Jose A. Perez, MPS

Position: (he/him/his)

I am the YouthNPower: Transforming Care Project Manager. I grew up from the age of 3 to 16 in foster homes, group homes, and other juvenile institutions. I found that writing poetry and acting on stage would be the catalyst I needed to not only survive in the institutions but also thrive. While amidst many obstacles, I earned my  AA from Bard College, my BS from Nyack College through HudsonLink, and capped my academic career with a Masters in Professional Studies from the New York Theological Seminary. As an actor I recently performed at the Bushwick Starr Theater in One Whale’s tale’s production Quince, I work as an alternatives to violence facilitator, and I formerly worked with gang involved youth at the Center for Alternatives Sentencing and Employment Services as a community Benefits Project Supervisor. In 2022, I represented youth in foster care when I spoke at the White House, uplifting our issues and voices.  I currently live between Queens and East Harlem until I find my home!

Why is this project important to you?
As a person who once lived in foster homes, I desperately wished someone would listen to me. I hoped someone would learn about what I needed and help me. That wish never came true as a young boy. Perhaps now with not just one voice, but with many of my brothers and sisters who have transformed their pain into power, their hurt into demands, we can now achieve a world where we are genuinely, proactively, and intrinsically prioritizing the voices and leadership of young people.

What are your hopes and dreams for this project?
My hope and dream for this project is for all organizations involved in the child welfare system to institute a serious inquiry into their decision-making processes. Organizations who are dedicated to fighting anyone or any entity that harms youth should have impacted young people in their leadership structure. My hope is that our project will support young leaders to emerge into the field as the professionals who will transform the entire system from top to bottom.

What have been some of your experiences in the project?
Being able to spend time with our young leaders everyday is a joy. I am mostly proud of how we all have overcome the hardships we went through and now we are using those experiences as springboards to tell our stories and uplift our needs. Witnessing our youth leaders organize and plan a legislative delegation briefing this year was an historic display of leadership and tenacity and also hope. I say hope because I believe it is the power of hope that allows us to transform our pain into power. And I experience and witness that from this group every day.

What are your hopes and dreams for young people?
My hopes and dreams for young people are that we finally have some concrete and sustainable plans to keep their wellbeing the number one priority. One day, young people should not have to worry about ever being harmed in a deliberate or neglectful way. My hope is that each and every organization prioritizes our issues by assuring that their leadership includes people with lived experience informing their practices, policies, and over culture, while also having a trauma-informed care umbrella that covers every part of the organization.

Jose’s Favorite Things:
Color: Burgundy
Animal: Wolf/Dog
Hobby: Reading and writing poetry
Food: Curry goat roti, MY spaghetti & meatballs
Beverage: Black coffee
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Personal Dream: published poet
Poet: Kahlil Gibran
Book: Mine…and between Just Mercy, and Solitary
Season: Autumn
Vacation: Africa
Activist: Jose Pineda, President/Founder After Incarceration, Inc.
Revolutionary: Clarence 13X, aka The Father, aka Allah, Founder of the Nation of Gods and Earths
Quote: “You will know in words that which you’ve always known in thought. You will touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams” — Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet