Generation Change with Leo Finelli
By Leo Finelli
ABOUT LEO FINELLI
Leo Finelli is a Gen Z writer, songwriter, and social justice advocate. Leo is on the autism spectrum, and writes stories about topics such as racism, gun violence, and other social justice issues.
Generation Change with Leo FinelliSep 01, 2023
On this episode Leo meets Anna Johnson, a special ed teacher and gun violence prevention advocate from Raleigh, NC. Leo and Anna talk about going to the same college (at different times), Anna's time on the Change the Ref tour, her favorite TV shows, and more.
Leo meets and talks with Shoshanna "Shoshie" Hemley, a rising junior and political science major at Williams College. She grew up mostly in Iowa, but she has lived in Manila, Singapore, and France, all of which were experiences that greatly impacted her passion for global justice. Outside of the classroom, Shoshie runs her college mock trial team, is on the board of her student-run theater group, has performed in multiple shows a semester, is part of an a capella group, is on her elected student government, and serves as a tour guide. She has always been passionate about social justice and she hopes to go to law school after graduating from Williams.
Follow Shoshie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shoshie.hemley/
In this episode, Leo takes you to Hollywood this month for an interview with Zoey Luna. Zoey is a girl with so much on her plate and a story to tell. She’s a Latina transgender actress, advocate, and personality. She's made appearances in films and tv shows such as "Dear Evan Hansen", and "Pose", plus she had her first break at only 16 years old in Rosario Dawson's directorial debut "Boundless". Zoey cemented her position in this career by landing one of the four lead roles in Blumhouse & Sony's "The Craft Legacy". Zoey and I talked about her acting career, the challenges she’s faced, and what she’d like to see in TV and movies.
Sara Kate Baudhuin
We’re more than 2 1⁄2 years into the podcast, and the conversations keep coming! This month’s guest is Sara Kate Baudhuin, also known as SK. She is currently a page at NBC-Universal in Los Angeles. She graduated from Duke University where she studied a self-created major program called Storytelling as a Tool for Social Change. SK is passionate about exploring the intersection between narrative and social justice and finding unique ways to blend the two together. We talked about her work in audio and video production, her time at Duke, and a very fascinating public art project that she created.
Molly Reed is a 22-year-old organizer. She has worked on progressive movements including gun violence prevention, student debt cancellation, and environmental Justice. She recently graduated from George Mason University near Washington DC with a degree in government and international politics where she completed an honors dissertation looking into the polarization of gun legislation in the US, and is currently in a gap year before law school. She has recently joined Dream For America as their Policy Director.
Today on the show, Leo talks with Logan Rubenstein a first year Political Science student at the University of Central Florida who got involved in advocacy after the Parkland shooting in his community. Seeing first hand how important politics is, Logan was inspired to take action, joining March For Our Lives as a student leader, Logan has worked on multiple local progressive campaigns, from State Attorney races to Maxwell Frost’s congressional campaign. Logan hopes to inspire more people to get involved in the political process and build youth power.
Benjamin Kapit is a writer, director, producer, songwriter, and award winning photographer, cinematographer, and composer. He has worked on projects of all kinds, from small indie films to videography for Caravan Palace on tour to photographing for an article in British Vogue. Benjamin founded his production company, Second World Entertainment, when he was 15, and his team is currently in post production for two short films, two seasons of their show Apocalypse 92.7 FM, and the second season of their show The Sunrise House. Benjamin is also currently working on his fourth indie-pop album under the stage name Dreamer’s Club. He is on the autism spectrum, and believes it makes him a stronger artist.
In the article above, a little ways down, is a photo looking down at two people, taken by Ben!
The Spotify links above are the two most recent albums Ben has produced
Links above are to trailers for Ben's current projects in post production
Alexandra Huynh is a middle school student, a national art contest winner, and a book author. She was featured in the Art Comes Alive program by AIB TV. Her book From Tears to the Sea was the Best New Release by category on Amazon. See her artwork at https://ALEXwithStrawberries.com/ or visit the Westside Market in midtown Atlanta.
Shayna Rutman (she her hers) is a 20-year-old advocate from San Diego. she attends American University in Washington, D.C. and is studying abroad next semester in Wellington, New Zealand! Shayna is the founder of Purses for a Purpose, a non-profit organization that accepts donated purses, handbags, and backpacks and fills them with travel-size toiletries to deliver to homeless women in select cities across the nation. You can find out more about Shayna’s nonprofit at pursesforapurposeinc.com, and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @shaynajrutman.
