Through the power of sharing true, teen-written stories, we improve the lives of underserved youth in New York City and beyond.
All young people will feel a deep sense of belonging in their schools and youth programs and develop the social and emotional skills to realize their dreams.
Betsy Cohen is Youth Communication’s Executive Director. She leads Youth Communication’s team, and is focused on growing the organization’s impact over the next several years. Before taking on the role as Executive Director, she served at YC’s Deputy Director, working closely with Founder Keith Hefner. Betsy has worked in a variety of roles focused on NYC public schools at the Center for Supportive Schools, Success Academy Charter Schools, and at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She has a Master’s Degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a BA from Emory University in Comparative Literature. She lives in Jersey City with her husband and rescue pitbull named Doug.
Valrie Barrett, PhD, Sr. Director of Operations, joins Youth Communication with 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations. She served as Chief Operation Officer for both Refoundry, Inc. and Brooklyn Community Bail Fund. She was also the Chief of Staff for JustLeadershipUSA, an advocacy driven nonprofit dedicated to cutting the prison population by 2030.
Valrie earned her PhD in Social Welfare from The City University of New York Graduate Center and her Masters in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at both Touro College School of Social Work and The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. She is an advisory board member to A Second U Foundation. Valrie maintains peace and balance through boxing and hot yoga practice.
Prior to joining Youth Communication in March, 1989, Tom Brown worked for several years at the DOME Project, a community based youth development program where he was assistant director. He has a BA in Political Science from the City College of New York and an MA in that subject from Yale. Tom is part of the fundraising team and his duties include foundation prospecting, report and proposal writing, and assisting with individual solicitations. He manages Youth Communication’s fiscal operations: bookkeeping, budgeting, and reporting. Tom is a native New Yorker, he lives in Manhattan.
Francisco Cruz joins YC as the Director of Business Development and is set to lead external relationship management and partnership development. Prior to his time at YC, Francisco worked in youth development as an educator and non-profit program director for educational programs that emphasized sexual and mental health across NYC public schools, ultimately emphasizing community-level partnerships and activism. He has a background in philosophy and psychology from CUNY Lehman College and a Master of Science in Education from Fordham University. Francisco deeply values empowering young people to be their most authentic selves by addressing educational inequity. In his free time, he loves watching anime, connecting with friends, and writing–ranging from poetry and sci-fi fiction stories to Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.
Tara DeWorsop joins YC as the Senior Director of Development with 14 years of experience working in Development & Communications with international and local non-profits. Her work has taken her across the U.S. and around the globe to countries like Japan, Thailand, China, and South Africa. In 2016, she received her MBA from NYU Stern with a specialization in Social Impact, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation and is currently a Multi-Sector Communications Ph.D. candidate. She is a passionate advocate for continuous learning and finds joy in connecting people to meaningful experiences and causes! In her free time, she loves going or long walks near the closest body of water and trying her hand at different art forms.
Kinyanna Evans, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY is a youth worker committed to creating empowering spaces for her community through education reform work. Growing up with Caribbean heritage, Kinyanna used her identity as a foundational tool to reimagine how learning spaces can become emancipatory tools. She graduated from DePauw University with an Education Studies Major and Women Gender Sexuality Studies Minor. Since graduating, she has worked in several youth programs such as Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) and St.Nicks Alliance, through different roles from youth facilitator to program manager. Kinyanna is passionate about how education and community organizing work centers marginalized voices as leaders in their learning. She is ready to bring this energy and passion to help create the YC curriculum! Fun Fact, Kinyanna loves baking and spends most of her free time making treats for her friends.
Janelle Greco is Director of Training at Youth Communication, a role in which she oversees all professional development services at the organization. Prior to joining Youth Communication, Janelle worked as Director of the Pre-College Academic Programming Department at LaGuardia Community College and previously served as Director of Training and Advancement at The Doe Fund–an organization dedicated to providing training and career services to those who have been homeless, in foster care, and previously incarcerated. Janelle has a BA in English and Secondary Education from Springfield College and an MA in English from Northeastern University. She lives in Brooklyn, is a creative non-fiction writer, and a firm believer in the power of storytelling and sharing experiences with others.
