YPDaily: Jeremy Dias

Jeremy Dias is a 28-year-old uOttawa graduate who works at JersVision.org, where he educates and engages youth in Canada in dialogues on homophobic and transphobic bullying. Working primarily in rural communities, he often speaks to youth who have never engaged in such topics…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Every day of the school year I talk to entire schools of students about being gay, the experiences of bullying, homophobia & transphobia, and what they can do to make their school a safer and better place.

 With our office team of 15, and volunteer team of over 250 people all over Canada, we work in every province and territory in Canada, running workshops and conferences that engage more than 75,000 youth annually. We also run the Day of Pink, engaging 8.1 million people in wearing pink to stop bullying.

My highlight though is what youth do after we talk with them. We pride ourselves on supporting their efforts & initiatives, truly making their schools and communities safer.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
It actually stated by accident; I was bullied in school and sued them. When I won the lawsuit I used the money to start JersVision.org, at the time only a scholarship, but youth wanted to hear how it happened, so I started telling my story. This lead to hearing their stories, and supporting their initiatives.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is being surprised. Last week, following my talk, the football team turned their jerseys inside out and wrote: ‘We challenge homophobia’. It was so amazing to see.

The most challenging is probably the day-to-day management, fundraising, accounting—you know the boring stuff.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I am committed to the organization for 3 more years, and in that time am in the process of handing the reigns to youth making a difference. After that, I hope to look at continue to serve my community, maybe as a politician or at another organization.

What does success look like to you?
After winning almost all the legal battles for LGBTQ rights, we are at a loss of winning the hearts and minds of Canadians. That said, we live in a golden era of people being respectful to LGBTQ people. Success is the day I can hold my partner’s hand anywhere in Canada and not be afraid of getting beat up again.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The most memorable milestone was a tie between an interview with Lady Gaga and a youth, whose school participated in workshops, then she volunteered and then later came out; she said, “It is because of you I feel safe”.  

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Remember that a successful business gives back to the community without asking for anything in return. The truth is, some people are not as lucky as you and they need your help. In your success you have a choice to help them or not. 

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I volunteer for Jer’s Vision (obviously), and continue to volunteer at Housing Help and a couple other organizations. I love them because they help me stay focused and balanced.

What to you is notable? 
The most Notable thing you can do is be kind; a smile, open door, and understanding heart change the world.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone, what are these other devices you speak of? (kidding)