YLAN Welcomes New Members to the Council

We are thrilled to welcome Emily Ladau, Ketrina “Trina” Hazell, Melanie Hecker, and Mica Gonzalez to the team. The YLAN Council oversees and guides all network activities. Together, we work to build a stronger youth movement in our state and bring our voices to government, policy, and programs. This work ensures there is nothing about us without us!

Learn more about our new members below. Interested in joining our Council or getting involved in statewide committees? Learn more and apply here.

Emily Ladau

Peer Ally
Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant whose career began at the age of 10.

Emily is the Editor in Chief of the Rooted in Rights Blog. She also provides communications and social media strategy consulting as well as editorial services for multiple disability-related organizations and initiatives. And, she co-hosts “The Accessible Stall Podcast,” a show that dives into disability issues.

Emily Ladau smiling at the camera
Ketrina “Trina” Hazell

Voting Member

Ketrina (“Trina”) Hazell is the former Ms. Wheelchair NY 2018. She resides in Brooklyn, NY. Hazell’s platform is to bring self-advocacy into schools and make them more inclusive.

A strong self-advocate, motivational speaker, blogger and college student, Hazell graduated from Partners in Policymaking in 2014. Hazell is the founder of her own advocacy group called Voices of Power. She is affiliated with many disability-related organizations and serves on many disability related councils. In January 2020 Hazell began working for the Regional Center for Workforce Transformation (RCWT) as the self-advocacy lead for Region 4 in NYC.

trina wearing graduation gown
Melanie Hecker

Voting Member

Melanie Hecker is a 27 year old autistic woman from Albany, New York. A lifelong disability advocate, Melanie Hecker has experience in the mental health, developmental disability, special education and independent living systems.

From 2014-2017, Melanie Hecker was employed as the Systems Advocate of Youth Power. She has also interned at Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, Disability Rights New York, and the New York State Council on Children and Families. Melanie currently works as a Research and Training Assistant for Center for START Services.

Melanie hecker smiling at camera
Mica Gonzalez

Voting Member

 As the former Central Regional Youth Partner for YOUTH POWER!, Mica used her lived experience as a peer to provide training and technical assistance to youth serving agencies and Youth Peer Advocates in 20 counties of the Central New York area. She served on various boards including the Regional Interagency Technical Assistance Team and the State Rehabilitation Council for ACESS-VR.

Recently, Mica graduated with her Bachelors in Social Work from Syracuse University in 2020. Currently, she is the Coordinator of the Central Region Addiction Resource Center (CRARC) covering Madison, Cortland, Onondaga, Cayuga and Oswego counties.

Mica smiling at camera