Our Staff

We have a talented and devoted staff that is deeply involved in the lives of our youth and families. Our youth workers serve simultaneously as role models, mentors, tutors, counselors, problem-solvers, crisis intervention workers, and life skills coaches. They provide support and listening ears to struggling parents. They coordinate programming and solve problems with educators and school administrators. They act as intermediaries with police and serve as liaisons with other social service agencies.  Below are brief descriptions of the outstanding leaders who make our community a better place. Click one of the links below to navigate to a specific staff section.

Management  |  Grants & Development  |  Finance  |  HR  |  IT
Program Support  |  Program Leaders 

Clinical  |  Community Schools  |  Street Outreach

Chute Team  |  Dawes Team  | Edison Team |  ETHS Team  |  King Lab Team
Lincoln Jr. High Team  |  Nichols Team  | Oakton Team  | Old Orchard Team |
Walker Team |  Washington Team

 

  Management

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Aina Gutierrez
Chief Operations Officer

Aina’s mission as Chief Operations Officer is to make Y.O.U. an even better place to work. Aina comes to Y.O.U. after almost 13 years at the national non-profit Interfaith Worker Justice, charged with managing the organizational functions of administration, fundraising, financial management and human resources.

Aina has trained and consulted with hundreds of other small non-profit and religious leaders in these areas and is the author of Walking the Walk: A values-centered approach to building a strong non-profitShe believes that to build effective and powerful organizations, we must create strong internal systems and invest in the staff and board to support and enhance our mission. Our values guide the best way to do that work.

Aina has a BA in International Business from Augustana College and a master's degree of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Aina is a proud Evanston resident and her life is happy and overflowing with family, church and community.

agutierrez@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 248

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Seth Green
Executive Director

Seth joined Y.O.U. as Executive Director in May of 2011 and he feels extremely fortunate to work with such a talented and dedicated staff. Prior to Y.O.U., Seth led the Job Opportunity Investment Network, a social venture that moves vulnerable adults out of poverty and into long-term careers. He also founded Americans for Informed Democracy, an organization that empowers youth to tackle pressing social challenges through community-based action. Seth's other work experience includes years as a consultant with McKinsey and Company, as well as short-term roles at the American Prospect, the Brookings Institution, and Lazard.

Seth has been a guest on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, the Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. His efforts have been featured in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and Marie Claire. In 2005, he received the Search for Common Ground Award for International Understanding and, in 2008, Utne Reader named him one of 50 "Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World." In 2011, Seth was a plenary speaker at the White House sponsored conference on Connecting Communities for the Common Good.

A Marshall Scholar, Seth has a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, master's degrees from the London School of Economics and Oxford, and a law degree from Yale.

Seth serves on the Evanston Mayor's Safe Youth Task Force and is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Evanston. He is also a lecturer at Northwestern University where he teaches courses on non-profit management. He and his wife Caitlin Fitz, an assistant professor of history at Northwestern, live in Evanston and are proud parents of two adorable girls: Sojourner and Lundy.

sgreen@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 244

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Marianne Moberly
Director of Development

Marianne has a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois and over 25 years of experience in nonprofit administration, municipal government, and fundraising. She has served as the Director of Development at Y.O.U. since September 2009. Marianne has a long history of community involvement, serving as the treasurer of the Woman's Club of Evanston, in volunteer leadership positions in the Evanston Public Schools, and as a participant in Leadership Evanston. She resides in Evanston with her husband Tom and three children. In her spare time she loves to read, cook, quilt, and once rode a bicycle 700 miles in Italy.

mmoberly@youthopportunity.org 
(847) 866-1200 ext. 231

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Melissa Lee Hohimer
Chief Financial Officer

Melissa Lee Hohimer joined the Y.O.U. team as Chief Financial Officer in order to leverage her non-profit experience and business education to serve the local community. She brings to the organization more than 10 years of experience working in finance and accounting at a wide variety of non-profits, and a deep belief that the finance function of an organization should be intimately informed by the programmatic work to best support and enable mission fulfillment.

Melissa obtained a BS from the School of Communications at Northwestern University and spent time in the performing arts world before turning to business, later receiving her MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business with a focus on finance, accounting, and general management. Melissa is passionate about fulfilling organizational missions with smart principles, effective use of resources, and efficient operations, and is thrilled to be contributing towards the goals of Y.O.U. Melissa grew up in a military family traveling the world, but settled in the Chicago area in 2003. She lives with her husband and two beautiful daughters, Stella and June, in Wilmette and feels immensely fortunate to be surrounded by good friends, family, and colleagues.

mhohimer@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 247

  Grants & Development

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Amanda Porta
Senior Development Officer

Amanda joined the Y.O.U. team as Senior Development Officer in February 2013. Since that time, she has been working to grow private philanthropy in support of Y.O.U.'s Campaign for Youth Opportunity. Amanda is a graduate of Indiana University. During her time at IU, she discovered her passion for fundraising and nonprofit work. Before joining the development staff of Y.O.U., Amanda worked for almost five years on one of the largest fundraising campaigns in Chicago to build the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. She then joined the team at the National Museum of Mexican Art, where she grew the membership and individual giving programs. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys being outdoors, checking out the latest restaurants, spending time with friends, family and walking her Bernese Mountain Dog.

aporta@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 229

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Leslie Warner
Grants Manager