Keith Hefner founded Youth Communication in 1980. He won a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989, and he was a 1986-87 Charles H. Revson Fellow on the Future of New York City at Columbia University. He is a 2004 graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, Institute for Non-Profit Management, Executive Level Program. In 1997 he received the Luther P. Jackson Award for Educational Excellence from the New York Association of Black Journalists. He is the executive editor or co-author of several dozen Youth Communication books and programs, including Real Men and The Teen Guide to Sex (without regrets). Keith works with the editors and education staff on editorial quality control, and he works with the management team on strategy and to support fundraising.
Samantha Lilienfeld is YC’s Communications and Development Manager where she supports the organization’s marketing and external outreach campaigns, working in support of the writing program, teen-written story distribution, and education programming. Prior to joining Youth Communication, Samantha worked with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools as an AmeriCorps VISTA and Coro NY’s Participatory Budgeting Youth Fellowship program. Samantha is currently pursuing an MA in Liberal Studies at CUNY Graduate Center and has a BA in Comparative Ethnic Studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She’s lives in Brooklyn by way of Los Angeles.
Ellen Song is the Senior Editor of Represent Magazine. Prior to joining Youth Communication, she was an award-winning Lecturer on History and Literature at Harvard University, where she taught courses in ethnic studies and contemporary American literature. She completed her Ph.D. and B.A. in English, respectively, at Duke University and Williams College. A proud Queens native, Ellen is an avid knitter and baker in her spare time.
Holly St. Lifer is the senior editorial director overseeing the writing program. Previously, she was a health reporter and TV producer. She holds a BFA in Film and Television from New York University where she taught journalism for 10 years. In her spare time, she volunteers abroad aiding refugees. In 2017, she launched ZINE, a magazine written by and for refugees awaiting asylum on the Greek island of Leros. She is also a runner.
A former YC writer, Mario Sanchez is our first ever Journalism Fellow. As our Fellow, Mario will shadow and learn from the different departments within the organization. A Posse Scholar and Lafayette College student, Mario hopes to bring his past experiences as a former YC writer, editor / reporter at The Lafayette, into the upcoming developments of YC. Mario’s personal mission is to elevate youth voices and inspire writers to authentically express themselves artistically, as well as push their limits as empowering youth voices. Fun fact: Although Mario wishes he was a morning person, he currently functions best after midnight.
Jasmine Reid is the Senior Editor of YouthComm Magazine. She has previously worked as a Lecturer at Cornell University, where she taught freshman writing seminars and creative writing courses, and is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, where she leads courses in their BFA Writing Program. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry from Cornell University and a BA in Sociology from Tufts University. A part-time human, full-time flower, Jasmine’s first poetry collection, Deus Ex Nigrum, was published in 2020 by Honeysuckle Press.
Liza Tuyuc is a Marketing and Public Relations Intern at Youth Communication. Currently, she is studying at the Macaulay Honors College under Queens College, completing a BA in English, minoring in Business & Liberal Arts. She also presently writes and edits for The Indigenous Foundation. Formerly, she served as a founding member and Editorial Director for The Meraki Story, and after school teacher at the Korean American Family Service Center. Her current goal as a student and intern is to explore all facets of the writing world, from creative to copywriting, believing in the importance of storytelling in advocacy. Liza can be found dabbling in various arts and crafts, tangled in yarn and clay, or tending to her small army of plants.
Leah Modigliani is the founder of Modigliani Capital Partners. Prior to starting her own firm, Leah was a senior investment associate at Bridgewater Associates and senior vice president at Neuberger Berman. Before joining Neuberger Berman, Leah was the executive director and US strategist in the Research Department of Morgan Stanley.
Lourdes M. Rosado is a YC alumna who helped start the organization in 1980. Ms. Rosado is currently the inaugural program director at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and is a long-standing youth and social justice advocate. Prior to joining NYCLU, Ms. Rosado was chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the New York State Office of the Attorney General. As bureau chief, Ms. Rosado supervised enforcement actions and litigation in federal and state courts. Ms. Rosado was the associate director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia for 17 years, pioneering juvenile justice and child welfare work. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College, holds a M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Troy Williams is the Senior Credit Officer and a member of the Executive Loan
Committee at First Republic Bank in New York. Prior to First Republic, he was an
Executive Director in Global Wealth Credit Risk Management at JPMorgan for six years.
