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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Marianne Moberly
Interim Executive Director and 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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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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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

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Nikki Streets
Director of Human Resources 

Nikki joined Y.O.U. in 2016.  Prior to this, she was the Director of Human Resources for Chicago Children's Museum.  She brings over 10 years of experience to the HR team along with a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University.  Nikki's experience has provided her the opportunity to develop training and development programs, influence employee relations, move forward HR strategies & initiatives, and manage compensation/benefits plans.  
Nikki believes the people are the best asset to any organization; it is the responsibility of HR to balance staff advocacy with the business needs of the organization.  Nikki currently resides in Chicago with her husband and their two beautiful children.  She loves a good laugh, great food, and being around passionate people!

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

  Grants & Development

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Katherine Wade
Development and Communications Associate 

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 joined the Y.O.U. team serving as an AmeriCorps YouthServe member at Edison Elementary school. Katie is now excited to join the development team as the Development and Communications Associate. In her free time, Katie can be found exploring Chicago, checking out new restaurants, cooking or spending time with her friends and family.

kwade@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 221

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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 lakeshore.

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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Xujia Guo 
Accounting Clerk 
  

Xujia Guo joined Y.O.U in April 2017. She has her B.A in Business Management from Northwood University and M.S in International Business Administration from Central Michigan University. Xujia moved to Lake Bluff, IL in 2014. She loves this peaceful and quiet small town in the north shore, where her adorable daughter Annabel was born. Prior to Y.O.U, Xujia has been in non-profit for 3 years. She served as a volunteer at Lake County Care and bookkeeper at Mother Trust Foundation in Lake Forest. She considers her life is a journey, working with people who have passion and strong commitment to making changes in kids’ lives is always one of the most joyful and memorable parts of this journey. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and discovering tasty foods with her families. 

xguo@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 417

  Human Resources

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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 Director

Melanie is Y.O.U.'s IT Director 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

  Administrative Support                                                        
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Kelli-Ann Alcott
Operations Manager

Kelli-Ann Alcott joined the Y.O.U. team in 2016 as the Operations Manager and is thrilled to be part of an organization that is dedicated to the whole child and the community at large. She has lived in Evanston for over 20 years and earned her BA in Political Science from Northeastern Illinois University. She is a proud resident of the Evanston’s Fifth Ward who has over 10 years of experience in nonprofit administrative functions and a long history of local and international service. She currently serves on a number of committees and is a graduate of the Evanston Citizen’s Police Academy. In her spare time, Kelli-Ann can be found cooking, hunting for new grocery stores, making new items, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

(847) 866-1200 ext. 421

  Program Support

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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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Tara Dolan
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Program Manager

Tara is a transplant from Massachusetts, who resides in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. She holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from DePaul University's School of Public Service, where her capstone focused on the efficacy, retention, training, and development of youth workers. Tara previously worked on the HR team at Y.O.U., during which time she obtained a certificate in Nonprofit Human Resources from Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business. Prior to working at Y.O.U., Tara served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the YMCA of Metro Chicago and worked in administration for the Peace Corps. She is passionate about volunteer service, youth allyship, and supporting others in their professional journey to do impactful work. In her spare time, she coordinates an artistic youth mentoring program in Logan Square called Ag47.

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

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Chris Essex
Maker Manager

Christopher is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, with a degree in Media and Information and a concentration in TV, Cinema, and Radio. 

In his spare time, you could find him reading, playing Rocket League, or Netflixing (and yes that's a thing). He is very passionate about fostering positive youth relationships and his favorite quote is "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” by Frederick Douglass. Last but not least Go Green!!!

cessex@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 514

  Program Directors

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Megan Orleans 
Director of Elementary OST Programs 

Megan currently serves as the Director of Elementary Out-of-School-Time Programs where she oversees all dimensions of after school and summer learning programs for Y.O.U.'s elementary school sites. She manages the design and implementation of high quality, structured, and intentional programs at these five school sites.

Megan earned a BA in Geography/Environmental Studies from UCLA and is currently working to earn a 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

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Melody Rose
Director of Clinical and Outreach Services

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 a 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 worked primarily with youth from ETHS and the young adults in the Street Outreach Program. In 2015, she transitioned into her current role as Y.O.U.'s Director of Clinical and Outreach Services. During her time in clinical practice, Melody has facilitated efficacy-based anger management, CBT, and communication protocols and has a specific therapeutic focus on providing trauma-focused individual and family therapy.

