AYF Board welcomes two new members

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The American Youth Foundation Board of Directors welcomed two new members to its ranks at its annual spring meeting in St. Louis earlier this month.

Among the business at hand during the March 6 meeting was the important work of officially voting Ayn Dietrich-Williams and Charlie Koch onto the board.

Dietrich-Williams, 40, is deeply committed to the AYF mission after personally experiencing it as a National Leadership Conference participant. She has championed NLC for more than 20 years, introducing many youth to the program through mentoring, fundraising, and recruiting efforts. She also volunteers on the NLC staff each summer.

Outside of NLC, she has served on the AYF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Strategic Planning Taskforce. She said joining the Board is a logical extension of her volunteer work with the AYF.

“I wanted to join the AYF Board to ensure that the current and future program offerings meet the diverse and changing needs of youth,” she said. “And, as a future NLC parent, I want to create an organization that will be ready for my newborn son when it’s his turn to attend.”

Dietrich-Williams’ career in communications and public relations has spanned across industries, from the FBI to State Farm Insurance. Currently, she serves as the communication manager for education and technology ventures at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Dietrich-Williams lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, son, and three dogs.

Koch, 42, connected with the AYF more than 25 years ago when he attended Merrowvista as a camper. He said the Voyageur and Vista programs were foundational in his late teens. He returned to camp in the following years as a seasonal staff leader and coordinator, and again as an intern for Community and School Programs. Koch said those experiences instilled in him the confidence to face challenges and shaped the person he is today.

“The AYF has been a constant and meaningful presence in my life, and I wanted the opportunity to give back,” Koch said. “I know many youth struggle daily, and the AYF is an organization that can truly help them and create empowering experiences.”

Koch lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and their 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter. He and his children frequented Merrowvista in their early years during day camp and volunteering, and now both children are participants in summer camp programming.

Koch’s dedication to youth development isn’t limited to his work with the AYF. After earning his master’s in counseling, he served youth in school-based programs and at Youth Building Alternatives, a program for people who did not graduate high school. Today, he works as a guidance counselor Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, serving more than 200 students in Portland.

Also in March, the Board bid a fond farewell to Daniel Miller. “We’re grateful to Daniel for his decades of service to youth, and we look forward to the fresh perspectives and ideas that Ayn and Charlie will bring to the AYF,” said Board Chair DD Danforth Burlin.