By Crystal Harrell

From March 4-5 at the Van Buren Elementary School in Indio, Angel Light Academy (ALA) held its annual Youth Leadership Conference at the Van Buren Elementary School in Indio.

Angel Light Academy is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation dedicated to teaching leadership to youth and adults. According to Erika Baily, Event Chair, “It’s time to rebuild hope and confidence with our local young leaders who are ready to make positive life choices and create a better future for themselves.”

ALA worked with approximately 100 young leaders from more than 30 local schools at the conference to learn about leadership traits, managing stress, coping skills, social skills, communication skills, and problem solving. The world is different post-COVID and ALA’s highly trained facilitators aim to help youth rebuild their social-emotional health, confidence, and motivation so they can participate positively at home, at school and in the community.


“This year, the conference is focusing on communication in the post-COVID world. Children and adults are struggling with social skills, making, and keeping friends, resolving conflicts, and asking for help. Skits, lessons, and breakout sessions help children to learn how to talk to others and how important it is. In addition, ALA is teaming with Boo to Bullying for bullying prevention. Breakout sessions for middle school and high school students about college, time management, and stress management have been added in response to requests from children, teachers, and parents,” stated Baily.

ALA believes that if children learn to find solutions to their problems and apply leadership skills, they become more self-confident, improve their self-esteem and self-efficacy, and will change their lives forever. ALA strives to establish a new paradigm for leadership that is based on service to others and instills this in all participants.

ALA was founded in 1995 by Julia and General Richard Wilmot. Julia Wilmot has been a dedicated community leader and successful businesswoman for over 40 years. Formerly, she was the director of Project Prevention, which assisted 600,000 youth during her five-year tenure. The Arizona Governor, in partnership with the YWCA, honored Mrs. Wilmot in 2003 with a statewide award as Woman of the Year for her ongoing service. Richard Wilmot is a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General who served at the Pentagon and has extensive international business and military experience.

“ALA’s programs are in high demand because of their effectiveness.  Every activity is carefully planned to meet the needs of children, and activities are adapted. Children teach children about leadership, problem solving, communication, and real-life solutions to their problems.  Children respond positively to skits, lessons, and activities led by their peers. The programs are adapted and adjusted after careful evaluation and needs assessment. Volunteer facilitators are highly trained to teach and mentor children in all areas of leadership,” stated Baily.

Following the conference, participating youth continued learning and working year-round on leadership, community service and problem-solving by participating in ALA’s Junior Leadership Training Program that meets every month. The Junior Leadership Training Program provides on-going, in-depth leadership training and empowers youth to become examples of leadership, give in service, and make positive changes in their lives. They develop sound problem solving skills for key areas in their life, health, money, relationships, and school.

The Junior Leader Training Program begins in April 2, 2023. Anyone attending the Youth Leadership Conference is invited to become a Junior Leader.  This program meets monthly for more in-depth leadership training and community service.  Junior Leaders chose service projects to positively impact their communities and apply their leadership skills directly.

“ALA’s hope is to bring this program into all the schools. Teachers have asked for curriculum and principals are requesting assemblies and other programming to bring leadership, real life problem solving, and hope to a whole generation,” shared Baily.

For more information about the program, visit the official website at