Melynn founded ¡YouthWorks! in 2001 and, in the years since, has established it as a model for youth development practices. Originally from the state of Washington, Melynn earned her BA from Boston University and her MA in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy from the Phillips Graduate Institute in California. After moving to New Mexico, Melynn became a New Mexico Licensed Professional Counselor and in 2001 combined her knowledge and experience to establish ¡YouthWorks!. Today, the organization is recognized as an alternative education standard and a model for helping youth build life skills, achieve their educational goals, avoid violence and substance abuse, and gain employment.
Heather Vigil Clark
Chief of Operations
Heather co-leads ¡YouthWorks! as chief of operations, and as the lead case manager, she oversees all case management staff. A native of Santa Fe, Heather received her BA in Psychology and Foreign Languages and her MA in Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University. Before joining ¡YouthWorks! in 2011, Heather worked in retail and tax preparation, gaining extensive accounting, management, and customer service experience. At ¡YouthWorks!, Heather has held multiple positions, giving her a broad view that she has leveraged to network extensively within the community to help ¡YouthWorks! access the multitude of resources necessary to assist disconnected youth.
Devin oversees all aspects of workforce development, assisting students with everything from basic job searches to comprehensive career development and planning. Devin has a diverse background in human services. He has worked with homeless and at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, and has provided workforce development services and training for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. Devin has worked in the non-profit and human service field for almost 15 years, and has worked with a variety of organizations in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New Mexico. Devin holds a BA in Leadership and Organizational Studies from the University of Denver.
Jocelyne is a licensed mental health counselor and works as both a case manager and a counselor at ¡YouthWorks!. She received her MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and earned her MA in counseling from New Mexico Highlands University. Jocelyne lived in France for several years and developed dance programs while there for at-risk youth. In addition to her work at ¡YouthWorks!, Jocelyne, works as a counselor at various Santa Fe schools, including the New Mexico School for the Arts and Nina Otero Community School. Jocelyne also teaches dance at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
Santa Fe YouthBuild
Brian DeBenedetti is the construction manager for the ¡YouthWorks! Santa Fe YouthBuild project. Brian has worked in construction since 1995, most recently as owner of Parmesan Construction, a residential remodeling company in Seattle, Washington. Brian has worked in construction in Colorado, California, and Wyoming, and from 1999 to 2000, he spent six months remodeling a castle in Poitiers, France. Brian has a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has worked as a social worker with juvenile probationary youth, as an instructor for Outward Bound, and as a trail crew boss with the US Forrest Service.
Abaris De Los Santos
Abaris brings to his role as an academic instructor at ¡YouthWorks! experience in creating lessons to fit a variety of learning environments. Abaris, a native of Northern New Mexico, obtained his Associates Degree in Applied Science of Culinary Arts in 2006, but previously had more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. During travels abroad to learn more about food and culture, Abaris received TEFL certification to teach English as a foreign language. During time in Indonesia and Colombia teaching English, Abaris began online Bachelor degree studies at Marylhurst University in Sustainable Business and is scheduled to graduate in early 2017.
Case Manager / Transition Coordinator
Joaquin, a native of Santa Fe, spent more than ten years in the hospitality industry before joining ¡YouthWorks! as a case manager. Working in restaurants has given him a sense of urgency for the task at hand and shaped his professional outlook. The restaurant industry’s strict demands while on the job and the freedom it allows outside of the restaurant, have helped feed Joaquin’s entrepreneurial spirit. He has led a t-shirt design team, shown photography in local galleries, and designed print collateral for advertising. In the past, Joaquin has dedicated time to volunteer work and community service and finds ¡YouthWorks! to be a wonderful fit.
Cecilia is a case manager at ¡Youthworks!. She holds an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and has an extensive background in accounting principles, bookkeeping, records and data management, and business reporting. She has worked as a bookkeeper, among other positions, at both Albertsons and Sprouts, as well as with Liberty Tax as a tax preparer for eight years. Cecilia is a naturalized citizen from Mexico and is fluent in Spanish and English. She’s skilled at assisting youth and families who are seeking Dream Act-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Status, as well as other necessary resources for family, education, and work status stabilization.
Cathy joined ¡YouthWorks! as a GED instructor and now also works on curriculum development and volunteer training. Cathy has been an educator and a community organizer for 10 years. She has a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe and teaching credentials from UCLA’s Center X program. Cathy taught mathematics, computer programming, and video game design in Los Angeles public schools, and while in California, was active in labor union and education politics. Cathy is committed to social justice causes and plans to begin UNM School of Law next year to continue serving the people of New Mexico.
As office manager, Laura provides administrative support in the ¡YouthWorks! office. Her goal is to relieve the burden of paperwork that distracts staff from fully implementing their mission to help disconnected youth become engaged and valued members of their communities. Laura received her BA from St. John’s College in 2007 and has been a nonprofit advocate since she interned in an AmeriCorps program in San Jose, California. There she worked at a grief support organization and also counseled small groups in the girls’ juvenile hall. This experience gave her a deep appreciation of the work nonprofits do to benefit their communities.
Job Readiness Coach
Sean graduated from the YouthBuild program in the class of 2015, and is now employed as a ¡YouthWorks! staff member, working as a job placement coach. Sean brings a wealth of experience to this position, having completed apprenticeships himself as a supervisor at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Fe, as an apprentice in workforce innovation at ¡YouthWorks!, and as house manager with Española Mainstreet Theatre. Sean currently attends Santa Fe Community College as a film major, and he aspires to be a music video producer. Sean has extensive training in theatre and dance, the digital media industry, and youth development.
Melissa has been Counseling Director at ¡YouthWorks! since 2002. She provides clinical supervision to the professional counseling staff and provides individual, family, and group therapy. Melissa earned a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Ohio State University in 1993, and has extensive education in the administration, direct service provision, case management, and clinical supervision of mental health provision for the treatment of children, youth, and their families. Melissa has worked at Rancho Valmora Treatment Center, an adolescent treatment facility, as a therapist and clinical director and was the coordinator for the Santa Fe Public Schools prevention and intervention department.