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Youth Council

Project Unloaded’s Youth Council is a vital part of the organization’s work to change gun culture and save lives. This group of young people advises on upcoming campaigns, shapes our social media presence, and helps to identify opportunities to reach more young people with the life-saving message that guns make us less safe. Get to know them below.

Ariana Rahman (she/her) is an incoming college student at Arizona State University. She strives to work in medical research and global health by exploring the intersection between human rights and healthcare. She is excited in working with Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to promote safer spaces for children and families to thrive. In her free time, she loves to go on hikes and travel the world.


Carys Gill (she/her) is a high school junior from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. She is passionate about working with Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to elevate the intersection between gun culture and mental health in teens. In her free time, she loves watching movies, reading and binging true crime documentaries. At school, she is a part of Latinas Club, president of Pax Christi, and enjoys performing with her step team.

Celia Fuentes (she/her) is a high school junior from Chicago. She is passionate about working with Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to try to bring more awareness in her community about gun culture. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, photography, going to concerts, and exploring the city with her friends. She is a part of a film program in her city and is always sharing ideas about social justice issues through her work. Overall, she is a hard working, creative person who tries her best to make change happen.

Cherie Animashaun is a first year student at Cornell University studying public policy. Growing up in the cities of Evanston and Chicago, Cherie has seen firsthand how gun violence cuts short the lives and ambitions of young people early, which is what fuels her advocacy work. Cherie hopes to spread awareness and forge new connections with youth through Project Unloaded’s online platforms.


Cheyenne Desmond (she/they) is a first year student at Lehigh University and is originally from Washington, PA. She has a vigorous drive and is excited to be working with Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to impact societal views on gun culture with the hope of a safer future for generations to come. She loves helping and giving back to her community, often volunteering or participating in local events. Outside of activism and volunteer work, Cheyenne also enjoys the arts and sports. Her favorite activities include listening to and discovering new music, drawing, and playing tennis with her friends.


Clara Biggs (she/her) is a high school junior from Atlanta, Georgia. She loves reading, cooking, and is a passionate editor of her school’s yearbook. She is very spirited about helping the world in any way she can, whether it’s an environmental justice nonprofit with her friends or joining Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to bring attention to the influence of gun culture on young lives.


Conor Webb (he/him) is a first-year student at Yale University based in Albany, New York. Before joining Project Unloaded’s Youth Council, he was a chapter lead at March For Our Lives, leading demonstrations, lobby days, and civic engagement efforts in the Capital Region of New York. He’s excited to leverage his advocacy experience and political acumen to advance Project Unloaded’s work to permanently change American gun culture. Outside of Project Unloaded, Conor is a voracious reader and seltzer superfan.


Edgar Jared Vilchez (he/him) is an incoming sophomore at Cornell University majoring in government with a minor in policy analysis and management. He is from Chicago, IL in which this is his second-term in the Project Unloaded Youth Council. He is passionate about gun prevention and creating a change after a personal encounter with gun violence. He is focused on cultivating a change in his community especially Latinos who are impacted by guns violence. He is passionate about politics and policy that he hopes to run for office one day at the federal level.

Esha Ambre (she/her) is a high school senior from the Bay Area in California. She is passionate about working with Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to elevate the intersection between gun culture and mental health in teens, and is elated to be back for a second year! In her free time, she loves to read and is always looking for book recommendations. At school, she is a part of Mock Trial, Model UN, Indopak, and is very interested in keeping up with current events.

Jayden Wright (he/him), originally from Chicago, IL, is an incoming freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, planning to major in Psychology and Political Science. As a member of the Project Unloaded Youth Council, he aims to process and distribute information effectively for his community. Jayden enjoys competitive dance, thrifting with friends, and spending quality time with loved ones. He also serves as a youth representative on the board of a community-led organization, advocating for youth voices in important discussions.


Joel Siegel (he/him) is a senior in high school from Kansas City, Missouri. He enjoys spending his time creating content and taking pictures and is excited to apply these skills to Project Unloaded. He also enjoys playing the guitar, exercising, and pondering about the wonders of the world.

Laia McClain (she/her) attends Whitney M. Young as a sophomore in Chicago, Illinois. Laia is skilled at baking and can bake anything from a macaroon to a checkerboard cake. Laia also enjoys traveling the world and would like to visit all fifty states by the time she graduates high school. Laia plays JV basketball and tennis and is hoping to be on Junior National Honor Society next school year.

Lillian Lee-Sin (she/her) is a senior in high school in Evans, Georgia. This is her third year with the Project Unloaded Youth Council. As part of the council, Lily is excited about advising on social media campaigns, talking to the media, and supporting Project Unloaded’s community partnership work. Lily is part of Project Unloaded because she believes that everyone deserves to grow up in a community in which they feel safe! Outside of advocacy, her passions include history, music, design, and basketball, and martial arts. Lily is a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo and teaches martial arts to younger kids as well.

Maddie Plansky (she/her) is a rising senior at Duke University from Randolph, New Jersey. She is passionate about working with Project Unloaded’s Youth Council to communicate a powerful narrative about gun culture that engages people in her generation and provokes important conversations. In her free time she loves a good beach day and has recently picked up pickleball as an activity to do with friends. At school, she is on the varsity cheerleading team and helps run the dance marathon that raises money for the Duke Children’s Hospital.

