The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.

Today’s Q&A feature is Anna Eskamani, Community Leader and State Strategic Advisor for NEO Philanthropy. NEO is a funder intermediary with 30 years of experience helping nonprofit organizations build movements for justice, equity and dignity. Anna began her career as Senior Director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, where she managed a team across 22 counties and is known in the Florida legislature and across the nation as an advocate for women’s health and equality. Anna earned her Masters in Nonprofit Management and Public Administration, along with a Certificate in Gender Studies from the University of Central Florida. Having a strong commitment to the community, Anna serves on boards and has proven herself as a leader who works hard, delivers results, and gets things done. In 2017, Orlando Magazine named Anna one of the most powerful Central Floridians who are shaping Orlando. We caught up with Anna to find out what leadership means to her and what advice she would give to the next generation of leaders.

Why did you choose this career path?

I grew up in a working class immigrant family in Orlando. When I was thirteen years old I lost my Mom to cancer, and it was that moment when I lost her when I made the decision to honor her life through the act of empowering other. I’ve committed myself to service ever since, and found community organizing, teaching, and civics as a means to empower others and hold politicians accountable. .

Who inspired you to get involved?

My Mom, even though I only knew her for thirteen years she inspired me to work hard and treat others with kindness.

How do you define a leader?

Taking responsibility for enabling others, to achieve a shared purpose, in the face of uncertainty.

What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders?

On July 3, 2017,  I officially filed to run for Florida State House District 47. I am 28 years old, and though our campaign is intergenerational in it’s volunteer base, it is young people who lead this campaign, and young people who are learning the skills necessary for leadership in the future. I feel confident that many of our campaign staff, interns, and volunteers will run for office themselves one day, or at the very least evolve to become leaders in their professional field.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?

Be your authentic self, be fearless, and have empathy.