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My name is Andrea Wiegard, and I am currently serving as Mentoring Program Coordinator VISTA at ForKids in Norfolk. I have moved back into the Hampton Roads area this summer, moving from Orlando, FL where I lived for five years. My path to becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA is probably not the typical path. After spending years staying at home to raise my daughters, I wanted to become involved in helping my community as well as sharpening my office skills, utilizing my business/mass communication degree that had been underutilized in the recent past. I am appreciative that VISTA and ForKids has given me that opportunity.
My goal for this year is to develop and implement a successful mentoring program for children that we serve at ForKids. Ideally, we will have quality mentors that can enhance and build a relationship of support and friendship, while exploring new opportunities with their mentees.
I have a passion for Disney, the beach, Virginia Beach SPCA, and generally being outdoors as much as possible. I have two daughters: one has a political science degree from JMU and is a VISTA alum, the other is in the arts program at VCU and will graduate class ‘23.
Hello! Arya is beyond honored to be a part of AmeriCorps VISTA this year. A native of Northern Virginia and the product of immigrants, the importance of education and public service was engrained in her at a young age. Thus, Arya could not think of anything more worthwhile than AmeriCorps service in her beloved second home of Richmond, Virginia. Her work with MEGA Mentors involves assisting Chesterfield County Public Schools with virtual learning and making sure no child gets left behind. In addition to adjusting to virtual learning, Arya hopes to curate a successful model of virtual mentoring for underrepresented and marginalized youths in the school district.
Arya proudly graduated from the University of Richmond in 2020 with a B.A. in Biology, Healthcare Studies, and Anthropology. Her past education includes a semester study abroad at Queen Mary University of London, and Pre-K to 12th grade at Fairfax County Public Schools. After her service with AmeriCorps, Arya looks forward to departing for Peace Corps service as a Secondary Science Teacher in Mozambique.
Briana serves as the Mentor Program Coordinator VISTA at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, VA. During her service she will be working with three different mentor programs within the college. Each one focuses on a different student demographic group and their needs. The goal of each program is to promote and enhance their academic experience while they are at Germanna.
Briana is a 2019 graduate of James Madison University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a focus in Public Relations and Humanitarian Affairs. She is also a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Briana is thankful for the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps VISTA this year and hopes to leave a lasting and positive impact on the Fredericksburg community.
Antonio Mielak has spent most of his time living and working in Virginia, since moving with his family from California as a boy. He has volunteered extensively throughout the country with different children’s anti-poverty and advocacy programs. He has worked in several aviation management roles as an enlisted air traffic controller for the navy, a teaching assistant at Hampton, and as a lead-agent and supervisor for airline ground operations at the Richmond International Airport.
He began a Service Year with AmeriCorps in 2019 as a literacy tutor in Richmond and continues to serve in the 2020-2021 VISTA cohort with MENTOR Virginia.
He enjoys playing tennis, reading, writing, and supporting advocacy work. He is an active member of the National PTA, the NAACP, and the Virginia Press Association. Antonio attended Hampton University, where he studied English Arts and Aviation Management.
Jessie Fittro first became involved with a mentorship program in her community as a young college student. Her time with the program began to challenge many of her views about herself and others, and the human systems that make up our world and impact how we each experience it, often so differently. She continued to grapple with the complexity, depth, and urgency of these matters while she completed her bachelor’s degree from Gordon College. Upon graduation, she pursued a career in the nonprofit sector before taking some time to work in other fields to develop various skills; however, she deeply missed the passion that she had felt working in a more direct way with vulnerable communities. She is very grateful to have the opportunity to spend a year with AmeriCorps where she hopes to learn and grow more from her work with the nonprofit organization, Abundant Life, that she is able to serve.
My name is Ayannah, I am an alumna of Virginia State University where I studied Health and Physical Education with a focus in Sport Management. I recently received my master’s degree in Sport Management at Virginia State University as well. I am serving as the VISTA STEM Mentoring Coordinator with the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Richmond’s East End. I love, and I am very much inspired by the people of Richmond, VA. A year with AmeriCorps is an amazing opportunity to work with a nonprofit organization and give back to the RVA area.