Leslie is a graduate of Knox College and has lived in Evanston for more than 30 years. She was a research associate for Northwestern University’s Office of Development & Alumni Relations for several years before taking on multiple volunteer roles at Oakton and Chute schools, Evanston Scholastic Chess, Childcare Network of Evanston, the Oakton Historic District Association, and the Evanston Dance Ensemble. Leslie enjoys gardening, bicycling, running, travel, and following the Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Blackhawks.

lwarner@youthopportunity.org 
(847) 866-1200 ext. 242

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Yevanit Reschechtko
Grant Writing and Communications Coordinator

Yevanit was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and then moved to Chicago where she earned her BA in Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. Before Y.O.U., Yevanit tutored second-graders at Beulah Shoesmith Elementary and spent a summer as the arts and garden instructor at the South Chicago Art Center. Yevanit is passionate about working with kids, writing, and traveling. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing ultimate Frisbee, and biking along the lake shore.

yreschechtko@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 227

  Finance

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Dave Studenmund
Grants Accountant

Dave graduated from the Kellogg School of Management in 1985, when he and his wife decided that they liked Evanston too much to leave. Three children and several lesser milestones later, they're still here. Dave has more than 25 years of experience as an executive and consultant in strategic/financial planning for private and nonprofit organizations. He is also known to be a bit of a baseball geek.

dstudenmund@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 101

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Jonea O. Davis
Accounting Manager 
 

Jonea joined Y.O.U. in 2014 and is excited to be amongst so many individuals who are passionate about investing in children and improving their communities. Prior to joining Y.O.U. she worked at The Terra Foundation of American Art, where her love of working for non-profits first began, and also at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. Jonea is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with majors in Accounting and Finance. One of Jonea’s greatest passions is to be of service to her community. She works with several non-profits including Collectively Whole and By The Hand Club for Kids and also serves in the children’s ministry at her church.

jdavis@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 249

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Marla Mazzenga

Business Manager

Marla is part of the Y.O.U. finance team and is responsible for the day-to-day business affairs and assists with the financial reporting. Marla feels honored to be a member of a staff that is dedicated to serving youth and their families. Marla received her BA in Social Welfare from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She previously worked for the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation in Evanston as a paralegal and volunteer. Marla loves live music, gardening, photography and interacting with her 11 great nieces and nephews.

mmazzenga@youthopportunity.org 
(847) 866-1200 ext. 224

  Human Resources

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Alvin Schexnider
Director of Human Resources 

Alvin Schexnider is currently the Director of Human Resources for Youth & Opportunity United. Before joining Y.O.U., Alvin was the Director of Planning, Human Resources, and Administration at UMI/Urban Ministries, Inc., a national social impact company. Prior to that, he was in a two-year management development program for Abbott Laboratories, holding roles in both Chicago and Shanghai where he worked on salesforce recruitment, data reporting, and corporate acquisitions. Alvin holds a BA in Political Science from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Minnesota’s School of Management. In his junior year of college, Alvin spent time learning from the London School of Economics as a Luard Scholar and was a 2015-2016 Fellow through the IMPACT Leadership Development Program — a fellowship managed by the Chicago Urban League and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Alvin enjoys exercising, reminiscing about his gap year experience in Mainland China, and walking The 606 as a resident of Humboldt Park/Logan Square with his wife and beagle. He is a board member for the Chicago Freedom School, and a member of University Church Chicago (Hyde Park), the IMPACT Alumni Association, and Morehouse College Alumni Association-Chicago.  

aschexnider@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 225

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Tara Dolan
Senior Human Resources Coordinator

Tara is a transplant from Massachusetts who graduated from Salem State University with her bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy. Many of her Human Resource theories are based in what she refers to as "The Belichick Way," attributed to Tara's love for the New England Patriots and its coach's unique approach to talent management. She comes to the HR Department at Y.O.U. with experience in nonprofit administration, volunteer management, and recruitment. Prior to working at Y.O.U., Tara served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the YMCA of Metro Chicago Community Schools Initiative, and worked in administration for the Peace Corps Midwest Recruitment Office. She is currently in her second year of study at DePaul University's School of Public Service in pursuit of a Masters of Nonprofit Management. You can chat her up about hockey, fantasy football, camping, gardening, pizza, music and anything on two wheels!

tdolan@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 232

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Becky Moore
Human Resources Coordinator

Becky is originally from Libertyville, IL, and moved back to the Chicagoland area after spending three years studying and working for educational and non-profit organizations in London, England. She holds a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in African Studies and Gender and Women's Studies and a Master's degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) in Development Studies. With a passion for people and Y.O.U.'s programs, Becky is thrilled to be a part of the Human Resources team. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, baking, and spending quality time with her husband and cat.

bmoore@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 233 

  IT

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Melanie West
Information Technology Manager 

Melanie is Y.O.U.'s IT manager and joined Y.O.U. in May of 2013. She was drawn to Y.O.U. because of the holistic nature of the organization and the passionate dedication of the staff. Melanie has over 20 years of professional experience in IT. She spent 10 years as chief engineer of an experimental multimedia studio at Bell Laboratories. During that time Melanie took a leading role on many critical projects. She also has 10 years of experience in the music business as a recording engineer in New York City where she received a Platinum album for her work with the Talking Heads. Because of her interest in children, she spent a considerable amount of her own time training teachers and community centers in technology and the promotion of science. Melanie holds a bachelor’s degree in Music, Electrical Engineering and Communications from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

mwest@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 400

  Program Support

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Ellen Muench
Manager of Program Innovation

As Experiential Learning Coordinator, Ellen has the privilege of working to connect two critical components that make up the foundation of Y.O.U.’s success: the incredible work done every single day by our program staff to support the youth in Evanston and the generous civic spirit that our growing community volunteer base embodies when they donate their time and talents to providing learning opportunities for our youth.

