Executive Director & Program Director, Fairbanks Youth Advocates
B.S. Education, M.A. Educational Leadership
I am devoted to carrying out the mission of Fairbanks Youth Advocates. I am passionate and knowledgeable about youth homelessness issues and experienced with start-up programs, critical for the success of our initial project: providing shelter at First Presbyterian, while we await the renovation of The Door.
I became aware of the issues surrounding students who drop out during my tenure as a Fairbanks North Star Borough teacher. Though I was on track to participate in principalships in the local school district, I felt driven to know more about the risks and barriers that kept teens from graduating.
I began volunteering at Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption’s street outreach program. This experience brought me face to face with the issues of youth homelessness; stories of real youth in dire situations, often running away from family conflict and lacking safe shelter. I realized if housing is not stable, staying in school is near impossible. I shared the stories I had heard with Fairbanks Youth Advocates Board of Directors and organized a Youth Focus Group to look into gaps in services in our community for this vulnerable population.
In 2010, the governing Board of Directors solidified their mission: Facilitating life transitions for at-risk and vulnerable youth. This provided a canopy of service opportunities, but room to hone in on gap needs like emergency shelter. Early in 2011, in conversation with other youth service providers also frustrated by the lack of emergency shelter for young people, I felt that enough stories had been told. Other agencies in the community were doing what they could to support this vulnerable population; the time was right for Fairbanks Youth Advocates and be part of the solution to youth homelessness.