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Each year, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Youth Advocates of the Year Awards Gala honors the accomplishments of outstanding young leaders and tobacco control champions making a difference in the United States and around the world.

Join us on May 23, 2019, for an evening of fun and celebration as we reflect on 2018 – the challenges, the triumphs and the inspirational stories of those pushing our movement forward – and look ahead to continued progress in the fight to protect kids and save lives.

ABOVE: The 2018 Youth Advocates of the Year strike a pose with President Matt Myers and the Youth Advocacy team. Click here to see 2018’s honorees and sponsors.

2019 Champion Award Recipient

Malia Cohen
Chair, California State Board of Equalization

Former President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors;
Sponsor of city law banning flavored tobacco products

Malia M. Cohen is a strong advocate for social justice and inclusion. She is known to champion policies and programs that benefit all Californians, including initiatives to protect public health. As a Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, she was the driving force behind the City’s first-in-the-nation law prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored e-cigarettes.

In 2017, she introduced the ordinance to ban flavored tobacco products, built a strong coalition to support it and steered the measure to unanimous passage by the Board of Supervisors. When the Reynolds American tobacco company mounted a nearly $12 million ballot campaign to overturn the ordinance, then-Supervisor Cohen led the effort to uphold it, resulting in a resounding 69 percent victory in June 2018.

San Francisco’s law has been the catalyst for a growing national movement to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, which play a pernicious role in attracting kids and directly contribute to health disparities in the United States.

Malia Cohen currently serves as Chair and District 2 Member of the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), California’s elected tax commission. She represents 10 million constituents from 23 counties, extending from Del Norte County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south. Elected to the BOE in November 2018, she is the first African-American woman to serve on the Board.

Prior to the BOE, Chair Cohen served as President of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco. She was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. There she served as Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and a fiduciary member of the San Francisco Transportation Authority. Previously, she served as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS), which manages a $23 billion pension fund.

Malia Cohen was born and raised in San Francisco. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master’s in Science in Public Policy & Management from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Youth Advocates of the Year Award Recipients

Barrie Fiske National Youth Advocate of the Year
Sarah Ryan, 18
Holbrook, Massachusetts

Youth Advocate of the Year
Sachit Gali, 17

Sarasota, Florida

Youth Advocate of the Year
Aditi Venkatesh, 17

San Jose, California

Youth Advocate of the Year
Madison Langer, 18

Vancouver, Washington

Youth Advocate of the Year
Kellen Kruk, 18

Lufkin, Texas

Group Youth Advocates of the Year
Vikings Kicking Out Tobacco

Bryan, Texas

Judy Wilkenfeld Award for Tobacco Control Excellence Recipient

Lisda Sundari
Chairperson and Founder, Lentera Anak Foundation, Indonesia

Lisda Sundari is the Chairperson and founder of Lentera Anak Foundation in Indonesia, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of children including the right to health. A galvanizing leader for the tobacco control network in Indonesia, Ms. Sundari has sought tirelessly to protect Indonesia’s children from tobacco companies, especially through the restriction of tobacco marketing.

In 2012, Ms. Sundari advocated successfully for new government regulations to reduce tobacco consumption in Indonesia, including restricting outdoor tobacco advertisements and prohibiting the use of names and logos of tobacco products in promotion and sponsorship.

In 2015, Ms. Sundari led the Lentera Anak Foundation in documenting and exposing tobacco company efforts to surround schools with tobacco ads and displays. Her efforts launched a grassroots movement of over 90 schools and 2,000 students across five cities to pull down tobacco ads and denounce the industry’s tactics. The capital city of Jakarta subsequently banned all outdoor advertising, and a Child Friendly Cities program continues to push for similar action in other cities. The campaign has become an example for tobacco control advocates around the world and has been replicated in dozens of countries.

Ms. Sundari’s activism stems from a belief in the power of youth voices. Since 2013, she has built and strengthened youth voices for tobacco control in 20 cities through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Youth Forum. Through the Forum, Ms. Sundari has reached more than 50,000 students and sent more than 11,000 letters urging Indonesia’s president to join the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). These efforts compelled the government to hold its first cabinet meeting on the FCTC, resulting in agreements on the need to increase tobacco taxes and expand smoke-free places.

Currently, Ms. Sundari is working with the Indonesian Commission on Child Protection to expose and protest a tobacco company’s use of a national badminton tournament to target children.

Ms. Sundari’s colleagues describe her as articulate, persuasive and determined. Her use of compelling facts and data has made her a critical voice for convincing policymakers to take action. She is a valuable leader and resource for advocates throughout Southeast Asia and around the world.