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About #PassTheMicYouth

#PassTheMicYouth seeks to amplify the voices of young people by sharing their lived experiences and stories of activism through a podcast and blog. This platform aims to highlight youth-centered issues, demonstrate the necessity of youth leadership, and provide educators and youth-serving professionals with useful tools and resources for fostering youth leadership, cultivating critical consciousness, and strengthening youth/adult partnerships.

Our Team


Headshot of Co-host/Producer, Nyawira NyotaNyawira Nyota is a senior studying biological engineering and Spanish at NC State University, and is a co-creator of #PassTheMicYouth. She currently serves as on the e-board for the NC State chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and she looks forward to working in water resources and land development.

Steven Navarrete is a Political Science major at NC State University. He is part of a living and learning village on campus named Impact Leadership Village and is also enrolled in the Leadership Development Program. Steven’s work in advocacy has involved close ties with a non-profit, Centro Unido Latino-Americano, but has also taken on recent projects like his class poem “Te Quiero Sin Violencia” or “I Love You Without Violence” in the Fall of 2023.

Shavana Green is a senior at NC State University, majoring in Psychology, with a strong belief in the transformative potential of psychology to positively impact both individuals and society. Inspired by her dedication, she is embarking on training to volunteer as a Suicide Hotline call agent. Previously, she dedicated her time to volunteering at the African American Cultural Center (AACC) on campus. Shavana is an ICF Certified Life Coach, having launched her personal coaching business in February 2022. With her experiences and education she looks forward to working towards destigmatizing mental health within communities of color.

Hailey Witman is a freshman at NC State University, pursuing a major in Civil Engineering. She is a member of the University Honors program and has an active role in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) village on campus. She looks forward to working in structural design and is passionate about advocating for women’s equality in the workplace, particularly within STEM fields. 

Program Coordinators

Headshot of Program Coordinator, Maru GonzalezMaru Gonzalez, Ed.D. (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University, a co-founder of Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (GSSC), and serves on the National Advisory Council for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Dr. Gonzalez has over 10 years of experience working with youth in various capacities, including as an educator, researcher, intergroup dialogue facilitator, and school counselor. The experiences and stories of young people — both spoken and unspoken — motivate, inspire, and sustain her work in the area of youth development. In addition to her efforts domestically, she has collaborated with youth in Chile, Peru, Spain and the Dominican Republic on initiatives aimed at cultivating more respectful, inclusive, and affirming schools and communities. Dr. Gonzalez has appeared as a guest commentator on both CNN and CNN Español and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

Headshot of Program Coordinator, Christy ByrdChristy Byrd, Ph.D. grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Agnes Scott College and a masters degree in psychology and PhD in education and psychology from the University of Michigan. She was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Michigan State University in the Department of Teacher Education. Dr. Byrd’s research examines how school climate for diversity promotes academic engagement, cultural competence, and psychological well-being in students. She uses quantitative and qualitative methods to explore topics such as intergroup interactions, multicultural education, and culturally relevant teaching. Her work has shown that when youth experience their schools as positive, identity-affirming spaces, they are more academically engaged and successful.

Curriculum Consultants

K-12 School Consultant, Michael KokozosMichael Kokozos earned a Ph.D. in Education, Culture & Society from the University of Pennsylvania; he also earned a B.A. and a Masters with an international studies focus from New York University. He loves to travel and has lived in Turkey, Greece, and Canada. His research focuses on inclusion in educational contexts and prejudice reduction. His leadership focuses on collaborating with youth on global leadership and social activism. He currently teaches IB Global Politics in Miami, Florida.

Katie McKee, Ph.D. teaches courses in leadership development and advises undergraduate students. She is a Co-coordinator of the Leadership & Social Justice Program in the College of Agriculture and is a Project SAFE Ally. Katie loves discussions about issues of justice and access, teaching methods and curricula for leadership, and 90s music. She’s a reviewer for the Journal of Leadership Education because she loves seeing what other people are studying. Katie is partner to Jonathan and favorite human/carrot lady to Phineas (the wonder horse).