Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT)

YLAT is a joint project between Maine’s Youth in Foster Care, The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and the Muskie School at University of Southern Maine. YLAT is committed to improving the short-term and long-term outcomes for youth who are or have been in foster care.

YLAT, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, PO Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300, phone: 207-780-5861

Alumni Co-Facilitators

Dedicated YLAT alumni may co-facilitate district YLAT meetings. Alumni co-facilitators are identified as community leaders and serve as role models for YLAT youth, encourage positive relationships between group members, and foster an environment that promotes learning.

Huyanna Clearwater 2016-Present

Huyanna spent most of her life in and out of the Child Welfare system here in Maine. Huyanna is a Native American and struggled while in foster care to keep her cultural connections. This experience drives her passion and commitment to improve the Child Welfare System for native and non-native youth in the state and the nation. Eleven years ago a friend told Huyanna that she worked with a local group of youth who improved the foster care system and Huyanna has been a leader in YLAT ever since. Currently, Huyanna is attending college at UMA-Bangor and majoring in Social Science with a focus in Psychology. Huyanna’s hope is to one day work for the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

Kyle Snyder 2017-Present

Kyle, like many young people in the system, grew up all over the state. He is a full-time college student at USM where he is studying criminology and works full time for AAA-Northern New England as the Traffic Safety Specialist/Public Affairs. Kyle lives on his own in sunny Saco Maine, with his cat, Charlotte. Kyle is connected to this work to educate future foster parents, and to help older youth who are getting ready to age out of the system. “I had to learn on my own and make mistakes; I want to share my experiences to help the road to adulthood be a little smoother.” Kyle’s YLAT journey started by doing panels for DHHS. He was later invited to YLAT by his transition worker and “it just blossomed from there.” YLAT was a place where Kyle made friends, used his story and voice to make changes in the lives of other young people, and had the opportunity to advocate for change. He was even able to speak in front of the Maine Legislator and advocate for new laws to be written. Kyle wants to continue to use his role through AAA to help those in care. “I have a passion for this work, and I want to make a difference.” He is excited to be a co-facilitator, develop his facilitation skills and continue to make a change in young people’s lives.

Mariah Knight 2018

Mariah spent most of her childhood spread amongst numerous foster homes in Maine. She is currently working as a waitress at her local Red Robin and has just begun her third year of college. She is majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in psychology. Her next stop will be law school where she plans to specialize in child advocacy. After reaching her educational goals, Mariah aims to become a respite foster care parent. She is committed to improving the child welfare system because she believes foster children have been dealt an unfair deck of cards and deserve to be taken care of. Mariah has spoken on multiple panels an opportunity given to her by YLAT. She is looking forward to becoming more involved with YLAT through this co-facilitation position.

Jessica Harris 2017-Present

Anna Neher 2017-Present