About our Board

The success of CAYEN is built on the talent, energy, and dedication of our Transition Age Youth (TAY) Board Members.

Board Members

The California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN) was created and is supported by Mental Health America of California (MHAC) in order to develop, improve, and strengthen the voice of TAY in local and state-level policy.

The CAYEN Board is a diverse group of up to 20 individuals, ranging in age from 16 to 25, who have all been touched in some way by the mental health, juvenile justice, or foster care systems. They are youth with lived experience of a mental health challenge, family members, and friends of people living with a mental illness. Our Board Members are proven and aspiring leaders who are committed to developing, improving, and strengthening the voice of TAY. Many members work or volunteer in the mental health field as Peer Mentors or Youth Advocates, and represent a variety of counties throughout the state, giving them a unique perspective on the issues affecting their local communities. Through CAYEN, they receive many opportunities for leadership, and the support, training, and skills necessary to bring their voices and perspectives to policy and program discussions.

Opportunities and Leadership

The Board is responsible for providing guidance and direction to CAYEN staff in order to support the organization’s mission and ultimately affect local and state-level policy and program decisions for transitional-age-youth. To accomplish this they provide feedback and recommendations to CAYEN staff, participate in various local and statewide projects, and serve as representatives and advocates for the organization. Click here to apply for Board Membership. Members of the Board participate in many fun and exciting activities that support personal and professional development, including:

  • Free access to conferences and workshops focused on TAY mental health policy topics
  • “Shadow Day” at the State Capital where Members can meet and interact with legislators to learn about public policy careers and mental health policy issues
  • Tours and behind-the-scene interviews with staff at TAY-focused agencies and drop-in centers
  • Networking opportunities with TAY Peer Mentors and Advocates from various agencies and counties across the state
  • Opportunities to testify at public hearings, participate in focus groups or other local/statewide stakeholder processes, serve as panelists or presenters at local and statewide conferences, and join other organizational committees

CAYEN TAY Board Frequently Asked Questions:

What is expected of CAYEN TAY Board members?

CAYEN policy work – At the summer retreat CAYEN works to define its priorities for the upcoming year. TAY Board members are expected to be active participants in supporting those priorities which may include up to five (5) hours of work between monthly meetings. Additionally, it is our hope that our TAY Board members are active within their community, and CAYEN requires that you attend two (2) community meetings a year related to mental health. These can include Mental Health Board Meetings, Cultural Competency meetings, county meetings, etc. CAYEN staff will work with you to identify exciting opportunities for local participation, and will support you in your attendance through one on one mentoring and a travel stipend when needed.

CAYEN contract work – One thing that makes CAYEN unique is all of the voices and perspectives of our TAY Board members. They are the experts! Because of this, CAYEN is often given exciting opportunities to weigh in through the work that we do on several state-level contracts. In the past year this has included providing TAY guidance on statewide messaging and media for mental health, recording radio spots that air across the state, giving feedback to government agencies on the needs of TAY, and attending community meetings on developing the mental health workforce. We extend several opportunities each month to our TAY Board members to participate in projects like these, which may require time between monthly meetings.

Total expected time commitment a month can be up to five (5) hours.

Who is represented on the TAY Board?

CAYEN’s TAY Board is made up of exclusively TAY-aged individuals from 16-25 years old. Each year we have between 10 and 20 TAY Board members depending on board terms, budget factors, and the number of applicants who apply. We make an effort to have geographic representation, as well diverse representation of TAY Board members from various communities included racial/ethnic, religious, sexual orientation/identity, urban, rural, and many more.

How long do members serve on the TAY Board?

The TAY Board members are elected for one year terms. Members in good standing have the ability to re-apply and continue their work with us.

How often are TAY Board meetings held?

The Board meets six times by phone each year for approximately one hour. In addition CAYEN holds an in person annual summer retreat for the Board.

Is there any financial compensation for being on the TAY Board?

There is no financial compensation for being on the TAY Board. However, CAYEN does cover all travel costs, lodging, and meals associated with any board meeting, event, or conference attended on our behalf. Sometimes we are able to offer our board members small stipends for their participation in focus groups, meetings, and speaking opportunities.

Is this a legal Board of Directors?

No.  CAYEN is a program of Mental Health America of California, and not its own nonprofit organization, therefore our TAY board is not a legal entity.  This means that our board members do not pay dues, are not legally responsible for the operations of CAYEN, and are not governed by legal bylaws. Rather, our TAY board operates in an advisory capacity to CAYEN.

How does the application process work?

  • CAYEN accepts applications throughout the year. If you are interested, please send an email to info@mhac.org.
  • Qualified applicants will receive an invitation to interview by phone

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our staff at info@mhac.org or call (916) 557-1167 ext. 101. Be sure to also check out Facebook page for updates and current events!