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.
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.
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.
On-the-Job Trainer / Case Manager
Jonathan joined ¡YouthWorks! as an intern in the spring of 2017 and says he quickly learned that the organization is a great place to serve and interact with youth in the community. Following his internship, he was hired as the on-the-job trainer/case manager for young people participating in the Youth Conservation Corps. Jonathan had previous experience working with a local veteran resource center, helping veterans and their dependents obtain health and education benefits. He also worked for eight years as a campus safety specialist and security supervisor for a community college. Jonathan graduated with a BA degree in Criminal Justice Studies from New Mexico Highlands University in the summer of 2017.
Joshua began work with ¡YouthWorks! as the case manager for ShelterNow!, a homeless shelter for young adults launched in January 2017. Joshua has a varied background working with youth and at-risk populations since 2008. He has taught internationally, worked at a youth shelter in Kansas City, directed a Youth Conservation Corps program, created a STEM program, founded a youth outdoor program, and worked for the YMCA and LearningRx. He has a BS in Environmental Science and previously worked in engineering, inspecting large construction. Joshua is now in the Master of Social Work program at Highlands University and looks forward to being involved in the Santa Fe area.
Case Manager / Data & Evaluation Specialist
Hannah is a recent graduate of Montana State University, where she earned a BA in Family and Consumer Sciences with a minor in Psychology. Before moving to Santa Fe, Hannah worked with nonprofits in Montana, serving as a family advancement specialist and staffing crisis hotlines to provide emotional support and connect callers to the resources they needed. Hannah began her time at ¡Youthworks! as part of a team to facilitate and oversee ShelterNow!, a homeless shelter for young adults launched in January 2016. She is now playing a dual role, serving as a case manager and as a data management specialist.