Mr. Williams also spent more than seven years at Deutsche Bank as a team leader and
senior credit officer for asset and wealth management in the Americas. Prior to
Deutsche Bank, Mr. Williams worked in various risk management capacities at S&P,
ORIX USA, and Citibank. Mr. Williams earned a B.S. in Finance and International
Business from Georgetown University and a M.B.A. from the Fordham Graduate School
Bob Ouimette practiced law in New York City for 25 years, retiring as a partner of Torys LLP. He sits on the board of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York and is currently a member of its Executive Committee and Co-Chair of the Fund Development Committee. Mr. Ouimette has a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College, a J.D. from the University of Michigan, and an L.L.M. in Taxation from the New York University Law School.
Timothy Blair is a Managing Director within the Debt Capital Markets team at Mizuho Americas and is based in the New York office. Prior to Mizuho, he was a Vice President within the Debt Capital Markets team at RBS for 6 years. Mr. Blair started his career at Bank of America, also within the Debt Capital Markets group. Mr. Blair earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Washington & Lee University. Tim currently resides in Darien, CT with his wife and daughter.
Pilar Conde, a private investor, was previously a member of the Executive Committee at JPMorgan & Co. Inc., and trading as head of its Proprietary Positioning Business. During her twenty-two years at JPMorgan, Ms. Conde set up, developed and managed several ventures: Treasury and Markets (Madrid), Foreign Investment Portfolios, Cross Markets Proprietary Trading, the Relative Value Group, and the Proprietary Positioning Business. She was chair of the Diversity Steering Committee and Chair of the Senior Women’s Forum.
Vivian Louie is the director of the Asian-American Studies Center and Program at Hunter College, City University of New York. She is also a tenured professor in Hunter College’s Department of Urban Policy and Planning. Prior to these positions, she was a program officer at the William T. Grant Foundation and an associate professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Her reporting career included positions at The New York Times, The Hartford Courant, and The Los Angeles Times. She was an editor of Youth Communication’s YCteen magazine in 1994 and 1995. She is the author of two books on the immigrant experience in the United States and has published more than 20 articles in various scholarly publications.
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (ret.)
Office of the New York State Attorney General
Fried Frank (ret.)
BARRON (BUZZ) TENNY
Ford Foundation (ret.)
More than 2,500 teens have participated in Youth Communication’s writing programs. Some have achieved “brand name” success: they include a U.S. Supreme Court clerk, a MacArthur Fellow, and one of the most highly acclaimed choreographers in the country. Most alumni have gone to college—often as the first in their family to do so. They have also published more than 70 books as adult writers.
But what really characterizes our alumni is their spirit of community service. By writing for Youth Communication, they learned that their stories could have an immediate impact—helping their peers get into college, avoid STDs, find a job, cope with trauma, and more.
That experience has had a powerful effect on Youth Communication’s teen writers. Many have since gone on to careers that continue the community service work they began at Youth Communication—as teachers, college professors, social workers, Americorps and Peace Corps volunteers, foundation officers, doctors and nurses, clergy, police officers, and community activists.
The following thumbnail profiles of a handful of the alumni show the diversity and significance of their achievements.
Edwidge, ’86, is an acclaimed writer of novels, nonfiction, and books for young adults. Her second book, Krik? Krak!, was a finalist for a National...
Rachel L. Swarns ’84 served as managing editor of Youth Communication’s YCteen magazine, where she published more than a dozen stories ...
Shawn, ’80, wrote for the very first Youth Communication publication in March of 1980. He has a degree in English from Wesleyan University and rece...
Veronica Chambers, ’89, is the author of over a dozen books and is best known for her critically acclaimed memoir, Mama’s Girl w...
Lisa, ’88, was a New York City Teaching Fellow and is a high school teacher in the city. She has also worked at various film, broadcast, and print ...
Sheila, ’91, is the author of one-bedroom solo (Fly by Night Press, 2011), her debut poetry collection.Her poems have appeared in Rattapallax, Call...
Lourdes M. Rosado is a YC alumna (’81), helping start the organization in 1980. Ms. Rosado is currently the inaugural Program Director at the New Y...
David, ’93, is a senior staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center, Peter Cicchino Youth Project. He has also worked as a staff attorney at Bronx D...
Gina, ’93, is the founder of the hugely popular lifehacker.com. Gina is the also the founder and creator of Makerbase, an IMDb for web sites and ap...
