Get to Know AExME Council Member Joseph Touma

 

Bridge the Divide Co-Founder

@josephmtouma

 

There are more things that unite than divide us, believes AExME Council member Joseph Touma, who co-founded the organization Bridge the Divide to do just that—bring us together across political and cultural boundaries.

 

Joseph envisions a future where we’re unified, not in terms of believing the same things, but in the way we listen respectfully and prioritize empathy above all else.

 

Created after an eye-opening experience at summer camp in 2016—students from over 90 countries coming together, despite their differences—Bridge the Divide has grown to chapters in 30 countries, and continues to be run FOR young people BY young people.

 

“America is made up of a diverse group of people. We need to acknowledge that and embrace that,”

says Joseph, a West Virginia native who’s active in student government and the Young Republications at Duke University, where he’s studying politics and business—a passion for the Shark Tank fan.

@josephmtouma

Joseph lives by the motto that “a ship in port is safe, but that’s not why we build ships.”

 

“Putting ourselves out of our comfort zone is so important. That’s really when you grow.”

 

Meet all the members of the AExME Council here.

 

 

Get to Know AExME Council Member Peyton Klein

Global Minds Initiative Founder

@peytonklein

 

Inspired by the power of intercultural friendships, AExME Council member Peyton Klein created the Global Minds Initiative, which has grown since its 2016 launch in Pittsburgh, Pa., to a national and international movement.

 

It began one morning at school, when Peyton realized she knew the names of every student in her class except for the girl in the hijab. Feeling ashamed she hadn’t been practicing the inclusion she’d been preaching, Peyton introduced herself. The rest is history. Khwala and Peyton became great friends—including Peyton learning about Khwala’s refugee experience—and Peyton was inspired to found the Global Minds Initiative, a for-youth, by-youth organization that bridges immigrants, refugees, and U.S.-born students through after-school programming.

 

 “Diversity is a fact; inclusivity is a choice,”

says the current high school junior who is passionate about immigrant rights and educational equity.

@peytonklein

Peyton’s work has been featured on the Today Show, Fox News, Teen Vogue, and the New York Times, and the Global Minds movement now reaches over 1,500 students in 23 schools across the U.S. and Canada.

 

“The most powerful weapon we have against hate isn’t violence,”

Peyton says.

“It’s love. It’s kindness. If we can create love and hope within our communities, that can solve so many of our issues.”

Meet all the members of the AExME Council here.

 

 

Get to Know AExME Council Member Delaney Tarr

 

March for Our Lives Co-Founder

@delaneytarr

 

In March of 2018, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School helped organize March for Our Lives—the largest youth-led rally in U.S. history. AExME Council member Delaney Tarr, then active at her Parkland, Fla. school’s paper and TV/film club, was one of those students who helped turn the senseless shooting into a moment of unity and awareness.

 

And that moment has bloomed into a movement.

 

“Today and every day we will continue to fight for those things that are right,”

Delaney spoke to a crowd of about a million in Washington, DC.

“We are here for real change. We are here to lead.

 

And lead, Delaney has.

@delaneytarr

Since the shooting, Delaney has been an unfaltering advocate against gun violence and FOR youth voter registration, inspiring us with her words and actions.

 

“The only wish that I have is to be remembered as somebody who made the world a better place,”

says Delaney, now studying journalism at the University of Georgia (GO BULLDOGS!) and learning how to make the kind of media she loves, including shows like The Good Place and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and films like Roma and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

 

“What keeps me going is creation of art and stories and movements that can end hate and violence. I think that creating is the thing that can change the world and make it a better place.”

 

Meet all the members of the AExME Council here.

 

 

AE ASSOCIATE SPOTLIGHT: Finding Inspiration From Within

All across the country, young people like you are standing up for what’s important. Inspired by the launch of the AExME Council, we turned to our amazing team of store managers, stylists, and associates to learn more about some of the issues affecting their communities and the causes they’re passionate about.

Meet Juan from store #956 in Dartmouth, NS 🇨🇦 Canada. He’s a 23-year-old actor and business major who wants to make his mark on the world through interaction and connection with the people around him.

“My vision is to inspire people to be their best without labels or insecurities.”

Q&A answered by Juan

 

Juan is passionate about environmental issues across the globe as well as mental health awareness on a more individual level. He believes in using social media for good, and the healing power of kindness.

 

Q: What does AE x ME mean to you?

A: FREEDOM. It means that you get to be whoever you are, overcoming fears and doubts.

Juan being awarded with Customer First Around the Globe in 2016

In 2016, Juan was awarded Customer First Around The Globe for his incredible contributions to the AE experience.

 

Q: How would you like to see AE become more involved in your community?

A: By influencing customers with kindness and reminding them that with unity, anything can be overcome.

 

 

Get to Know AExME Council Member Imani Jai Chisom

 

Faith-Based Activist

@imanijai 

 

A champion of social justice and racial healing, AExME Council member Imani uses her platform to address issues facing black women at predominantly white colleges.

 

“I fight for the little black girls who don’t think they’re going to go to college in Pittsburgh, who are written off because of their ZIP code,”

says Imani, who grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood.

“I represent the black women in college who don’t feel safe at their schools, who feel marginalized, and don’t feel like they’re enough because they’re told they’re small and voiceless.”

 

A junior at Duquesne University studying theology and writing, Imani aspires to become a pastor. She’s interned at the Friendship Community Church, works with youth programs at Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh, and believes that religion and faith are rooted in love—both a love of yourself and a love of your community. “When you have that group and that village, that’s where you can learn to be fearless,” Imani says.

@imanijai 

Imani writes about her experiences as a black women at a private, mostly white, Catholic university on her blog, Honestly Imani Jai. When she’s not writing, she reading everything she can get her hands on, from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

 

“The thing that I’m most passionate about is authentic storytelling and creating spaces for young women of color to authentically share their stories.”

 

Meet all the members of the AExME Council here.

 

 

Get to Know AExME Council Member Gabby Frost

 

Buddy Project Founder

@gabbyfrost

 

At age 15, AExME Council member Gabby Frost noticed many of her friends were struggling with suicidal thoughts. So, she started a suicide prevention website, and within the first 12 hours, 3,000 people signed up.

 

Six years later, that site—Buddy Project—has turned into a movement that connects people with online friends to prevent all forms of self-harm and raise awareness around mental health, bullying, and negativity on social media. The Buddy Project matches people by age and regularly spreads messages of positivity and empathy online, including advice like, “Self-care doesn’t have to be glamorous,” and, “Block people who don’t benefit your mental health.”

 

“I want to help de-stigmatize mental health issues because 1 in 5 people may have a mental illness, but 5 in 5 people have mental health. And we all need to understand the importance of keeping in check with our mental health,”

says the Drexel University student whose nonprofit has, so far, paired 232,000 buddies.

@gabbyfrost

The Buddy Project is open to anyone 13 years or older who wants a new friend—you don’t need to be going through any type of mental illness to sign up! You just need to want to make friends, and support them with compassion and love.

 

“I can’t believe an idea I had as a 15-year-old laying in my bed at 1 in the morning is what it is today,”

says Gabby, who will soon be launching a Buddy Project app to further its reach and help even more young people.

“I hope I inspire more people to use their voice and not to be silent, because silence is so deadly.”

 

You can help celebrate Mental Health Month and support the Buddy Project by purchasing a limited edition hoodie online and at our SoHo store.

 

Meet all the members of the AExME Council here.