Madhurum (Maddie) Bhuvan (she/they) is a first year at UC Berkeley. This is her second year on the youth council. Maddie’s passion for changing the narrative about gun ownership comes from her research on the relationship between youth mental health, gun access and suicide. Outside of Project Unloaded, she enjoys working in education, advocacy, and community support. Their current projects include expanding LGBTQ+ inclusivity, increasing mental health awareness, and creating educational opportunities in the Bay Area. In Maddie’s spare time, she dances on a competitive hip-hop dance team, explores obscure music genres, and plays the drums.

Moussa Toni Cisse (he/him) is finishing high school at the Institute for Collaborative Education in New York City and is looking forward to starting college in the Fall. He is from Brooklyn, New York but his parents are from Eastern Europe (Bulgaria) and from West Africa (Senegal). He loves math, writing, and playing basketball. He is looking forward to being a part of Project Unloaded’s Youth Council and making a difference through his research, public speaking, and advocacy.

Presley Barner was born and raised in West Philadelphia. An early graduate of Upper Darby High, Presley is in her first year of college studying to be a dentist with the goal of opening her own community dental practice. Presley loves fashion, traveling, vlogging, makeup, and serving her community. She has dealt with extensive loss, violence, and trauma, and has been with YEAH Philly since 2019. She has taken her hard life experiences and turned them into motivation to help other people her age who deal with similar things.

Sarsha O’Sullivan (she/her) is a high school junior from the suburbs of Chicago in Illinois. She is passionate about working to change people’s views on gun ownership and raise awareness on the risks of guns through Project Unloaded. In her free time, she loves listening to music and playing with her dogs. At school, she is a swimmer, water polo player, and member of the Students Against Violence Everywhere club.

Shiven Patel (he/him) is a high school junior from Fremont, California. He started looking into the issues surrounding gun culture after a shooting occurred at a football game at his high school. He hopes that his time in Project Unloaded leads to him creating an impact that changes gun culture. Outside of this, he works in some labs doing research relating to cancer and neurological diseases. At school he is a part of the sport analytics and biomedical engineering clubs. He is also a big sports fan and is always interested in learning about current developments.


Zoe Kaufman (she/her) is a second-year student at Brown University, originally from Evanston, IL. This is her second year on the Youth Council, and she joined to tackle the issue of gun violence from a unique lens, educate her peers, and aid communities like her own that have been largely impacted by gun violence. Zoe is passionate about social justice issues such as gun violence, reproductive rights, and migration. She spends much of her time doing advocacy and policy work, connecting with the refugee community through her non-profit organization, Refugees are Served Here, and increasing civil engagement through her work with Brown Votes. She also loves to travel, cook, write, play volleyball, and go thrifting.

Young woman smiling.

Gun culture is … what makes people believe that they’re safer armed. Many Americans, especially young people, believe they’re safer with a gun in their home. … But many young people are also open to changing their minds about this.

– Lillian Lee-Sin to the Augusta Chronicle, November 2022

Youth Council in the News

Project Unloaded Youth Council - Seeking Applicants

Project Unloaded, an organization working to create a new cultural narrative that guns make us less safe, is seeking applicants for its 2023-2024 Youth Council. The council, which will be made up of 12 – 16 young people ages 15 – 20, will be a critical part of Project Unloaded’s upcoming campaigns and strategic planning.

What will members of the Youth Council do?

Members of the council will be asked to weigh in on upcoming Project Unloaded strategies and campaigns, support the creation of content and materials for Project Unloaded programming, as well as speak out on the issue of guns in our homes, neighborhoods and communities.

The council will meet virtually once every month to discuss upcoming Project Unloaded programs, hear updates on how current programming is progressing, and brainstorm new projects that the organization should take on. There will also be one in-person meeting that all Youth Council members are expected to attend, with travel expenses paid by Project Unloaded. In between monthly meetings, members of the council can expect to hear from Project Unloaded staff at least bi-weekly over email, with requests like giving feedback on an upcoming campaign or tactic, or creating social media content, such as graphic feed posts for Instagram and short form videos for TikTok.

The council will have some duties that are public-facing. On rare occasions, they may be asked to be quoted on behalf of Project Unloaded in a statement to the media or to be interviewed by a reporter about their work with Project Unloaded. In cases like these, members of the council would receive media training and support throughout the request. All members of the council would also be publicly named on the Project Unloaded website. Members of the council will be selected annually, with the expectation that members would serve a year-long term, though some may extend their participation beyond the year.

Why should I apply for the Project Unloaded Youth Council?

For young people who are concerned about gun violence and making their communities safer, this is an opportunity to take action. By being part of the Youth Council, you’ll be able to help shape future campaigns to educate other young people on the risks of having a gun.

Additionally, council members will have opportunities for leadership as part of the council, become stronger public speakers through media training and experience, and understand more about how non-profit organizations work. The first council will run from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024. Each member of the council will also receive a $999 stipend for their time and work with Project Unloaded. The stipend will be paid in installments.

How to apply to the Project Unloaded Youth Council

Fill out the brief application available here. If under 18, applicants must submit a signed parental consent form to info@projectunloaded.org. All minors must have their parents’ permission to contact us and must be at least 15 to participate.

Applications are due to the Project Unloaded team by May 26, 2023. Applicants moving forward in the process will then be asked to take part in a brief video call with Project Unloaded staff to learn more about being on the council and answer a few follow up questions about their interest in working with Project Unloaded. The council’s first meeting will be in the fall of 2023.

Privacy Notice

All applications and all interaction with participants and parents will be subject to the privacy practices disclosed in our Participant Privacy Notice.