Take Charge held a Student Forum where they discussed the inequities of NY schools and pushed Department of Education officials for a more integrated school system.
January 24, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on our 2019 Call for Kindness Fellows!
Matthew (TX), Andrea & Luis (NY), Crystal (CA), Sonika & Rinna (IL), Hannah (FL), Sophia & Michaela (WA), Lydia & Hannah (NY), Robert (NY), Daphne (NY), Shaylee (OR), Nicole & Amber (NY), Sophie (MO), Valentina (FL), Ellie (NY)
From creating connections between career professionals and youth to making sure no one sits alone at lunch, these teens are leading with empathy and creating a kinder tomorrow in their communities across the country.
Are you a future fellow?
Apply for the #CallForKindness today: callforkindness.org
January 17, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Martin Luther King Jr.!
Steadfast in the face of violence and inequity, Reverend King was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He organized and orated against systems of inequality, brought communities together and inspired countless leaders.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
-Martin Luther King Jr., #kindleader
We challenge you to honor his legacy and create a #kindertomorrow.
January 10, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Malala Yousafzai!
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
Malala is the youngest Nobel Laureate for her advocacy in girls education. Working with her father, she established Malala Fund in 2014 to give girls the chance to achieve a future of their choosing. We celebrate her for speaking out about injustice to create a #kindertomorrow.
January 3, 2020:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Rep. John Lewis!
“What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and its grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.”
-Rep. John Lewis, #dedicatedleader
John Lewis has dedicated his life to the fight for civil and human rights in America. Inspired by the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis entered the Civil Rights Movement by organizing sit-ins, marches, and demonstrations to peacefully protest Jim Crow. Today, Lewis continues to serve as a public advocate as the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. We wish him a speedy recovery in his battle against pancreatic cancer and celebrate him for empowering communities to create a #kindertomorrow in his fight against cancer.
December 27, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Mr. Rogers!
A celebrated tv personality, writer, musician, and more, Mr. Rogers exemplifies kind leadership. He did not shy away from hard conversations, but instead provided a model for how to use empathy and compassion to approach them. We celebrate him for encouraging us to be our best selves and creating a #kindertomorrow.
“There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind.
The second way is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.”
-Mr. Rogers, #kindneighbor
December 20, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Zozibini Tunzi!
Zozibini is this year’s Miss Universe pageant winner. She is from South Africa and is one of the first five Black women to win a major crown. She also intentionally competed with her natural hair to show that hair can be different and beautiful too.
“… I decided to keep it (my natural hair) this way because I really wanted to send out a message of this is beautiful, too. It’s different, but it’s beautiful,” – Zozibini, #rolemodel
We celebrate her for challenging beauty standards to be more inclusive and being a role model to create a #kindertomorrow.
December 13, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Thais Marquez!
Thais is teenager with a passion for making a difference. She is tutoring students with Read Alliance and traveled to the Dominican Republic with Global Glimpse, where she established a tutoring program there. She is also a HecksherScholar with plans to study International Business and hopes to start her own international non-profit.
When asked what advice she would give to other youth wanting to make a positive impact, she said, “Do everything you feel you need to do. Don’t second guess yourself. Believe in yourself”
December 6, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Laura Kikuchi!
Laura is one of our dedicated Program Directors who helped build our #CallforKindess and #RileysWayRetreat. Her work connects kind leaders from across the country and provides a platform for youth to advance projects in their communities.
“To me, being a kind leader means first and foremost supporting others to be their best selves. This is why I love working with the young people in our programs. I get to witness them doing incredible, kind things in their communities across the country. And, acting as a mentor and partner allows me to grow as a kind leader myself.”
November 29, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Khloe Thompson!
Khloe was already a fan of Giving Tuesday and loved the great work they were doing, but she didn’t see any kid-led projects. She believes “kids really are the future” and reached out to Giving Tuesday where she helped found Giving Tuesday Kids (https://www.givingtuesdaykids.org/). Khloe grew the program to include kids working on community projects around the world. There is even an ambassador program for kid leaders to learn from each other!
“I love serving my community because it brings me joy. Making others feel loved and appreciated is a great feeling.”
November 22, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Matthew Yekell!
Matthew is a a #CallForKindness winnerand works with his mom and Tony’s Place Houston to provide meals for homeless LGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing homelessness . He has served over 900 meals with a goal of serving 1,000 before the end of the year! How can you volunteer with your family and give back to your community going into Thanksgiving?
We celebrate Matthew and his mom for serving with kindness creating a #kindertomorrow!
New #CallForKindness updates coming soon.
November 15, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Jane Fonda!
With a long history of political activism, Jane Fonda recently promised to protest outside the U.S. Capitol each Friday through the end of 2019 to raise awareness about #climatechange . She has been inspired by youth climate activists like Greta Thunberg and Fridays For Future.
We celebrate her for inspiring while being inspired to create a #kindertomorrow!
November 8, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Priya Vulchi & Winona Guo!
Priya and Winona deferred going to college to travel cross-country and hear first-hand narratives of how racism affects people in their daily lives. They turned these stories into a book “Tell Me Who You Are,” which they plan to develop into a K-12 racial literacy curriculum.
We celebrate them for using storytelling and narrative to teach empathy and create a #kindertomorrow!
November 1, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Shreyaa & Esha Venkat!
Shreyaa & Esha founded NEST4US, a non-profit organization dedicated to working with communities to provide volunteer and leadership opportunities to make the world better through kindness. Their goals are to nourish the hungry, inspire youth, & connect the world.
We celebrate them for using their passion to make positive change and inspire others to create a #kindertomorrow!
October 25, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Katie Stagliano!
