The YMCA Youth and Government program was established in 1936 in New York by Clement “Pete” Duran, then a director of the Albany YMCA. Duran coined the motto of the program: “Democracy must be learned by each generation.”

YMCA Texas Youth and Government (YG) is part of a nationwide, youth-led, civic engagement and academic enrichment program for high school and middle school students. YMCA Texas Youth and Government was organized in 1946. The judicial section of Youth and Government began in Texas in 1960. Since then, other program sections have been added including lobbyists, middle school legislature, media, and Model United Nations. Thousands of teens have participated in the program and have grown up to be responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.

In 2000, the American Bar Association became a supporter of Youth and Government, creating a policy requesting that lawyers become involved in the program and stressing the importance of engaging and educating students about the United States legal process. About this issue, Sandra Day O’Connor and Roy Romer said in 2006:

“Most young people today simply do not have an adequate understanding of how our government and political system work, and they are thus not well prepared to participate as citizens.”

As of 2018, the Youth and Government program operated in 41 states and the District of Columbia, serving 47,000 high school students around the country. View the Youth and Government state program directory here.

YMCA Youth and Government Fact Sheet

YMCA Youth and Government Program Timeline

Democracy must be learned by each generation

Mabie/Kaempf/Theiss Award

JOHN KAEMPF HONOREES AND BIL THEISS HONOREES – These awards recognize former Youth and Government State Directors John Kaempf (’73-’84) a former CEO of the Ft. Worth YMCA and Bill Theiss (’84-’93) (a former CEO of Waxahachie YMCA). Both of these gentlemen retired from full-time service at local YMCA’s to give further outstanding service to Texas Youth and Government. Their servant leadership embodies all that YG teaches and is modeled by recipients of these awards.

SUZANNE MABIE AWARD – This award recognizes Suzanne Mabie, former YMCA Youth and Government State Director in Louisiana and Texas and while State Director for Texas, Ms. Mabie created the YMCA Texas Junior Youth and Government Program. Additionally, Ms. Mabie later worked with YMCA of the USA as a Technical Advisor for Youth Events as well as Youth and Government support. Her dedication, kindness and passion for serving youth and teens have positively impacted program participants, YMCA staff and volunteers throughout the country. In her honor, we present this award to an outstanding YMCA Staff or Volunteer of the YMCA Texas Junior Youth and Government Program who embodies outstanding servant- leadership.


James D. Cole (Washington D.C.) 1984
Vernon Steward (Wichita Falls) 1985
Johnnie Hyde (Cleburne) 1986
Rex Aymond (Dallas) 1987
Ms. J.L.(Jeree) Barnett (Odessa) 1988
Kathleen Vincent (Dallas) 1989
Forrest Lykins (Ft. Worth) 1990
Mrs. J.M. (Ruth Ann) Hill 1991
Kevin Dinnin (San Antonio) 1992
Dave Lewis (Denton) 1993
Ray Farabee (Austin) 1994
Texalee Kyle (San Angelo) 1995
Sarah Jane Freeman (Palestine) 1996
Sue Montgomery (Garland) 1997
Dr. Ron Rea (Houston) 1998
Carol Cameron (Houston) 1999
Robert Burger (Ft. Worth) 2002
Carla Weathersby (Odessa) 2003
Sue Six (Ft. Worth) 2004
Sue Johnson (Odessa) 2005
Shirley Womack (Dallas), Mary Whitbeck (Ft.Worth) 2006
Chris Connolly (Ft Worth) 2007
Scott Cunningham (Dallas) 2008
Annette Kasparian (Dallas) 2009
Jillanne Johnson (Ft. Worth) 2010
Jan Van Eman (Midland) 2011
Ashley Myrick (Ft. Worth) 2012
Chris Johnson (Ft. Worth) 2013
Dario Ganic (Dallas) & Jennifer Moody 2014
Shara Michalka (Dallas) 2015
Chris Britton (Ft Worth) 2016
Debbie Talley (Ft Worth) 2017
Greg Hooser (Austin) 2018
Tim Sinnott (Austin) 2019
Carolyn Storm-Kettenacker (State) 2020
Suzanne Mabie (State) 2022
Becca Love (Houston) 2023


Robert T. Schriener (Lubbock) 1991
Kathy Hamilton (Dallas) 1992
Bob Flemming (Houston) 1993
Wendy Barber (Dallas) 1994
Loli Gonzales (San Antonio) 1995
Brad Kimura (Ft. Worth) 1996
Curt Hazelbaker (Dallas) 1997
Lisa Olvey (Ft. Worth) 1998
Johnny Mayberry (Dallas) 1999
Shelley Snyder (Ft. Worth) 2000
Pam Atkins (Dallas) 2003
Omar Santos (Austin) 2004
Barbara Trachte (Baytown) 2005
Ligia Gutierrez (Dallas) 2006
Dave Faulk & Ken Harris 2007
Suzanne Mabie (State) 2010
Jenna Hodges (Amarillo) 2011
Terri Eley (Dallas) 2012
Kendra Yanchak (Dallas) 2013
Azim Hussain (Ft. Worth) 2014
Thom Parker (Austin) 2015
Patricia Osborn (Houston) 2016
Andrew Wiggins (Austin) 2017
Jacquelyn Kotar (Ft. Worth) 2018
JaMonica Washington (Dallas) 2019
Holli Winn (Ft. Worth) 2020
Emilie Shiffler (Ft. Worth) & Missy Garcia (State) 2022
Jessica Bruda (Ft. Worth) 2023


Judith Anderson Bruess 2017
Carolyn Searles 2019
Cameron McVay 2022
Jessie Searles 2023