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.

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.

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.

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.

Rosie Roche - Director of Development & Communications

Rosie is excited to move from a career in arts and culture nonprofit management into more direct human services work. She loves YCC because of the whole person approach of the programs. Mental health and life skills are as important as formal education and career readiness, and it is this enlightened approach to empowering young people to make their own paths that attracted her to join the dedicated and inspiring team.

Rosie lived most of her life in London and moved to Evanston 20 years ago. She has been enjoying the beauty of Lake County as her home for two years now and is very pleased to both live and work in her community.

Creative passions start and end with theatre, including many performing arts forms. Good communication and human kindness are her guiding principles.

Candace May - Development Coordinator

Candace May began working at YCC as the Development Coordinator June 2023. Candace is a three-term AmeriCorps alumnus who has served on both the presidential and congressional levels as a campaign organizer also with churches and houses of worship in the environmental justice field in the Lake County Area. As well she has served as District Outreach Director for Senator Adriane Johnson.

She has a distinct passion for the earth and Youth and is currently pursuing her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education.

Candace’s passions and experience in serving within the nonprofit, governmental as well as educational field drew her to continue to live in that passion as the Development Coordinator for Youth conservation corps. In her free time, she plays guitar and sings, and has written children’s books and a corresponding album to highlight and bring awareness to the conservation of Monarch Butterflies. 

Bill Foltz - Outreach & Community Services 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!

Jose Luis Vega - Marketing and Outreach Coordinator

Jose Luis Vega began working at YCC in July of 2022. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication & Media Studies, as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing from Aurora University in May of the same year. 

Jose chose to work at YCC because of the impact YCC has on the youth and the city of Waukegan as a whole. His experience in giving back to communities stems from his involvement in his Latin fraternity, Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and he wanted to continue making an impact, this time with the city of Waukegan. 

His creativity and passion for social media, graphic design, and marketing all attracted him to the position of Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. 

One of Jose’s passions is music. In his free time, he loves to listen to music, play guitar, and even DJ at social events. His top three genres are Hip-Hop, Reggaeton, and R&B. Besides music, Jose loves to travel. His happy place is the beach, and his favorite beach is located in Luquillo, Puerto Rico.

Edith Elias - Program Enrollment Coordinator

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Wisconsin- Parkside, she learned about service and the positive impact it has on our community. That is why she was interested in an organization such as YCC that serves people in need. She believes mentors are essential for guiding our youth to success!

Through her volunteer work, she has enjoyed forming relationships with non-profit organizations nationally and abroad. Her most recent volunteer trip abroad was to the Amazon rainforest in Colombia, where she served alongside families of the local communities.

She enjoys spending time with her family and her 2 boys that keep her very busy. Her happy place is being in nature and walking trails.

Jimmy Ollie - Construction Supervisor

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!

Sadaf Surani - Data & Grants Manager

Sadaf joined the 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.

Jim Malecha - Finance Director

Teryan Washington - Construction Crew

Michelle Lord - Finance Assistant

Dan Knight - Residential Construction Foreman

Steven Panos - Construction Crew




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