Founder Thanks Community, Board, Partners, & Donors
BAYCAT Founder, Villy Wang, was raised in the projects in New York City by an immigrant single mother. Villy’s story and passion for technology, education, and social entrepreneurship shaped the building of BAYCAT. After 12 amazing years of service as BAYCAT’s president and CEO, she has been selected to receive a local Jefferson Award for Public Service, “America’s Nobel Prize for public service.”
“This honor belongs to our community and the thousands of youth and families we’ve been able to work with who united with us to have the power of their stories be the catalyst for positive social change. We share this milestone with our past and present Board, team, clients, donors and partners, who have weathered through storms and celebrated achievements with us,” she said.
Growing up, media was a constant presence in Villy’s life. Like many children of working parents, television became a favorite outlet to watch stories neatly wrapped up in just 30 minutes on shows like The Brady Bunch. But one thing stuck out to her: no matter what program it was, she couldn’t see any elements of her life in the narratives. That thought never left her.
A Shared Path
After experiencing economic and social barriers first hand, Villy saw the opportunity to democratize not only access to technology, but also the creation of new media that tells stories untold. Drawing on one of her favorite sayings that it takes a village to raise a child, Villy believes that the BAYCAT model is re-teaching the village how to raise a child in this technology-rich world. Starting from education with BAYCAT Academy to entrepreneurship and employment with BAYCAT Studio, Villy helmed the creation of programs and services based on our community needs, labor market demands for well-qualified media producers, and constantly-changing technology. Together with over 3,250 program graduates, Villy is working to change the narrative and create a media landscape that better reflects all of our cultures and stories.
“I feel humbled, blessed and honored to be able to work with people in our community who have helped BAYCAT be the voice and storytellers for low-income communities, who have been historically underrepresented or misrepresented in media.”
Created in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Service, The Jefferson Awards are given at both national and local levels, with local awards given to celebrate change makers and inspire a culture of public service. We, at BAYCAT, appreciate and applaud the decision to recognize Villy Wang for this distinction.
Watch CBS’ coverage on Villy’s Jefferson Award win online.