Eric-John will be the youngest person to ever serve in this role
In November of 2016, at the age of 18, Eric-John Szczepaniak was elected to the Kenowa Hills Board of Education, becoming the body’s first LGBTQ+ and youngest member to ever serve. In April of 2019, Eric-John was elected student body president at Grand Valley State University where he is set to graduate with a degree in public and nonprofit administration. At both institutions, he has successfully enacted policy that requires LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination in hiring and service practices for any private vendors that do business with either governing board.
In August of 2019, he became the Board President for the Michigan Center for Civic Education. This nonprofit works to build thriving civic societies by strengthening law and civics-related education across the state. The Michigan Center for Civic Education has been named the host of the National Mock Trial Competition for 2021.
In September, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson appointed Eric-John to serve on the MDOS Collegiate Student Voter Task Force. Here, thirty-three student leaders advise the Secretary on ways to increase civic participation by young people and overcome systemic barriers that still exist for this population.
He also serves as chair of the Schools & Community Spaces Committee of True Colors West Michigan, aiming to end LGBTQ+ homelessness. In this role, he and collaborators meet with superintendents, principals, and social workers to strengthen LGBTQ+ awareness and implement school climate surveys.