Ellen is a native Evanstonian that graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in government and history. She has worked as an intern at Heartland Alliance’s Refugee and Immigrant Community Services here in Chicago, as well as worked as a Classroom Coach in east Austin, Texas.

Ellen loves being back in Chicago because it has the best of all of the things she loves: used bookstores, record stores and excellent comedy.

emuench@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 323

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Lucy Marcus
Learning & Development Coordinator

Originally from New York City, Lucy recently graduated from Grinnell College where she majored in English and Global Development. Throughout the past four years, Lucy worked as a GED tutor and creative writing teacher in Iowa State Prisons, interned with Encounter, an educational nonprofit, and with McCormick & Williams, an independent literary agency. She also spent two summers as a research assistant at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, supporting an education reform project. Lucy joined Y.O.U. in 2014 as a New Sector Fellow, working as a Special Projects Manager. In her free time, Lucy loves to cook, run outside, and read stories.

lmarcus@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 102

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Casey Varela
Manager of Strategic Partnerships

As Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Casey focuses on developing and managing deep collaborations with partner institutions that ultimately enrich our services for youth and families. Casey first joined Y.O.U. in the summer of 2014 on a consulting basis to research the expansion of the community schools model in Evanston and authored a report providing recommendations to the Evanston Community Schools Initiative Leadership Council.

Casey worked previously as an Associate Director at Heartland Alliance where she coordinated a culinary training program for homeless adults, managed the construction of a community and cultural center, and developed a resident services initiative for affordable housing residents. Casey has been involved throughout the Evanston community over the last decade serving on the McGaw YMCA, Cherry Preschool, and Kingsley PTA Boards of Directors, the C.O.P.E. advisory board, and the Evanston Community Schools Initiative Leadership Council, and is a graduate of Leadership Evanston.

Casey received a BA in sociology from Kenyon College and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Casey was born and raised in Evanston and has returned with her husband, George, to raise their two daughters, Sofia and Madeline. Casey enjoys running, yoga, badminton, walks with Auggie (her puppy), and spending time with family and friends.

cvarela@youthopportunity.org 
(847) 866-1200 ext. 409 

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Carly Tsuda
Strategic Partnerships Associate

Carly joins the Y.O.U. team as a Chicago Public Ally. She recently graduated from St. Olaf College with a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and American Studies and is an alumnus of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Chicago Program. Carly’s past work experience includes internships with Business Partners, the Chamber for Uptown, and the Crossroads Fund. Carly also has a colorful service work background including jobs as a barista, sound technician, theme park ride operator, and bike shop cashier. While at Y.O.U., Carly hopes to learn about building community networks while serving the community's youth. Carly lives in Uptown, Chicago and enjoys reading, playing rugby, and riding her bike on the lakefront.

ctsuda@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 416

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Misha Grifka
Special Assistant to the ED and COO

Michael joined Y.O.U. following his graduation from the University of Chicago in 2014. He majored in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, focusing on comics and the impact of the Internet on media. Michael’s previous experience working with nonprofits includes positions with 826michigan and About Face Theatre. Michael is thrilled to join Y.O.U. to further his goals of working to establish equal opportunities for all peoples. At Y.O.U., Michael splits his time between various departments, trying to ensure that everyone in the organization has what they need to truly make an impact on the community. Michael—or Misha, as his friends call him—lives in Hyde Park with his wife, a cat, and a lot of cooking gadgets.

mgrifka@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 223 

  Program Leaders

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Maria Rassiwalla
Director of Out-of-School Time Programs

Maria currently serves as the Director of Evanston Afterschool Programs where she oversees all dimensions of after school and summer learning programs for District 65 and 202. She manages the implementation of high quality, structured, and intentional programming across eight schools, elementary through high school.

Maria has more than seven years of experience working in the nonprofit and education sector. In her previous positions, Maria was an Extended Day Program Director with Mission Graduates in San Francisco's Mission District where she directed their flagship program. She also holds a Type 10 teaching credential and spent three years designing and implementing visual arts curricula at Byrne Elementary, a K-8 school in Chicago. A strong desire to step in the nonprofit sector after her teaching stint led Maria to conduct volunteer work in Ghana, Africa where she taught art in a remote village school, and shortly after became an AmeriCorps member in Oakland, CA where she empowered the female youth of Oakland through Girls Inc. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Champaign, Urbana where she majored in Art Education.

Maria enjoys traveling, making pottery and most of all trying new foods.

mrassiwalla@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 401

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Megan Orleans 
Associate Director of Out-of-School Time Programs 

Megan currently serves as the Associate Director of Out-of-School-Time Programs where she oversees all dimensions of after school and summer learning programs for the Elementary School sites in District 65. She works alongside the Director of Out-of-School-Time Programs to manage the design and implementation of high quality, structured, and intentional programs at these School sites. Megan is also Y.O.U.'s acting AmeriCorps Program Director. 

