Staff

Jennifer Yonan - Executive Director

Jennifer is a successful executive with broad-based experience in the fields of nonprofit leadership, fundraising, marketing, community/government relations, economic development and business operations. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration and a Certification in Fundraising Management from North Park University as well as a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL with a degree in Communications. Jennifer served for twelve years as Vice President of Marketing and Development with the United Way of Lake County and most recently as Executive Director with Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee and Skokie. Jennifer was drawn to YCC because she wanted to serve the vulnerable in the area where she was born and raised and because she recognizes the importance of education and hands-on experience in the trades.In her spare time, she enjoys cycling around the Lake County Forest Preserves. Her favorite word is Courage.

Trisha Blythe - Development Director

Trisha earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Spanish from The University of Iowa. She completed her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education at National-Louis University, in Wheeling, IL. She then taught fifth grade for several years before starting her own private tutoring business in the north and west suburbs of Chicago. In the summer of 2018, Trisha began working as the Grants Administrator for YCC and was promoted to Director of Development shortly after. Trisha loves seeing the amazing transformations that YCC members make as they progress throughout the program. She is proud when she sees all the fantastic things they accomplish. The best piece of advice she’s ever received was to “be a hero maker, not a hero”. This means building up others, highlighting their strengths and talents and using one’s power to help others become great.

Karen Rios - Program Director

Karen joined YCC as Program Director in 2020. She has over 20 years of experience working with community-based, social service organizations and is passionate about ensuring that people have the resources they need to succeed. Karen earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies from Iowa State University and her Master’s degree in Business Administration from Aurora University. Karen was excited to join the YCC team and have the opportunity to serve youth who are in the process of transforming their lives. Karen loves to spend time with her family, travel and learn about other cultures. She is developing her cooking skills in Puerto Rican cuisine and is active in scouting. While she won’t say that she loves it, she has developed an appreciation for camping.

Jean Fredrickson - Finance Director

Jean joined the YCC team in January 2021 as the Finance Director. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Illinois State University and has over 30 years in finance/accounting with positions in public accounting, manufacturing, consulting and education. Jean is humbled to be serving the members of YCC and looks forward to providing support to the programming team to ensure success. Jean is an avid reader and loves to spend time in Door County with her husband and grown children.

Susan Green - Instructional Services Manager

Susan earned her Bachelor of Arts from Lewis University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Loyola University, Chicago. She worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago for nineteen years as a teacher and principal at St Simeon in Bellwood, IL. Susan joined YCC after raising her children. She was drawn to YCC because she wanted to maximize her impact by educating an underserved population and age group that had a substantial need for assistance. When Susan isn’t educating, she enjoys taking road trips with her family to the national parks, where they hike, camp and learn about the unique ecosystems of each park.

Fred Williams - Member Services Manager

Fred received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at the University of Iowa and a Master’s of Divinity/Pastoral Care and Counseling at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. He is a United States Air Force Veteran. As the Case Manager, he’s had success with members by working with them directly in an effort to build a sense of self-motivation from within. In his spare time, he’s a smooth jazz and R&B aficionado. He enjoys discovering obscure tracks and plans to share them with the world as an internet radio DJ.

Ed Roucka - Construction Manager

While previously working in construction, Ed developed a passion for education while teaching his apprentices. He welcomed the opportunity to bring this passion and his expertise to help Lake County youth develop skills that will help them succeed in the workforce. Ed says that the teaching relationship goes both ways between him as his students. He’s always learning new things from them. In his spare time, Ed enjoys spending time with his grandkids and watching all Chicago sports teams. He prefers the Cubs but will root for the Sox as well.

Jennifer Cooper - Placement & Alumni Manager

Jennifer Cooper is an educator who has worked in multiple school districts throughout the United States. After graduating in 2010 from Denison University in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies, Jennifer moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she received her Masters of Education: Youth Development Leadership in May of 2014. Jennifer has extensive experience in working with youth of all backgrounds. Her passion for youth development started early on in her career when she worked as an AmeriCorps member for Citi Year. Jennifer taught at the Freedom Schools and became the first Site Coordinator for Native Americans in Minnesota. She has traveled throughout the United States, taking students on college tours. Jennifer is a Posse Scholar recipient and a Golden Apple Scholar. Jennifer was diagnosed with Dyslexia early in her education and used her challenges as a motivation to push herself and the youth she works with. It is important to her that they know that life may have it’s up and downs but you keep pushing forward.

Sadaf Surani - Data & Grants Manager

Sadaf joined YCC team as a Data and Grants Manager in March 2021. She has over 6 years of experience working across financial and non-profit sectors. She earned her Bachelor’ degree in Economics and Finance and later got her Master’s in Business Administration, both from Institute of Business Management, IoBM. Sadaf is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people by being a catalyst to transformation. She was drawn towards YCC to be able to serve the opportunity youth, as she believes these young adults are the future of generations to come. Sadaf loves to travel and spend quality time with her family, but cooking remains the heart of all her hobbies.

Bill Foltz - Outreach Coordinator

Bill received a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Illinois State University and has been a member of the YCC staff since 2012. He had a desire the learn the needs of young people in the Lake County area and sought out YCC, serving two terms as an AmeriCorps VISTA as the Bridge to College Specialist. He then served one year as an AmeriCorps member in the role of Program Coordinator, and has been in charge of keeping member files up to date and in compliance with government regulations. Bill was the Program Coordinator at YCC since 2015 and was promoted to Program Manager in the fall of 2019. In his spare time he loves to watch baseball and is a Chicago Cubs superfan.

Alex Fillak - Recruitment & Engagement Coordinator

Alex holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a minor in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Arts & Sciences from Columbia College in Chicago. He previously worked as a freelance video producer in Chicago. He was drawn to YCC because of their mission to help an underserved population succeed while having the opportunity to use his video and photo skills he gained in his education. He likes to spend his free time with his girlfriend and cat, watching soccer, and playing board games.  


Viviana Rodriguez - Program & Enrollment Coordinator

Viviana Rodriguez joined the YCC team as the Program Enrollment Coordinator in April 2021. She attended and graduated in 2020 from the University of Illinois, Chicago with her BA in Communication. During her last year as an undergrad she began interning with The LeaderShop, a non-profit in LaGrange geared towards youth’s advancement in leadership. There she gained the knowledge and experience to later become their Program Coordinator, where she managed an e-learning after school program with a cohort of 10 youths all between the ages of 6 and 17. Viviana was passionate about joining the YCC team especially due to her being born and raised in Waukegan herself. She hopes to make an impact in her hometown and is excited to continue having the opportunity to influence youth in a positive way.  


Jimmy Ollie

Jimmy Ollie - Construction Trainer

Jimmy first joined YCC as a YouthBuild member as an opportunity youth that the program served. He said that his construction teacher handed him a hammer and it changed his life. He was able to turn his life around thanks to YCC and he now teaches the National Center for Construction Education and Training (NCCER) Core Curriculum Class to members from similar backgrounds to him. He enjoys guiding members down a positive path in life. Click here to learn   


Laura Rivera - Student Advocate

Since 2005, Laura has been a Real Estate Agent, selling homes in the Chicago and Lake County Areas. She now helps YouthBuild and high school graduates with career assessments and grant funded enrollment at the College of Lake County. In her free time, Laura enjoys running, biking, yoga, cooking and spending time with family & friends. Laura enjoys helping people in need through their life struggles. She believes that we are all here with a purpose to make a positive difference where we can.

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