FLY at 25: Meet Jillian Kowalewski

The 25th Future Leaders of York class graduated in May 2014. We're proud to share updates from FLY alumni on how their participation in the program influenced their leadership development.


Jillian Kowalewski, FLY 04, LDS 12

Participating in Future Leaders of York connected me to my home community in a way that still impacts my life. As a high school student, I thought I needed to get out of York and experience “the real world.” Going through FLY opened my eyes to the needs and opportunities that were right here. I was able to connect with other people my age who had an interest in service and were growing into leaders. It taught me how to network, and helped me to place a high value on volunteering. After participating in FLY, I felt a connection with York that made me want to come back after college and continue to work with the organizations we were introduced to.

I went to school at Seton Hill University, where I majored in Art Therapy and Art Education. I earned scholarships because of my leadership and volunteering experiences. In college, I took up leadership positions in a variety of clubs and organizations. I helped to develop a program that connected artists to opportunities within the community. I was a Resident Assistant for two years and was able to study abroad. After graduating, I was lucky enough to find a job teaching art in the Dallastown School District. I knew I wanted to continue working with Leadership York, and re-develop connections within the York Community. It became very important to me to connect my students with York as a community and with all of the opportunities we have here for young people.

As a teacher, I went through the Leadership for Diverse Schools (LDS) program, which helped raise my awareness of my own biases and better my ability to address the needs of my diverse student population. Just like my experiences in FLY, my experiences in LDS shaped not only my professional life, but also the way I look at the world. Now, I am on the Planning Committee for LDS and serve as a Mentor and Community Ambassador for FLY. I am a member of York Young Professionals and I work with the United Way and help to connect my students to a variety of volunteer opportunities. I help to advise clubs that relate to art and diversity and I participate in a variety of committees.

If I had never participated in Future Leaders of York, I don’t know that I would feel the same connection to my home community and passion for volunteering. My goal is to inspire my students and guide them to become leaders, to stay connected to my community through service, and to continue to grow as a leader in my profession. Future Leaders provided me with the tools to focus and grow my leadership abilities and the desire to use those abilities to work with the community of York.

Future Leaders of York helps high school sophomores and juniors learn to become lifelong, responsible, active participants in their community. The class of 2014 included 37 students, representing 17 York County high schools. Program expenses come out to $1200 per student and tuition covers only 25% of that cost. Please contact us if you are interested in sponsorship or individual giving opportunities to help underwrite this program.