Aaron Myers

Interim – President & CEO has served on Crittenton’s Board of Directors for 7+ years.  Mr. Myers is an international touring Jazz artist based in Washington DC, activist and entrepreneur. Originally from Goodlow, Texas. Mr. Myers is a veteran of the United States Army where he’s certified as a Radio Telecommunications Specialist, and an alumnus of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. His political experience ranges from a mayoral run in Corsicana, Texas, Field Organizer for the Obama-Biden Campaign for Change, policy analysist, and political adviser to candidates and office holders. Mr. Myers is also a skilled volunteer coordinator, event manager, public speaker, and an experienced music instructor. While in Washington DC he previously served as National Director of the nonprofit Global Family Program and is the Minister of Music of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, a position he’s held for 12 years.    

A jazz and soul musician, Mr. Myers is currently the Resident Artist at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant and Eaton DC.  From a point of service, Mr. Myers is the founding Chair of the Board of Directors for the Capitol Hill Jazz Foundation and serves on the Board of Governors with the Recording Academy DC Chapter. Currently, he serves as Vice-Chair of the NAACP DC-Branch LGBTQIA Committee along with being a member of the board of directors for CTE Vision Foundation and Covenant Full Potential Development Center.  Mr. Myers’ activism has been recognized by the Jazz Journalist Association and he’s been twice awarded a WAMMIE Award for his activism and service in Washington DC. 

Claudia Garcia, Program Manager – Montgomery County, earned a bachelor’s degree in human relations and minor in communication from Trinity Washington University. Ms. Garcia also earned her master’s degree in social work from University of Maryland School of Social Work, Baltimore. Ms. Garcia volunteered as a Research Assistant in the Mothers and Babies Project with George Washington University for prevention of post-partum depression. Ms. Garcia possess five years of experience in social services providing psycho-social assessments, connection to community resources, options counseling, and prenatal care enrollment.  Ms. Garcia has experience in training other staff within social services/case management support. She coordinated the car seat program and quarterly baby showers at Mary’s Center. Claudia’s previous career experience also involves providing therapy to help support emotional/behavioral changes in both a school and health clinic setting. Some areas of focus are depression, PTSD (post – traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, grief/loss, post-partum depression, and anger issues. Previously, Claudia has gained experience in facilitating trauma based treatment groups for teen females in Spanish and a males group in English. She has also facilitated post-partum depression support groups in English and Spanish. Other trainings obtained include: ACT/Parents Raising Safe Kids Program, Learning to breathe (Mindfulness) Curriculum, Brief Intervention Therapy, Solution Focus, Motivational Interviewing, SBIRT, Suicide Risk Prevention, Trauma Informed Care, and Advanced Youth Development. Over the years of her career experience, Ms. Garcia has a grown a passion in working with youth, in specific females in empowering in becoming leaders in their community. She joined Crittenton in June 2019 and will be delivering Goal Setting Girls, SNEAKERS, and PEARLS groups in East County Maryland. 

Kahlil Kuykendall, Youth Development Program Consultant. Kahlil has more than twenty years of experience in increasing the capacity of women and youth-serving organizations to develop and deliver high-quality programs and educational enrichment activities. She has worked in Africa, India, and Asia and has extensive experience designing program evaluations that incorporate youth voice. She has coached educators, youth workers, college volunteers, interns, and graduate students to create and implement curricula for young people. Her areas of expertise include education, youth development, arts and culture, project-based learning, child development, holistic wellness, mental health, and career exploration. Kahlil is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University in the Milken Institute School of Public Health and holds a master’s degree in economics with an emphasis on gender and international development. She first delivered programs for Crittenton Services in 2016. 

Debra Lopez, Senior Bilingual Program Coordinator, delivers SNEAKERS and PEARLS at three Montgomery County High Schools. She is a bilingual education professional with over twenty years of professional experience motivating students in a multicultural environment. Ms. Lopez is a passionate advocate who specializes in guiding teen mothers in positive parenting, healthy relationships, perinatal care, and prevention of a second pregnancy. In 2002, she received the Outstanding Community Partner Award from Centro Tepeyac, honoring her dedication to Latina women in crisis pregnancies. In 2011, she was honored by the Washington Mystics with the Inspirational Women Award for being a role model who “ignites the dreams and aspirations of young people.” Ms. Lopez holds a master’s degree in psychological services in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She joined Crittenton Services in June 1993. 