"Rija Nazir (she/her) is a Wichita State senior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. Nazir is a Community Organizer for Loud Light based in Wichita, KS. Rija aims to prioritize voter education among marginalized Wichitans, specifically young Black and Brown voters, as well as encourage accountability among elected officials in Kansas. Prior to the 2022 primary election, Nazir led the Vote Neigh campaign on behalf of the Kansas Youth Power Coalition to provide accessible election information on social media and incorporated a vibrant western theme into the pro-choice movement in Kansas. Following graduation in December of 2022, Rija plans to attend law school in the Fall of 2023 in hopes to pursue civil rights law through the public interest sector."
@Loud_Light - Instagram
@Loud_Light - Twitter
Season 3 of Generation Change with Leo Finelli starts with Isabel Mavrides-Calderon! Isabel Mavrides-Calderon is a teen disabled, disability rights activist and organizer. Her work focuses on disability policy, and accessibility particularly within education. Isabel has organized and hosted grassroots conferences with the ACLU about disability policy issues such as the SSI restoration act, and campaigns against Supreme Court cases that threatened the ADA, and more. In addition, she was instrumental in the implementation of remote options for disabled NYC public school students. Isabel is currently publishing a research study on accessibility in education. She has worked as an accessibility consultant for various think tanks, Target, and the Australian National Climate Strike. Isabel cannot wait to continue serving her community!
On this episode we have the brilliant Nikita Agrawal. Nikita is a high school student at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, Illinois. She is president of FinPro World, a student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization she co-founded that is committed to educating middle and high school students on finance topics through computer programming. FinPro World gives students the opportunity to explore these areas with confidence in an encouraging environment while keeping it fun and interactive - all at no cost. Nikita is passionate about applying programming to solve real-life problems and is interested in the intersection between computer programming and finance.
On this episode, Leo talks with Johnathan Harris, author of the graphic novel Colorblind: a Story of Racism. Johnathan is a college student at Texas State University where he is currently majoring in K-6 Education and plans to continue his studies by earning a Master's of Arts in Counseling as well. He is the Vice President of the Xi Delta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity at TSU. (Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is a professional organization of college-educated men with similar ideas and like attainments. The fraternity’s founders chose Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift as the cardinal principles that every prospective candidate must possess.) @officialoppf
On this episode we have Lexi Philips. Lexi is a college student pursuing a degree in Psychological and Brain Sciences. She speaks to students at elementary and middle schools about her cyberbullying experience, chronicled in her graphic novel, “Click.” Lexi hopes that sharing her trials and triumphs over bullies inspires hope in others as well as the courage to do the same. She is currently president of the Armenian Student Association at the University of California, Santa Barbara and plans to continue on to graduate school to become a Physician Associate.
Lexi's Graphic Novel "Click" - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42117799-click
On this episode, Leo talks with Xander Martin, a teenage non-binary, theater obsessed queer rights activist. Xander's family started the Bowie Area Non-Binary & Transgender Gender Youth Alliance.
On this month's episode, Leo talks with Isaac Hertenstein, the founder of Students Teaching Finance, a youth-led organization with the mission of increasing youth financial literacy and combating economic inequality. Isaac is a passionate advocate for financial literacy education nationwide and empowers other high school students to teach financial literacy in their communities, sparking changes against inequity. You can learn more about Students Teaching Finance and form a chapter on its website, studentsteachingfinance.org, and by following on Instagram, @studentsteachingfinance
On this episode, Leo talks with Sophia Huynh, currently a freshman from Columbia University. She loves to involve herself with Social Justice, educating, creating open spaces for discussion, fundraising, and planning events based upon race, class, gender, food insecurity, and many other topics.
She is the Founder of Asian American Alliance and Co-leader of International club at the Paideia School, Sophia also served as a founding member of the DEI Committee and SDLI group (Student Diversity Leadership Initiative) which deals with the annual events of Race and Gender Day. In addition, Sophia worked on a podcast called JSAC STEMCast which is a non-profit organization aimed at helping youth become more interested in how STEM topics can be applied to our everyday lives. On a different note, Sophia also enjoys listening to music (specifically Kpop), eating hotpot, and meeting people of different backgrounds.