At 9, Katie grew a 40 lb cabbage and donated it to a soup kitchen to feed over 275 people. Inspired by this experience, Katie started a vegetable garden to help feed people in need. Katie’s Krops now has over 100 gardens across the country!
We celebrate her for starting young to create a #kindertomorrow!
October 18, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Yash Gupta!
Yash founded Sight Learning at 14 years old to help students around the world “see clearly and envision their future” with proper eyeglasses.
We celebrate him for making eyeglasses accessible and envisioning a #kindertomorrow!
October 11, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Sophie Cruz!
Sophie wrote a letter to the Pope in 2015 asking for help to keep her undocumented parents with her in the U.S. She has since spoken at the 2017 Women’s March and in front of the Supreme Court with a crowd of over 5,000.
We celebrate her for using her story to inspire others and create a #kindertomorrow!
October 4, 2019:
Mari brought nationwide attention to the Flint Water Crisis with a letter to President Barack Obama in 2016.
She is now raising funds for a water filter that provides clean safe water to communities across the country dealing with a lead crisis. Every $1 donated provides the equivalent of 160 bottles of water!
Click here to donate:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Dr. Christine O’Connell!
We are thrilled to announce our first Executive Director, Dr. Christine O’Connell! She comes to Riley’s Way Foundation with a distinguished career in communication, empowering voices, and building empathetic leaders with Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and Stony Brook University.
We celebrate her for her dedication to advancing empathy in leadership and creating a #kindertomorrow!
September 20, 2019:
This weeks Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Wilson Boardman!
Wilson is a teacher at Curtis Guild Elementary School in Boston, Massachusetts. He teaches socio-emotional learning in his fifth grade class, with the goal of building a kind and caring character in his students.
Let’s celebrate him for creating a #kindertomorrow!
Listen to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Learning Moments: ‘Teachers in America series’ podcast here.
This weeks Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Dr. Nadia Lopez!
Dr. Lopez founded Mott Hall Bridges Academy in 2010 and went viral with an inspirational Humans of New York post on her student, Vidal, in 2015. She encourages educators to approach every interaction with students as an opportunity to inspire greatness.
Lets celebrate her for creating a #kindertomorrow!
Read more here.
September 6, 2019:
Celebrate kindness in the classroom as we start the new school year. Each Friday in September we will be highlighting a teacher who is building a kinder tomorrow in their schools and communities. This week meet the inspiring Brittany Sinitch!
A survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Brittany is transforming her hurt into joy. Through her YouTube videos, her organization The Unbreakable Org and her inspiring Instagram presence, she is sharing the power of positivity and making space for others to do the same. You can read more about Brittany on the Womaze website (one of our Call for Kindness winners).
Lets celebrate her for creating a #kindertomorrow!
August 30, 3019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Sameer Jha!
Dedicated to making schools and communities safer for LGBTQ+ youth, Sameer Jha founded The Empathy Alliance when he was fourteen and created a guidebook to help teachers make schools safer for LGBTQ+ students. He has spoken at conferences and met with school boards to raise awareness about the importance of empathy in schools.
We celebrate him for using empathy to make schools and communities safer for LGBTQ+ students and creating a #kindertomorrow!
August 23, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Hailey Richman!
Taking her own family’s experience with Alzheimer’s and turning it into an opportunity to support others in similar circumstances, Hailey started Kid Caregivers, an organization that supports and empowers children who are acting as caregivers. She partners with Puzzles To Remember, an organization that provides puzzles to facilitate care for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I want all kids to know that, don’t think just because you’re a kid that you can’t make a difference”
We celebrate her for empowering kids and adults alike to act with compassion and creating a #kindertomorrow!
August 16, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Michelle Obama!
Though there are many examples of the former First Lady leading with kindness, we spotlight her and the Reach Higher initiative for starting a YouTube Originals series titled “A Student’s Guide to Your First Year of College.” The series will offer advice to young adults on issues like financial aid, mentor relationships, and basic living-alone survival. Learn more and watch the trailer for what Michelle has in store.
We celebrate her for empowering undergrads to excel in their first year and creating a #kindertomorrow!
August 9, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Ruben Martinez!
This 11-year-old’s response to the El Paso shooting is creating the #ElPasoCHALLENGE, asking people to commit to 22 acts of kindness, one for each victim. Ruben decided to do something to encourage others after tragedy. Though this challenge was posed to El Pasoans, it has quickly spread across the country.
We celebrate Ruben for reminding all of us that we can choose to respond to hate with kindness every day!
One kind act you can start with today is signing this petition from Everytown to support stronger gun laws and protect our communities:
August 2, 2019:
This weeks Kind Leader Spotlight Shines on the DIY Girls IvenTeam: Prinsesa, Paulina, Daniela, Maggie, Aracely, Kenia, Patricia, Veronica, Wendy, Kassandra, America, and Paola!
A group of self-taught engineers, these teens have created solar-powered tents that fold into a rollaway backpack. Seeing the population of homeless people increase in their community, these teens decided to respond creatively and kindly.
We celebrate their effort to create a #kindertomorrow!
July 26, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Zaria X Hailey!
These two amazing sisters have committed to sharing their love of bedtime stories with children all around the world. Through Facebook Live and with the help of their public library, Zaria & Hailey connect kids everywhere with stories of children they don’t always see.
We celebrate their storytelling because every act of kindness can go a long way to creating a #kindertomorrow!
July 19, 2019:
This week’s Kind Leader Spotlight shines on Our Children’s Trust: Aji, Alex, Avery, Hazel, Isaac, Jacob, Jaime, Jayden, Journey, Kelsey, Kiran, Levi, Miko, Nathan, Nick, Sahara, Sophie, Tia, Vic, Xiuhtezcatl & Zealand.
For their efforts to secure a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for everyone. Their activism reminds us that in order to create a #kindertomorrow we have to fight for it today.