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How to Engage Young People: A Conversation with YTH Live Emcee Ivan Garcia

How to Engage Young People: A Conversation with YTH Live Emcee Ivan Garcia

By Ivan Garcia, with Erin McKelle | March 26, 2019
Youth Advocate and Sophomore, Head Royce School (IG) and Communications Associate, YTH (EM)

Erin: When we say we center youth-voices at the YTH Live conference, we mean it. Up to 25% of attendees and speakers are young people. We always feature a young member of our Youth Advisory Board as the face and voice of the event, in the role of emcee. This year, we are proud to announce that person is Ivan Garcia. 

To say that Ivan is a leader in his community would be an understatement. As an activist, he played a large role in planning and executing the history-making March for Our Lives rally in Oakland. As an advocate, he serves on the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission, giving young people a voice in local government.

YTH Live! Like No Other Conference

YTH Live is coming to San Francisco May 5-6, 2019. Have you booked your registration for the conference yet? Get your tickets for YTH Live here. See Ivan’s leadership in action as he facilitates our event in the emcee role.

YTH Live is the premier youth tech health conference, bringing together leaders in all areas of youth health and technology. It will showcase the brightest minds and cutting edge research on topics ranging from sexual and reproductive health to mental health and digital rights. Whether you are an Executive Director, developer, IT professional, educator or high school student, YTH Live can help you learn about the latest trends in health, innovation and technology.

ETR recognizes YTH Live’s forward-thinking and is proud to be this year’s presenting sponsor.

As a youth leader, he proudly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, having come out when he was 13. Ivan works to help other young people in the community to get the support and love they deserve.



With all of this experience under his belt as a high-school student, you can see why Ivan’s a natural fit to lead our conference. To give you the chance to learn more about Ivan, we had an in-depth conversation with him about how he’s planning to make an impact at this year’s event.

* * *

Erin: Congrats on being emcee! How does it feel to be chosen for this role?

Ivan: The opportunity to be the MC of the conference means a lot. I am one of the first people participants will be greeted by when we kick off YTH Live. I think that this will give me the opportunity to be a face for the organization, and I hope to put our best foot forward.

Erin: Can you summarize your background and experience in youth leadership and activism? What expertise do you bring to this role?

Ivan: I first became involved in 2016, following the Presidential election. My classmates and I felt that we needed to speak up and use our voices to share our opinions. I took it upon myself to create a class video titled Dear Mr. Trump, which is a video of our opinions, fears and hopes for then President-Elect Donald Trump. The video has now garnered almost 5,000 views, and it served as a way for me to connect with many young people who felt as though their voices weren’t being heard. Furthermore, I helped organize the March for Our Lives Oakland and serve on the Oakland Youth Commission, which advises the Mayor and City Council on issues regarding youth throughout Oakland.



I think I bring a deep understanding of how to best engage young people throughout the work we’re doing and how to build meaningful relationships.

Erin : What are you most looking forward to at YTH Live?

Ivan: Connecting with adult allies and other young people at YTH Live. Last year, I was able to meet people from all over the country who are working on amazing projects to fix many of the problems of our current day regarding mental health and sexual health.

Erin: You have experience speaking in front of a large audience and serving as a public speaker in general. Can you share a bit about your background in this kind of role and how your activism leadership skills will help you here? How are you planning to prepare?

Ivan: Yes! I do have quite a bit of public speaking experience! Two of my favorite speaking engagements were at the March for Our Lives Oakland, and of course at YTH Live 2018, where I was a keynote speaker. I am planning to familiarize myself with the main takeaways we want to give participants of YTH Live. I’ll also engage in conversations with other members of the Youth Advisory Board, especially those who were emcee’s in previous years. I think that my leadership abilities will help me bring enthusiasm to the crowd, while being able to touch on many of the deeper topics.

Erin: Why do you think it's important that youth are the face of a conference like this? Being involved in our organization, do you think we “walk the talk” of youth-led innovation?

Ivan: I think it’s crucial that young people are passed the torch of being involved in conferences like these, because many of us are already doing lots of the work our adult counterparts are doing. By being at these events, we are able to learn from each other and collaborate in order to expand on nascent ideas.

It also feels uplifting to be in the same space with adult allies who support us in the work we’re doing. I definitely think YTH lives up to being youth involved. They are very transparent and make sure to engage the Youth Advisory Board whenever possible.


Ivan Garcia is a youth activist, a sophomore at Head Royce School in Oakland, and the youth emcee for YTH Live 2019. He can be reached on Twitter and Instagram @ivanxgarcia and at

Erin McKelle is Communications Coordinator at YTH. She is also a digital media consultant, writer, and blogger. She can be reached on Instagram and Twitter @erinmckelle and at



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