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Surrey’s Prasad named Young Leader of the Year by UN association

Rochelle Prasad in a photo posted to the website of World Federation of United Nations Associations (

Rochelle Prasad has added another award to her long list of achievements and accolades.

A Surrey resident who champions education rights and youth engagement, Prasad has been named the 2023 Young Leader of the Year by the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA).

She was selected “for her remarkable contributions to her UNA (in Canada), demonstrating active dedication and adherence to the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, evident through her impactful work and accomplishments,” according to an April 5 announcement on

As the CEO and founder of the SPARK foundation, Prasad “has effectively empowered young individuals to become informed and proactive citizens, igniting a desire for positive change within them,” the website says.

“In addition to these involvements, she has also dedicated significant time working with indigenous populations in an effort to preserve indigenous lands and communities, and fostering meaningful relationships through this process.”

Prasad’s website ( details her work in the community and past awards over the years, including Surrey Women in Business Awards and the 2020 Diana Award (in honour of Princess Diana).

On social media, Prasad said she’s excited to be named WFUNA’s first Indo-Fijian/Canadian Young Leader of the Year.

“As an education rights and youth engagement activist, teaching by day and solving UN SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) #4 with UN entities by night, I am honoured to see the work of educators being spotlighted,” she tweeted.

“There are so many barriers for children & youth accessing our education systems and for those who are in it already,” Prasad added. “The best (ways) to reduce these barriers are to influence leaders to invest more in building inclusive teaching spaces, life skills education programs, and quality teacher compensation/ resources.”

In 2022 Prasad ran for Surrey City Council and aimed to be a “champion for marginalized voices” if elected with Brenda Locke’s Surrey Connect team, but did not earn enough votes for a seat at city hall.

In a Q&A posted on WFUNA’s website, Prasad describes herself as a teacher in the K-12 system and lecturer in the post-secondary space.

“My proudest accomplishment is having the opportunity to educate the next generation and collaborate with them to work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she says.

“Through my roles, I’ve been able to inspire and empower young minds, fostering a sense of agency and activism to address pressing global challenges. Witnessing the enthusiasm and dedication of these students fills me with immense pride and reinforces my commitment to shaping a better future through education and advocacy.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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