Youth success starts here.
When Trishul Jotangia started looking for his first real job at 21, he had his heart set on the non-profit sector and a career that gave back. When he landed a great corporate gig with Goodlife Fitness, he needed to find another way to connect with the non-profit sector and satisfy the itch for purpose.
“I always knew someday I’d volunteer on a board,” he recalls. “But just starting out, I didn’t think I was skilled enough. I thought boards were only for people in their 50s or 60s who held very senior positions.”
Then Trishul’s best friend introduced him to a United Way-founded program designed to get young people on boards. He participated in training at United Way, sat in on board meetings at local non-profit organizations and found a board match with Learning Disabilities Association of London Region (LDA).
“United Way connects organizations and groups in a way that I didn’t think was possible,” he says. “I wouldn’t have found the LDA without them.”
Trishul jumped in with both feet. “I didn’t know what a learning disability was until I met some of the kids and parents the organization serves,” he says. “I realized that, not only could I be on a board, I could learn something I didn’t know. It made me passionate about making change.”
He was soon chairing the Nomination Committee, interviewing prospective board members and providing professional development for people with diverse backgrounds. Within four years, he was Board Chair and stretching his skill set even further.
“We lost our Executive Director three weeks into my tenure as Chair,” he recalls. “I had to guide the organization through staff changes and wage discussions – some of the tough conversations all businesses end up having. I didn’t do everything perfectly, but I learned a lot.”
In addition to developing skills he uses every day at work, Trishul says that the experience has changed his life. “Looking back, I’ve known kids with learning disabilities my whole life. I used to think they just didn’t work hard enough.”
“Learning about the actual struggles many kids face has turned me into an advocate. I want everyone to have the eye-opener I’ve had.”
So what advice does he have for the next generation? “Believe in yourself. At 22, I didn’t think I could make a difference. Now at 32, I’m proof of the impact you can make when you’re young and keen.”