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 Franck D. Joseph II, a Queens, New York native and Chief of Staff for New York City Councilman Donovan Richards. As the youngest Chief of Staff in New York, Franck is an inspiration to millennials who want to get involved in government and public service. Franck played a pivotal role in insuring that New York City would invest $1.2 Billion in Southeast Queens to better infrastructure. We caught up with him to discuss what it means to be a leader and what advice he would give to future leaders.

Why did you choose this career path?

I chose this career path because I believe government and politics, when used effectively, is the best way to help resources into communities. I wanted to give back to the community where I was primarily raised, and public service has enabled me to do that.

Who inspired you to get involved?

There isn’t single person that I can necessarily point to that inspired me to get involved. There are a number of historical figures we can look at such as Dr. King, W.E.B Du Bois, and others. For me, it was more so life’s circumstances. Going through personal family hardship, I knew I wanted to guide others so they can have assistance and hope.

How do you define a leader?

A leader is a person who embraces responsibility and accountability, and is able to rally others behind a common cause. Leaders put others and the mission at the forefront.

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

I’m from Queens, New York and currently there are a couple of communities there which are undergoing major economic development plans – essentially we are creating and redeveloping a member of communities. These sort of economic and urban development projects engage the next generation because they are the ones who will be raising kids in those communities for the next 10,20, or even 30 years, so they should have a voice in what they want to see their community look like moving forward.

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

Go for it. That’s the best advice I can give to the next generation. Often we can be doubtful because of where we come from, or our age, or even lack of experience. But if someone is truly passionate about an issue or a cause, the best thing they can do is step into arena to see how they can contribute. Also, learn the history of that specific cause or issue, and give honor to those who came before and paved the way. This makes it much easier when trying to have your own impact, leaders of the past will know that you understand it is not about you when you are able to pay homage to those it’s due – but first you must be informed.