Megan earned a BA in Geography/Environmental Studies from UCLA, and is currently working to earn an MEd in Environmental Education. Megan has been managing informal education programs across the country for more than six years, and has worked in a variety of settings ranging from botanic gardens to children’s museums. Megan is thrilled to bring her love for hands-on, experiential learning to Y.O.U.’s Out-of-School-Time programs.

morleans@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 241

  Clinical

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Melody Rose
Director of Youth and Family Counseling

Originally from Tennessee, Melody attended Indiana University and earned her bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice. After her undergraduate studies, she taught seventh grade in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. Melody returned to Indiana to obtain her master’s degree in Social Work with concentration on Children and Families. With seven years at Centerstone, the nation’s largest provider of community-based behavioral healthcare, Melody worked as a home/community-based child and adolescent therapist working primarily with DCFS involved families as well as youth diagnosed with behavioral disorders ages 3-22.

Melody first came to Y.O.U. as Site Coordinator for the afterschool program at ETHS in January 2010 and transitioned into the role of Youth and Family Counselor/Clinical Coordinator starting in August 2011 where she works primarily with youth from ETHS and the young adults in the Street Outreach Program. During her time in clinical practice, Melody has facilitated efficacy-based anger management, CBT, and communication protocols and has specific therapeutic focus on providing trauma-focused individual and family therapy.

mrose@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 327

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Concepcion Benitez
Youth and Family Counselor

Concepcion (Coni) was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the Chicago suburbs at the young age of 11. In 2009 she earned her BA in Psychology from Loyola University. Coni first joined Y.O.U. in 2007 as a work study staff and in 2010 she was hired as a Case Manager for the organization. Coni left in 2013 to pursue her master’s degree in International Counseling Psychology from Alliant International University in Mexico City. She is very excited to now be back at Y.O.U. and work with the population that inspired her to pursue graduate studies in the first place. Coni has a passion for working with under-served populations using a systemic approach. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, spending time with family and friends, getting lost in the Marvel universe and learning random trivia. 

cbenitez@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 333

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Estefanía Elias
Youth and Family Counselor

Estefanía was born and raised in Argentina, and moved to Chicago in 2003 after marrying her husband.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and worked at various companies in Argentina and Chicago. In 2011 she decided to make a career change, pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work at Loyola University.  Estefanía is passionate about making a difference in other’s lives and getting to know people of different cultures. During her free time, she enjoys playing with her cat and dog, exercising, getting crafty, and trying food from different countries.

eelias@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 331

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Carla Smith
Youth and Family Counselor

Carla Smith received a BA in Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College, and a MSW from Loyola University Chicago. Her academic journey was enriched with many amazing experiences. She's studied abroad in Ghana and Thailand, and participated in multiple cultural and social organizations. Carla interned as a Therapist at Uhlich Children's Advantage Network (UCAN), as well as a Prevention Education Specialist at Between Friends Chicago. She's specialized in domestic violence work and group psychotherapy. In 2014, Carla began working at Y.O.U. providing individual therapy with our elementary, middle, and high school youth, and young adults. As a SPARCS Therapist she provides trauma-informed group therapy to youth responding to chronic stress. In addition, Carla co-created, developed, and is coordinating Y.O.U's Clinical Culinary Program called "The Chew". Carla is very passionate about her work with youth and families and aspires to continue to grow in this field.

csmith@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 330 

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Hoyam Tanon
Youth and Family Counselor

Hoyam Tanon is an experienced counselor with more than five years of experience in the nonprofit sector, specifically in development and coordination of counseling services for multicultural and diverse populations including refugees, teens, children and families in group and individual settings. Hoyam’s past experience also includes providing comprehensive mental health, crisis counseling, and conflict resolution services. Hoyam also previously worked as a home/community-based child and adolescent therapist working primarily with the Department of Children and Family Services.

Hoyam received her BS in Counseling Psychology from the Ahfad University for Women in Khartoum, Sudan. She then received her Masters of Community Counseling from Argosy University in Chicago as well as her masters in Community Health and Health Management from Ruppecht-Karls Heidelberg University in Heidelberg, Germany. 

htanon@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 329 

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Dawn Ravine
Manager of Sexuality Education

Dawn has worked with middle and high school aged youth for over 12 years and currently focuses on providing case management and clinical support to Y.O.U.’s program at Nichols Middle School. Dawn received her bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in Sexuality Education in 2001 and spent the following two years in Philadelphia working on an HIV and reproductive health hotline and coordinating health education services within a juvenile detention facility. At that time Dawn also completed 45 hours of domestic violence advocate training and one year of service as a crisis counselor.

In 2003 Dawn moved to New York City to earn her master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University with a focus in Sexuality, Gender, and Health. During her eight years in NYC she: coordinated HIV prevention/ peer education services for girls in alternative to incarceration, served on the Juvenile Justice Coalition Steering Committee; spent four years as a Sexuality Education Specialist in a Children’s Aid Society community school; and worked with a team developing comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for national use in middle school settings.   

