Brad Levesque Youth Leadership Award

On May 25, 1996, Brad Levesque passed away after battling cancer for several years. Brad spent many of his teen years in foster care, all while fighting cancer. In his determination to not let cancer be his focus, Brad committed many of his years in care to help improve the lives of other teens in foster care.

Each year The Brad Levesque Youth Leadership Award will be given to a worthy youth or two in care who meet the criteria that Brad helped to develop…“Someone like me”, as Brad so aptly put it!

Recipient must be a youth in care between the ages of 15 and 21 who:

1. Demonstrate active volunteer capacity (i.e. community service, teen conference planning, etc.)
2. Are interested in pursuing education beyond high school
3. May be medically/physically challenged
4. May have resided in group/residential programs
5. May have participated in outdoor adventure programs

Brad Levesque Youth Leadership Awardees
2016: Jacob Hills & Alexander Buzzell

Jacob Hills joined YLAT in 2012, where he shared his strength and perseverance by speaking on a panel for a YLAT sponsored Community Conversation; bravely sharing his experience in the foster care system to teach caseworkers, foster parents, and community supports how to better support youth in care. Since that panel, Jacob has grown into a great leader and advocate while participating in countless speaking engagements and numerous resource parent training panels. He speaks at these events knowing what he says will likely not benefit him directly, but will benefit future youth in care. Jacob attends Maine Youth Transition Collaboration, Teen Conference planning meetings and continues to participate in YLAT. Jacob was recently selected and participated in the Congressional Shadow Youth Foster Program in Washington D.C. where he spent time at the White House meeting with members of the Congress and sharing about his experiences in foster care. He intends to enroll in college in the fall of 2016.

Alexander Buzzell wants to improve the foster care system. Alexander has been very active in the Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT), the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative (MYTC), and the Teen Conference Planning Committee (TCPC). He has attended strategic sharing trainings, sharing his story with CASA’s, new caseworkers, foster parents and his peers in foster care. He has great insight and contributed many ideas that have been put into place at today’s conference. Since he was 15, Alexander has worked at an Organic Farm. He is currently working at a YMCA camp in Winthrop doing maintenance and doing yard work in his community. Alexander is a wonderful, caring and compassionate young man. He recently graduated from Winthrop High School, where he is known for mentoring younger students and is currently designated as “Mr. Winthrop” by his peers. This fall, Alexander will attend the University of Southern Maine, where he will major in Political Science, with plans of attending Law School.

2015: Tia Knowlton-Basford & Isabelle Goodrich

Tia Knowlton-Basford is a student at Kennebec Valley Community College. She looks forward to graduating in 2016 with a degree in Mental Health, and plans to continue her education through Thomas College. While participating in the Step Up program at KVCC, Tia has been a great resource to her peers, assisting them in advocating for themselves, and was described by staff as a very good life skills ambassador for other students. She can be counted on as a faithful friend, and offers sound advice to her peers.
Tia has weathered the challenges of being in foster care with grace and determination, and proved early on to be a great advocate not only for herself, but for others. She has worked extremely hard navigating difficult family dynamics and circumstances, handling health issues, and a successful transition to adulthood which includes accomplishments such as: college, employment and having her own apartment. Last year, she received the Empowerment Award of Academic Success and Excellence. Tia exemplifies the ability to reach your goals with determination and resiliency, even amidst the most difficult of circumstances. She has a great sense of humor, and a sweet, gentle spirit…but don’t be fooled: behind that quiet exterior is the drive and finesse of a fighter and a winner.

Isabelle Goodrich is 18 years old and just graduated from Westbrook High School. Her class voted her “Best Shoulder to Cry On”, which speaks to her warmth and compassion for others. Isabelle views education as an important lifetime opportunity, and this fall, she will be off to college to major in History in pursuit of her life-long dream to become a teacher.
Isabelle is natural mentor. She has been an asset to the Southern Maine YLAT group this year. Her friendly, sociable and outgoing personality appeals to other youth who look up to her as a role model. Reflective, insightful and articulate, Isabelle has charmed audiences by sitting on several youth panels in order to educate others about her experience in Maine’s child welfare system. Despite her traumatic past life experiences, Isabelle’s positive personal outlook coupled with her determination to advocate for other youth in care sends a touching message that is well received by those that have heard her story. Isabelle is an amazing young woman with a promising future. She is an inspiration to all who long to “pay it forward”.

Past Brad Levesque Award Recipients:
2014: Chrystal Inman & Kyle Snyder
2013: Tyneshia Wright & Stephanie Gerard
2012: Mariah Trimble-Smith & Casey Smith
2011: Joshua Calcia
2010: Sylvia Little & Shannon Jacobson
2009: Victoria “Torry” Bernard
2008: Vanessa Bridge & Paula Burrows
2007: Chanthy Like
2006: Kala Clark & Ashley Keiran
2005: Johanna Rhodes & Brystle Noble
2004: William Lane & Roxanne Carpentier
2003: Edward Schnopp
2002: Crystal Castro
2001: Maria Gordon & John Rutterford
2000: Jennie Hinckley
1999: Christina Irvine
1998: Jay Dymond
1997: Corey McLaughlin
1996: Leticia Jacques
1995: Wayne Johnson
1994: Brad Levesque

"It's really done a lot. Being a part of YLAT makes you feel stronger; knowing you're making a difference makes you feel good about yourself." - YLAT Member