About Us

Mission & Vision

Our Mission

Through the power of sharing true, teen-written stories, we improve the lives of underserved youth in New York City and beyond.

Our Vision

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.

Our Team

Betsy Cohen
Executive Director

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
Managing Director of Operations

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.

Tom Brown
Administrative Advisor

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
Director of Business Development

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
Managing Director of External Relations

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
Education Programs Coordinator

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.

Tim Fredrick, PhD
Managing Director of Programs
Tim Fredrick, PhD, is the senior director of education programs, leading the team that implements YC’s professional development and curriculum programs. He has been a teacher for over 20 years from kindergarten to graduate school, and everything in between. His dissertation, completed at New York University’s, focuses on how 9th graders used language to achieve agency in a New York City ELA classroom. His career in education has always been dedicated to creating educational spaces that center and validate young people’s experiences, interests, cultures, and goals.
Janelle Greco
Director of Training

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
Founder and Senior Advisor

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
Communications and Development Manager

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.

Dana Nurse
Director of Culturally Responsive Education
Dana Nurse is Youth Communication’s Director of Culturally Responsive Education. From Brooklyn by way of Trinidad, she is a former high school special education teacher and most recently served as the ELA Content Specialist for the NYCDOE’s Office of Assessment. Dana holds a BFA from Emerson College in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and a MSEd from St. John’s University in Special Education. She is committed to anti-racist education and uplifting youth voices. She is an afrofuturist nerd, a sometimes poet, and loves dachshunds maybe a little bit too much.
Ellen Song, PhD
Senior Editor, Represent

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
Editor at Large

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.

Mario Sanchez
Journalism Fellow

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
Senior Editor

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
Marketing and Public Relations Intern

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.

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Board members

Leah Modigliani

President

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.

Leah Modigliani

President

Lourdes Rosado

Vice President

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.

Lourdes Rosado

Vice President

Troy Williams

Treasurer

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
of Business.

Troy Williams

Treasurer

Bob Ouimette

Secretary

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.

Bob Ouimette

Secretary

Timothy Blair

Member

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.

Timothy Blair

Member

Pilar Conde

Member

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.

Pilar Conde

Member

Nina Link

Member
Nina Link is an executive mentor at Merryck & Co. Prior to joining Merryck she was president and CEO of the Magazine Publishers of America. Nina held numerous positions at Sesame Workshop (formerly Children’s Television Workshop), finally serving as group president, Publishing and Interactive. Ms. Link headed her own consulting firm, The Link Group, Inc. where she managed a network of  colleagues who designed and developed multimedia educational and training programs for the business, government, and nonprofit sectors.

Nina Link

Member

Vivian Louie

Member

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.

Vivian Louie

Member

Bill Smith

Member

Bill Smith is the founder and CEO of BiographyPARTNER which publishes commissioned biographies and histories. Prior to that, he founded and ran The Bill Smith Group which specialized in creating visual books and digital content for K-16 education. The Group’s clients included PBS, Sesame Street, National Geographic, and The Discovery Channel. He has also worked for the Academy for Educational Development, ABS’ Good Morning America, and the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund.

Bill Smith

Member

Advisory Board

MICHAEL BAILIN
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (ret.)

NEIL BARSKY
Marshall Project

GORDON BERLIN
MDRC

RIC BURNS
Filmmaker

BARRY ENSMINGER
Consultant

PEGGY FARBER
Office of the New York State Attorney General

BILL JOSEPHSON
Fried Frank (ret.)

ARTHUR KLEBANOFF
RosettaBooks

JONATHAN KOZOL
Author

LEE KRAVITZ
Author

BARRON (BUZZ) TENNY
Ford Foundation (ret.)

ALUMNI

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.

Learn more

Edwidge Danticat

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...

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Rachel Swarns

Rachel L. Swarns ’84 served as managing editor of Youth Communication’s YCteen magazine, where she published more than a dozen stories ...

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Shawn Dove

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...

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Veronica Chambers

Veronica Chambers, ’89, is the author of over a dozen books and is best known for her critically acclaimed memoir, Mama’s Girl w...

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Lisa Denerstein

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 ...

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Sheila Maldonado

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...

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Lourdes Rosado

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...

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David Miranda

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...

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Gina Trapani

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...

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Ferentz LaFargue

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...

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Victoria Law

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...

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Sharon Feder

Sharon, ’02, is the Chief Digital Officer of Rachael Ray’s parent company Watch Entertainment and was the publisher of www.mashable.com.  She...

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Danny Gong

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...

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Pauline Gordon

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...

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Orubba Almansouri

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.  ...

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Melvin Pichardo

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...

Financials

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

 

 

 

Supporters

Anonymous
Charles Hayden Foundation
Charles L. K. and Clara Miller Foundation
Child Welfare Fund
College Board
Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation
Donna and Marvin Schwartz Foundation
Fishel Daly Family Foundation
Ford Foundation
Harman Family Foundation
H. van Ameringen Foundation
Huo Family Foundation
Hyde and Watson Foundation

Ira W. De Camp Foundation
Kenworthy-Swift Foundation
Leroy and Ann Warner Fund
M&T Bank
Mary Hutchins Foundation
M. Klebanoff Foundation
Metzger-Price Fund
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

Pinkerton Foundation
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
WKBJ Foundation