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Executive Leadership Team

John Valverde

 President and CEO

John Valverde is the President and CEO of YouthBuild USA. He joined YouthBuild in 2017 after decades of work as an advocate for creating access to opportunity and removing barriers for formerly incarcerated and low-income people.

John began working with imprisoned individuals in 1992 to ensure access to HIV/AIDS counseling, high school equivalency instruction, alternatives to violence programs, and college education. In 1995, responding to the gap created by the elimination of TAP and Pell funding for people in prison, he led an initiative to develop and deliver a college-level certificate program, the Certificate in Ministry and Human Services. Today called Rising Hope, this program continues in several New York State prisons. In 1998, he co-founded Hudson Link for Higher Education, the first privately funded accredited college program in New York’s prisons. More than 450 students in prison have graduated from Hudson Link, which has grown to serve five prisons with six college partners.

In 2009, John worked with a team at the Osborne Association to create New York City’s first green jobs training program exclusively for people with criminal records. As Osborne’s Executive Vice President, John launched, managed, and led programs including children, youth, and family services; substance abuse treatment; workforce development; community benefit projects; financial literacy; health and wellness services; housing; alternatives to incarceration; mentoring and leadership development; and social enterprises. John has led teams that offer multiple evidence-based interventions, with a trauma-informed approach, to distinct populations that range from very young children to the elderly.

As a steady and persistent advocate for creating access, John has worked with city, state, and federal agencies to develop and operate proven job readiness and placement programs. He forged Osborne’s first relationships with labor unions and has served on the Board of Pathways to Apprenticeship that supports individuals from traditionally underserved communities gain access to apprenticeship programs.

John often serves as a keynote speaker at important and related events to share his personal story of transformation and second chances. As a young man who was incarcerated at 21, John’s work to accept responsibility for his actions and commit to making amends started him on a journey of redemption that allowed him to imagine and build a new future. Though he was incarcerated for almost 16 years, John is now recognized as a proven leader and example for people affected by the criminal justice system. John’s personal and professional life embodies the work of YouthBuild and is a powerful representation of its mission. He is the proud recipient of the 2018 Brian S. Fischer Achievement Award from Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. This award is presented annually to a formerly incarcerated leader who has made an impact by advocating for positive change in the world.

John is a graduate of Aspen Institute’s Sector Skills Academy and a 2018 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. John received his Master of Professional Studies in Urban Ministry from the New York Theological Seminary and holds a Bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Mercy College.

Michael Brotchner

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Cross

President, YouthBuild International

Gina Plata

Chief Program Officer

Shauna-lee Ruglass

Chief of Staff

Tim Cross is President of YouthBuild International. He joined YouthBuild USA in 1996 and has held several positions including Vice President of Field Services and Chief Operating Officer.

 

For the last 20 years, Tim has worked in the field of youth and community development across various roles. He was the Country Coordinator of the Civil Society Development program, helping to organize two national support organizations providing a range of training and technical assistance to the emerging non-profit sectors in Poland and Hungary.

 

Tim also served as a consultant to the ImagineNations Group, International Youth Foundation, the World Bank and Open Society Institute on international initiatives focused on youth engagement, training, and employment. He directed the ROCA youth center in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a comprehensive youth development program and was executive director of Youth As Resources in Boston. Tim was the lead organizer of efforts that led to the founding of YouthBuild Boston, the first YouthBuild program outside of East Harlem, New York. He has also worked as a foundation program officer focused on refugee and immigrant development efforts, and has consulted for several international grant making organizations seeking to build the capacity of youth workers.

 

Tim received his Master’s degree from Harvard University.

Michael Brotchner is the Chief Strategy Officer at YouthBuild USA, overseeing its Development, Communications, Data Services, and Digital Information Systems departments. He is also responsible for leading the implementation of the organization’s five-year strategic plan. Additionally, Michael helps lead the development of strategic partnerships with companies and other nonprofit organizations.

 

Michael brings over two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector to the organization. Prior to joining YouthBuild USA, Michael served as a program officer at the Schultz Family Foundation, where he worked with organizations serving opportunity youth and led the Foundation’s work on addressing homelessness. From 2011 to 2015, Michael was the executive director of Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), a nonprofit addressing economic and environmental issues in the South Bronx — and throughout New York City – with a combination of workforce development, social enterprise, and community greening programs. At SSBx, Michael negotiated the organization’s combination with The HOPE Program, a Brooklyn-based workforce development organization.

