2015-2016 Youth Governor Andrew Jacobi

Welcome new and returning New York State Youth and Government delegates!  My name is Andrew Jacobi and I have the pleasure of serving as your 2015-2016 Youth Governor.  This will be my fourth and final year as a delegate, and I am honored to be leading the program.  I have great confidence that this next year will be the best year we have ever seen!
The annual New York State Youth and Government conference houses approximately 600 delegates from across our great state.  From Rochester to Long Island, delegates converge on the New York State Capitol to present bills, argue cases, lobby legislation, and compose articles.  We discuss the important issues that affect our futures, feel what it is like to work within our respective program branches, and compare ideas to move our state forward.  Youth and Government provides everyone with the opportunity to speak your mind and showcase your skills.  It gives everyone a voice in how our government should be run.  Youth and Government, ultimately, serves as an outlet for teens to express their interests and ideas in the confines of our capitol.   
Our motto, “Democracy Must Be Learned By Each Generation,” is mirrored by our continued commitment of teaching the function and activities of our state government.  By offering four program components of our government, we are able to accommodate nearly all interests related to the New York State Government.  If you choose to be a legislator, you will write and present a bill of your choosing, which will be debated and voted on for approval at the state conference.  If you choose to be an attorney, you will be given a side to a case to argue in front of a panel of justices in a mock New York State Court of Appeals.  If you choose to be a lobbyist, you will write intent speeches either for or against specific bills in the assemblies.  If you choose to be a reporter, you will write articles and take pictures for our newspaper to chronicle the time we spend together.  Through these great program branches, delegates are given ample opportunities to select one that best fits their skills. 
Personally, my favorite part of Youth and Government is the fascinating people you meet throughout your time in the program.  Youth and Government provides delegates with the rare opportunity to socialize and debate with hundreds of other delegates from different regions of New York State.  Different backgrounds and opinions provide for interesting debate and an overall better conference.  Hearing new points of view is healthy, and there will be no shortage in Albany.  You will meet some of the most interesting youth that our state has to offer, and I hope you welcome their greeting.  The support that you feel as you enter Albany will be electrifying, and I hope you are as excited as I am to get started.  
I entered the program as a timid freshman attorney with only one friend in my club.  I still remember the anxiety as I presented my case in front of the upper-classmate justices.  I remember my shortness of breath and my stuttering voice as I gave my argument.  After I sat down, a justice came over and told me I did a great job, and that I reminded him of himself.  The support that I received from people like that justice inspired me to return to the program my sophomore year as a justice.  The unconditional support I received eventually gave me the confidence to run for governor.  Now, I return in order to help the next generation of delegates, just as the previous generation of delegates had done for me. 
With that being said, the 80th annual New York State Youth and Government Conference will be a spectacle for the ages.  If you have any questions, do not feel afraid to email me at ajacobi3737@gmail.com.  Together as a team of presiding officers we will be hard at work preparing for the great year we have ahead of us.  I can’t wait to watch all of you grow and succeed, see you all in Albany!

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.