Ferentz, ’94, is Saybrook College Dean at Yale University. He has worked as the Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement at the Catholic Univ...
Victoria, ’95, She is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, which won the 2009 PASS (Prevention for a Safer So...
Sharon, ’02, is the Chief Digital Officer of Rachael Ray’s parent company Watch Entertainment and was the publisher of www.mashable.com. She...
Danny, ’98, teaches American Sign Language in Japan. He has a BA in dramatic writing from SUNY Purchase and a certificate in American Sign Language...
Pauline, ’06, received her masters degree in social work from Fordham University. She has worked as an advocate for youth in foster care in organiz...
Orubba, ’09, was named salutatorian of her class at the City College of New York-CUNY, where she earned double BA degrees in English and history. ...
Melvin, ’14, graduated from and received a two-year scholarship to attend Stella Adler Studio of Acting. His story, Tough Guise, was chosen for Tea...
Edwidge, ’86, is an acclaimed writer of novels, nonfiction, and books for young adults. Her second book, Krik? Krak!, was a finalist for a National Book Award, as was her investigation into the death of her uncle in Miami’s immigration jail, Brother, I’m Dying. Her first book, Breath, Eyes, Memory, was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. In an interview in Essence, Edwidge said, “At 14 I was asked by a New York City-based newspaper, New Youth Connections (now called YCteen), to write about my experience as a new immigrant…my public writing career began.” She also credits one of her Youth Communication stories as being the nucleus for her first book. She is a graduate of Barnard College and holds an MFA from Brown University. Edwidge wrote the forewords to two Youth Communication anthologies, Starting With I, and Haiti on My Mind.
Rachel L. Swarns ’84 served as managing editor of Youth Communication’s YCteen magazine, where she published more than a dozen stories while she was a high school student. Rachel has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1995. Her articles about Georgetown University’s roots in slavery touched off a national conversation about American universities and their ties to this painful period of history. She has reported from Russia, Cuba, Guatemala and southern Africa, where she served as the Times‘ Johannesburg bureau chief. She has also served as a Metro columnist in New York City. She is the author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, which was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012 by The New York Times Book Review and one of the “year’s outstanding books for public library collections” by Booklist. Rachel joined New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as an associate professor in 2017.
Shawn, ’80, wrote for the very first Youth Communication publication in March of 1980. He has a degree in English from Wesleyan University and received a graduate degree in education administration from Teachers College at Columbia University. He has been co-director of the Countee Cullen Community Center at the Rheedlen Foundation (which became the Harlem Children’s Zone), where he founded Harlem Overheard, a teen-written community newspaper. He is the director of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement at the Open Society Institute.
Veronica Chambers, ’89, is the author of over a dozen books and is best known for her critically acclaimed memoir, Mama’s Girl which has been adopted by courses in hundreds of high schools and colleges throughout the country. She has been a senior editor at the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Glamour.
Lisa, ’88, was a New York City Teaching Fellow and is a high school teacher in the city. She has also worked at various film, broadcast, and print media jobs, and as a quilter. She received a BS degree in broadcast communications from Long Island University C.W. Post Campus and a master’s degree in English education from The City College of New York.
Sheila, ’91, is the author of one-bedroom solo (Fly by Night Press, 2011), her debut poetry collection.Her poems have appeared in Rattapallax, Callaloo and Me No Habla with Acento: Contemporary Latino Poetry. She teaches creative writing for The City University of New York and Teachers & Writers Collaborative. She holds degrees in English from Brown University and poetry from The City College of New York.
Lourdes M. Rosado is a YC alumna (’81), helping start the organization in 1980. Ms. Rosado is currently the inaugural Program Director at the New York Civil Liberties Union (“NYCLU”) and is a long-standing youth and social justice advocate. Prior to joining NYCLU, Ms. Rosado was chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the New York State Office of the Attorney General. As Bureau Chief, Ms. Rosado supervised enforcement actions and litigation in federal and state courts. Ms. Rosado was the associate director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia for 17 years, pioneering juvenile justice and child welfare work. Ms. Rosado is a graduate of Swarthmore College, holds a M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.