The JSAC Podcast Instagram: @jsacpodcast
On this episode Leo talks with Brianna Chandler. Brianna is a college student who organizes in St. Louis, Missouri. Her areas of focus include abolition, climate justice, and more holistically Black liberation. She is a member of the River City Climate Collective and WashU Students for Black and Palestinian Liberation.
Brianna Photo courtesy of Whitney Curtis for the New York Times
On this episode Leo talks with Molly Smith, a 20 year old filmmaker from Orlando, FL. Her short film I Don't Know has screened at over 20 film festivals nationwide, winning 7 top awards. Her next film, Dear America has received over 600k views online, won a National Student Emmy in the PSA category and the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Youth Free Expression Film contest. Also an accomplished playwright, her dystopian political commentary play, God Bless America went on to win a Scholastic National Gold Medal and premiered on stage at the Be Original Theatre Festival in Orlando, FL, winning Molly the award for top playwright under age 24. Her writing was also recognized with a National Student Production Emmy in the writing craft category and a finalist nomination at NFFTY’s Story Starts Here competition. In 2020, she completed her documentary film Feminism: The Fifth Wave that went on to win the Jury Award at Her International Film Festival and will be screening at The American Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival in 2021. Molly’s goal is to use the medium of film and her passion as a writer to tell stories which spark conversations and change perspectives. In 2020, she was named a Cameron Impact Scholar for her work in social justice and impact filmmaking. She attends Yale University, studying film and writing.
YT ▶: mollywoodfilms
Mina Fedor and Maxwell Wong
Mina Fedor is the founder of AAPI Youth Rising. Mina is an 8th grader from Northern California. In her free time, she enjoys drawing, learning about all things neuro and spending time with her friends, family and many pets. Mina was recently named as a Top Five Time Kid of the Year for 2021.
Maxwell Wong is a member of AAPI Youth Rising and a 9th-grade student from Northern California. Maxwell enjoys reading, debating, playing video games, and spending time with his family.
About AAPI Youth Rising: AAPI Youth Rising is a youth-led non-profit organization whose mission is to take small actions to make positive change. In March 2021, AAPI Youth Rising organized a 1,200+ person AAPI Youth Rising Rally in Berkeley, CA to bring awareness to the increase in xenophobia against Asians in America. Afterwards, AAPI Youth Rising launched the ONE/180 pledge asking schools and teachers across the country to teach at least one day of Asian American and Pacific Islander history and culture during the school year. Since then, the group has launched social media campaigns, phone banking efforts and art activist events including the Our Diverse Voices youth art showcase in support of ethnic studies. AAPI Youth Rising has also been selected as American Girl’s partner organization for the 2022 American Girl of the Year, the first Asian American Girl of the Year, Corinne Tam.
“We as Youth have a chance to build our future, to raise our voices, and demand change…Today, my call to action is for each of you to take one lesson home. With that call to action, make your voices heard.” – Mina Fedor
Instagram: @aapiyouthrising | @mina.fedor | @maxwellw_2025
On this episode, Leo talks with Bianca Jortner, a 17 year old high school senior from Connecticut. She is the founder and president of Youth Promise, a non-profit providing under-served youth with free, virtual educational services such as tutoring and classes. Her passions include medicine, writing, reading, photography, and activism.
📖 Bianca's book - Dreaming of Hiraeth
Claire is a Los Angeles based artist, filmmaker and photographer.
At 15, she joined Adolescent, a media company focused on the creation of original content by youth for youth. She developed and directed short form content, serialized content, and documentary work with a focus on youth empowerment and human equality. By 18, her client list included Hasbro, Nike, Target, Disney, American Girl, Netflix and Ad Council.
In 2015, she was named one of SHOOT Magazine’s New Directors to watch.
Claire has recently focused her studies on a more interdisciplinary approach. She is currently working on projects which fuse installation, design, and video to create physical and digital spaces that challenge traditional narrative practices.
Desmond Napoles is a multi-awarded LGBTQ advocate, outspoken gay teen, genderfluid editorial and runway model, motivational public speaker, drag performer, designer, actor, singer, LGBT influencer, and published author. They are currently working on developing a private social network for LGBTQ+ youth.
