Headshot Photo of Zachary Patterson
2020 Award Recipient


Project Student Advisory Board

Location San Diego, CA

Issue Area Advocacy/Activism | Civic Engagement

As a student in the San Diego School District, Zachary witnessed a disconnect between students, teachers, and the administration. Zachary at times felt powerless to voice his opinions, as decisions were made that did not represent the desires or needs of students. Noticing a lack of student representation in a system where students are the primary stakeholders, he sought to rectify this issue by creating a Student Advisory Board, which would connect students directly to district decisions, and placing a student on the school district’s Board of Education.

After engaging with thousands of students, Zachary was elected as the first student to ever serve on the San Diego Board of Education. In his role, Zachary leads the Student Advisory Board, which seeks to represent the needs of over 100,000 students of various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Zachary is a founder of the California Student Board Member Association, which works to expand the same ideals of student representation in San Diego Unified to districts across California.

We now know more than ever that equitable education is the key to transformational change. The Student Advisory Board has reenvisioned the role of student representation and helped create a school district where all students have the ability to shape their education.

Zachary Patterson
Zachary stands with his right hand in the air taking an oath administered by another adult with his right hand in the air and reading a script.

Student Advisory Board

Student Advisory Board provides students representation in their school system to advocate for youth-centered policy at the state and federal levels.