Dawn is passionate about bringing her experience back to her home town of Evanston, returning in 2012 to work with Y.O.U. program staff and community partners to bring high-quality sexuality education programming to all Y.O.U. middle and high school programs and increasing supports for LGBTQQAI and gender non-conforming youth. 

dravine@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 236

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Trevor Pontillo
Youth and Family Case Manager

Trevor is a graduate of Lake Forest College and is working towards a master’s degree in social work at Dominican University. Trevor started at Y.O.U. as an AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member at Chute Middle School (go #TeamChute!), and is excited to now be a part of the clinical team. Being a part of Y.O.U. enables Trevor to pursue his passion of youth development behind a clinical lens. Trevor loves to run groups centered on creative interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy, and wilderness therapy. In his free time, Trevor enjoys rooting for Chicago sports teams, exploring the outdoors, and walking his dog, Chancho.

tpontillo@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 332

  Community Schools
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Erin Moore
Director of Community Schools

Erin is thrilled to lead Y.O.U.’s efforts to develop a community school initiative in Skokie and Niles Township.  Previously, she held the position of Community School Coordinator at a Chicago Public School through a collaboration with Family Focus. Erin also worked on parent engagement at a Family Literacy program at Albany Park Community Center supporting immigrant parents. Erin has a BA from Wesleyan University in Urban Studies and American Studies. She speaks Spanish due to extended study in Nicaragua and Mexico. When she is not working in the field of education, Erin loves to do yoga, ride her bike, and spend time with friends and family.

emoore@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 251

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Amy LaDuke
Community Schools Manager, Chute Middle School

Amy is originally from Wisconsin, where she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies. After her studies at UW, Amy spent two years serving as a Youth and Family Advocate AmeriCorps member. Most recently, Amy worked as a Community Schools Coordinator in a Chicago Public School through a collaboration with Family Focus. Amy couldn’t be happier to be a member of the team at Y.O.U. as a Community Schools Manager where she is able to bring her passion for community organizing, leadership development, and coordination of services. Outside of work, Amy loves to maintain her fluency in Spanish by traveling and dancing flamenco. ¡Olé!

aladuke@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 253

  Street Outreach

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Antasia Maddox
Street Outreach Program Manager

Antasia was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Youth Studies. After receiving her degree she moved to Chicago and began working for nonprofit agencies helping young adults reach their goals. She enjoys talking, art, cooking, walking in parks and playing with her two dogs and cat.

amaddox@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 283

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Emeric Mazibuko
Street Outreach Case Manager

Emeric Mazibuko waans born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where he began his tertiary education in Early Childhood Development and Education. In America, he received a bachelor's degree in Sound Contracting and Acoustics with a minor in Cultural Studies. Emeric is a passionate and self-taught photographer and has been freelancing for almost fifteen years. He worked in the positive youth development capacity around the Chicagoland area before coming to Y.O.U. As a Y.O.U. veteran of almost five years, Emeric serves in the Y.O.U. Street Outreach program, the Y.O.U. Evanston Township Connect Center and the Allied Against Violence Project (AAV).

Emeric believes that every child has talent latent within them, and education and art are the tools we have at our disposal to tap into this potential. Emeric is a resident of Evanston and when not at work, he enjoys spending his time with his wife and six year old son.

emazibuko@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 281

  Chute Team

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Janese Johnson-Meyer
Middle School Team Leader and Afterschool Program Manager, Chute Middle School

Janese was born in Chicago and has lived all over the city and suburbs.  She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, applied emphasis in Family & Family Services. After college, she performed a year of service in the AmeriCorps program, serving the West Town and Austin communities and worked for five years as Lead Residential Counselor for the Boys Hope Girls Hope program in Evanston, IL. In her free time, Janese loves cooking, spending time with family and friends and watching her favorite TV show Jeopardy!. She is passionate about education, service in the community, volunteering with her sorority and involvement in her local church. 

jmeyer@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 322

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Abby Marder
Youth Development Specialist

Abby Marder is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BA in Consumer and Family Services. She's a die-hard Buckeye fan and enjoys playing sports (Chicago weather permitting). On the weekends you can find her exploring the many Chicago neighborhoods in search of the city's best restaurants and art/music festivals. Her love for youth and of community service fuels her goal to achieve a Masters in Social Work. Long-term visions for Abby include completing research at a university and running a nonprofit. As her career progresses, Abby aspires to travel the world. First stops: India, China, Japan and Thailand.

amarder@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 328 

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Graig Tertulien
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member 

Graig is an Evanston Township alum who participated in Y.O.U. as a student since the 6th grade. Currently, Graig is working towards a bachelor’s degree in Film at Columbia College Chicago. Graig returned to Y.O.U. as an AmeriCorpsY.O.U.th Serve Member in the hopes of influencing the students at Y.O.U. the way that he was influenced when he was in the program. During his free time Graig enjoys going to his church, working on short films, performing, and writing both scripts and music. 

gtertulien@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 324

  Dawes Team

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Simone Hampton
Afterschool Program Manager, Dawes Elementary School

Simone received her BA from Hampton University in 2008. She first joined the Y.O.U. team in 2009 as a Youth Development Specialist at Oakton Elementary School. After an extensive 10-month apprenticeship with Public Allies, she returned to Y.O.U. in the fall of 2011 where she served as a Y.O.U.th Serve Member. She dually served as a Youth Development Specialist at both Oakton and Dawes Elementary Schools. Simone is currently the After School Program Manager at Dawes Elementary School, where she hopes to continue to share her experiences and skill sets learned as a youth development specialist with peers and the community. She has extensive experience and immense passion for working with youth and development and planning of high quality afterschool programming. In her spare time, Simone likes to travel, read, volunteer and spend time with family and friends.

