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.
Workforce & Personnel
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.
Education & Training Director
Tom first came to YouthWorks as a member of AmeriCorps VISTA, serving with the Santa Fe Birth to Career Collaboration. After completing his year of service, Tom realized he wanted to return to teaching but wanted an experience other than returning to public school. Tom has extensive experience teaching special education and culinary arts in a variety of settings—in public high schools, in an alternative placement setting, and in a technical center. He has an M.Ed in special education and a BS in career and technical education, credentials that make him a good fit for the YouthWorks program.
Cecilia serves as administrative director 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.
Lizbeth comes to us with extensive experience in property management and affordable housing. She first joined YouthWorks on a part-time basis in the winter of 2017, helping manage the ShelterNow! Program, an emergency overnight shelter for young people that was hosted in local houses of worship. Today, Lizbeth is a full-time staffer and serves as a case manager coordinating services to meet the needs of our young people, with special focus on housing issues. Lizbeth also oversees an intensive community monitoring program for youth in the juvenile justice system, working particularly with many of our Spanish-speaking clients.
Community Support Specialist
Hicham, a native of Morocco, has lived in Santa Fe since 2005. He spent five years as a Juvenile Probation Officer II in New Mexico’s First District, supervising youth involved in the juvenile justice system, a role that required building a relationship of trust with clients, families, and other stakeholders in the community. Previously, Hicham spent several years in sales management in Santa Fe and eleven years in Morocco as a supervisor at a language center. Hicham holds a BA in English from the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in Rabat, Morocco, and an MS in the Administration of Justice and Security from the University of Phoenix. Hicham is currently a doctoral student in Management and Organizational Leadership with a focus on identifying, developing, and retaining talent.
Jacqueline “Jackie” Gibbs found YouthWorks twelve years ago as a high-school dropout trying to make it on her own. She took every training course offered—from culinary arts to river restoration—and worked every job available. From the beginning, Jackie demonstrated natural leadership, and emerged from the ranks of trainees to several levels of crew supervisory roles. Today, after some years away from Santa Fe, Jackie is back in a new role at YouthWorks as Sous Chef in the culinary and catering program. She strives to ensure that the program maintains the highest quality health and safety standards across operations ranging from the preparation of daily after-school meals for children to catering for high-end events.
Culinary Program Coordinator
Carmen, along with his wife Penny, leads the Youthworks culinary arts program to share expertise in cooking preparation, catering logistics, and front-of-the-house skills. With more than 35 years of hospitality experience, Carmen has helped develop the culinary teams of such kitchens as Coyote Café, Bishop’s Lodge, La Posada, and Cresent Resorts and Spas. In 2012, Carmen was named New Mexico Chef of the Year not only for his cuisine, but also for his dedication to the development of the city’s culinary personnel and the time he gives back to this community. Carmen has served on the board of the Food Depot and as culinary coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Gerard’s House. In addition to his work with young people at YouthWorks, Carmen also owns and operates, along with his wife, the full-service catering company MiSanta.
Manager, Special Projects
Penny has more than twenty-five years of experience managing medical practices in both New Mexico and Colorado. During that time, she hired, trained, and supervised staff and was responsible for maintaining bookkeeping, human resources, and payroll systems. She negotiated contracts and took the lead in implementing technology systems, such as an online patient portal, to improve operations. Throughout her career, Penny has played a major volunteer role with local nonprofits, serving on several boards, including the Food Depot. She has helped local organizations such as Gerard’s House and Big Brothers Big Sisters organize and run major fund-raising events. At YouthWorks, Penny helps manage the culinary arts program and also serves as special projects coordinator.
Field Crew Supervisor
Born and raised in Santa Fe, Edgar graduated from Capital High in 2010, while working part-time in maintenance and as a groundskeeper at a condominium complex. He later got a job at El Tesoro Café as a dishwasher and worked his way up from there–moving on to food prep, waiting tables, serving as cashier, then becoming a manager, and ultimately a bookkeeper. Edgar graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2016 with a BA in Administration, while also earning credit hours in both in Architecture and Fine Arts. Edgar is working with YouthWorks as the on-site crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corps.
Community Engagement Coordinator & Case Manager
Kineret, who first came to YouthWorks as an Americorps VISTA, has a dual role. She coordinates projects across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors and serves as a case manager for our young people, helping connect them with the services they need. She brings more than 15 years of experience and dedication to youth education, community development, and wilderness-based learning. Originally from southern California, Kineret spent most of the past decade abroad—in Israel/Palestine, New Zealand, Gambia, and Eastern India—working in international non-violence education, social art practice, and peace work. Kineret holds a BA from Barnard College in New York, and advanced degrees in Public Health and Secondary Education from the University of Auckland.