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The ‘Back in Black’ Celebration: A Testament to yLead’s Resilience

By September 14, 2023Event, Team

It’s said that adversity often leads to strength, and no event illustrates that better than our recent “Back in Black” celebration at the conclusion of yConnect 2023. The very name of the event hints at its significance. “Being back in the black” is not just about numbers on a balance sheet but is a testimony to yLead’s enduring spirit and resilience.

From trial to triumph:

As with every story of triumph, this one started with a challenge. Being so reliant on in-person events, the pandemic meant yLead faced financial obstacles that threatened to shut the doors of our beloved organisation. So, yLead did what yLead does best! We leaned on the strength of our community and held a “Keep The Door Open’” campaign.

Of course, the ‘Back in Black’ celebration wasn’t about ruminating on those challenges, or the years of hard work that followed. Instead, it was a grand symbol of overcoming, of pushing forward in the face of adversity, and emerging victorious.

Our CEO, Bel, in a heartwarming address, highlighted the magnitude of the challenges we faced. She reminisced about the very real prospect of shutting down, but followed it up with a story of hope, sacrifice, and grit. Through collective efforts and unyielding perseverance, yLead not only survived but thrived. The ‘Back in Black’ evening was, in many ways, our victory lap.


Leaving a LEGACY

This event was a much-deserved pat on the back for everyone who stood by yLead during our tough times. The volunteer yTeamers from each state, our committed HQ staff, as well as every single individual who believed in yLead’s mission were celebrated.

In recognition of their exceptional service, names were added to our legacy list AKA the Legacy Mirror. It shone even brighter as it honoured those who played a pivotal role during our trying times. The additions to our cherished yLead Legacy Mirror reflect the brightest stars of our community, those who embody and amplify the yLead ethos.
The mirror now welcomes the following amazing individuals:

Maddy Riddle
At the event, we honoured the dedication of our dance enthusiast Maddy. On her birthday, amidst the aftermath of the February 2022 floods, Maddy graciously stepped into our office, assisting with heavy lifting and carpet removal. During a challenging period of budget constraints, her thoughtful gesture of supplying essential markers for our In -Schools programs was a testament to her commitment. Maddy’s unwavering support during crucial moments has been instrumental in yLead’s journey back to solvency.

Chloé McGrath
Chloé’s dedication transcends beyond the operational aspects of yLead. She has invested invaluable hours nurturing our volunteers on a personal level. Her authenticity, through sharing her life stories, insights, humour, and affection, has made her an exemplary beacon for our yTeam. The evident growth and transformation in our volunteers can be largely attributed to Chloé’s mentorship.

Christian Baledrokadroka
Christian stands as a cornerstone for our endeavours in New Zealand. An unwavering leader, her association with our Rangatira team has been longstanding and impactful. Christian’s empathetic demeanour, profound insights, and sound advice have been invaluable for our NZ family. Her leadership prowess was particularly evident when she spearheaded the Rangatira program,supporting 2020 Legacy Mirror awardees.


Volunteer Awards

In additional to celebrating people’s legacies on our mirror, we also have numerous yTeam who have gone above and beyond in their contributions to our association; in turn they have received a spot as one of our yTeam Award Finalists!
A huge congratulations to all finalists who are in the running for both their state/region based award and also the Overall yTeamer of the Year award. Our 2023 yTeam Award finalists are:

SA – Grace Langley, Sallee Shepherd, Tamika Tran
NQ – Colby Laspina, Flinders Gibson, Hana Peacock, Taylah Quakawoot NSW – Caitlin Oschadleus, Luke Jobson, Sophie Le
NZ- Isobel Ham, Oliver Burns, Ruby Moetara
WA – Bridget Muir, Georgia McAlpine, Joe Walding-Karaitiana, Mika Francis VIC – Charley Russell, Eden Hayes, Sarah Pamment, Udit Dhami
SEQ – Angelina Hambleton, Angus Chisholm, Jayme Lenton, Matthew Moss

The winners from each state were:
CQ – George Plumb (1st ever CQ yTeamer of the Year!!!)
SA – Sallee Shepherd
NQ – Taylah Quakawoot
NSW – Sophie Le
NZ – Oliver Burns
WA – Georgia McAlpine
VIC – Udit Dhami
SEQ – Angus Chisholm

Be sure to head over to our Instagram and Facebook page to hear and see more about these awesome winners!
Of course, there can only be one top dog. This year, the overall yTeamer of the year was none other than the incredible Charley Russell!

From journeying long hours for In Schools multiple times weekly and excelling as a debut mentor at ASLC this year—despite never attending one in-person—it was unsurprising to see this dynamo being recognised. Charley embodies the yLead values with every breath she takes. She’s bold, tenacious, dependable, and compassionate. Our gratitude for Charley’s inclusion in our 2023 team knows no bounds, and we’re eager to witness where her path leads.

We’re thrilled to honour Charley as the yTeamer of the Year, marking the first from Victoria since the remarkable Amy Parsons graced that title (talk about leaving an indelible mark)!


A thriving community

Back in Black wasn’t just about speeches and formal recognitions. True to yLead’s spirit, once the formalities were over, it was time to celebrate! The atmosphere was electric, filled with joy, laughter, and some enthusiastic dance moves. It was heartening to see the yLead community come together, not just as colleagues or acquaintances but as a close-knit family, united in joy.

yLead is a testament to what a community can achieve when it comes together. We believe that everyone has the potential to “take the driver’s seat” in their lives. Our ‘Back in Black’ celebration wasn’t just about our past achievements but also serves as an inspiration for the future. It is a beacon for every young individual out there, showing them that with resilience, determination, and a supportive community, they can overcome any hurdle.

For glimpses of the celebration and to get to know our outstanding y-Teamer of the Year awardees, be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram pages. Here’s to many more celebrations and victories in the future!