Youth Organizing Fellowship
The Youth Organizing Fellowship is a paid opportunity to grow as a leader, build power with a national cohort of youth organizers, and advocate for the separation of church and state and inclusive religious freedom, including the issues that depend on them like abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, strong public schools and a functioning democracy.
Meet the 2023-2024 Fellows
Aidan Scully (he/him) is a junior at Harvard University, where he studies Comparative Religion and Classics, organizes queer-affirming interfaith communities, and writes about religion and politics. He is passionate about fighting the religious exemptions that create loopholes allowing for discrimination against marginalized communities to continue.
Alex Santiago (she/they) is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Latin American and Politics Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a BIPOC first-generation child of immigrants, she is passionate about immigration justice, farm workers rights, and the ways in which the Separation of Church and State impacts these communities.
Beyond this, she is dedicated towards leading discussion and education on the Do No Harm Act and the protection of religious minorities on her campus throughout the fellowship.
Andrew Hartzler (he/him) is a recent graduate of Oral Roberts University, where anti-LGBTQI+ sentiments continue to inspire his work today. He is now based in Kansas City, Missouri, and will organize church leaders to advocate for church-state separation in the Missouri legislature.
Bilquisu Abdullah is currently a student in Washington DC studying Women and Gender Studies with a Medical Humanities minor. She is also involved with Bossier Magazine, H*yas For Choice, and the Period Empowerment Project. Bilquisu advocates for health equity, care, and justice. Her hope is to work within the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Public and Global Health.
Cody (co) Clark (they/he) is a trans and disabled artist and organizer, double majoring in dance and urban studies. Co has been an organizer in the climate world since they were 15, but have been working recently for queer and disabled rights, abortion justice, and the separation of church and state. They love writing and have recently been using the power of playwriting to uplift queer and trans stories.
Isabelle Philip is a 4th year at the University of Georgia studying Political Science and International Affairs. In addition to being an AU Fellow, Isabelle is an organizer with the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition, an advocacy organization building power for young Georgians from the classroom to the state Capitol.
Ivan Torres (He/Him/El) Ivan is pursuing a double major in Philosophy and the History of Mathematics, accompanied by double minors in Comparative Literature and the History of Science at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. His academic journey is complemented by his high-impact advocacy in organizations like Diversify Our Narrative, and Students Demand Action, as well as others.
In these roles, Ivan identified the common threads between issues like intellectual freedom, education policy, and reproductive justice—a thread that is tied to church-state separation. After law school, Ivan will work in the public interest legal space to shape the world to be a more inclusive and welcoming space for all.
Kalyn Mizelle McDaniel is a third-year student at the University of Texas School of Law. She has relocated to Washington D.C. where she is completing her final year of law school as a visiting student at Georgetown University. After growing up in a religious community, she attended Colorado Christian University. There, she advocated for LGBTQ+ inclusion and became especially interested in church-state separation issues. In 2023, she was a Constitutional Litigation Intern at Americans United and hopes to continue developing her career in impact litigation.
Laila Salaam (she/her) is a young reproductive justice advocate who is passionate about using direct action to increase access to abortion. As a recent graduate from George Washington University Laila has taken her passion for reproductive justice outside of the classroom and into a career as a full-time organizer at Reproaction in Washington, DC.
In her fellowship, Laila will be working to make the connection between crisis pregnancy centers and church-state separation in Washington, DC.
Leland Murphy is a first-year Masters of Public Affairs student at UT Austin’s Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs. Motivated by experiences navigating adversity as a queer and working-class individual, he aspires to create a better and more inclusive world for all. In addition to church-state separation, he is passionate about environmental justice and labor issues. Through the Youth Organizing Fellowship, Leland works to raise awareness about church-state separation and build political power for inclusive religious freedom in Texas.
Sebastian Mahal (they/them) was born in northern Colorado and currently studies at the American University in Washington, D.C. As a philosophy and political science student, they are particularly passionate about issues surrounding reproductive rights, being actively involved in advocacy work for the installation of an emergency contraceptive vending machine on their college campus. Sebastian envisions a world where politicians do not justify their anti-abortion legislation upon their religious views.