Announcing Sarah Bandy's Decision to Depart

I’m writing to let you know that longtime YEAH! Executive Director Sarah Bandy has decided to leave the organization later this year. It’s tough news to hear—and undoubtedly a tough call for Sarah to make—given the considerable contributions she has made since joining YEAH! in 2013. With a smooth transition to new leadership at the forefront of everyone’s mind, she’ll remain in her current role until August 31, 2021.

When my son attended his first Tennessee Teens Rock Camp in 2018, I marveled as a parent at the supportive, empowering culture that Sarah brought to YEAH!’s programs and social media presence. Now that I’m a Board member, I regularly work one-on-one with Sarah and understand just how far she’s propelled this organization in profound, practical ways, like program expansion, grant acquisitions and volunteer recruitment.

I’m excited for what the future holds for Sarah, and have no doubt that she’ll continue to make an impact wherever she focuses her talents, energy and spirit. (For more on her plans, read her note below.) While the entire YEAH! community will be sad to see her go, the organization’s mission carries on. To that end, the Board of Directors is hard at work, already embarking on a search and hiring process and committed to finding the right executive leadership for YEAH!’s next chapter.


Doug Brumley

Chair of the Board of Directors, YEAH!

A Note from Sarah 

One of the fundamental ideas that drives YEAH!’s work is the collective agreement that mistakes are a crucial part of creation and that we don’t have to be perfect at something before we start. I started at YEAH! in 2013 cradled by a thriving community of people that really believe that. Together, they saw the radical power in supporting and learning from each other, the revolutionary act of being tender and open to the experiences of others, and then consistently chose to create something together that couldn’t exist without all of us playing our individual parts. They all trust in the belief that in just five days, there will be a showcase and it's going to make us all cry. The luminous beauty of the “organized chaos” of Rock Camp is why kids always ask us when we're getting a Rock Camp castle for everyone, why the best bop of the summer is always written by someone under 18, and why volunteers hold their coffee mugs, bleary-eyed, grinning as they walk into an auditorium of new friends on Monday morning every single year.

Since 2013, YEAH! has helped me recognize that our journey only becomes real when it’s walked alongside others and that showing up for other people is lifelong work. Providing leadership opportunities and creative pathways for youth inherently builds their personal power—and one of the surprises of that work is that when you open up to other people, you also find out how to better show up for yourself day after day. I am more hopeful, cherish challenging conversations, listen better and more deeply, use my imagination more, feel more at home in my body, am more present, and have a kinder inner voice after my time with YEAH!

A friend recently reminded me that you can’t see the wind, you can just see the effects of the wind. Thank you to all of the incredible folks of all ages that have been that wind for the past eight years, pushing us forward through your time, energy, spirit, and willingness to believe that everyone deserves the world that they want to live in. We all know that a rising tide lifts all boats and it’s crucial to remember that each tide happens because of a relationship—the moon and gravity are inextricably woven together to listen to each other and move in sync to keep the water and tides pushing. It’s been the honor of my life to get to move in sync to co-create transformative, joyful experiences with you. 

What’s next for me? When he was writing Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck picked up a journaling practice where he outlined his experience. He said, “I’ll get the book done if I just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.” I am deeply passionate about moving money to the South, allocating funds towards the revolution and supporting the creative economy that saved my life as a kid and gave me a place to belong and build. I’m going to focus on using my skills to bring resources to folks and small orgs doing great work in the South. I’ll set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work and keep listening for what’s next. And I’ll be taking all of the songs I’ve heard at every Rock Camp showcase with me as my soundtrack. 

With love, 
Sarah Bandy 
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