Diversifying Our Bench of Leadership

Published on June 12, 2017 | Written by

Youthprise has always been committed to cultivating a diverse staff that has a wide range of leadership skills and experiences. In 2017, we welcomed four new staff members to join our team.


Melissa Mitchell

Melissa Mitchell began her journey at Youthprise as a contractor for various projects including the Accelerators Initiative. She was officially hired on staff in February 2017. Her rich background in youth development, project management, and capacity building made her the perfect candidate for the Director of Partnerships and Outreach position. When asked why she chose Youthprise she said, “Youthprise makes it possible to be out in the community.” In addition, she described the organization’s good reputation and mission as well as its commitment to racial equity and youth as reasons to join the team. She noted that the organization is a place that impacts people for the better and works to improve lives.

Melissa began working at the age of 16 in the catalog department at JC Penney. As a high school student at St. Paul Academy, she was involved in Track and Field and the school chorus. She credits her involvement in out of school time activities for challenging her to push beyond her comfort zone. The supportive environment gave her the skills to work with a team to achieve group and individual goals.

Melissa said her favorite part about working at Youthprise is the safe environment where people are encouraged to grow. She explained, “Youthprise wants to do professional development well.” Supporting the development of others has become a highlight for Melissa in the organization.

Colleen Jordan

Colleen Jordan is a recent graduate with a degree in Nutrition. She began her role as the Nutrition Program Associate at Youthprise in March of 2017. Prior to her current position, Colleen served as an Americorp Vista in Utah. There, she worked with a nonprofit that provided meals to the community.

In high school, she was heavily involved in out of school time programming. She played volleyball and participated in the National Honor Society and FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America). Through FCCLA, she was offered her first job working at a day care at the age of 16. Colleen’s involvement in out of school time activities enforced the importance of community and taught her skills in teamwork and life balance.

When asked about her first day at Youthprise, Colleen laughed and said, “I got to go over the handbook.” She chose to work at the organization after doing research on our website. She especially enjoyed the blogs and was fascinated by the staff. Colleen said, “There are so many different perspectives from staff,” noting the diversity of experiences from her future coworkers.

Alejandra Lemus Rivera

Alejandra began her role as Office Manager in February 2017. She has a diverse background in administration. Prior to Youthprise, she worked as the Project Specialist at Casa de Esperanza, a domestic violence resource center for Latinx communities. She also held the position of Executive Assistant at Hiawatha Leadership Academy. Alejandra came to Youthprise with a passion for working with youth.

Born in Honduras, her mother moved the family to Minnesota at the age of 3. At 15, Alejandra followed the common path of many teens, and began working at McDonalds as her first job. She then transitioned to a position at Target in the photo lab, processing film. Alejandra Grow up in a school district that was primarily white, with little opportunities geared toward Latinx youth and their culture. The experience motivated her to support youth programming that afforded young people the opportunity to become involved in culturally-specific activities.

Alejandra says her favorite part of Youthprise is the culture of family and collaboration. She most enjoys working for an organization that serves as a bridge to many opportunities in the field of youth development. Working on projects she is passionate about fuels her purpose in the organization.

Maurice Nins, Jr.

Maurice Nins, Jr. started at Youthprise in May 2017 as the Grants & Compliance Officer. Maurice has twenty-five years of experience working in the fields of non-profit and government with a focus of youth development, racial equity and public safety issues. With his expertise, he became a natural addition to the Youthprise team.

Maurice enjoys the interesting, passionate, and committed people that work at Youthprise. He provides funding, resources, and technical assistance to organizations that work on youth development issues. He said, “People should reach out to me to learn more about funding and all things related to barbecue.”

His favorite quote is by Martin Luther King, Jr., “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

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