Sydney Ross, Youth Initiatives Coordinator

Sydney is MDC’s new Youth Initiatives Coordinator. She grew up in Mount Carmel, a small town in East Tennessee. Her favorite things to do are travel, get outside, and cook. She moved to Knoxville just over a month ago with her partner and their (very spoiled) pup.
Get to know Sydney a little better!

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I graduated from East Tennessee State University with a dual degree in Anthropology and International Affairs, along with a minor in Culture and Health. While I attended ETSU, I was a scholar in the Roan Scholars Leadership Program. After graduating, I moved to Alexandria, VA to work for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. I worked there as a training coordinator for two years before deciding to move back to East Tennessee.

What is one project or event you have worked on for MDC that you are particularly proud of?

I am so excited to work with the Youth Metro Drug Coalition (YMDC) this year! My goal is to teach students how they can be better peers, get them involved in the community, and give them a safe space to discuss issues they see regarding substance misuse in their schools and communities.

One thing I want people to know about my job is…

The youth in Knox County are excited about the work we do, and they want to be involved. My job is to build a connection and give them the tools they need to create lasting, positive change.

What is your favorite thing about living in Knoxville?

I’ve been living here for just over a month now, so I still have lots to learn about Knoxville. So far, my favorite thing about this area is the strong sense of community. Every city has good restaurants, fun events, etc., but Knoxville’s sense of community is what makes it really special to me.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

It is really impossible to tell whether anything that happens is good or bad. Things may look great at the start, but over time it may not become what you had imagined it to be. Similarly, you feel bad about something, but some day it could be one of the best things that happened to you. Everything changes. There is no room for judgement, for nothing is truly black and white.

What is something people probably wouldn’t guess about you?

A lot of people are surprised when they hear that I have been on several high altitude treks around the world. I summited Mount Kilimanjaro, solo hiked 100+ miles in the Alps, and trekked through the Himalayas with a group of complete strangers.

What superpower would you choose?

I would definitely choose teleportation because I love to travel, and that would make doing so a lot cheaper!

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?


I am proud to work at MDC because…

The work that we do is meaningful, and everyone at the coalition is so passionate about our cause. It’s a great thing to be a part of!