Two East Meadow High School sophomores named leadership ambassadors


Two East Meadow High School sophomores were recently selected to represent their school in an elite national leadership conference.

Alissa Mili was chosen as a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership ambassador for the 2022-23 school year and Annabella Lanzer was named an alternate.

HOBY, founded in 1958, is an organization that inspires young people and volunteers to live lives dedicated to leadership, service and innovation, in addition to developing a global community, according to its website.

HOBY programs are conducted annually throughout the United States, serving local and international high school students. The program provides students selected by their schools to participate with leadership training, service learning and motivation-building experiences.

“I just heard overall that it was a really good experience,” Mili said. “I really thought it was something that I would want to do because I feel like I am someone who takes initiative and tends to be a leader.”

Mili is a member of the volleyball team at EMHS and was the captain for her J.V. squad this year. She also plays on the J.V. basketball and lacrosse teams. She’s a member of the math and science honor societies, active in her school’s Key Club — the high school extension of Kiwanis — and serves as the sophomore class secretary.

“I feel like I’m really outgoing and I’m able to strike up a conversation with anybody,” Mili said. “I’m also a really good communicator and I think that’s important with being a leader because if you don’t communicate with the people you’re leading, then things will go wrong.”

Lanzer, who is on the school’s color guard squad, applied after her dad told her to go for it. “I thought, why not?” Lanzer said. “I feel like I’m a leader in my extracurriculars and I thought I would be good at it.”

As a member of color guard, Lanzer was a mentor to younger girls looking to be part of color guard. She taught them routines and prepared them for auditions. She is also a member of the school’s J.V. softball team, is a member of the school’s debate team, and works part time at a restaurant in East Meadow.

According to EMHS guidance counselor Carly Salzman, the high school selects two sophomores — a winner and an alternate —to represent their school at the seminar. 

There is a written application process open to any 10th-grader with an essay about something that they feel passionately about and how they could lead others to also care about the cause.

“They are vetted by our committee, and we typically choose about five to six students to move onto the interview process,” Salzman wrote. “From there, we discuss as a committee who we feel would best represent East Meadow High School at the conference and who will take what they learn and bring it back to and apply it in any of their leadership roles here.

“These students stood out to us because of their strong applications and interview skills.”

As ambassadors, Mili and Lanzer will participate in the annual HOBY Leadership Conference in June of this year at Adelphi University in Garden City. 

During the seminar, the EMHS sophomores will complete interactive activities that will help them learn about themselves and their roles in their community.

“My parents always told me to always be a leader and not a follower so that’s always something that’s stuck with me,” Lanzer said. “I feel like being a leader just sets an example for everybody else. I would want to set a better example than those leaders who follow the wrong people.”

Mili aspires to be a criminal justice lawyer, and Lanzer is still choosing between a criminal justice lawyer and a police officer within the K9 unit.