Maya Enista: CEO,

Utne Reader visionary

| November-December 2009

  • Maya Enista

    image by Gluekit /

  • Maya Enista

Young people are facing a stagnant job market, rising debt, and little representation in government. The 80 Million Strong campaign, with its cochair Maya Enista, wants to re-stack the odds by pushing for legislation that creates opportunities and encourages leadership. Think of it as the AARP for the millennial generation. The daughter of Romanian refugees, the 26-year-old Enista is an eight-year veteran of the nonprofit world. While she was attending Rutgers University, she typed the words youth activism into a Google search and found her way to MTV’s Rock the Vote campaign, where she registered more than 30,000 young people. She moved on to work with the Hip Hop Civic Engagement Project, aimed at political organization, and still collaborates with music mogul Russell Simmons and others in the music community.

Today, Enista is the CEO of, which promotes greater civic participation and political engagement among young people. Her involvement often targets the millennial generation, which she believes offers hope for social justice irrespective of race, class, religion, or partisan identification—in part, she says, because “we are a much more collaborative and innovative generation.” is gearing up to turn its attention to lobbying for returning veterans (more than 20 percent are under 24 years old) who are looking for jobs and health care. Her goal is to help people see millennials “as having more value than just helping with your social networking.”


As part of her tireless efforts to reach out to young people, Enista has a strong presence throughout the web. You can read an article she wrote with Russell Simmons for the Huffington Post and her columns for Global Grind. has a Twitter profile, a Facebook profile and a cause on Facebook where you can make a donation. You can also see her speak on how the anonymity of the internet can benefit voter engagement in a video for (her part starts around the 28 minute mark).

Read More:  50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World .

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