 

From 2007 to 2011, he served as the executive director of Generation Rwanda (now known as Kepler), an organization dedicated to helping orphans and other socially vulnerable young people in Rwanda pursue a university education and become Rwanda’s future leaders. He has also served as the director of development for the Fund for Public Schools in New York City, and the director of development for Fair Trade USA. He has served on the boards of numerous nonprofits, including Root Capital, which provides affordable financial services to small and medium-sized enterprises operating in environmentally sensitive areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

 

Michael received an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Wesleyan University.

Shauna-Lee Ruglass is the Chief of Staff at YouthBuild USA. She brings a systems-based, culturally competent, and trauma-informed perspective to the leadership team. As chief of staff, she provides project management, strategic planning and implementation support for key organizational initiatives, as well as supporting the CEO. She also leads alumni services and engagement efforts to increase connection with our network of more than 180,000 YouthBuild students worldwide.

 

With over ten years of nonprofit administration experience, Shauna-Lee has spent the majority of her professional career working to bring evidence-based interventions and programming to marginalized communities and individuals in need. She has been part of the YouthBuild USA team since 2007, when she began as an administrative assistant. Since then, her roles have included manager of YouthBuild USA’s Speakers Bureau, executive assistant to the CEO, and special projects manager to the CEO.

 

Shauna received a master’s degree in clinical social work from Simmons College, now named Simmons University. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Howard University as well as certificates in personal development coaching from CaPP Institute and urban leadership from Simmons College.

Gina Plata is the chief program officer at YouthBuild USA. She is responsible for the overall performance and effectiveness of YouthBuild USA’s 233 domestic programs, focusing on program leadership and management along with partnerships and organizational strengthening.

 

She brings over twenty years of nonprofit management experience and a career dedicated to helping individuals break through cycles of poverty and oppression to advance equality. This includes program design and evaluation, workforce development, community development, and diversity, equity and inclusion work.

 

Before joining YouthBuild USA, Gina served as the education and training director at Just-A-Start in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was responsible for the oversight of numerous government contracts, led employer engagement efforts, engaged with philanthropy and fundraising, and led efforts in strategic revitalizations of programs and organizational development. She was also the adult basic education director of the Jackson Mann Community Center in Allston, Massachusetts. Previous posts include employment services director for Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia; education director at Concilio Hispano; and community interpreter services program manager for Catholic Charities’ refugee and immigration program.

 

Gina received a master’s degree in leadership and nonprofit management from Northeastern University. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Universidad Iberoamericana.

YouthBuild USA Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of YouthBuild USA, Inc. has overall responsibility for the operations of YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild International.

The Board consists of individuals with relevant expertise in the fields of public policy, research, financial management, law, advocacy, nonprofit management, corporate management, housing, youth development, and community economic development. It includes four graduates of YouthBuild programs.

Roy O. Priest

Chairman

David Northridge

Vice Chairman

Michael Gilligan

Secretary

Jahi B. Davis

Treasurer

Roy Priest is a principal owner of Community Development Concepts, Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to providing unique and creative solutions to a full range of community and economic development challenges facing communities, government, and nonprofit organizations. The firm offers strategic interventions, situation analysis, planning and program development in real estate development and finance, risk management analysis, organization and human capital development.

 

Prior to joining his current firm, Mr. Priest served a seven-year tenure as the president and CEO of the National Congress for Community Economic Development. As chief executive of the nation’s trade association representing more than 4,300 community development corporations (CDCs) nationwide, Mr. Priest demonstrated innovative, effective strategies designed to foster growth and prosperity in America’s economically distressed communities as well as a thorough knowledge of the programs, procedures, funding criteria, policy shapers and community leaders in the federal, state, local, philanthropic, and economic development arenas.

 

Mr. Priest also completed a 17-year tenure with the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As the director of economic development, he administered and managed HUD’s economic development programs including the $4.6 billion Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG), $3 billion Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Communities, and Renewal Communities Program, $4.6 billion Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), $1B Economic Development Initiative (EDI) Program, $300M Section 108, and $50 billion YouthBuild programs.