They have walked the runways at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for several designers including Gypsy Sport, The Blonds x Disney Villains, Nicopanda's MAC Cosmetics collaboration with Macy's, Daniel Chimowitz, Dope Tavio, PimComedy, Adrian Alicea, Rebirth Garments, and MRHUA MRSHUA. Additional collaborations include Brussels Airlines, Canon USA, Chimera Lashes, Claire's Stores, Converse, Daftboy Fans, Drag Queen Merch, Fluide, GLAAD, GLSEN, Human Rights Campaign, Luar x The Love Ball, Lush Cosmetics, Manic Panic NYC, Marc Jacobs, Mattel, NYC Pride, and The Phluid Project.
They live in New York City with their parents (Mom and Dad) and their family pets that include cats and parrots. Hobbies including coding, scripting, and playing video games, 3D graphics modeling, experimenting with makeup, costuming, creating content to share with their fans, visiting amusement parks, and hiking. Desmond's favorite subject in school is math. In the future, they would like to pursue a career as a roller coaster engineer or video game designer.
Nandita Kumar is a 17-year-old community organizer from Dallas. Passionate about public health and human rights, Nandita works towards sustainably advancing health equity through policy, education, and advocacy. Her interest in global public health stems from the staunch disparities in health outcomes in marginalized communities. She is currently working as a Diversity & Inclusion Captain for March for our Lives Texas, Executive Organizer for LISD Students for Educational Equity, and Club Leader for Hebron GirlUp. When she's not organizing in her community, you can find her reading, making art, or spending time with her family and friends!
Krissy Oliver-Mays is a youth activist and advocate from Charlotte, North Carolina. Krissy was formally one of the co-coordinators of Extinction Rebellion Youth Charlotte alongside her best friend Ollie who she also founded a non-profit with that educates youth on how to create change within their communities. Krissy is currently a sophomore at American University where she is studying environmental science in the collective effort of working toward a more sustainable future.
On this episode, Leo talks with Kezia Rice, founder of imprint magazine, an online community which promotes sustainability and activism. Imprint publishes articles that encourage readers to make small eco changes in their own lives. Read Imprint magazine and follow Kezia.
This month, Leo talks with Thanasi Dilos, co-founder of Civics Unplugged, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social enterprise whose mission is to empower the leaders of Generation Z to build the future of democracy. He is also one of National Geographic's Young Explorers, working to create platforms for youth-led work around the globe.
On this episode, Leo talks with Isabel Hope about autism, voting, mental health, and more. Isabel is a writer, musician, activist, and founder of Meddling Kids Movement (an international non-profit dedicated to amplifying the voices of youth activists around the world)
Meddling Kids Movement website - https://www.meddlingkidsmovement.com/
On this episode, Leo talks with Jasmine Lunia. Jasmine is a writer who works for social change and justice, with a particular interest in diversity and mental health. She writes on her blog and the moon speaks again and her work has also been published on iFeminist, the Lilac Blog, and Teen Ink. Jasmine also serves as the student rights director at Meddling Kids Movement.
Leo talks with Shiden Tekle. Shiden is an anti-racism campaigner from South London and co-founder of Legally Black, which fights to dismantle the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of black people. He is also a part of a new campaign called The Halo Collective, which aims to fight harmful hair discrimination practices in schools and workplaces.
Twitter - @shidenteklee
On this episode, Leo talks with Chessy Prout, an author, advocate, and high school sexual assault survivor. In 2018 she published her memoir I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope, and co-founded the national non-profit called I Have The Right To with the goal to support survivors of sexual violence all over the world.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/chessy_prout
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ihavetherightto/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/ihavetherightto_/
On this episode, Leo talks with Michael Platt, a food justice advocate, baker, and social entrepreneur. He has a non-profit food access initiative called PLLATE (Power, Love, Learning and, Access, to Everyone). Please check out and support Michael's work.
Michaels Desserts (and PLLATE) - https://www.michaelsdesserts.com/
See him on Operation Awesome - BYUtv (March 2021)
Trailer: Generation Change with Leo Finelli
Leo Finelli (he/him/his) is an amateur screenwriter and songwriter who explores and speaks on social justice topics through his art, on his podcast Generation Change with Leo Finelli, and through other endeavors. Leo has autism and a unique and deep appreciation for the importance and power of human connection.