A HEART TO SERVE, THE COURAGE TO LEAD, AND A CALLING TO STAY
Andy Fierro , Program Marketing Manager
Meet Andy Fierro! An empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted individual who has been a member of the UYWI family for nearly 16 years. Now serving as the Program Marketing Manager, Andy has been with UYWI through many seasons of change and growth. As a servant-leader, Andy has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help UYWI and ministry leaders around the country shine the light of the Gospel to the world. Over the years, Andy’s faithful commitment and service to UYWI have granted him a unique perspective on the past, present, and future of youth ministry and leadership development. While he has personally developed as a leader through working at UYWI, he has simultaneously witnessed UYWI grow as a leader in service to the church and in the community. Andy lives in Whittier with his wife, Stephanie, and their son Andres.
UYWI is celebrating 30 years of developing new leadership for a new world! While the future looks bright, now is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate where UYWI has been and how they have evolved throughout the decades. Over the years, UYWI has shifted and grown immensely, all while touching countless lives and remaining true to the mission of coming alongside urban youth workers to shape the future of the Church. While there are few people who have witnessed this evolution firsthand, Andy Fierro, UYWI Program Marketing Manager, has had a front-row seat. Andy began his career as an intern nearly 16 years ago and has remained a part of the UYWI family ever since.
Andy’s first interaction with UYWI was in 1997 while attending a UYWI-sponsored outreach day in Santa Ana, CA with his high school youth group. After graduating high school, Andy went on to attend Cal State Polytechnic for graphic design and began volunteering as a leader for his former youth group. During this time, Andy was exposed to the leadership development side of UYWI while attending various of their youth leader trainings.
During these interactions, Andy came to understand UYWI’s disposition toward service in how they came alongside and offered resources and support to youth leaders. As a genuine ‘Type Two’ on the Enneagram, Andy’s heart is also geared toward the service of others, which made him feel even more connected to the work of UYWI.
When Andy began seeking out internships in graphic design, he reached out to UYWI and was quickly invited to jump on board. After assisting with graphics for two UYWI National Conferences, former UYWI CEO and Founder, Larry Acosta, invited Andy to join the team full-time.
“When I thought about careers, I knew I didn't want to go into the corporate sector, and make a profit for companies that didn't have a real significant purpose and mission in impacting lives. My heart at that time, and still is, was about impacting lives for Christ. I realized I’m not the one to be in front of students as your typical youth pastor. And I thought, well, what other ways can I still serve in that area? I could support the leaders that are reaching students.”
"Being a Two on the Enneagram…I'm all about supporting, and I feel like the organization is doing that as well. I'm always the behind-the-scenes guy. I'm never one to be in front of the camera. I have always been the one who comes alongside and supports you, to execute what is needed and do it well.”
- Andy Fierro
During Andy’s internship, he really got to know the UYWI staff and learned more about their character and passion for servant leadership. Andy’s similar passion drew him to join the UYWI team in a permanent role, and the rest is history. Throughout the past 16 years, Andy has not always had the opportunity to work one-on-one with youth or to meet many youth leaders in person, but hearing stories of the Kingdom impact of UYWI is what fuels him to keep going through good and challenging times. From a recession to a global pandemic, to shifts in leadership and ever-evolving ministry practices, Andy has seen UYWI navigate many obstacles and opportunities that have shaped who they are as an organization today. In the past, for example, UYWI felt a burden to cultivate all of its ministry support resources in-house. Now, UYWI has grown and shifted its focus toward fostering the potential of each individual and ministry community.
“It's not about growing our voice or our platform. Yes, we want to reach leaders nationwide, but we've taken this approach of equipping and partnering with local leaders. We want you to be better at what you do without us getting the accolades. And that's hard to come by nowadays.”
Andy also appreciates how UYWI is most concerned with supporting leaders.
“We are asking, how can we platform you to do your ministry well? How do we support youth workers and ministries and help you lead well? So we've taken this different approach of becoming a leadership development organization.”
In the past, UYWI was primarily concerned with how to help youth workers remain youth workers, but as Andy shared, now they are focused on developing leaders into the calling God has for their life, which might mean moving onto a new sector in life and ministry.
“You might be in youth ministry for X amount of time, or you might be launching your own nonprofit. And if we're able to help you develop skills to become a great leader that doesn't burn out, that doesn't have moral failures, that is living a healthy, well-balanced life according to what the Gospel calls us to, then that is our win!”
“How do we support youth workers and ministries and help you lead well?”
- Andy Fierro
You make a difference in the lives of urban youth across the country looking to their youth leaders and mentors for wisdom and direction in a season when authentic leadership is scarce at best.
As UYWI has developed as a leader in the community, Andy has also grown as a leader in the organization. Moving from an intern to an administrative assistant and graphic designer to now a marketing manager, has stretched Andy in many meaningful ways. Through the support of his team and the same leadership development tools UYWI uses in the field, he has come to realize that his perspective and skills as a long-standing staff member are truly valued.
As Andy looks to the future, he believes UYWI will continue to grow and evolve to meet the changing nature of youth ministry. He has seen their propensity to adapt throughout the years, to stay relevant, and to help youth leaders and their teams do the same. One of the most rapidly changing aspects of youth ministry is technological advances that continue to shape the way youth communicate and connect with one another.
Additionally, Andy is excited to be a part of building and expanding networks, like the recently launched UYWI Fuel Networks, which exists to support, empower, and connect youth workers at a deeper level.
As Andy reflects back on the last few decades at UYWI, he is in awe of the legacies that have been birthed throughout the organization. He is also grateful to be a part of writing the legacy of UYWI and feels fulfilled to know that God has allowed him to be a part of this work. True to character, when Andy was asked where he sees himself 30 years from now, he, of course, shared his heart for serving young people.
“I hope that I have a heart for young people. Where I look at them, and I see the value of them being involved in leadership within the Church and being given responsibilities to lead.”