Abigail Saturni, Director of Communications, has a passion for creating digital content for social media. She has used her creative eye and desire to tell a compelling story to help achieve strong branding and messaging goals. Abby worked as a communications consultant for two years, and quickly falling in love with Crittenton’s mission, decided to join us full-time. As a Maryland native, Abby has been involved in varieties of nonprofits in the region over the years and has always felt drawn to humanitarian causes. She is also an advocator for animals and animal rescue, having 3 rescue pets of her own. She enjoys cooking, drawing, watching documentaries, and reading mystery novels in her free time. Abby joined Crittenton full-time in July 2022.

Julio Rivas, Deputy Director, provides administrative support to the fundraising team in charge of proposals and grant management. His primary responsibilities include working as a liaison to the accounting team, managing Crittenton’s databases, and supporting the daily operations of the office. He also uses his passion for digital photography to capture exciting moments at Crittenton events.  Julio has 10 years of experience in database management and general administrative support. Prior to joining Crittenton, Julio served as a Tier 2 Project Manager in commercial construction. Julio is the first in his family to receive an advanced degree and holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Julio joined Crittenton in September 2019

Cassandra Volcy, Program Manager – District of Columbia, delivers the SNEAKERS program at middle and high schools in Wards 5, 7, and 8. Before joining Crittenton Services, Ms. Volcy completed a year of service with Janney Elementary Aftercare, an aftercare program that gives students an opportunity to excel both academically and socially. During her year at Janney Elementary, she tutored and mentored students. She also developed a comprehensive classroom work plan and coordinated weekly enrichment activities. Ms. Volcy holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy and management and a master’s degree in public administration and management from Clark Atlanta University. She joined Crittenton Services in May 2017. Since joining Crittenton, Ms. Volcy has become a certified Advance Youth Development Specialist, certified mandated reporter; certified trauma informed and has completed over 100 hours in comprehensive youth development training. 

Isabella Wise, Youth Development Program Coordinator, delivers Goal Setting Girls and SNEAKERS in Gaithersburg, MD and Silver Spring, MD. She has earned professional development certificates from La Cultura Cura Training (Circle Keeper) and Xinatchli (Female Rites of Passage Program) which support youth in developing a positive identity, life skills, and support skills. Ms. Wise is also a certified teen life coach. Isabella has served as a tutor at Hagerstown Community College and as a mentor at Latin Community of Washington County, assisting students of all ages who are struggling with personal and educational goals and helping them to achieve independence. Isabella holds an associate’s degree in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and literature from Frostburg State University. She began her consultancy with Crittenton Services in October 2017 and joined the staff in April 2018. Since then, Isabella has become a certified Advance Youth Development Specialist, certified mandated reporter and has completed over 100 hours of Youth Development training in her time with Crittenton.

Ayeesha Purnell, Youth Development Program Coordinator delivers SNEAKERS programs in DC. She was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is an entrepreneur, holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and is a certified teacher, etiquette coach and is in the process of earning a master’s in education. She has almost 20 years of experience serving and supporting youth of all ages and grades in various roles. She has worked in multiple schools throughout the District of Columbia and Maryland in positions from program assistant, substitute teacher to school business manager. Ayeesha joined Crittenton in 2021

Brittney Watson, Youth Development Program Coordinator, earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, with a minor in Sociology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Ms. Watson has over 14 years of experience working with children of all ages with diverse backgrounds, starting while in high school at the age of 15. She served in many roles, some including Senior Childcare Educator, Residential Childcare Worker, Youth Program Coordinator, and Adolescent Center Director at notable companies in Maryland like Board of Childcare, Kennedy Krieger, St. Vincent De Paul, and Catholic Charities. In her spare time she enjoys creating curriculum, shopping, and being with family and friends. Brittney joined Crittenton in November 2021

Kiara Jackson, Youth Development Program Coordinator, delivers SNEAKERS and PEARLS program in high schools located in Washington, D.C. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Virginia State University and is currently in the process of earning her Master of Social Work degree from Howard University. Ms. Jackson has over 5 years of experience working with children of all ages who has diverse backgrounds. Prior to Crittenton, Ms. Jackson served in many roles. She worked as a Psychiatric technician, providing services to young girls who have eating disorders. In her undergraduate years she assisted with providing therapeutic day treatment services in elementary and high schools as well as in-home counseling, outpatient therapy, crisis Intervention, and mental health skill building to youth and their families. Kiara coordinated a teen pregnancy/post-partum support group at Medstar Washington Hospital Center. Kiara is passionate about working with the youth and their families to promote well-being for themselves and in their community. Kiara Jackson joined Crittenton in August 2021.  

