LaTara Harris, CEO & President, a change agent with nearly 30 years of experience in corporate and nonprofit sectors, has been appointed the CEO & President of the longest standing organization serving teen girls, Crittenton Services of Greater Washington.
Harris comes to Crittenton after a celebrated tenure at AT&T, where she served as the Director of External and Legislative Affairs in the Mid-Atlantic for almost 11 years. Harris focused on local legislative and regulatory affairs in Maryland, Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Harris joined AT&T after over a decade of working at the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education in high-level executive roles, including Director of Partnerships and Outreach.
During her time with AT&T, Harris demonstrated exceptional leadership doing the critical work around the company’s obligation to prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. She spearheaded several initiatives, including the launch of AT&T Scholarships with the nation’s oldest HBCUs – Lincoln and Cheyney Universities, and the establishment of Tech Centers at various YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs around the country, having provided thousands of internship and mentorship opportunities for youth.
Harris has shown a powerful commitment to elevating women’s voices in business, emphasizing the critical importance of Black and minority leadership in corporate and nonprofit sectors. She founded We Empower Women Inc., a global women’s empowerment organization that aims to uplift and motivate women of all walks to take the next step toward their full potential. She has personally mentored dozens of individuals over the years to identify their gifts and find their space in this world. This work also led to Ms. Harris becoming a co-founder, alongside her children, of Youth Leaders In Training, an organization focused on leadership development and volunteerism.
In 2015, Harris was recognized as Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Maryland Daily Record and has received several other outstanding awards:
· 2020 AT&T Women of Color Graduate
· 2019 National Congress of Black Women – Sisters Empowering Sisters Award
· 2017 Washington Business Journal – Minority Business Leader Award
· 2015 & 2014 US President’s Volunteer Service Award
· 2014 High Tea Society’s – Communi-Tea Service Award
· 2010 Maryland Daily Record – “VIP Successful by 40” Award
Harris earned her undergraduate degree from Bowie State University and her MBA from the University of 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, Communications Manager, has 4 years of experience managing social media platforms, over a year in communications, and is recognized as a Certified Digital Marketing Professional by the American Marketing Association. Abby has a love for creating and writing, overseeing a variety of Crittenton’s external communications, including The Crittenton Chronicle monthly newsletter, social media platforms, press and media communication, and public announcements. Abby has a versatile skillset, ranging from crafting impactful messages to video refinement and enhancement. Her passion for humanitarian issues led her to work at Crittenton. She is a strong advocator for animals and animal rescue, having 4 rescue pets of her own, and has previously volunteered at rescue centers. 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, Senior Program Manager, 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, Program Manager – Montgomery County, 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.
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.
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 CareerVillage.org, 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.
Janet Arevalo, Bilingual Resource Coordinator and Mental Health Services Assistant, her primary duties and responsibilities include connecting program participants and their families to community resources, acting as a liaison between partnering organizations, and leads the mental health intake process. Janet undertakes initial outreach for program participants interested in mental health services and provides educational support. Janet was born and raised in Washington D.C. where she currently resides and holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Catholic University of America. Janet joined Crittenton in July 2023.
Janeysali Reyes, Youth Development Program Coordinator, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and recently completed her Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in May 2023. Janeysali has been actively involved in nonprofit organizations, with a particular focus on providing Youth and Family programming in Montgomery County public schools. Her experience includes also working closely with youth in schools providing individual and group counseling services. Janeysali is dedicated to eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health and hopes to make a positive impact on the lives of those she serves. Janeysali joined Crittenton in September 2023.
Sara Anniki, Youth Development Program Coordinator, holds a B.A. in International Studies with a special concentration in African Diasporic studies. Sara is an anthropologist, educator, global citizen, and proud daughter of the African diaspora. For 14 years, Sara has served internationally as a teacher, mentor, and program facilitator in schools and enrichment programs. In addition to serving as an educator; Sara supports various communities as a cultural preservationist. Sara is proficient in the fields of Archaeology, African Studies, African American Studies and Latin American & Caribbean Studies. She is a passionate advocate for cultural centered education and works to amplify and extend the global impact of African & Indigenous peoples. When not in the field, Sara enjoys imparting wisdom in the youth, for they are the future leaders and inheritors of the Earth. Sara joined Crittenton in September 2023.
Carlynn Newhouse (she/her), Youth Development Program Coordinator, delivers the SNEAKERS program at middle and high schools in Ward 7. Originally from Seattle, she currently practices in Washington D.C. where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Howard University, a pursuit funded through the Adobe Creativity Scholarship. With over 7 years of experience, Carlynn specializes in youth development and arts education in non-profit spaces. Her passion for youth work is fueled by the belief that young people have the power, agency, and imagination to cultivate realities they deserve to exist in. In addition to her work with young people, Carlynn is an awarded poet, host, and performance artist. She believes poetry is a form of activism and tool for raising awareness in hopes of making the world a safer space. Carlynn joined Crittenton in September 2023.
Brenda Portillo, Mental Health Services Program Manager and Clinician, is a native of Silver Spring, MD and Crittenton alumni. She earned her MSW and MPH degrees from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social work and Graduate School of Public Health. She is a bilingual Licensed Certified Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-C) in the state of Maryland and has been in practice for 5 years. As a Clinical therapist, she has provided a full range of crisis management and counseling services, to children, adolescents, and adults in various mental health and social service organizations, and health care and hospital settings. She draws on an eclectic approach, utilizing cognitive behavioral (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), strengths-based, solutions-focused (SFT), and person-centered approaches. Her goal is to provide a safe and non- judgmental environment in which the Crittenton girls feel connected, supported, understood, and empowered. Brenda joined Crittenton in September 2023.
Khali Northington Kenyatte, Youth Development Program Consultant, delivers SNEAKERS at middle and high schools in Wards 7 and 8. She is passionate about providing a safe space for girls to affirm and celebrate themselves, to define their own realities, to speak up, to laugh and connect, and to be loud without apology. Khali is an English professor and the founding director of Writing on the Walls!—a literacy and creative writing program for youth designed to foster creativity, improve literacy skills, and inspire young people to be empowered, engaged, and productive citizens. Khali facilitates a variety of classes and workshops including a course she created to boost the self-esteem and confidence of middle and high-school girls. In the class, participants explore the concepts of identity, sisterhood, and personal power through literature and activities that celebrate who they are. Before Crittenton, Khali spent more than 15 years in communications and public relations serving the needs of the community. Khali holds a master’s degree in writing and design from the University of Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University. She joined Crittenton Services in September 2020.