shampton@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 265

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Sidika Balogun
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Sidika is from Chicago, and holds a degree in Family Consumer Science with a focus in Family relations and Human development. Sidika received her BA from Illinois State University (ISU) in May of 2015. Sidika used to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of America in Bloomington-Normal and was a former teaching assistant at ISU. Sidika joined the Y.O.U. team because of her passion about investing in our youth’s future. Sidika believes that youth deserve to have positive outlets to develop and grow. Sidika hopes to gain an understanding of the type of environment that youth need in order to thrive and reach their full potential. Sidika enjoys D.I.Y. projects, traveling around the world and she hopes to get a master's degree in Social Work.

sbalogun@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 503

Edison Team

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Peter McGraw
Afterschool Program Manager, Edison Elementary School

Pete is excited to serve as the Y.O.U. Afterschool Program Manager at Edison Elementary School in Morton Grove. Pete has worked in the elementary, middle, and high school programs during his time at Y.O.U. Pete truly cherishes the relationships he has built with students, families, and school staff throughout Skokie, Morton Grove, and Evanston. Through his work, Pete is able to connect with youth and learn from them as they develop their skills and interests.

Originally from New Lenox, Illinois, Pete graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where he was first introduced to Y.O.U.'s outstanding work. He is an avid supporter of the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox, and he enjoys taking walks and watching movies in his free time. Pete is an uncle to 12 nieces and nephews, and he relies on his family and friends for support and guidance.

pmcgraw@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 402 

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Gladys Ijelu
Youth Development Specialist

Gladys, a Chicago native, recently graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. While at UIC, she was involved in several student organizations including Chancellor's Committee, Student Activities Board, Student Advisory Board, UIC Gospel Choir and the UIC Chance Program.

Before attending college, Gladys took time off to do a year of service with AmeriCorps. Gladys served with City Year Chicago, at Howe School of Excellence in Chicago. It is through that experience that her passion for working with youth in the non-profit sector grew tremendously. In her spare time, Gladys enjoys volunteering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, spending time with family and friends, traveling, cooking, and singing.

gijelu@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 403

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Katherine Wade
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Katherine “Katie” Wade is from Riverside, a town in the west suburbs of Chicago. Katie attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison where she received her BS in Community and Nonprofit Leadership with a focus in Educational Psychology (go Badgers!). Katie spent a year as an AmeriCorps member with City Year – Chicago, serving in the Rogers Park community at Roger C. Sullivan High School in a freshman English classroom. This experience solidified her desire to continue directly serving youth to help them reach their full potential and is excited to join the Y.O.U. Edison team. In her free time, Katie can be found exploring Chicago, checking out new restaurants, cooking or spending times with her friends and family.

kwade@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 504

  ETHS Team

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Emily E. Roth
Associate Director of Evanston Township High School (ETHS) CONNECT

Emily Roth was raised in Evanston, IL and has been a part of the Y.O.U. family since February 2013. Emily previously served as the Y.O.U. Afterschool Program Manager at Dawes Elementary School and Y.O.U. Elementary Team Leader. She is an ETHS graduate who earned her BA in Public Policy: Urban Studies and American Politics from DePaul University in 2010. During her time at DePaul, Emily worked as an AmeriCorps Jumpstart Corps member at two Chicago public schools and served as a S.T.A.R.S. mentor to low-income, first-generation, minority college students.

After falling in love with Ghana during her semester abroad in college, Emily returned to Ghana in summer 2010 to spend a few months working alongside villagers on a school improvement project. When she returned, she worked for an after-school program through the YMCA of Metro Chicago.

Emily has a deep passion for working with youth and families in the urban out-of-school time setting. When Emily isn't working, you will most likely find her on a soccer pitch, performing on a Chicago stage, or traveling. 

eroth@youthopportunity.org

Y.O.U. Office: (847) 866-1200 ext. 243
ETHS Office: (847) 424-7737

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Randy Johnson
Youth Development Specialist

Randy is a native of Evanston and graduated from King Arts and ETHS. Randy attended Quincy University where he took leadership opportunities working as a student adviser for both the Men's Awareness Committee and the First Year Leadership Experience while also serving as President of Brother of Unity. Randy graduated Quincy University with a BA in Human Services. After college Randy continued working with youth and also ventured out to become a case worker at a nursing home for mentally ill adults. Randy joined the Y.O.U. family in March 2015 and hopes to impact youth lives. In his free time Randy enjoys volunteering with the Partnership to Educate and Advance Kids (PEAK) in Chicago.

rjohnson@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 406 

  King Lab Team

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Jafet Melendez
Afterschool Program Manager

Jafet enjoys making a positive impact in our youth in Evanston. Jafet was born and raised in Mexico City and lived there for eleven years before moving to Chicago in 2004. Since then he has continued his education by attending Noble Street College Prep, where he was involved in many activities and sports, including rugby for four years, leading his younger teammates to become better players. He was also involved in the cross country team, which he led in his senior year. Jafet attended Camp VIDA for youth in 2009. Jafet attended the City Colleges of Chicago, where he received his associate’s degree in Art. Jafet transferred to Northeastern University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Jafet enjoys trying new things and adventures. He also loves to play sports, is a marathon runner and has run the Chicago marathon three times and is also a skydiver.

jmelendez@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 212

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George Folz
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, George finds himself back home and working for Y.O.U. after eight years of living in the more often than not frozen city of Minneapolis. A practicing cartoonist whose artwork has been written about in five different languages and earned him press from Time and The AV Club amongst many others, George graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2010. He looks forward to teaching art throughout his career, emboldening the next generation of dreamers. He currently works with middle schoolers at King Arts focusing on various art-related enrichment groups.

