2022 Samuel Halperin Lecture & Youth Public Service Award Presentation

2022 Samuel Halperin Lecture & Youth Public Service Award Presentation
Halperin Event Graphic
Washington, DC

In September 2022, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) hosted the sixth Samuel Halperin Lecture and Youth Public Service Award Presentation in Washington, D.C. and virtually.

Samuel Halperin Headshot

Samuel Halperin

The lecture and youth award have served as an ongoing tribute to our founder, Sam Halperin, who dedicated his career to advancing education, workforce, and youth policy to improve the life outcomes for youth experiencing systemic inequities, as well as personally mentoring and supporting many youth and young adults in their careers in public service. Through this inspiring, reflective event and award program—generously sponsored by the Halperin Family—we honor and continue his work.


(Opinions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of AYPF.)


Keynote Speaker

Keesha Ceran Headshot

Keesha Ceran

This year we were excited to welcome Nakeesha “Keesha” Ceran, associate director of Teaching for Change, as our esteemed lecturer. Teaching for Change “encourages teachers and students to question and re-think the world inside and outside their classrooms; build a more equitable, multicultural society; and become active global citizens.”

In her work, Keesha is motivated by her passion for social justice and strives to present a mindset that focuses on equality and equity. She has a particular interest in education policy, holding three degrees in Political Science, and is a double alumna of American University.

As our keynote speaker, Keesha provided an overview of Teaching for Change and her work to improve pedagogy on social justice as it relates to AYPF’s goal of amplifying youth voices in federal policy and systems change efforts.

View Keesha Ceran’s Slides


Youth Awardee

Manu Onteeru and AYPF Executive Director Stephanie McGencey

Awardee Manu Onteeru with AYPF Executive Director Stephanie McGencey

In addition to our Lecture, at the event we honored the winner of the 2022 Samuel Halperin Youth Public Service Award, Manu Onteeru!

This award recognizes youth ages 18 to 26 who demonstrate the spirit of and commitment to public service and who have faced and overcome barriers and challenges to success.

This past summer, youth from across the country were invited to apply by submitting an essay describing their commitment to and involvement in public service, as well as how public service has helped them overcome barriers and challenges they may face. Our inspiring winner was selected by the Halperin Family to receive the award.

Manu, a junior at Dartmouth College, is studying bioengineering and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. As a former intern for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Region 8, he managed the first federally-funded, youth-run listening session on the behavioral health needs of LGBTQIA2P+ youth in six states and 28 federally recognized tribal nations.

In addition, he is a leader on the Student & Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault, Greek Leadership Council, and the Sexual Violence Prevention Project Student Advisory Board at his college, serving as a liaison between the student body and administration to create new policies and programming related to gender-based violence prevention. He is the recipient of the 2020 Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership Bowl and the 2021 LGBTQIA+ Community Advocate Award.

At our event, we celebrated by asking Manu to read his winning essay, and he was presented with a certificate and a $1,500 cash award. Congratulations, Manu!

Video of Manu reading his winning essay: https://youtu.be/LKV-DmG4Uc4

Thank You!

Thank you to all who attended the event! We greatly appreciate your taking the time to join us in support of amplifying youth voice.

And your continued support is needed — please donate to AYPF today!



The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.