In 2003, Michigan Youth Leadership held its first-ever conference at Wayne State University. Despite a stupendous concept, schools and donors alike were skeptical of this new, unfamiliar organization; many of them wanted to wait a year to make sure the program was feasible, so MYLead’s first year was also its most challenging. In the first year, MYLead’s conference started as a one-day program, as volunteers were determined to give participants a personal growth experience.

This initial drive and ambition to begin the conference paved the way for volunteers to rapidly expand MYLead’s offerings by 2004, leading to the first three-day conference at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. In the first survey of MYLead alums, 10% of participants continued to be involved in MYLead through volunteering, and the other 90% wanted an opportunity to be involved year-round. To serve that need, 2005 brought regional alumni clubs, which paved the way for organized, fast growth.

In only five years, by 2007, MYLead experienced unexpected and exponential growth. Due to the large volume of students who wanted to attend the conference, the 2007 conference took place at Michigan State University, which has remained the campus of choice ever since. The conference continued to grow over the years, and eventually, the demand for MYLead became too large! After serious consideration, MYLead made the decision to move to hosting two conferences in 2013, both at Michigan State University. Since then, MYLead has only continued to grow.

With the onset of COVID-19, MYLead’s plans had to slightly change. While we were initially looking forward to our biggest conference turnout yet in 2020, public health concerns motivated the Corporate Board to make changes to our traditional conference setting. In 2020, MYLead hosted its first Virtual Summit, allowing nominated students to dedicate several Saturday’s to advancing their leadership skills. While this summit was not intended to replace the conferences entirely, it provided a framework for leadership development that MYLead plans to continue going forward. In 2021, with continuing public health concerns, MYLead hosted two three-day Virtual Summits for participants that closely resembled our in-person conference structure. In 2022 we were able to transition back to our flagship three-day in-person conferences!

With the help of our generous donors and beyond dedicated volunteer groups, our community continues to be one dedicated to changing lives and inspiring positive personal growth. This year, we’re thrilled to be planning to host two conferences at our home base of Michigan State University. We thank you for your continued support and help with keeping MYLead running, and we hope to see you this year and moving forward!