Joseph Zolobczuk walked into YES Institute seeking resources and support after enduring years of bullying in high school. He found the opportunity not only to begin healing, but also to bring communication and education to communities and institutions throughout the country.
Joseph has served on staff with YES Institute for 21 years. As Director of Education for YES Institute, Joseph leads continuing education courses for teachers, mental health therapists and medical professionals across South Florida - working to reduce health disparities of youth and families impacted by gender stereotypes and anti-gay social stigmas. He also serves communities throughout the U.S. through SAMHSA's TA Network, providing cultural and linguistic consultation to systems of care with youth and adult mental health and substance abuse prevention populations. His public health research focus includes on the impact of gender stereotypes and anti-gay slurs in school and workplace environments.
He completed his Masters in Education from the University of Miami, School of Education & Human Development in May 2012, and was awarded the Student Silver Medallion award for humanitarian service from the Miami Coalition of Christians & Jews (MCCJ) that same year.
What skills and expertise do you bring to the team?
I've worked at YES Institute continually for over 20 years, so I contribute institutional knowledge, history, as well as long-standing relationships we've built up and maintained in the community as we propel ourselves forward to innovate with our education. I also had the benefit of being mentored by YES’ founders, so I also hope to carry their vision boldly into the future.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
YES Institute has done some pretty amazing things, but what's most rewarding is when parents say, "It's because of this education, my child is alive today." Or when a young person says, "When I took that communication or gender course, it changed my life, it gave my the empowerment to finally let myself be me" or "Meeting the YES Institute community made me feel finally I'm not alone."
What has YES Institute done that you’re particularly proud of?
I'm most proud of YES Institute for bringing seemingly opposed "groups" of people together, shifting the context of "us vs. them" to "all of us". Our willingness and openness to work with people from all walks of life, beliefs, backgrounds, and to listen to people and connect with the whole community.
Also, without our amazing financial contributors and volunteer speakers who dedicate a lot of their time, passion, and energy and contribute much enthusiasm for our work, we couldn't serve the 8,000 people we reach every year!
What learning experience had the biggest impact on who you are now?
Learning how to lead the Communication Solutions™ course and master the distinctions of our education has changed my life for the better. Being a course leader, I'm always challenged to make sure I'm really listening to people, and getting not just what people might say, but also what's often behind what they say, or what they are afraid to be authentic about.
Our Communication Solutions™ course and the distinctions in our work keep me always in a reality check with myself and others, and my word and commitments to people. I feel I've been able to handle more responsibilities and be more effective in my life, when in the past I would have shirked away from them. The tools in our Leadership in Action course allow me to be an effective, productive person, and I've been able to achieve more goals and stick to my commitments in my life more than college or university education provided me. I can listen and connect with people now in ways I never dreamed I could.