 

Mr. Priest began his career in Washington in 1967 working for the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) as the project director for a large urban renewal project responsible for the development of new and rehabilitated housing, retail space, and community service space. Over the next seven years, he held a myriad of senior management positions that involved the management of major program and policy responsibilities of the RLA.

Throughout his career, Mr. Priest has been a visionary and committed ally and leader of the community development movement. He is a member of the Advisory Boards for the Rural Local Initiative Support Corporation and the Boston College center for Corporate Community Relations, a member of the Boards of Directors for the St. Ann’s Fund (Washington Archdiocese), and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and a member of the Board of Overseers of Southern New Hampshire University.

David Northridge was born and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts. He had a privileged upbringing and became involved with nonprofits to help ensure everyone has the same opportunities he has. David first became involved with YouthBuild as a donor and was so impressed with the impact of the organization he joined the Board of Directors in January of 2015. David is most passionate about issues relating to housing, poverty alleviation, education, and entrepreneurialism.

 

David has extensive private sector experience and is currently a Senior Vice President at Edovo, a Chicago based social impact company trying to solve the problem of mass incarceration through tablet-based inmate education. Prior to this role David was the Senior Vice President of Global Product Strategy for Experian Data Quality. In this role David was responsible for defining and implementing the overall business and product strategy globally. Prior to this he held a variety of roles and has experience in business development, account management, marketing, and product management. David earned a degree in Marketing from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Jahi B. Davis, MBA has 21 years of experience as a leader in the field of business, finance and lending. He has served as a bank lender, corporate trainer and technical assistance expert in the public and private sector, assisting small business owners and charter schools in all five phases of a business.

 

He has executive leadership experience as a former President and Executive Director of two national nonprofit agencies, and has successfully won local & federal demonstration grants to support entrepreneurial training as a workforce development strategy in the District of Columbia. For adults interested in starting their own business, Jahi has facilitated 12 week Training courses in the private sector to provide individuals with the structure and strategies to write a winning business plan.

 

He has served as a leader of Early Childhood Education Programs for YouthBuild Philadelphia as an AmeriCorps Volunteer, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for YouthBuild USA. Jahi is a Co-Founder of Better Futures and Founder of Davis&Davis Advisors.

Michael Gilligan is the founder of Urban Catalyst, a private equity venture providing growth and transition capital for businesses generating quality jobs for underserved communities. Michael has extensive experience partnering with the management teams of growing businesses on strategy, leadership development and driving strong operating performance. He was a cofounder of Bank of Boston’s captive private equity group and its successor, Heritage Partners, a middle market private equity firm providing transition and growth capital for family- and founder-owned businesses.

 

Michael is passionate about creating access to opportunity for all, partnering with leading social entrepreneurs committed to new solutions driving impact in poverty alleviation, community development and education reform.

 

Michael has served as board chair of LIFT, a poverty alleviation organization that helps community members strengthen the personal, social and financial dimensions of their lives. He also served as co-chair of The Children’s Room, a grief counseling organization, and sits on the Advisory Boards of City Year’s flagship operation in Boston and USC’s School of Dramatic Arts.

Charlotte Golar Richie
Cliff Johnson
Sam Ladah
Sikina Lee

Charlotte Golar Richie was appointed Commissioner for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in June 2014. Along with the other commissioners, Ms. Richie has oversight responsibility for administration, adjudication, and education concerning civil rights matters for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

Prior to her appointment Ms. Richie served as Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations at YouthBuild USA where she oversaw national and state advocacy for public funds, constituency development, and government relations. She came to YouthBuild USA from Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick’s administration where she served as Senior Adviser for Federal, State, and Community Affairs helping to advance the Governor’s legislative and community agenda including the establishment of the Office of Access and Opportunity, the Statewide Youth Council, and the Western Massachusetts Office.

 

Ms. Richie has extensive experience in legislative and policy work related to economic development, education, and civic engagement. She joined Governor Patrick’s administration after having served as cabinet chief of housing and director of the department of neighborhood development for the city of Boston. In this role, she managed a 200-person department with a $100 million budget, including the city’s federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For five years before that, she represented the 5th Suffolk District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where she chaired the Joint Committee on Housing and Urban Development.

 

A former US Peace Corps Volunteer, Ms. Richie serves on the boards of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and Boston’s Higher Ground. She is also an advisory board member for the University of Massachusetts Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy, and Mothers for Justice and Equality.

