The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.

Today’s Q&A feature is Debra Tendrich, Founder and CEO of non-profit organization called Eat Better Live Better (EBLB). The mission of Eat Better Live Better is to combat and control childhood obesity by creating nutritional programs that create permanent change within families and communities. Debra is dedicated to making a huge impact in the community and thrives to become a community leader to create a positive and permanent change in the overall health of the community. Not only is she implementing her program throughout Palm Beach County, she is also involved with several other organizations and always helps when help is needed. Currently, Debra sits on the Advisory Board for the Florida Atlantic University’s School of Social Work. She is a very active member of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce and also an Ambassador. She recently became a Leadership Boca Graduate and enrolled in the GLASS Leadership Program through the ADL (Anti-Defamation League). She was honored by the Association of Women in Communications and is also an active member of the Association for Women in Communications South Florida Chapter. She was also awarded a Certificate of Community Service and Dedication by the Guardian Angels. We caught up with Debra to find out what leadership means to her and what advice she would give to future leaders.

Why did you choose this career path?

I was obese as a child and became an obese adult. Weighing almost 200 pounds and only standing only 5’1, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and decided to make a shift into a healthy lifestyle. I dedicated 30 days to workout daily and to learn to eat healthy. During those 30 days, I fell in love with health and fitness, thus began my journey.

Even though I lost 70 pounds and dropped my cholesterol by almost 100 points, I still believe that my biggest transformation made was the impact I made by influencing my daughter, Amira. My new healthy lifestyle directly impacted her and that gave me the inspiration to continue my journey. Amira was borderline ADHD, and by applying the principles of EBLB and proper nutrition, all the symptoms disappeared.

After making the transformation, I decided to use my experience to design curriculum to kids, parents and teachers to make POSITIVE and PERMANENT CHANGE within the schools, community centers and other community-based organizations. I took my own personal experience and designed programming that is fun, interactive and effective base on what it took me to learn how to be healthy.

Who inspired you to get involved?

Change inspires change. The more change we create the more change we inspire. The reason I say this is, I was an obese child and then became obese adult. I lost 70 pounds in 2013 and my daughter’s life was also dramatically changed by just by transitioning into a healthy lifestyle. I impacted changed to 100’s of people through my personal. The fact that so many people were inspired by my change, inspired me to create more change on a larger scale.

How do you define a leader?

Although there are several different types of leaders, there are a few characters all leaders must have: passion, ability to delegate, confidence, intuition, creativity, and most importantly, attitude. These are traits that leaders must exert. Not only does a leader need all of these characteristics, they need to be able to guide and mentor their team with great communication skills, honesty and dignity. If you take that melting pot of characteristics, you can create a leader that has the ability to carry out the vision, reach goals, uplift the community, and create positive impact in everything they touch.

What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders ?

I am involved in several projects that help impact youth empowerment and help create future leaders. Firstly, I am the CEO and founder of a non-profit organization that prevents, reduces and reverses childhood obesity in the community. With our hands-on interactive curriculum that teaches youth how to be nutritional self-sufficient, we are creating health conscious and confident leaders. Nutrition directly affects productivity. The more we advocate for nutrition, the more productive are youth will be in the community. Anxiety, depression, bullying, early onset puberty, ADHD, teen suicide, student dropout rates, and more are all symptoms of poor nutrition that we are actively eliminating through are programing. With this project alone, we are working with over a thousand kids, parents, and teachers.

Secondly, I do motivational talks throughout south Florida to empower the youth to become entrepreneurs and future leaders. I am a very active mentor to several youths and love inspiring, teaching and guiding them to a successful and purposeful life.

I am very fortunate to have the ability to inspire change, create change and work tirelessly to improve the communities I serve.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?

To become a leader, you must do what the average person is not willing to do. Learn how to network and build a strong group of people who can become mutually beneficial. Keeping a positive attitude should be on the top on your to do list – even when you are receiving constructive criticism. Having the ability to delegate appropriately and communicate effectively is important in order to keep people motivated to help fulfill the goals that your leadership is trying to accomplish. Lastly, take pride in everything you do. Take pride in ownership, take pride in every accomplishment and take pride in every milestone you reach. Take pride in every step you make, no matter how big or small it is. You know your vision, you set your goals and you are a leader.