Yeleny Hernandez, Program Assistant delivers support to program leaders for Montgomery County and Washington D.C. Her primary duties are gathering data and providing logistical support. She was raised in Washington D.C and holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Bowie State University. She is currently in grad school to earn her master’s degree in Criminal Justice Management. Yeleny Joined Crittenton in December 2021.

Candice Pal, College & Career Readiness Counselor, facilitates monthly sessions on college and career readiness to our 11th and 12th grade participants. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from the University of Maryland, Global Campus, and master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Washington Adventist University. Prior to Crittenton, Mrs. Pal worked as a PGCPS Teacher, and a College Career Counselor. In her undergraduate years, she worked within the healthcare field, specifically focused on women’s health. Candice also interned at DeMatha Catholic High School as a College Counselor, and currently volunteers as an Online College and Career Advisor for, providing online college and career advice for underserved youths. Candice is passionate about counseling and coaching students to prepare them to transition into young adulthood. Candice joined Crittenton in March 2022.  

Lakeesha Wallace, Youth Development Program Coordinator, grew up in Portland , Oregon. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon. She has 10 years of experience helping underserved youth and their communities. She has a passion for helping others and has hopes of one day starting her own non-profit . Lakeesha joined Crittenton in August 2022.

Anyssa Dhaouadi, Youth Development Program Coordinator, was born and raised in New London, CT, Anyssa has always had a passion for community based organizing and working with youth. She earned a BA in Sociology with a focus in Advocacy for Social Change and Education from American International College.
With over 8 years of youth development experience, she specializes in developing and leading various out of school time programs. Her goal is to provide a safe space for youth and help raise and educate new generations of confident, socially aware and emotionally intelligent leaders using social emotional learning components and restorative justice practices. Along with youth and community organizing work, Anyssa has a great love for dance and arts, and enjoys spending time in the studio and traveling. Anyssa joined Crittenton in August 2022.

Noraixa Castro, Youth Development Program Coordinator, was born and raised in Puerto Rico.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with over 13 years of experience.  Ms. Castro also has a Master’s in Public Affairs with a specialization in Conflict Mediation.  She has worked in different settings such as Child Protective Services and Department of Public Housing in Puerto Rico. Ms. Castro then worked in a DC Public Charter School. This was her first professional experience working in the United States. She is passionate about working with children, youth and their families.  In her free time, she enjoys travel and health/fitness .  Noraixa joined Crittenton Services in September 2022

Deija Blackman, Youth Development Program Coordinator, has earned her bachelors degree in  liberal studies with a focus in psychology from Frostburg State  University. During  undergraduate studies, she interned at an  elementary school working with kindergarten students. She has also worked as a program facilitator at Watkins mill high school for the 480 club for 4 years  providing services, and helping students in the community  reach their full potential by offering medical care, counseling, positive youth development, and health education experiences in a confidential and culturally-competent manner. She has Facilitated and co-facilitated various school programs with groups of up to 25 students. Deija has also volunteered and coordinated many mcps events with our youth. She is passionate about making a difference with our youth by being an ear or outlet, and providing spaces for youth to be able to feel comfortable at all times. Deija joined Crittenton in August 2022.

Ashley Funes, Youth Development Program Coordinator, is originally from Houston, Texas but has been living in Montgomery County for 11 years now. She has earned her Bachelor of Science for Middle School Education from Towson University. She has been working with children since 2017; since then, has had a passion to help and to be a role model, mentor, and a permanent reliable person in every youth she has encountered. She is looking forward to going grad school to earn her master’s degree in human services. Ashley joined Crittenton in September 2022.