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Zack Karenchak Policy and Program Development Coordinator, Youth MOVE Pennsylvania


Zack grew up in Elk County in northwestern Pennsylvania, a rural area known for having more deer than people.

As a teen, Zack experienced severe depression, along with terrible anxiety. Zack searched for youth groups that could offer him support with his mental health issues. He discovered these supports did not become available until the age of 18.

Zack’s mother is a sexual assault advisor and through her work, Zack became involved with a youth group, RIOT, which was rallying people to organize against rape. RIOT became an outlet for Zack, and he found that being useful aided him in getting control over his anxiety and depression symptoms.

When Zack went to college at the University of Pittsburgh/Bradford campus, he denied his mental health issues due to the stigma associated with the diagnosis. As he grew older, he realized he needed to acknowledge, accept and address his mental health needs.

Zack participated in the development of Pennsylvania’s state proposal for a Systems of Care grant. Through this experience, he learned that there was no state-wide care group for youth and young adults that provides support and information. He and Corey Ludden were subsequently employed by the Youth Coalition Board to work toward formation of a multi-system youth group for Pennsylvania. During this time, the seeds were planted for Youth MOVE Pennsylvania which is now moving forward to fill the gap seen in providing a youth voice in multiple human service systems.