Meena Venkataramanan is the founder of Project Clean and is a senior at Catalina Foothills High School. She was recently named one of only ten 2016 Dorothy O. Finley Outstanding Teen Citizens by the Metropolitan Education Commission for her service to her community. Meena is passionate about youth substance abuse prevention (as you can read on the left), and not only serves as the chair of the Arizona Governor's Youth Commission Substance Abuse Committee, but also serves as the president of the Pima County Teen Court Bar Association through which she educates her peers about substance abuse and helps mitigate it in her community through constructive consequences and workshops. In addition to her substance abuse prevention-related activities, she enjoys being the president of her school's Speech and Debate team. In 2016, she earned the title of State Champion in Poetry Interpretation and represented Arizona at the prestigious national Tournament of Champions in Poetry/Prose (where she was a Top 12 semifinalist) and as an alternate for the NSDA National Tournament in Program Oral Interpretation (POI). She also loves to write, and has written and published various poetry and prose pieces promoting cultural awareness in literary magazines (two of which you can read here and here). She believes writing and speaking are two effective media through which social change can be promoted. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.
Meena Venkataramanan became passionate about youth substance abuse prevention when she began serving her community through Pima County Teen Court, a nonprofit diversion program and alternative to Juvenile Court that promotes restorative justice and offers constructive consequences for adolescents who have committed misdemeanors and certain felonies. Through Teen Court, she noticed that substance abuse prevention was a hidden issue that needed to be addressed in her community. She took initiative by becoming one of only 51 commissioners across the state on the Arizona Governor's Youth Commission, through which she currently serves as the Chair of the Substance Abuse Committee. After becoming involved in substance abuse prevention efforts at both local and state levels, Meena decided to start her own initiative, Project Clean, to further her efforts and raise awareness of this issue that often goes unnoticed in her community. Through Project Clean, she also hopes to mobilize her fellow youth to take the lead in alleviating this issue. She hopes you will support her initiative to combat youth substance abuse and raise awareness of this issue within your community. Please reference her Projects page to see the work she has done to combat youth substance abuse, as well as her Resources page in order to find helpful links for students, parents, and educators regarding youth substance abuse prevention.
Courtesy of Amanda Bynum Photography