Cliff Johnson is the Executive Director of the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C. In this role, Mr. Johnson is leading NLC’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of municipal leaders to meet the needs of children, youth, and families in their communities.

 

Prior to his appointment as Executive Director, Mr. Johnson spent three years as a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities working on the development of new approaches to job creation and innovative welfare-to-work strategies. For more than a decade, he served in senior staff positions at the Children’s Defense Fund, including three years as director of CDF’s Programs and Policy Division. For many years, Mr. Johnson led CDF’s work on issues related to youth employment and family economic security, and he played a major role in organizational initiatives focused on adolescent pregnancy prevention. He began his career as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

He is also the co-author of two books on labor and social policy and served as a research associate to the late Sar Levitan at George Washington University’s Center for Social Policy Studies.

Sikina Lee is the administrative assistant at the Grand Center Arts Academy in St. Louis, MO. Ms. Lee was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and was a member of YouthBuild St. Louis’ second graduating class in 1993. She was the recipient of the “Outstanding Student Award” for being the only female in her class and becoming the foreman of her crew.

 

In April 2001, Ms. Lee decided to give back to the community and take on the role of an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer at the sponsor organization of YouthBuild St. Louis, Youth Education and Health in Soulard (YEHS), a nonprofit community service organization. Since then, Ms. Lee has created a first-time homebuyer financial literacy program, trained to supervise lead abatement programs, assisted with YouthBuild St. Louis alumni events, and helped to open the YouthBuild St. Louis Charter High School.

 

Ms. Lee worked for Pyramid Architects as an architectural drafter and CAD-operator from 2000-2001 after working at Abdelmalek & Associates, an engineering firm, where she was the only African-American employee. While with Abdelmalek, Ms. Lee was nominated and awarded the “Most Extraordinary Ordinary Person of the Year Award,” the first-ever recipient in the state of Missouri.

 

Ms. Lee is an active board member of the Human Development Corporation in St. Louis in addition to her position with YouthBuild USA.

Sam Ladah began his career pursuing an interest in international human rights law. For the past fifteen years, he has worked in the technology sector, creating new employment opportunities to make the sector more inclusive.

 

In his current role, Sam is the HR Vice President for IBM’s rapidly growing Cloud business. He recently led the Talent Organization for IBM globally, where he was responsible for all of IBM’s Talent Acquisition, HR Analytics, Workforce Strategy, Professional Development and Performance Management programs.

 

Sam has held numerous positions with IBM, including a recent two-year assignment in Tokyo as the HR Vice President for IBM Japan. Sam also completed a two-year assignment based in London as the HR Director for IBM’s services business across a dozen European countries. Prior to these international assignments, Sam led due diligence and negotiated the HR terms in more than a dozen IBM acquisitions and divestitures.

 

Early in his career, Sam practiced law in the areas of insurance defense, criminal defense and commercial litigation. He represented primarily US and European clients and volunteered a significant portion of his time at public interest law firms representing victims of human rights abuses. In transitioning from law to business, Sam worked at software and consumer internet companies in Silicon Valley.

 

Sam holds a BA in Political Science from the University of California at San Diego, a JD from Emory University School of Law, and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He is a member of the California Bar Association.

Johnny Mack
Pam Mackenzie
Michele Courton Brown
Tulaine Montgomery

Michele Courton Brown has more than two decades of experience in leading, managing and providing strategic direction to philanthropic, corporate and nonprofit organizations. Currently, Michele is chief executive officer of Quality Interactions, the country’s leading provider of cultural competency training for the healthcare industry. In that role, she directs strategic growth, product development, marketing and administration. Prior to joining Quality Interactions, she was chief operating officer of The Efficacy Institute, a national education reform organization, where she oversaw operations and was engaged in program expansion, client relations, marketing and the formation of strategic partnerships.

 

In the realm of philanthropy, Michele was a senior vice president and national practice director for Bank of America’s Philanthropic Management Group, where she provided advice to high net-worth clients and served as a subject matter expert. Also at Bank of America, Michele served as a market director, leading a multi-state team of professionals who served the client service, fiduciary, administrative, and philanthropic advisory needs of high net-worth individuals, families, foundations, and non-profit institutions, with combined assets of $6 billion.