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

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Emily E. Roth
Director of High School OST Programs 

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

  Clinical

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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
Senior 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
Senior Youth and Family Counselor

Carla Smith received a BA in Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College, and an 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
Family Engagement Counselor, MA. LPC.NCC.

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 in 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 youth for over 15 years. Dawn received her bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in Sexuality Education in 2001 and spent the following two years in Philadelphia answer calls for the city's 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 DV crisis counselor.

In 2003 Dawn moved to New York City to earn her master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University in the Sexuality, Gender & Health track. During her eight years in NYC she: coordinated HIV prevention/ peer education services for girls an alternative to incarceration, served on the city's Juvenile Justice Coalition Steering Committee and Youth Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition, spent four years as the 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 hometown of Evanston, returning in 2012 to work with Y.O.U. program staff and community partners to bring high-quality comprehensive sexuality education programming to all Y.O.U. middle and high school programs and increasing supports and equity for LGBTQ+ youth.

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

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Trevor Pontillo
Youth and Family Counselor 

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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Allison Kiboi
Community Schools Manager, Lincoln Junior High School

Allison is an Evanstonian returning after spending the last several years in Iowa. She attended the University of Iowa where she received a BSW from the School of Social Work. Allison spent her time in Iowa working within the school system as a student and family advocate and is excited to continue working in the schools as a part of the Y.O.U. Community Schools team!

(847) 866-1200 ext. 420
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Christopher Rapisarda
Community Schools Manager, Martin Luther King Laboratory School 

After growing up in Evanston, Christopher is happy to return to the area and join Y.O.U.Christopher attended the University of Michigan for undergrad and graduate school, where he earned an MSW in Community Organization with a Youth focus. Since that time, Christopher has worked with students and communities as an educator, facilitator, and community organizer. He is eager to apply these lessons as Community School Manager at King Arts. Outside of work, Christopher enjoys the company of friends and family, playing board and card games, and all things musical.

(847) 866-1200 ext. 419  

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Shay Norman
Community Schools Manager, Chute Middle School

Shay Norman is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After undergrad at UNC-Charlotte, she attended an Obama rally on campus where she had the great revelation to move to Chicago only knowing one person. After doing some acting and improv across the city, she began teaching performing arts in Chicago Public Schools where her purpose for community engagement and leadership was realized! She is currently pursuing her Master's in Education at Loyola University (#GoRamblers). After being a Community Resource Coordinator at Skinner North, she feels lucky to find a home in Y.O.U. and is excited to create memories with the students, families and Evanston community at Chute Middle School! Speaking of lucky, her dog Mr. Lucky is the cutest Morkie ever!

(847) 866-1200 ext. 422
  Street Outreach

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Emeric Mazibuko
Street Outreach Case Manager

Emeric Mazibuko was 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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Aina Cambridge
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member 

Aina is a Chicago native raised in the Albany Park neighborhood. Aina attended middle school at the Waldorf School in Rogers Park and graduated high school from St. Ignatius College Prep in 2012. She attended Depaul University pursuing a degree in Women and Gender Studies. Aina has a passion for social justice and direct service and is proud to be apart of the Y.O.U. community that teaches her new ways to improve her youth development skills each day. During her free time, Aina enjoys live shows, cooking, exploring new restaurants, and taking advantage of her proximity to the beach (weather permitting).

acambridge@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 512

  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 then 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

Edison Team
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Emma White
AmeriCorps Youth Serve Member

Emma is a Skokie native, having lived in Skokie for nearly 15 years. She joined Y.O.U. in 2016 as an AmeriCorps Y.O.Uth Serve member for Thomas Edison Elementary school. She recently graduated from The University of Iowa with a Bachelor's degree in Social Work, a Minor in Human Relations, and a Certificate in Critical Cultural Competence. Emma is a passionate advocate for social justice and social change, with a special focus on equity in education. Emma's long-term goal is to obtain a Master's degree in Social Work and Public Policy. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, reading, and exploring Netflix! 
"To educate a child is to turn walls into doors."

ewhite@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 525

  ETHS Team

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Janelle Norman
Manager of Post-Secondary Success

Janelle was born and raised in Chicago, primarily in South Shore and Hyde Park. After graduating from Walter Payton College Prep, she attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she first began mentoring young adults. As an undergraduate, Janelle majored in Global Studies and French language, with a concentration in International Development, and spent a semester abroad studying in Cameroon.

