Change of Leadership at YOURS

Change of Leadership at YOURS

We are proud to announce that, as of the 1st of June 2023, Raquel Barrios takes the helm of YOURS - Youth for Road Safety Executive Director. This comes after our Founder Floor Lieshout steps down from the role. We recorded a conversation between the two about what this leadership change holds for the future of YOURS as an organization. Check out the transcription below.


So Raquel, here we are. You had your first days as Executive Director and I am so proud and honored to hand over the leadership of YOURS to you. I can’t imagine a better person than you taking the wheel. You have been with us for over 4 years. However, it could be that a few people still don’t know you. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself

RAQUEL: Thanks, Floor. The honor is all mine, really! Well, to start at the beginning, I am originally from Nicaragua but have lived in Madrid, Spain, for 8 years now. My background is in International Relations, with a Master’s Degree in Social Business Administration and Entrepreneurship.

I started my professional career 13 years ago in a Latin American youth-led organization called TECHO, and that is basically where I began working with and for youth. It has been my passion ever since. I have worked on topics related to poverty, education, and sustainable cities, but always hand-in-hand with youth.

I have 3 siblings who are spread across the world, but we try to reunite at least once a year in Nicaragua, where my parents are. I also have a dog, her name is Africa, and I am absolutely obsessed with her. As for hobbies, I practice yoga regularly and I like to travel as much as I can, as it helps keep my sense of awe alive. Also, I absolutely love food, so I like hunting for good restaurants wherever I go. 

RAQUEL: I have to say that I still can’t believe you are actually leaving. I am just curious what motivated you at the start to create YOURS?

FLOOR: Nothing motivates me more than seeing an injustice somewhere that needs a good fight. And when I learned that road traffic injuries kill thousands of children and young people every day, I saw an opportunity. After the First UN World Youth Assembly for Road Safety in 2007, there was clear momentum to build a movement from the ground up. In history, it has always been the role of young people to challenge the status quo. Enough is enough. And look at where we are today! Over the years we have empowered thousands of young people all over the world. A great example of our work is the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety, a worldwide movement of young people demanding and delivering road safety. 

2010 working group preparing the global alliance of ngos for road safety

You have played an enormous role in developing and building the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety. Could you share what you have done so far at YOURS, and why you joined the organization in the first place?

RAQUEL: I have been in the road safety field since 2019 when I started working at YOURS as a Project Manager to organize the 2nd UN World Youth Assembly for Road Safety. Then, I supported the creation of the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety and I became a Programme Manager to ensure its consolidation and guide its direction. The movement grew rapidly; it was a clear sign that there is an appetite for this topic among youth. Since then, Global Youth Coalition members have managed to make their voices heard and little by little, the old paradigm is shifting. Hence, our work continues. 

One year ago, I became Projects Director to support YOURS in overseeing the performance of all its projects at an organizational level. 

Since I joined YOURS 4 years ago, we have worked tirelessly as a team and the organization has grown exponentially on all fronts: capacity building, campaigns, and advocacy. I am so fortunate to have been able to witness and contribute to that growth because that gives me a good grounding for my role as Executive Director. 

When I got in touch with YOURS, I started to learn about the field of road safety and I saw so much potential in YOURS; its vision, and its strategy. I still remember when I started. I was shocked to learn that despite working with and for youth for so many years, I was never aware of the greatest threat to their lives: road traffic crashes. That triggered something in me that drives my passion and commitment to the road safety cause.  


RAQUEL: And following that line, I have always been inspired by your passion for road safety and YOURS. So I wonder, why leave now? 

FLOOR: Let me begin by saying, it was not an easy decision. I enjoyed building this organization for more than 15 years and it will always be in my heart. But to answer your question: all lights were green for me to move on. Firstly, an important element that made me even consider a move, is that I am 100% convinced that the organization is able to carry on without me. It has matured so much in the past few years, with a strong foundation; clear, strategic direction; and a committed base of partners and donors.

Secondly, the YOURS team is fantastic. People like you, Stefania, and especially Manpreet who have been around for so long, have made YOURS what it is today. I invested heavily in the leadership team, so you no longer need me. I have made myself redundant! You all have contributed already so much to the success of YOURS, and you will continue to do so. 

Thirdly, we had an outstanding internal candidate who showed interest in the position: you! I have complete faith and trust in you. I want to congratulate the Supervisory Board for making a great decision to appoint you as our new Executive Director. You were my third green light.