 

Michele was president of the FleetBoston Financial Foundation, which contributed over $25 million annually to charitable endeavors. Previously, she was executive director of Corporate Contributions for BankBoston and executive director of The Travelers Insurance Companies Foundation. A frequent writer and speaker on charitable giving, Michele co-authored Just Money: A Critique of Contemporary American Philanthropy.

 

Michele has served on the boards of numerous local and national non-profit boards including as a director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Judge Baker Children’s Center, Museum of African American History, YouthBuild USA and City Year Boston. She is also a founding trustee of the Black Philanthropy Fund.

 

Michele earned a B.A. in Economics from Boston University, where she is completing a M.S. in Health Communication. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her husband Philip Brown and their two sons.

Johnny J. Mack is a social entrepreneur with expertise in the subject areas of peace, conflict, social change and social movements. His professional expertise includes serving as senior executive in healthcare, mortgage banking, community development, and nonprofit organizations. Dr. Mack has traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia working in the fields of peace, development, conflict, and nonviolent social change.

 

Dr. Mack is founding president of Communities Without Boundaries International, a nongovernment nonprofit organization that works to build peace through development research, education, and technical assistance in under-privileged, conflict, and post-trauma-conflict communities around the globe. He also serves as president of the Drum Major Institute, a New York based NGO founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Atty. Harry Wachtel. He is a founding member of the board of directors of Realizing the Dream, Inc., with Ambassador Andrew Young, and Martin Luther King, III. He founded the National Institute for Community Empowerment, Inc., a national intermediary in the community development economic development field. Dr. Mack is also principal and managing partner of the Jonymak Group, LLC, a global research and consulting firm that works across sectors – private, public, and community – focusing on strategic, advisory, development, and public affairs services to business, government, and nonprofit organizations.

 

In addition to holding degrees in business and theology from Oakwood University, Dr. Mack is a certified public account. He is the Henry Hart Rice Fellow at the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University in Virginia, where he earned both the masters and doctorate degrees in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

Tulaine Montgomery is an accomplished social entrepreneur, educator, community organizer, and writer. She has played central leadership roles in the launch and expansion of several schools and non-profit organizations domestically and internationally. Tulaine is currently a Managing Partner at New Profit, a national venture philathrophy fund that provides growth capital grants and strategic support to social entrepreneurs and their organizations.

 

Prior to her role at New Profit, Tulaine was Founder and President of New Resource Strategies (NRS), a consulting firm that enables mission-driven organizations to address major operational, fiscal, and strategic challenges. She previously held leadership positions at United Way Massachusetts Bay & Merrimac Valley, Citizen Schools and YouthBuild USA. Tulaine received a master’s degree in Public Policy from Tufts University and earned her B.A. from Smith College in Northampton, MA. She is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Collaborative Leadership at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, a Community Enrichment Fellow at Northeastern University, and a Neighborhood Fellow at Tufts University. Tulaine is an accomplished cellist and writer; she has written and produced four original plays.

Pam Mackenzie is a Director at Goulston & Storrs who conducts a broad-based commercial and real estate finance practice representing leading financial institutions and sophisticated borrowers in a wide variety of transactions. Pam has significant experience lending in the retail sector, and in representing letter of credit issuers in tax-exempt industrial bond financings and with loan workouts and restructurings.

 

Chambers USA recognizes Pam as “one of the team’s key finance practitioners who is extremely client-oriented with good problem-solving and negotiation skills.”

 

Acquisition finance, secured and unsecured REIT facilities, leveraged cash flow and asset-based loans, investor bridge facilities, credit enhancement bond transactions, debtor-in-possession facilities, intercreditor arrangements, first-lien and second-lien facilities and cross-border transactions are all part of Pam’s experience.

Antonio Ramirez JR.
Jody Cornish
Kathy Witsil

Jody Cornish is a Social Impact and Philanthropic Advisor, working at the nexus of social impact strategy, organizational effectiveness and resource aggregation. She currently serves three-quarter time as a Senior Advisor for Innovation and Investment at City Year, where she works with the Office of the President, Strategic Growth, External Affairs and Development to strengthen City Year’s positioning as an education leader, optimize growth strategy and support fundraising. With her remaining time, Jody partners with a set of philanthropic organizations and social enterprises to optimize their strategies for impact. Jody also serves on the Advisory Board for Next Generation Learning Challenge and as a Board member for Big Picture Learning.

