News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director | Sara Sooy, Commissioner Deputy Director

Melonie Marano, Commissioner | Paul Drake, Commissioner | Doug Singleterry, Commissioner

May 18, 2021


Youth Leadership Somerset Celebrates Twentieth Graduation

There’s Still Time to Apply to the Class of 2021-2022

The twentieth Youth Leadership Somerset Class was honored on May 8 during a virtual graduation ceremony. Somerset County Deputy Commissioner Sara Sooy participated in the program and congratulated the class for their achievements. The graduating class included 43 students representing 14 different Somerset County high schools.


“In 20 years, this is the first Youth Leadership Somerset class that was held all virtually, from the first session in September through graduation in May. The students rose to this challenge by engaging local leaders via Zoom and holding robust discussions on important issues in breakout rooms,” said Deputy Commissioner Sooy. “I am confident that these articulate and passionate students will use the tools presented to them in Youth Leadership Somerset to become thoughtful and open-minded leaders.”


There’s still time for county youth grades nine through 12 to apply to for the Youth Leadership Somerset Class of 2021-2022, which starts in September. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 23.


“This is a wonderful program that empowers young people to interact with local leaders and explore real issues that are impacting their communities,” said Commissioner Sooy, Youth Leadership Somerset liaison. “The youth will have an opportunity to expand their critical thinking and gain leadership proficiencies that will serve them well in the future.”


To apply, visit Youth Leadership Somerset Application 2021/2022. Candidates will be selected by the end of June.  Those accepted to the program will receive a full scholarship to ensure that financial status is not a barrier.


Participants of the program will interact with community leaders on a wide variety of topics, including leadership, the environment, mental health, law enforcement, emergency response, housing, economic development, recycling, local government, justice, healthcare and culture.


Sessions will occur one Saturday per month for five hours, beginning September 2021 and continuing through May 2022.


Former participants have said:

“Due to COVID-19, the Youth Leadership Somerset program was virtual, but the team did an incredible job creating interactive and informative sessions. Each session brought great conversation between the guest speaker(s) and the students and pre-work allowed for active discussion of real-world issues in breakout rooms.”


“Youth Leadership Somerset gave me a broader perspective of the world and how I can impact the community around me now and in the future;”


For anyone interested in Youth Leadership Somerset program, it is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so grateful I had this opportunity.”


It is too soon to determine whether classes will be held in person or virtually. Program coordinators will decide by early September about meeting virtually or in-person, based on county policy and the safety of all involved. Participants will be notified before the start date.


For more information about Youth Leadership Somerset, contact Melania Tchir at 732-469-3363 or email


Youth Leadership Somerset was developed by the Leadership Somerset Class of 2000 and is sponsored by the Somerset County Board of Commissioners. To learn about the adult leadership program, email or visit


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