Finally, I am convinced it is best to leave when people still like you, and when you are on the top of your game. YOURS is an organization that works with and for young people. Keeping the leadership fresh is part of our DNA. Nobody should stick around too long, which is true for Founders. It’s the art of letting go, as they say. 


So I am passing the torch over to you.
How do you feel about the new role? What does this mean to you? 

I feel beyond honored to continue serving YOURS in this new capacity as Executive Director. We have been on this journey together for 4 years, and although it might not sound that long, it has been enough time for me to realize the impact that meaningful youth participation can bring to this field. I’m lucky and proud to serve such an organization and be surrounded by talented young people committed to achieving zero deaths on the world’s roads. 

I now know that you have been preparing for this moment for quite some time, and you started working hand-in-hand with me on specific strategic tasks a few years ago so that I could learn from your experience. This allowed me to be able to reach this moment in time with confidence in my leadership skills. But it means a lot to me, Floor, that you are handing over to me such a precious project, and one that means so much to you. That comes with a lot of responsibility, but I am willing to make a leap of faith, following in your footsteps but also adding my own spices to the mix!  

FLOOR: What will be your first decision as the new Executive Director? And what do you hope to achieve during your first term?

RAQUEL: That is a tough question, but I knew it would come. At YOURS, we have always supported youth to thrive. Although we have had certain experiences at national or community levels, our priority has been to build a global movement. As noted, the Global Youth Coalition was set up and, although there is still so much to do, we already have that global support structure for youth. 

So, for me, the first decision is to continue supporting youth, but with a special focus on the local level; let’s say, from global to local. At the end of the day, the real changes in road safety and sustainable mobility will happen on the ground and as a coordinating and facilitating organization, we need to get closer to our communities by localizing our strategies, tactics, and activities. 

The good thing is that I was part of the whole YOURS strategy development, and that is the perfect guide to continue working on the ‘glocal’ response. That will ensure stability for YOURS and allow me to make my own path, supported by youth and other allies. In that sense, I look forward to continuing to work with all partners who have supported you and YOURS in positioning youth as key stakeholders in road safety. 




RAQUEL: What’s your final message to the YOURS team and its supporters? How would you like to be remembered?

FLOOR: Well. I hope people will remember me as a kind person, who worked hard and tried to make the world a safer place. But I guess you need to ask others if I achieved that :-) 

When I look back on our successes as a team, I am deeply proud of the legacy we built together. Part of the legacy is that we have YOURS, a professional and sustainable organization operating in all regions of the world which will continue to advocate for future generations' safety and demand that road safety take its rightful place high on the political agenda. We could not have hoped for this 15 years ago.

Besides that, I hope we have for once and for all shifted the paradigm that we need to work together with young people in a meaningful way. Co-creating a future with the leaders of today for a better, safer tomorrow. In the early stages of YOURS, that was just something we wanted. Today, all stakeholders consider it a given. 

A final message is to thank all people from the bottom of my heart who have contributed so much to YOURS: of course the team, the Supervisory Board, partners, donors, friends, and supporters. It has been a legendary journey, with many valuable memories. And to all youth leaders from around the world: Keep up the fight. Keep claiming your space!

And to you Raquel, I could not have asked for a better successor than you. You are simply an amazing leader. You will do great things and walk your own path bringing this organization to new highs!

2015 speech at 2nd global ministerial conference on road safety brasilia

Message from the Supervisory Board

We are honored to have worked with Floor as Executive Director for so long at YOURS - his dedication, energy, and drive for the organization were exemplary. He worked extremely hard to develop and grow YOURS for the past 15 years such that his name has become synonymous with YOURS itself. During his tenure, the organization has matured from a great idea to a non-governmental force working in the arena of road safety. 

His leadership allowed the organization to become a key member of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety, a critical voice in the UN Road Safety Collaboration, and co-organizer of the biennial UN Global Road Safety Weeks. YOURS is now a global player and road safety events around the world include youth associated with it. In short, Floor leaves a legacy of remarkable kindness, creating opportunities for meaningful engagement of youth in the road safety agenda, globally. We thank him sincerely for the leadership he has provided YOURS and wish him every success in his endeavours going forwards.

We are delighted to welcome Raquel with her experience, expertise, and vision to lead YOURS in the next stage of evolution for the organization. And we are confident that under her guidance and with her new ideas and ambition the organization will flourish and grow further to support youth in health and development and continue to make an impact. We look forward to supporting her and the team at this exciting stage of evolution for YOURS.   

On behalf of the Supervisory Board,
Dr. Adnan Hyder
Chair, Supervisory Board