 

Previously, Jody was a Managing Partner with New Profit – a Boston-based venture philanthropy fund. During her time with New Profit, she worked with the senior leadership team and Board of more than 30 non-profit organizations to optimize their strategies for growth and impact. During her last 5 years at New Profit, she was the co-lead for New Profit’s ground-breaking K-12 education fund, Reimagine Learning, which combined work in policy change, investments in leading edge education entrpreneurs, programmatic work in youth voice and in community-informed school change in Essex County and convening and engagement of nearly 1000 education innovators across sectors. This work was featured in this Deloitte whitepaper.

 

Prior to joining New Profit, Jody was the co-founder and lead strategist for Lodestar International, an international development consultancy focused on supporting cross-sector collaboration to address entrenched economic development challenges in the developing world. She previously worked in strategy execution with leading technology and financial services firms in New York City. She started her career as a consultant at Monitor Group, where she focused on research-informed growth strategies for start-ups, mergers and companies in transition.

 

Jody’s passion for social impact stems from her own background and her commitment to equity. She is a first generation college graduate from rural Pennsylvania and knows firsthand the impact that circumstances and luck can have on life trajectories.

Antonio Ramirez Jr. is currently the Co-Founder of United At Peace, Inc. a new local grass root non-profit dedicated to helping youth, families and the community at large. Prior to starting this new non-profit in the fall of 2013, he was the Branch Director of the YMCA of Rock River Valley —  Community Outreach Branch. He began at the YMCA of Rock River Valley in 2004 as a volunteer to the Black and Latino Achievers Steering Committee, and then became Coordinator for the Black and Latino Achievers in 2006.

 

Ramirez began his career in the Human Service/Community Outreach field in 2001 with CCS YouthBuild Rockford, working with opportunity youth looking to gain a GED all while developing leadership, life and job ready skills.

 

Ramirez himself was a participant and graduate of YouthBuild Rockford in 2000, but was accepted as a 1998 East High School graduate to the program. Graduating from the program not only inspired Ramirez to become a more productive citizen for his community but also engaged his passion to be actively involved in youth advocacy and community activism nationally for now 16 years. In October 2003 Ramirez became the first in the state of Illinois and second in the nation to complete a two-year term as a Youth Development Practitioner Apprentice (YDPA). The YDPA position was created by the U.S. Department of Labor to strengthen and professionalize the field of youth development.

 

In 2007, Ramirez served as the commencement speaker at Rock Valley College’s graduation, as he became the first in his family to attend college and receive an Associates Degree. That same year, Ramirez was recognized in the first ever, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, 40 Leaders Under 40.

 

Antonio’s local community involvements include former member of CCS YouthBuild Rockford Board of Directors, previous member of La Voz Latina Board of Directors, and former President to District 205 Bilingual Department Parent Advisory Committee. Currently Ramirez is member of the Coalition of Latino Leaders and has been a long time Alumni advisor and past President to the Association of Latin American Students Club of Rock Valley College.

 

Ramirez’s national involvement includes current member of National YouthBuild USA Board of Directors, along with serving as a 10-year member and former 3 term President of YouthBuild USA’s National Alumni Council.

 

Aside from organizing conferences, facilitating workshops/trainings, and keynote speaking for schools, organizations, or youth related conferences, Ramirez is a devoted loving father and family man.

Kathy Witsil has had a career with JPM Chase and its heritage organizations for over 20 years. She joined Bank One in 1998 in digital marketing (an emerging area at that time). She is now in CCB Operations with responsibility for Auto Specialty Operations, Project Management & Customer Experience. Prior to this role, she has held leadership roles in Card Services, Small Business Banking and Student Loans. Kathy also holds seven patents in the areas of data, payment devices, and card design.

 

Kathy is active in the Women on the Move Employee BRG, is the Mid Atlantic Executive Sponsor for VETS BRG, and serves as an advisor to the JPM Foundation Employee Engagement committee.

 

Kathy’s early career was in marketing and advertising with a focus on the automotive sector. She graduated from University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science degree as a dual major in Journalism and Political Science.

 

Kathy believes strongly in ‘doing good as we do well’ and has served on two nonprofit boards previously – Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation and Chester County Fund for Women.