The Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) is a joint project between Maine’s Youth in Foster Care, The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service.
YLAT Program Coordinator/Facilitator
Ahmen Cabral has been working with YLAT since 2007. She is continually inspired by the energy and positive change that is created when strong youth and adult partnerships are developed. “Each YLAT member – youth and adults – bring experience, knowledge, and leadership to create positive change in child welfare.” Ahmen is also involved in the Southern Maine Youth Transition Network comprised of community members, youth, and providers that aims to increase employment, post-secondary education, community opportunities, and supports for youth aging out of foster care. You will see Ahmen at YLAT meetings, panel presentations, community meetings, and the annual Teen Conference. Ahmen enjoys spending time with her family and running with Chase, her chocolate lab.
Shannon joined the YLAT team in 2011, and has been inspired ever since! Hearing the experiences of young people, and what youth in care are currently facing motivates Shannon to think creatively with her partners to create sustainable changes and reforms to the child welfare system in Maine. Shannon often describes her connections with young people as “humbling”, and feels truly lucky to be a part of their journeys. You’ll see Shannon facilitating at YLAT meetings, panel presentations and training, and as the voice behind the YLAT social media pages. Currently, Shannon serves as the Adult Liaison for Maine’s partnership with the Foster Youth in Action, a national organization that brings a network of programs, like YLAT, together to create a larger voice for youth in foster care. When Shannon isn’t at work she enjoys spending time with her daughters, reading a good book and catching up on her favorite TV shows with her fur babies.
Cheri was one of the founding members of YLAT, and has been involved in leadership and advocacy work ever since. At the age of 11, Cheri entered foster care, which is when she knew she wanted to work with other youth in care. Cheri understands the challenges and stigmas that young people face, and understands the resiliency they hold. She believes in the power and hope for others who share commonalities in their stories. Cheri is a CASA volunteer and uses her personal and professional experiences to support youth to use their voice to promote the changes they want in their lives. Cheri loves running, yoga and Cross Fit. She shares this love of the outdoors and sports with her husband and three children. Cheri is excited to work with YLAT in a new role to facilitate YLAT meetings, training, and other events!
YLAT Policy Assistant I
Tara joined the Cutler Institute in July of 2016. She is a Policy Associate I supporting several teams and projects. She works on multiple projects with the YCE team, Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT), Maine Youth Transition Collaborative (MYTC), and Southern Maine Youth Transition Network (SMYTN) and LEAP. I am honored to be part of these teams working to make a better world for the people of Maine.
I enjoy the outdoors of Maine with hiking, fishing, and hunting.
Chip Curry is thrilled to be joining the YLAT team. He has had the pleasure of working with the Muskie YLAT folks for almost eleven years and has heard lots of great things about the amazing adult and youth leaders. Chip is passionate about making education accessible and empowering for all students. He works at UROCK (a University of Maine System College Center) where he advises and supports students. In co-facilitating the Rockland YLAT group he hopes to have fun, meet new folks, learn about the challenges facing youth in care, and support the group to make a positive contribution. Chip’s interests include curling, canoeing, local politics, and community theater.
Julia is a Research Assistant at Muskie who is pleased to be working both with YLAT and the VAWA Measuring Effectiveness Initiative teams. Julia completes program evaluation for YLAT. She enjoys going to many of the year-end meetings and the Teen Conference where she gets to see YLAT youth members and gets to help youth and adults complete evaluations of the program. Outside of work, Julia enjoys spending time reading, playing tennis, hanging out with her family, and going on Maine adventures.
Policy Analyst I
Nathan joined YLAT in 2018 and comes with a decade of experience in youth work, community organizing, communications, and media that both informs and supports his work in a broader context. Nathan is enjoying his work on the team because it connects him to people working tirelessly and joyfully to improve their communities, to fight for justice, and to use the power of their voice. Having grown up traveling with many years spent overseas, Nathan deeply values connections across differences, and carries a curiosity and learning into his work and play. In his free time, Nathan enjoys dancing and volunteering with several local and regional programs focusing on youth development, environmental issues, and homelessness.
Meilin Brodeur is a student at The University of Southern Maine studying to get her Master’s in Social Work and will be working with YLAT until May. She has worked with youth in care for several years and started out going to Maine Caring Families events when she was a child. Prior to interning at Muskie, she interned at DHHS working with young adults on the V9. Meilin’s continued interest in working with young adults was inspired by the resiliency she saw in young adults. You’ll find her facilitating at YLAT meetings in Waterville, attending panel presentations, and trainings. Outside of work, you can find Meilin at the beach, spending time with her friends and family, or trying a new restaurant in town!
Kim has been practicing social work for over 30 years in mental health, human services, and educational settings. She has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maine and is licensed as an LCSW in Maine. Most recently, Kim has been employed as a school Social Worker focusing on teaching children and staff the practice of mindfulness, as well as providing individual mental health therapy to children and support to their families with a focus on trauma-informed care. Prior to working in the public school setting, Kim held management positions in Head Start and mental health. She has dedicated her career to children and families beginning at the Department of Health and Human Services in various positions including caseworker positions in children and adult services. Kim is excited to return to working with children in foster care through YLAT and hopes to continue to make a difference in their lives. Beginning in October 2018, Kim will open a private practice in Houlton. Kim raised two children in northern Maine where she continues to reside. She likes to spend her spare time hiking, traveling, quilting, reading and simply enjoying the wonders of the world.