2014-2015 Youth Governor Christy Zegel



Welcome my fellow new and returning New York State Youth and Government delegates! My name is Christy Zegel, and I have the great honor of serving as your Youth Governor and leader for this incoming 2014-2015 New York State Conference! We are all going to work together, to create a wonderful year!
Youth and Government is a place where the brilliant minds of New York State come together to collaborate  in order to better themselves, their state and to develop their voice. We become familiarized with and become a part of the legislative and judicial branches. With this, we research bills, lobby laws, write articles, and argue cases. We do something that many do not have the opportunity to, but something  that is imperative to our future society. Youth and Government provides us with the ability to inspire others and to make a difference in the world. With our voice, we are given the chance to not only influence others during the conference, but during everyday affairs as well.  Through the experiences that Youth and Government provides, we are able to become our own individuals.
Our conference is held in the New York State Capitol, which allows all of the delegates to participate in their designated branches as if they were true assemblymen, senators, lobbyists, and justices. In the capitol, in the legislative branch, we discuss  and debate current events and the issues that many of us face in our own lives today throughout our state. We do this while simultaneously receiving firsthand experience on how precisely our democracy and those who participate in it, function. In this branch, all delegates create a piece of legislation that they feel passionately about, that pertains to both themselves and their state. In addition to this, if the legislation is passed far enough, it can be used by our state's senators in order to help create new legislation for our great and ever evolving state! All of this occurs in our own State Capitol, which is nothing short of a magnificent experience!
Despite the individuality that Youth and Government provides for, it also prompts team building and the creation of everlasting friendships. Through this program, we are given the chance to meet fellow delegates from all areas of the state. This diversity allows for new experiences, new memories and new friends.  This welcoming atmosphere is what helps build confidence in public speaking, and also in formulating original opinions. If not for the support of both new friends and leaders, this club would not be nearly as successful, as many thoughts would go unheard and individuals would stay silenced. As a fellow delegate, I know exactly what it is like to be apprehensive. I have been in the shoes of both a newcomer and a veteran. Both positions are relatively scary, but I know that with the ultimate support of fellow delegates and leaders, you can overcome anything.  I would not be your Governor if I did not have all of you, and I would not be able to lead sufficiently without all of you. No matter what position you have in this program, you are given unconditional support  and are believed in.
I can truly say that Youth and Government has shaped me into the individual who I am today, and will forever be an essential part of my life. I know I am not alone when I say I am not only proud, but thankful that I have been able to participate in this experience.
As I presided last year as the Speaker of Assembly Liberty, I am able to say that this coming years conference will be the best in can possibly be for each and every delegate. This will only happen through the collaboration of my fellow presiding officers and I throughout the entire year. This collaboration has already begun, and will continue up until the weekend of the conference and throughout its entirety. We are working our hardest to ensure that this year will bring you all joy, knowledge and unforgettable experiences. Currently, we are working on ensuring equality in the voices heard in the  chambers, also, we are creating the first outline of a veto override,  and most importantly we are working on systems that will open the pathways of communication between branches.   Communication is key, especially in a place where our ideas need to be relayed in the best way possible in order to get the optimal results. I am looking forward to unifying this program even further in order to progress and thrive!
Ultimately, I cannot wait for this year's 79th Youth and Government New York State Conference, as I have no doubt that it will be filled with successes and newfound experiences.  If anyone has any questions, comments or concerns about the conference or Youth and Government as a whole, please feel free to email me at any time! My email is christyzegel@gmail.com! As your Governor, I serve you, and it is a part of my duty to help and guide all delegates in any way that I can in order for each individual to reach their maximum potential. I cannot wait to get to know and meet each and every one of you and watch all of your successes unfold throughout the year!
Much love from your fellow delegate and Governor,
Christy Zegel

New York State Youth Governor

Director, New York State YMCA Youth and Government

Youth and Government is about helping you the teen find your voice, develop / defend your ideas, or as Kevin Cashman writes – add definition to who you are, where are you going, and why are you going there?  A YMCA Youth Development program that nurtures civic engagement anchored in service and respect for others.  This National YMCA program with an enrollment of more than 55,000 annually begins its eightieth year enhancing the application of your academic study around government with graduates not only becoming lawyers or elected officials, but engaged citizens where 96% of graduates vote compared to the general population. Delegates develop ideas regarding State legislative laws, advocating for those changes – the first NY State law advanced by the teens in 1936 required all couples seeking a marriage certificate first complete a blood test to address the concern of sexually transmitted or other diseases not only being spread but the impact on the unions children.
Our 500 plus NY teen Delegates gather in our Albany State Capitol the second weekend in March presenting their work to peers from every geographic region of New York: Long Island, the City, to upstate Adirondacks, Rochester, Syracuse and our rural communities such as Cortland. A teen participant wrote “The Youth & Government program has impacted me to the point where it’s changed me as a person. Unlike most fifteen year old girls on Friday nights, instead of gossiping upon the latest fashion in Hollywood, I find myself yelling at my television set at our representatives on C-SPAN about the U.S. Department of Defense budget. Additionally, the program has enhanced my ability to publicly speak; in the beginning, I would hardly be able to speak in front of my eighth grade class of just eleven students. Now, speaking in front of the six hundred delegates is a piece of cake. The program has also provided me with self-confidence, time management, a view on each branch of our government, a better idea of what I’d like to pursue in my own future and most importantly, perspective of the four core values of the YMCA: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.”   We look forward to your participation, contact us with questions.

Mark Rutkowski
Director, New York State YMCA Youth and Government
YMCA of Greater Rochester Teen Action Agenda
(585) 341-3235


Mark Rutkowski has been involved with this program for the past twenty-eight years, serving the last twelve years as Director for the New York State program. He is currently employed by the YMCA of Greater Rochester, providing direction to their Teen Action Agenda including their Youth & Government program. For the past twelve years, he has been asked and served on the planning committee for the Youth Conference on National Affairs and the National Youth Governor’s Conference. In addition to being recognized as a recipient of the Dr. Paul M. Grist Service to Youth Award at the National Affairs Conference in 2004, Mark is a National YMCA Faculty Training for Y staff working with teens.