David, ’93, is a senior staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center, Peter Cicchino Youth Project. He has also worked as a staff attorney at Bronx Defenders and associate at Troutman Sanders in New York City. He studied at Antioch and Sarah Lawrence, where he got a BA in international relations. He has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Gina, ’93, is the founder of the hugely popular lifehacker.com. Gina is the also the founder and creator of Makerbase, an IMDb for web sites and apps and ThinkUp, an app that gives users insights into their social networks. She is the author of Lifehacker: Upgrade Your Life, a book about how simple technology tweaks can make life easier and more rewarding. She has a degree in English from Marist College.
Ferentz, ’94, is Saybrook College Dean at Yale University. He has worked as the Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement at the Catholic University of America (CUA), Director of the Davis Center at Williams College, and as a professor in the Literary Studies Program at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts. He has also served as a faculty member in the History and Social Sciences Department at Georgetown Day School. He earned a BA in English literature from Queens College and a PhD in African-American studies from Yale. He received a Mellon Fellowship and a Leadership Alliance Fellowship. He published a memoir, Songs in the Key of My Life, in 2007.
Victoria, ’95, She is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, which won the 2009 PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) award. She frequently writes and speaks about the intersections between mass incarceration, gender and resistance. Since 2003, she has edited Tenacious: Art and Writings by Women in Prison. In addition, she has worked with incarcerated women to develop their writings for other publications. Victoria has also worked with writers outside of prison. She is the co-editor of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities (PM Press 2012). She has a degree in English from Brooklyn College.
Sharon, ’02, is the Chief Digital Officer of Rachael Ray’s parent company Watch Entertainment and was the publisher of www.mashable.com. She works as advisor to The Muse, Mashable, FitBark and #GivingTuesday. Sharon has a degree in journalism from SUNY New Paltz.
Danny, ’98, teaches American Sign Language in Japan. He has a BA in dramatic writing from SUNY Purchase and a certificate in American Sign Language from LaGuardia Community College. Watch him signing at www.youtube.com and learn more about his work at www.deafjapan.com.
Pauline, ’06, received her masters degree in social work from Fordham University. She has worked as an advocate for youth in foster care in organizations such as the Mental Health Association of New York, YOUTHPower, and Lawyers for Children. Pauline was a grand prize winner in the 10th Annual Awards for Youth in Foster Care.
Orubba, ’09, was named salutatorian of her class at the City College of New York-CUNY, where she earned double BA degrees in English and history. At her graduation ceremony, Orubba delivered a speech expressing her gratitude for her father’s encouragement to pursue an education and to break free from the “girls don’t go to college” tradition in her Yemeni family. She so impressed fellow graduates and guests– including First Lady Michelle Obama– that she received an invitation to the White House’s United State of Women Summit. Orubba is now an advocate for other young women in her culture to stand up for their rights to an education. She plans to earn a master’s degree in near eastern studies at New York University and pursue her PhD at the University of Michigan.
Melvin, ’14, graduated from and received a two-year scholarship to attend Stella Adler Studio of Acting. His story, Tough Guise, was chosen for Teaching Tolerance its anti-bias curriculum. Melvin was one of three YCteen writers who were guests on The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the 250th issue of YCteen, which was on the topic of gender.
Youth Communication is committed to transparency. Below you will find our audited financial statements and IRS Form 990 for the past three years.
|Audited Financial Statements||IRS Form 990|
|Fiscal Year 2020-2021||Filing Year 2021|
|Fiscal Year 2019-2020||Filing Year 2020|
|Fiscal Year 2018-2019||Filing Year 2019|
Charles Hayden Foundation
Charles L. K. and Clara Miller Foundation
Child Welfare Fund
Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation
Donna and Marvin Schwartz Foundation
Fishel Daly Family Foundation
Harman Family Foundation
H. van Ameringen Foundation
Huo Family Foundation
Hyde and Watson Foundation
Ira W. De Camp Foundation
Leroy and Ann Warner Fund
Mary Hutchins Foundation
M. Klebanoff Foundation
New York Community Trust
NYC Administration for Children's Services
NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene
NYC Dept. of Youth & Community Development
Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust
Penguin Random House
Redlich Horwitz Foundation
Richard Smith Fund
Robertson Family Foundation
Still Point Fund
Sunny and Abe Rosenberg Foundation
Tin Man Fund
van Ameringen Foundation
Viola Bernard Foundation
W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation
Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation