Tresean Gilliam is one of the youngest Young Leaders to ever join the program at age 13. Initially, he presented himself as a very shy and reserved but respectful, mature young man. He readily admitted he needed to increase his self-confidence, improve his social skills and take more initiative with certain tasks and responsibilities. Although Tresean exhibited some caution with participating in young leader opportunities and duties, he was in attendance at every meeting, on time and open to taking a chance.  

(Tresean pictured on left)

Over time, Tresean began to embrace the duties and responsibilities of a young leader with the support, and encouragement of the program’s engagement coach. He diligently rode his bike to every scheduled group meeting and individual session to complete a community listening project. Throughout the process, Tresean adopted the engagement coach as a mentor to address his personal goals and strengthen his skills as a young leader. He learned how to greet community members effectively — by making eye contact, speaking clearly and shaking hands. Once he gained confidence within his physical social skills, Tresean began to initiate conversations with residents more easily. He developed a talent for communicating with others through healthy, humorous but also detailed dialogue. His accurate and legible documentation of Neighborhood Strengths Surveys also illustrated a sense of growth achieved since joining Young Leaders.  

Tresean joined Young Leaders in the summer of 2017 and is now 14. His “job” is to interview and complete Neighborhood Strength Surveys, capturing important information from local residents like their number of years in the community, community goals, associational involvement, personal skills and talents.  

Interviewing neighbors

Tresean also joined Embrace Richmond’s “Unsung Heroes Project.” For this project, each youth partners with a senior adult who has resided in their community/neighborhood for 40 years or longer.  Tresean’s storytelling buddy is Micheal Jackson.  Tresean listend to and recorded Mr. Jackson’s stories and, in turn, shared his experiences. This exchange helped Tresean in bridging the generational gap, building rapport and gaining historical knowledge of his community. In these next few weeks, Tresean will take one story and craft it into a narrative that will be available to the public.   

Tresean has also become a key member of Joe’s Bike Shop, a partner organization, that trains youth on how to repair bicycles. Tresean has become an important spokesperson for both Embrace and Joe’s helping to grow both programs.  

Tresean and Wallace at Joe’s Bike Shop

Tresean’s story is one of personal and community success and continues to highlight the benefits of becoming a Young Leader. We are proud of his accomplishments and to have him as an Ambassador. The Young Leader program increases confidence, social skills, community involvement, leadership among peers and learned job skills. Yes, Tresean is only one person, but his personal and professional improvements are countless.  

To find out more about the Young Leaders program and how to get involved, click here.