Southern Vermont Experience Leads Zach Garafalo '10 to White House Visit as a Champion of Change

August 2, 2013

[Photo: Zachary Garafalo, Assistant Director of YOUTH POWER!, Albany, N.Y.,
and Desiree Moore, Long Island Regional Youth Partner for YOUTH POWER!]

In just over three years’ time, Zachary Garafalo has gone from the dais at the 2010 Southern Vermont College commencement to an invited speaker at the White House as an emerging leader of the Obama Administration’s Champions of Change initiative.

Garafalo, a History & Politics graduate of SVC, was selected to travel to Washington, D.C., as one of the speakers for the anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the visit to the White House, he was afforded the opportunity to tell his story and share his ideas on how to win the future; this was part of an initiative which welcomes speakers each week to discuss how Americans across the country are working hard and being innovative to help move the nation in the right direction.

“SVC equipped me with the skills necessary to excel in the fast-paced field of public policy and advocacy in New York State,” commented Garafalo. “My total college experience – academics, co-curricular and social – helped prepare me for a smooth transition into a great career and graduate studies.”

Currently, Garafalo works as the Assistant Director of YOUTH POWER!, a youth rights, cross-disability and cross-systems advocacy organization that helps to build youth voice in New York State government. After being nominated for the Champions of Change Award, Garafalo was selected based on his work building the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) in Albany, N.Y. RAMP is a high-tech, career-focused mentoring program led by the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C., for young people with disabilities who are either involved with or are at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. He also developed a Mentor Training Curriculum that has grown to become the national training model for RAMP sites and was instrumental in the refunding of RAMP by the Department of Justice for an additional two years. His bio is on the White House website.

After completing his undergraduate coursework at SVC in December of 2009, Garafalo began working for YP! that following January as the YOUTH POWER! Coordinator. He has since been promoted to mentoring coordinator and then assistant director in September of 2012. In May of 2011, during Southern Vermont’s commencement, Garafalo was awarded as the College’s Distinguished Young Alumni. He continues to be involved with additional groups and boards including being a member of the Board of Directors for the Literacy New York Greater Capital Region, the Albany County Juvenile Community Accountability Board and serving as Treasurer for the SVC Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.