George enjoys pinch harmonics, naturally occurring color gradients, green tea, and meditation.

gfolz@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 254

  Lincoln Jr. High Team

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Erika Alcibar
Afterschool Program Manager, Lincoln Jr. High School

Erika Alcibar earned her BA in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University. Erika has worked in the non-profit sector since the beginning of her career and has served diverse populations, focusing on issues such as housing, tenants’ rights, domestic violence, teen dating violence, and education.

Erika found her true passion in working with youth and decided to focus on the development and implementation of high-quality programming for youth. As the Afterschool Program Manager for the Y.O.U. Spartans Program at Lincoln Jr. High School, Erika's work is focused on building strong relationships with youth, families, and school staff to implement innovative programming that supports youth in reaching their unlimited potential. In her free time, Erika enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Some of her favorite things include coffee, music, art, origami, food and exploring the city.

ealcibar@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 405 

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Michael West
Youth Development Specialist

Michael is a local product, growing up 20 minutes north of the Evanston/Skokie area in Highland Park, IL. Michael recently graduated from Miami University in 2014 with a degree in Middle Childhood Education with concentrations in Math and Language Arts.

Outside of his university experience, Michael has spent a lot of time working with youth in all settings. Michael has experience tutoring youth, as well as coaching baseball and basketball with youth at the junior high level. Before coming to Y.O.U., Michael spent a year as a teacher’s assistant at Northwood Jr. High. When not involved with Y.O.U., Michael enjoys spending time with his wife, cheering on the local Northwestern Wildcats, and traveling. Michael is beyond excited to begin his journey at Y.O.U. and to develop long-lasting relationships.

mcwest@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 413

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Chanquel Jones
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Chanquel Jones’s undying passion for working with youth led her to pursue a BSW in Social Work from Western Illinois University with a minor in Forensic Psychology. Chanquel will be attending Loyola University next year to pursue her MSW with a concentration in non-profit and school social work. Chanquel’s experience working with youth includes interning with the Department of Children and Family Services, working as a residential and day camp Girl Scout counselor, volunteering as a college core member for three high school Pay It Forward tours with an organization called Students Today Leaders Forever, and leading a high school leadership camp. Chanquel continues to work with youth because nothing feels better to her than knowing she made an impact on someone's life for the better. Chanquel loves working with Y.O.U. because it allows her to put her professional skills to the test and allows her to devote her time and heart to making a difference in our communities.

cjones@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 508

  Nichols Team

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Matt Gauen
Afterschool Program Manager, Nichols Middle School

Matt is very excited to be joining Y.O.U. after spending the past three years serving with AmeriCorps. Matt moved to Chicago after graduating with a BS in Theatrical Studies from Ball State University. He spent a year as a Corps Member with City Year Chicago, serving as a full-time tutor and mentor at Chicago Vocational High School. He returned for a second year with City Year as a Team Leader at the same school, and spent the past year as a Program Coordinator for Playworks Illinois at an elementary school in Englewood, Chicago. Matt also worked as a camp counselor and a team leader at Presbyterian Camps in Saugatuck, Michigan for four summers.

Matt has a passion for social justice and for working with and empowering youth. He enjoys leading and participating in service projects, including those led by City Year Chicago, and volunteering with various non-profits around the city. In his spare time, Matt enjoys running, playing guitar, exploring his neighborhood in Chicago, and following various sports teams, perhaps a little obsessively. When he can, he keeps in touch with his amazing parents, two sisters and brother-in-law, who are always there for advice and support. (And his dog Kami, who's also very supportive). 

mgauen@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 412 

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Noelle Velasco
Youth Development Specialist

Noelle a Chicago native is thrilled to be joining Y.O.U. as the Youth Development Specialist at Nichols Middle School. Noelle graduated from Columbia College with a BA in Theatre Arts. Since then, she has worked as a teaching artist in numerous CPS locations in both in-school and after school programs. Last fall, Noelle co-directed an Evanston-youth original with Mudlark Theater. Noelle is a proud company member of Halcyon Theatre in Albany Park where she also served as a teaching artist for their arts integration program with Henry Elementary. For the past three summers, Noelle acted as a camp counselor for Art Start, a summer arts camp for young creatives. It was in this capacity where she solidified her love for arts education.

In her spare time, Noelle enjoys discovering new restaurants and photographing hidden gems around the city. She's into chocolate, the Chicago Bulls, hip-hop lyrics in different languages and micro pigs. 

nvelasco@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 414

  Oakton Team

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Emily Fishman
Elementary Age Team Lead and Afterschool Program Manager, Oakton Elementary School

Emily is originally from Highland Park, IL and is a graduate of Indiana University's School of Public Health. In high school, Emily found a passion for youth work while tutoring and mentoring middle school students. In college she volunteered for many public health organizations and decided to join the Y.O.U. team in 2013 as a Y.O.U.th Serve Member. As the After School Program Manager at Oakton, Emily hopes to engage youth and families in productive academic, social, and emotional growth activities so they can continue to impact their lives and the lives of others around them. In her free time, Emily likes to read, swim and spend time with her friends and family. 

efishman@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 326

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Ivan Guadarrama
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member 

Ivan Guadarrama proudly graduated from DePaul University with a BA in psychology, the first in his family to graduate college. A Chicago native, Ivan has spent more than 20 years in Humbolt Park. Ivan first came to Y.O.U. as a 2015 Inspire Fellow and now joins the Y.O.U. Oakton program as an AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member. Ivan’s favorite pastimes are soccer and anything soccer-related, whether it’s watching it, reading about it or playing it.

