Carlo Kriekels, Co-founder and Executive Director, JD, LL.M.
After completing an intensive four-year training program in emotional intelligence coaching, Carlo taught leadership and emotional intelligence skills to business leaders in Europe and the United States for many years. In 2001, he co-founded the YESS Institute in order to bring the benefits of emotional intelligence training to at-risk youth and the nonprofit agencies that serve youth. Carlo, born in Belgium, holds two law degrees (a J.D. from Belgium and a LL.M from Germany) and is fluent in six languages, including Spanish. As the YESS Institute's co-founder and lead trainer, Carlo has trained over 4,000 youth and role models at national, regional, and local conferences and workshops. Since 2006, he has been an active member of the Youth Mentoring Collaborative's (YMC) training committee and co-chaired the YMC in 2009-10. He has been a facilitator at all free Mentor Enrichment Trainings for the YMC. Carlo also serves currently on the Denver Foundation Inclusiveness Project Committee. He received the 2011 "Heavy Lifting Award" from the Denver Mayor's Office for Education and Children for his efforts to improve the lives of youth in Denver. Carlo oversees overall agency operations and the development of the YESS curriculum. For this project, his duties will include: fiscal management; program operations and quality assurance; staffing and staff development; and training for School Liaisons, mentors, Mentor Leaders, and YESS Youth Advisory Board members.
Emily Webster, Program Manager at West High School
Emily has joined the YESS Institute from Tampa, Florida. She has been a counselor at a therapeutic wilderness program for adjudicated youth, a life skills teacher and advisor at a program for at-risk adolescent girls, and a counselor at an out of school time program. Emily is passionate about building relationships with youth and their support systems and facilitating fun and productive growth opportunities. She is looking forward to all of the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer along with exploring the city of Denver. Emily is responsible for the YESS Peer Mentoring Program at West High School.
Sarah Clark, Program Manager at North High School
Sarah is from Denver, CO where she grew up and spent all of her life. Sarah received a B.A in Communications from the University of Denver. After college she joined the Colorado Mentors on the Move AmeriCorps Program where she completed one year of services to reduce the educational and basic needs barriers for homeless students. She served homeless children and families providing them with basic need supplies, mentoring, tutoring, and assisted parents with resource information. Before joining the YESS Institute, Sarah worked for Adams County School District 50 Homeless Service Program for seven years. She worked with at-risk families and youth helping them to remove the educational barriers that prevent them from having a successful school experience. She worked with families and youth providing them with comprehensive support services to break the cycle of poverty. She will be working with students at North High School.
Helen Penny, Program Manager at Lincoln High School – AmeriCorps Member
Helen Penny moved from New York to Colorado in August of 2011. She received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Political Science from the State University of New York at Geneseo. Originally planning on pursuing a Master’s degree in Human Rights in Colorado, Helen opted to pursue an AmeriCorps position instead, seeing AmeriCorps as a valuable learning experience that would provide insight into nonprofit work. After graduating Helen worked in several day cares, jobs which stood to solidify that she enjoyed working with children and making a difference in their lives. Through involvement in various volunteer organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and after school tutoring, Helen decided she wanted to pursue a career that would have a life changing impact on those she serves. She chose to join the Denver Human Services AmeriCorps program to do just that. Helen is excited to join the YESS Institute for the 2012-2013 school year and cannot wait to make a positive impact at Abraham Lincoln High School and help students in reaching their full potential.
Daniel Medina, Program Director at Lincoln High School – Contracted
Daniel dropped out of Lincoln High School as a freshman, became gang-involved and ran away from home. He was married by age 18 and by 30 he had six children. He eventually turned his life around, completed his GED, started his own construction company and volunteered as a sports coach. In 1999, Lincoln High School, struggling to reduce gang activity, asked him become the school’s community / attendance liaison and a coach. Daniel searched the streets to bring the non-attending kids back to school, placed negative peer leaders in small alternative schools and increased parent involvement. His hands-on model combined with the street-credibility earned as a result of his background has helped him connect with and help turn around many “lost kids”. In 2006, the YESS Institute piloted its peer-mentoring model at Lincoln HS with Dan Medina serving as the School Liaison for the program. Dan worked closely with the YESS Institute to create the current blueprint for the YESS Mentoring program; he is responsible for attendance strategies such as our log sheet, home visit policy and mentee/parent attendance contract. As part of this project, Dan will continue to serve as the School Liaison at Lincoln (his salary paid as an in-kind contribution from DPS). In addition, he will work an additional 10 hours per week as School Liaison Trainer for the new School Liaisons at North and West.
C. Lee Pirkey, MBA, YESS Institute Bookkeeper – Contracted
Lee has worked an independent contracted bookkeeper at YESS Institute on a weekly basis since January 2010. He has MBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Florida in Gainesville. Since 2000 he has served as business manager and chief financial officer at several, large nonprofit agencies—agencies with complex budgets and funding from a variety of local, state and federal funding sources. He brings experience in: creating and utilizing sophisticated grant accounting tracking systems; developing management data systems; planning financial feasibility studies; 990 reporting; utilizing the Unified Chart of Accounts; and maximizing the QuickBooks software to track financial data, invoicing and grant expenditure for federal and state reimbursement contracts; and providing financial oversight of company payroll and employee benefits.
Abigail Beckord, YESS Institute Office Manager – Contracted
Abigail began her position as a contracted Office Manager at YESS Institute in June 2012. She has been working with various non-profits in Colorado for three years including her two years with AmeriCorps where she mentored teen mothers attending high school. Abigail moved to Denver in 2009 and fell in love with the city, but does miss the sweet corn, sunsets, and college football of her home town, Iowa City. Abigail attends the University of Colorado, Denver working toward her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration.
Mentor Leader at North, West and Lincoln High Schools - Employee status
The lead mentor facilitates and supports the YESS Mentoring group by coordinating and managing the mentors and by helping to facilitate the activities of the group. The lead mentor is the example mentor and is the face of YESS Mentoring in the school. He/She is responsible in supporting the program specialist each week in order to build momentum and structure within the group. The mentor leader is the essential component of the mentorship aspect of YESS mentoring; the leader will hold all of the mentors accountable and be in charge of keeping the group stable and consistent. The overall goal is to lead and manage the mentors and assist the program specialist with weekly program needs.
Check out our 2012-2011 Mentor Leaders: