From Student to Civic Activist and NGO Co-Founder

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Friday, March 5, 2021
Valeriia Hudz, a Ukrainian activist and a co-founder of the Youth Democratic Association NGO.

Today, Valeriia Hudz is a prominent young civic activist from Vinnytsia and a co-founder of the new non-governmental organization, the Youth Democratic Association (YODA). In 2018, she was an undergraduate student studying political science and wondering what her professional future would look like. Then she heard about a new civic education course, Democracy: From Theory to Practice, and decided to take it.

Valeria said that the course, developed in a partnership between USAID and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and currently taught at 39 universities in Ukraine, opened her eyes. It taught her ways to actively engage in Ukraine’s democratic processes and helped her define what her role could be. It complemented the theoretical knowledge she had gained in her political science studies and equipped her with practical skills for effective participation in politics and civil society work.

“The civic education course became both my turning and starting point; where it all began and where it all came together. Support, contacts, practical knowledge, broadening of horizons - all these issues were addressed in the course and it changed me a lot,” explained Valeriia.

After completing the course, Valeriia organized several civic education projects. Ahead of the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections she became the coordinator of a successful social campaign called I Have the Right to Vote.

That positive experience and what she had learned from the USAID civic education course inspired her to establish the non-governmental organization, YODA, with 10 other others who had taken the same course.  Ahead of the October 2020 local elections, YODA organized the USAID co-sponsored Go Vote online campaign, encouraging thousands of young Ukrainians to get out and vote.

The Go Vote campaign proved that YODA was a viable civil society organization and put  Valeria among an elite group of successful, young Ukrainian civil activists.

Click here to learn more about IFES’ civic education activities via link.

Last updated: September 13, 2021

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