Youth Central Alumni Profile: Jarrett Lalonde

Youth Central Alumni Profile: Jarrett Lalonde

To mark this milestone Youth Central is profiling 25 of its alumni throughout the years. Youth Central’s Youth Are Awesome (YAA) program is helping out by interviewing and profiling the alumni. This article is written by Aaron Wen, one of YAA junior editors.

As we continue to celebrate 25 years of Youth Central, it is my honor and pleasure to introduce the next alumni, Mr. Jarrett Lalonde.

During his time with Youth Central, Jarrett was a steering committee member for the Mayor’s Youth Council and the Calgary Youth Foundation. Even today, Jarrett can vividly remember his first time entering Youth Central.

“I chose to answer an ad in my high school’s newsletter looking for volunteers to join the Calgary Youth Foundation because it seemed like an opportunity to do something that was both different and meaningful in the community. After receiving what I remember being a large introductory or information package inviting me to the first meeting of the Foundation at City Hall I was excited…this was going to be different and meaningful! After attending the inaugural meeting with Penny Hume and a few other philanthropists and community leaders I was hooked – this was going to be cool!

And it got better…at our first meeting as a youth foundation, we were presented with a blank piece of paper and asked what do you want this to be? What should this foundation be about? What should we fund and how can we raise money? It was so clear right from the start that this wasn’t a preconceived initiative by ‘adults’ like every other extracurricular activity in school.”

With the Calgary Youth Foundation, Jarrett learned a myriad of skills, from hosting fundraisers to handling budgets. One of the more memorable lessons that he learned with his friend Raj was how to properly pitch a well-thought-out idea, as he cannot forget the tension he experienced at the time.

“Raj and I were both so nervous and neither one of us could get the pitch started and out of our mouths!”

Jarrett’s success and leadership in Youth Central even led him to be featured in the Calgary Herald, praising his dedication with Child Friendly Calgary, as Penny Hume would put it, “He’ll tackle anything because it is an experience.”

For Jarrett, a wonderful high-school experience with Youth Central was not the end of the story, as he was invited to continue his involvement with the organization.

“Much to my surprise, upon ‘graduating’ from Youth Central’s programs around the age of 18 or 19, I was provided with perhaps the most unique experience and opportunity yet with the organization. I was asked to join the Board of Directors – not as an observer on the side but as a full-fledged member with all the responsibilities included. This was another great learning opportunity for me and something truly unique as I can’t imagine many other Canadians with real-life non-profit board experience in their early 20s. I also think it was a real opportunity for Youth Central as well to ‘walk its own talk’ by inviting a young person to sit on the board and help shape the governance and direction of the organization.”

With his years of leadership and expertise at Youth Central, Jarrett is grateful for such enriching experiences, for teaching him to forever be proactive and confident in his work. After many years of political experience working with the Minister of Natural Resources Canada and as the Chief of Staff to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jarrett is now a Director at Global Public Affairs.

When we asked Jarrett for his one piece of advice, his answer was brilliantly simple, “How about two!?”

  1. Enjoy this time in your life! It goes by way quicker than you can ever imagine!
  2. Don’t ever let someone tell you can’t because you’re too young. Show them you can!
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