Getting to Know the Young Leaders Council

The Best Buddies Young Leaders Council (YLC) engages young adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities around the world to represent Best Buddies school friendship programs, and serve as a liaison between Best Buddies International (BBI) and their communities.

Our diverse group has deep experience in the many aspects of Best Buddies including the High Schools, Colleges, eBuddies, and Ambassadors Programs. We’re experienced, passionate, and tireless in our pursuit of solutions to spread the mission of Best Buddies.

Meet Our Team

Meeting for the first time at Leadership Conference!

Erica Brody Chair – Best Buddies International / Rides

Erica joined Best Buddies as a junior at Clear Brook High School in Friendswood, TX. She and her friends started the chapter, and she served as the Chapter President for two years. Erica went on to become the College Buddy Director for several years at The University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em!), and currently works at Deloitte Consulting in Washington, D.C. as a Human Capital Analyst (but still lives by the mantra Texas Forever). She is currently serving as the Student Representative on the Best Buddies International Board of Directors, and co-founded the Young Leaders Council with Jesse Warner and K Scarry. Erica is constantly inspired by the incredible people she has met through Best Buddies, and is extremely proud of the work that the YLC has accomplished already in its first year of existence. She is excited to see how the YLC will continue to work to promote widespread inclusion for people of all abilities!

Jesse Warner – Education

Jesse first joined Best Buddies as a freshman at New York University. She soon took on the role of College Buddy Director, and began working on the first Best Buddies New York Friendship Walk. Now, four years (and ~100 umbrellas) later, she’s ready to graduate and move back to Phoenix, the sunny paradise she once called home. Jesse is most passionate about Disability Rights activism and believes Best Buddies’ young leaders have the opportunity (and responsibility) to transform their communities!

K Scarry – Best Buddies International

K has been involved in Best Buddies since her freshman year of high school, and has participated as a peer buddy, state office intern, secretary, and chapter president. In the summer of 2011 K embarked on a journey across the nation with Best Buddies on the Spread the Word to End the Word Road Trip, where she traveled to 36 states in 78 days to promote inclusion and social acceptance and to educate America on the hurtful use of the r-word. She loves being on the YLC and can’t wait to see where her journey with Best Buddies will take her next!

Connor Regan – Expansion & Continuity

Connor has been involved in Best Buddies since his freshman year of high school.  He has participated in Best Buddies High Schools, Colleges, and eBuddies and has served in various capacities including Vice President (Troy HS), Chapter President (Troy HS), and Vice President for Recruitment and Member Development (Northwestern University).  Connor loves going to Best Buddies activities at various chapters in the Chicagoland area and enjoys seeing his buddy from high school, Erick, when on break in Southern California!

Dani Warmund – Expansion & Continuity

Dani began her involvement in Best Buddies just over 10 years ago in her middle school. She has served as Chapter President of her middle school chapter, high school chapter, and currently is serving as College Buddy Director of her chapter at the University of Florida where she will be graduating this May. Dani will be moving to North Carolina to obtain her AuD. in audiology at UNC Chapel Hill. She is looking forward to becoming a part of their chapter there! Dani absolutely loves Best Buddies and the YLC. She is so proud of all of the student leaders out there that work for such an amazing cause!

Elizabeth Klinepeter – Expansion & Continuity

Elizabeth has been involved with Best Buddies for 4 years and served as the Activities Coordinator for 2 years and College Buddy Director for 2 years at the University of Notre Dame.  She has also been very involved with Disabilities Awareness Month at Notre Dame for the past 3 years, coordinating efforts among all clubs serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on Notre Dame’s campus to raise awareness about the disabilities rights movement.  Elizabeth is very excited to be attending graduate school at the University of Florida and hopes to get involved with the UF Best Buddies chapter during her time there!  Elizabeth has loved her involvement with the YLC and is so excited to see the impact we, as young people, will make throughout the future!

Ashley Nowling -Friendship Walks

Ashley has been involved with Best Buddies for 3 years and currently is a Sophomore and Buddy Director at the University of Kentucky-Lexington. Originally from Westfield, Indiana, she served as an officer and Chapter President at Westfield High School before joining the YLC. Ashley says, “Best Buddies is an organization that has forever impacted my life and I can’t wait to see all that the YLC has in store in the upcoming years!”

Erica, Jesse, Marina, Dani, & Elizabeth at the Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C.

Conner Edwards – Community Outreach

Conner Edwards has been involved in Best Buddies for almost six years, serving as Chapter President for Center Grove High School for two years, and currently as the Membership Coordinator for his college, Ball State University. He can’t wait to see where the YLC takes Best Buddies in the future!

Ryan Wirth – Community Outreach

Ryan has been involved with Best Buddies for 8 years throughout the middle school, high school, and college levels of Best Buddies.  He has served as Chapter President in high school and is currently serving as College Buddy Director at Slippery Rock University, north of Pittsburgh.  Ryan has also been involved with Best Buddies Pennsylvania as an intern in the past.  Ryan hopes to continue his involvement with Best Buddies after college by becoming a staff member!

Marina Haley – Internal Communications

Marina Haley has a long relationship with Best Buddies, serving as Buddy Director for her High School Chapter in Pennsylvania, in addition to being a Buddy Ambassador.  As head of the Internal Communications of the YLC, Marina keeps our team well informed about new developments and progress in the group.

Kayla Fox – Leadership Conference

Kayla Fox has been apart of Best Buddies for 5 years. She began her journey in Best Buddies at Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago Illinois. She served as the vice president for one semester of her sophomore year of HS and then became the chapter president for the remainder of her High School career. Kayla is a devoted member of Best Buddies and proudly accepted the “Overall Outstanding Best Buddies High School Chapter” award at the 2011 Best Buddies Leadership Conference. Kayla is currently involved in Best Buddies at Eastern Illinois University , Charleston Illinois . Best Buddies is truly her pride and joy.

Paul Gecewicz – Leadership Conference

Paul Gecewicz has been part of Best Buddies for 3 years. He started  his first time in Best Buddies as a  participant on freshmen year at Barrington High school, Chicago Illinois. Then, he became a Buddy Director on sophomore year and goes to the officer meetings once a week on Mondays @ 6:45 a.m. He’s still having that position until he graduates high school. His experience about this organization is to meet wonderful people after school and have the opportunity to encourage others to participate in activities.

Caitlin Tran – External Communications

Caitlin Tran first became involved with Best Buddies her freshman year at Troy High School (just 20 minutes away from the Happiest Place on Earth!) and is now nearing her fourth year as part of this amazing organization! After serving as an officer and Vice President, she is excited to be stepping into the role of Chapter President next year. In addition to her involvement with eBuddies, Caitlin is head of the YLC’s online presence. Tweet us  @BestBuddiesYLC!

YLC at Washington-Lee High School, winner of the visit from Glee’s Lauren Potter, after raising $4,360 for the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C.

This summer, we are thrilled to be adding eleven new members to our group! Stay tuned for more information about our exciting new additions!


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About Caitlin Tran

Student leader from sunny SoCal. Get in contact with me @BestBuddiesYLC!

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