Gwendolyn Young

Governance Committee, Leadership Committee

For more than a decade, Gwendolyn Young has been a dedicated volunteer for the American Lung Association in California (ALAC). She became familiar with ALAC’s exceptional work in advocating for healthy air and healthy lungs, and decided to commit her time, energy, and resources to the organization. Gwen knows firsthand about the dangers of lung disease as her mother suffered from emphysema, and her brother from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

In 2007, Gwen became the first African-American to chair the State Board of Directors of ALAC. She provided guidance and direction not only to the State Board, but also to the entire organization. When ALAC was facing significant organizational challenges,  Gwen’s expertise, voice and leadership skills were instrumental in making sure ALAC remained strong despite the challenges it faced.

Gwen has long supported the fight for healthy air and healthy lungs, and is a strong advocate for legislation to improve the quality of air we breathe. For instance, when asked what is one of the things she is most proud of in her role as a volunteer she said, “ALAC's leadership in securing clean air trucks at the ports.” ALAC celebrated a major public health and clean air victory in 2008 when the Los Angeles Harbor Commissions approved the Clean Trucks Program. Together with ALAC, Gwen relentlessly fought to ensure approval for the Clean Trucks Program that will cut port truck emissions by 80 percent by requiring trucking companies to assume responsibility for upgrading dirty diesel trucks and maintaining low-emission trucks.

One of the most important issues for Gwen is the prevalence of lung health disparities in racial and ethnic communities. Despite advancements in medical research and technologies, it is striking to note that not all communities benefit from these improvements. “A disproportionately high number of people from underrepresented communities suffer from lung disease,” says Gwen. “Asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and even tuberculosis is returning to some communities, and my goal is for us to lead the fight and become an active voice for these communities so we can all breathe easier.”

Gwen is a communications professional with more than 25 years of experience in health care marketing and public relations. She currently chairs the Governance Committee and is the driving force behind efforts in recruiting and diversifying volunteers for ALAC.  In addition to her work with ALAC, she also served as delegate-at-large on the Association's National Council for three years and was former speaker of the Assembly, a position she had to leave because of business demands.

Gwen’s extensive involvement with the American Lung Association is a testament to her passion and commitment in the fight for air. We are truly honored to have her as one of our best volunteers.