She joined the Y.O.U. family in 2016 after having spent two years with Chicago Public Schools as a Post-Secondary Coach. Previously, she served as a College Access & Outreach Specialist with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and with City Year Chicago at Roberto Clemente Community Academy as a Corps Member.

Janelle is a fan of Game of Thrones and an all-around TV buff. In her free time, she collects books and music, and enjoys traveling, reading, and brunch.

jnorman@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 424

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Randy Johnson
Senior 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 caseworker 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, Martin Luther King Laboratory School

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

  Lincoln Jr. High Team

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Nancy Moreno
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Nancy was born and raised in the Pilsen community from the lower west side of Chicago. Nancy graduated from Northeastern Illinois University and earned her BA in Social Work making her the first college graduate in her family. Nancy interned at Youth Crossroads Inc. in Berwyn serving local youth in the community and plans to continue her passion helping youth at Y.O.U. as an Americorps Y.O.U.th Serve member. Nancy hopes to expand her education next year and earn her masters at Loyola to continue working with youth. Nancy enjoys attending concerts and spending time with her friends, family, and her dog Milo. 

nmoreno@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 519

Photo Coming Soon!

Beck Helgeson
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Beck is a native of Lake Villa, Illinois, a small suburb near the Wisconsin border, with strong family roots in the Morton Grove and Skokie area. Michigan also holds a special place in her heart, as she earned her B.A. at Michigan State University, where she studied Arts and Humanities as well as Anthropology. 
Beck's passion for teaching and youth work began during a study abroad trip to Mali, in West Africa, where she used arts and active learning methods to teach basic English to elementary and middle school students. Since then, Beck has had a variety of jobs and internships in informal education, primarily in museums. Most recently, she spent a year teaching workshops and facilitating learning through play at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, MI.
Outside of work, Beck's other passions include food, intersectional feminism, music and theater, and her dog, a chihuahua named Clove.

bhelgeson@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 516

  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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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 make a difference in our communities.

(847) 866-1200 ext. 508

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

Travon George, or "Tray," was born and raised on the southside of Chicago. Tray was raised in a single-family household and moved around the Chicago area a few times and is a product of Chicago Public schools. He enrolled into Urban prep Charter Academy For Young Men as a freshman in 2006 and graduated in 2010. Afterward, Tray went to college in Ohio at Denison University and then transferred to Eastern Illinois University where he is currently a senior working towards his Bachelor's in Sociology. Tray got involved with social justice while working with the Chicago Freedom Schools as a sophomore in high school. He was inspired to make a change and influence youth coming from a low-income community surrounded by street violence and drugs.

Tray has worked with at-risk youth for the past three years around Chicago and Evanston and is glad to have the opportunity to be a part of AmeriCorps and to be a part of the middle school team with Nichols. Tray likes to travel, play sports, socialize with friends and listen to music. He also likes to learn about different cultures through forms of “Arts”. His goal for this school year is to grow as a mentor and to build his leadership skills and also to build stable relationships with youth. He wants to help meet youth's needs to the best of his ability.

(847) 866-1200
  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

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

Walker Team

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Victoria Robbins
Afterschool Program Manager, Walker Elementary School

Victoria has been working with Y.O.U. since the summer of 2014, starting as an Inspire Fellow at Y.O.U.’s elementary summer program site and then working as an AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member at Dawes and then Walker Elementary Schools before transitioning to being the Afterschool Program Manager at Walker in the fall of 2016. 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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Connor Hanna
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Originally from Ipswich, Massachusetts, Connor is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where they 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 school teacher, Connor is excited to pursue an intersectional approach to education, mental health, and identity.

In their spare time, Connor writes music about gender and body dysphoria, bikes along the lake, and tries to expand their perspective by exploring as wide a variety of music and writing as possible, with an emphasis on works from marginalized cultures and individuals (recommendations welcome)!

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

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Megan Pilquist
AmeriCorps Y.O.U.th Serve Member

Megan, born and raised in Stillwater, MN, moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University Chicago where she earned degrees in Political Science and International Studies. She took advantage of her time in school to travel, visiting Tunisia twice with Loyola’s study abroad travel course, and spending a semester in London, England, where, as a Hansard Scholar, she interned with a member of the UK Parliament. However, the most influential part of her time in undergrad was working at the National Runaway Safeline where she provided crisis-intervention to runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth and their families. In her free time, Megan volunteers at a women’s shelter in Chicago, bakes lots of cookies, and bikes around the city to find the perfect coffee shop to spend hours reading in.

mpilquist@youthopportunity.org
(847) 866-1200 ext. 520