Skip to main content
News Article News Article

2021 class of truth Ambassadors launch community projects

Thirteen young leaders from across the country are creating and committing to local projects that inspire tobacco/vape-free communities as the newest class of truth® Ambassadors.

The year-long immersive leadership program will educate and train the group of 18- to 22-year-olds on the public health impact of tobacco and e-cigarettes, the importance of community and youth engagement, and tobacco policy and advocacy. The program will help them develop leadership and community activism skills while providing financial support to create and promote their projects.  

As one of the youth leadership programs at Truth Initiative®truth Ambassadors are young people who have previous experience with tobacco control advocacy, are passionate about mobilizing their peers and making their communities tobacco-free. Some of the 2021 ambassadors are continuing their engagement with Truth Initiative after previously serving as Truth Initiative interns and college leaders, students who undergo training in tobacco prevention campaigns and leadership development to organize their peers and build a movement to become a tobacco-free campus.

Alex Duruji (Ligon)

North Carolina/Maryland      

As a previous intern at Truth Initiative, Alex wants to give tech innovators and designers research-based guidance to create the most effective user experience design for young people using mobile quit smoking apps.

Keilah Martin

New York        

Inspired by the short film Black Lungs/Black Lives, which explores the strategic infiltration of menthol tobacco products into the Black community, Keilah plans to continue visually documenting Black stories and experiences with tobacco and distribute it on her campus.

Brandy Merriweather


In an effort to push the conversation on implementing smoke/vape-free policies, Brandy, a previous truth College Leader, will implement a campaign titled “What you Permit, You Promote” in the Atlanta University Center by using resources within the media and school publications.

Briana Brooks 


Briana will host an in-person, socially distanced or virtual block party in her neighborhood of St. Petersburg, Florida to educate the community about the harms of tobacco and present alternatives to smoking. She intends to collaborate with local officials in an effort to make this an annual event.

Mary Louise Long 


Mary will execute a project that aligns with the recent trends in self-care by informing young people how smoking and vaping affects the skin and sending self-care packages that include facts about tobacco and skin.

Xavier Lynum


Xavier will combine podcasts and video games so that players can watch video games while listening to topics on tobacco issues and other relevant issues. 

Abby Nauman


Abby knows that her school has a smoke-free policy, but she doesn’t believe that the school has enough resources for students who actually vape. She will administer surveys and interviews to provide the data on students who vape and create support groups.

Rachel Becker


Rachel will overhaul her school’s freshman substance abuse curriculum to be more inclusive of vaping and mental health.

Annika Bennion


Annika, who is also known as Miss Montana’s Outstanding Teen, will disseminate eight 30-second public service announcements focusing on a different aspect of vaping to schools across Montana. Her is goal is that these PSA’s can be used in morning announcements or health classes. 

Aniya Majors

California/Los Angeles           

Aniya will educate her campus at Grambling State about vaping and flavored tobacco products using social media.

Janan Moein


Janan is a former vaper who, in late 2019, fell extremely ill and was hospitalized after vaping for about 4 months. He spent 14 days in the ICU, five of which in an induced coma, and eight on life support. Since then, Janan has taken every opportunity to share his story and educate his peers about nicotine addiction, including being featured in New York Times Magazine and founding his own non-profit organization called Youth Against Vaping. As truth Ambassador, Janan wants to continue spreading awareness about nicotine addiction.

Amber Updike

New York        

As a previous contributor for our Reinvent the Reel campaign through  Reality Check, a youth led movement in New York State that empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry, Amber plans to bring more awareness to tobacco imagery in movies and streaming.

Kristen Reid


Kristen is using her podcast “the NeuKris”, to educate young people about the tobacco industry, the war on drugs and where they fit in all of it. This education is meant to turn the everyday young person into an activist.