iguadarrama@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 506

Old Orchard Team
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Katherine Rack
Afterschool Program Manager, Old Orchard Junior High

Katherine grew up in Oak Park, IL and has always enjoyed being an active member in her community.  During her time studying at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, she served a summer term as an AmeriCorps member with the Illinois Public Health Association. Katherine graduated with dual BA degrees in Anthropology and Sociology with a concentration in Public Health and Community Development. Katherine worked with Y.O.U. as an AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member and then a Youth Development Specialist at Oakton Elementary School, and is excited to now continue her work at Old Orchard Jr. High as an Afterschool Program Manager.  Katherine’s two most meaningful life experiences have been working with children during volunteer service trips abroad in rural Ghana and Cusco in Peru.  Katherine is excited to continue on the path of service to community through positive youth development during her time at Youth & Opportunity United.

krack@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 301

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Shirley Khong
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Shirley Khong graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Social Work. Before joining Y.O.U. during the summer of 2014, Shirley was a Summer Community Advocate intern at The Family Advocacy of Champaign County where she co-facilitated a Restorative Justice Training for youth aged 12-14. This past summer, she had worked as a Y.O.U. Inspire Fellow at Old Orchard Junior High where she taught both Civic Leadership and Gardening electives. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking a variety of Asian dishes, reading novels, writing, and catching up with friends. 

skhong@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 505

Walker Team

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Hannah Steinman
Afterschool Program Manager, Walker Elementary School 

Hannah is an Evanston native who is thrilled to join the Y.O.U. staff as the Afterschool Program Manager for Walker Elementary School. Hannah was a Special Education Teacher in Chicago Public Schools for five years where she initiated many new afterschool programs focused on health and fitness. After seeing the benefits of structured out-of-school time for youth, Hannah was ready to return to Evanston to pursue her passion for youth development in the nonprofit sector. Hannah earned a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in International Studies and Human Rights and her Master's degree in the Art of Teaching Special Education from National-Louis University. In college Hannah studied in Buenos Aires for a year where she fell in love with travel, cultural exploration, and the Spanish language. Hannah is an avid runner, yogi, cook, and traveler.

hsteinman@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 404 

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John Gallagher III
Youth Development Specialist

John was born and raised in Cleveland, OH, and has spent the last seven years bouncing around the Midwest. In their travels, John received an undergraduate degree in Social Work and Gender Studies while attending Saint Louis University. Their academic journey next led them to Ann Arbor, MI where they successfully completed their Masters of Social Work in Community Organizing and Interpersonal Practice at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. 

After moving from East Harlem, NYC in August, John joined the Y.O.U. Team at the beginning of September. John brings a deep commitment to Social Justice and a passion for identity-based conflict navigation to the organization’s skill set. In their free time, John enjoys exploring Chicago and learning more about the multiversity of the city.

jgallagher@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 415

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Victoria Robbins
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Victoria has been working with Y.O.U. since summer 2014, starting as an Inspire Fellow at Y.O.U.’s elementary summer program site and now working as an AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member at Dawes Elementary School. Victoria graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science in 2013. Victoria spends most of her time hanging out with her sister and best friend who encourage and follow her passion for movies. Victoria now owns close to 300 movies. Victoria hopes to make a difference in the world and is excited that Y.O.U. provides her with that opportunity.

trobbins@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 300

  Washington Team

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Froilan Landeros
Afterschool Program Manager, Washington Elementary School

Born and raised in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Froilan has spent his entire life in the Chicago area. As a teenager, he moved to Evanston and spent his high school years as a scholar in Boys Hope Girls Hope program.  Following his graduation from DePaul University with a bachelor's degree in Women's and Gender Studies, he did an AmeriCorps year with Public Allies, working as a crisis call center supervisor at the National Runaway Safeline (NRS).  He remained at NRS as a volunteer supervisor for nine years before joining Y.O.U.

Froilan is an avid bike mechanic and cycling advocate. He helped to start a non-profit bike shop called the Recyclery, which is located at the border of Evanston and Rogers Park. You can still find him there on the weekends, facilitating classes and creating programs for youth and adults.

flanderos@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 272 

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Kathryn Conrath
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member 

Kathryn earned her BA in Sociology and a minor in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. Kathryn started with Y.O.U. as a volunteer, work study student and Inspire Fellow before joining the Washington team as a AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve member.  Kathryn feels incredibly lucky to continue working at Y.O.U. helping youth become the best versions of themselves. Outside of Y.O.U. Kathryn’s passions are running, watching Netflix and hanging out with her dog, Payton.

kconrath@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 507

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Connor Hanna
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Originally from Ipswich, Massachusetts, Connor is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where Connor majored in French literature and minored in music. While at school, Connor helped found a New Orleans-style music group called the Dirt Red Brass Band, volunteered at Gary Comer College Prep through the Neighborhood Schools Program, and joined Y.O.U. as a 2015 Inspire Fellow at Washington Elementary after graduation. An aspiring public high school teacher, Connor is excited to learn as much as possible from their fellow staff and the program experience in general. In the future, Connor hopes to study language or music education in graduate school.

In their spare time, Connor plays a few different instruments (saxophone, guitar, and piano), watches Kurosawa movies, bikes along the lake, and listens to as wide of a variety of music as they can (recommendations welcome!).

channa@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 501