Parker student Sophie White, Class of 2023, has been named the next president of the California Association of Student Leaders (CASL), the student-led not-for-profit organization announced last week.

Sophie will begin her one-year term on April 4 and will represent the State of California on a national level and run the CASL Board. The organization’s mission is “to provide a statewide network, which facilitates the development of ethical, responsible, and servant leaders,” according to the CASL website. CASL’s initiative is to “equip and empower students to be effective future leaders of the world through local, regional, and statewide conferences.”

“CASL, in my mind, is like varsity level leadership,” says Sophie. “We as a board represent all of the student leadership groups and individual change-makers across the state. We strive to provide resources, training, and at our height our state conference to provide tools to help these leaders develop and better serve their communities.”

Sophie will be working closely with the CASL Executive Director, Sandra Kurland, to organize training for the 2022-23 board and get everyone prepped for the state conference, she says.

“It is my responsibility (but more so honor) to guide each board member through the next year so that they can evolve to represent the state. Intermittently, I collaborate with our adult advisors, leadership coaches, and our parent organization, CADA (California Association of Director of Activities), to support the board and go out to different schools across California to present leadership training.”

CASL has a special way of electing its president, Sophie explains.

“We decide to focus on determining a direction for the next year and then subsequently finding a person who best fits that vision,” she says. “That direction is defined by three words that are voted on by the board. My three words for the next year to guide the board are: Holistic, Courageous, and Accessible.”

All candidates are then asked to leave while the current board discusses and votes on which individual best fits that vision.

“Each candidate is testified for on behalf of their committees, families (composed of CASL Board members), and other people with who that candidate has worked with,” Sophie says.

Due to her last name, Sophie was the last one called back into the board room (around 1:30 am).

“When they finally told me I won, I immediately broke down and hugged Sandi,” Sophie says. “She has encouraged me to break out of my shell and run for president. I had called her for hours over the board term asking her questions about anything and everything. It has been a journey of almost 8 months of reflection, outreach, and discussion.

“I was so happy and relieved and a bit in shock. I’m still in shock now because I had never envisioned myself taking on this role when I first entered high school, I didn’t even know what CASL was. It just feels like such an honor and I can’t wait for this upcoming adventure.”