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 by those she works with 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 find Shannon facilitating at YLAT meetings, panel presentations and trainings, 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 Eilee & Avery, reading a good book, and catching up on her favorite TV shows with her fur babies, Fenway, Sully, Maximus & Sawyer.
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!
Jared Graduated from The University of Maine in May 2013 with his MSW. He currently works as a therapist, mostly with children and teens. He also did an internship for DHHS where he worked with teens to find permanent connections. He has been involved with children in foster care for 13 years. His likes are paintball, playing video games, and building things. Jared also has three children who keep him busy. He loves working with young people and is very excited to be facilitating a YLAT group!
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.
Claire was born and raised in New York City, but has found her home here in Maine. Claire recently graduated with her Masters in Social Work from the University of New England. Claire is passionate about ensuring that systems and organizations are informed and directed by those they seek to serve. Claire is also passionate about working with and learning from young adults, and is truly grateful to be able to do work she believe in. Claire believes that shared learning is a core piece of social justice and anti-oppression work. Claire loves to be outside, whether it is canoeing, cross-country skiing, digging holes or reading in a patch of sun by the water. She also writes lots of collaged letters and collects stones.
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.
Director of Youth Leadership Activities
Penthea (Pen) has been involved with YLAT since 1999 and has LOVED every minute. She has supported youth and adults partnering together and young people raising their voices. She has also worked with the Wabanaki Tribes in Maine to improve their experience with child welfare and so that Native youth grow up connected to their culture and their identity. You will see Penthea at legislative and policy meetings with youth, facilitating community conversations, attending YLAT meetings from time to time, and participating in the teen conference. Penthea lives with her 8 sled dogs and is involved with local politics. She is a new beekeeper, enjoys photography, writing poetry and cooking. She has a grown son, Braden, who she adores.
Director of Youth & Community Engagement
Along side a group of youth & dedicated staff Marty helped to create YLAT. He has had the great pleasure and honor to work with youth and community partners for over twenty years in Maine. Passionate about finding ways to connect people so that a young person’s hopes and dreams can be achieved, Marty strongly believes in the words said by former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, “None of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. We got here because somebody-a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns-bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”