During my service, I am working with the Boys & Girls Club to build a group mentoring program that brings adults and teens together to learn and connect over exciting activities in the fields of science and technology. I hope to help create a sustainable program that will diversify the young minds of the RVA children.
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Yvonnia is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University where she studied Communications and Women’s Studies and developed an interest in Marketing. During her time at Old Dominion University, Yvonnia also spent a great deal of time mentoring for about a year and a half.
Combining her interest in marketing and mentoring, Yvonnia decided to become an AmeriCorps VISTA at Computers4Kids. She is very excited to be able to give back to the community by serving as a VISTA in her hometown.
During her service, Yvonnia will work with the C4K team to write a communications marketing plan focused on community outreach and youth voice, and to build a mentor retention plan.
Alexa is a proud alumna of the University of North Carolina, where she studied psychology and history. While working at UNC’s Child Development Institute as an undergraduate research assistant, Alexa discovered her passion for working with children and families. Upon completing her year of service, Alexa plans to follow her passion by earning a Master of Social Work degree and becoming an elementary school social worker. Working for Communities In Schools of Chesterfield as the VISTA Mentor Coordinator is an exciting opportunity to work within a nonprofit organization, learn from experienced student support staff, and support Chesterfield students and families.
During her year of service, Alexa is working to build a workplace mentoring program that will prepare students for post-high school careers by connecting them with supportive industry mentors and skill-building opportunities. She hopes to bring students and local businesses together to develop an impactful and sustainable program!
Stephanie has 4 years of nonprofit and state government experience in training development, volunteer management, and program coordination. A two-time AmeriCorps VISTA alumna, Stephanie first joined the MENTOR Virginia team in 2016 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, where she supported a cohort of 13 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA national service volunteers working with mentoring programs throughout the state of Virginia. She rejoined MENTOR Virginia in 2020 as a technical assistance consultant, where she supports ongoing AmeriCorps VISTA projects through technical assistance.
In addition to TA consulting, Stephanie serves as a Coach Project Coordinator for Noom, where she leads health coaching training grounded in the principles of Motivational Interviewing, Appreciative Inquiry, and Nonviolent Communication. She is passionate about holistic wellbeing, advocating for the power of national service, and building sustainable and equitable solutions to social injustices.
Stephanie holds a Master of Education in Nutrition Education from Framingham State University and a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Lafayette College. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) and is preparing to become a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).
Allyson F. Roberts has over 16 years of experience working in the field of youth mentoring. She worked with the Virginia Community College System for nearly 8 years, spending most of that time as the Assistant Director and Mentoring Coordinator for the Great Expectations program. Great Expectations is a program for students who have aged out of foster care with the purpose of providing support, a positive example, and encouragement to the foster care students to continue in school. The program works toward ensuring that every former foster youth in Virginia has a post-secondary credential leading to a family sustaining wage. The Great Expectations Education Program for Foster Youth was launched in 2008 at 5 community colleges. With Allyson’s leadership, the program was able to grow to include a total of 21 community colleges by 2017.
Prior to this position, Allyson was the Program Director for Virginia Mentoring Partnership (now MENTOR Virginia), a nonprofit organization that helps new and existing mentoring programs grow their quality and impact based on the Elements of Effective Practice, and trains volunteers to be qualified mentors. Allyson was with Virginia Mentoring Partnership for 8 years, first as a trainer and then as the Program Director.
Her previous professional experience includes working with Children’s Services doing protective service, adoptions, foster care, and abuse work. She also has worked as a mental health counselor for adults in a hospital setting where she specialized in group work and individual counseling. Allyson has a Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Social Work from Penn State University and a Masters in Adult Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Bianca Myrick is a native of Petersburg, Virginia, and the founder of Pretty Purposed, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls ages 9-14 through mentorship and activities that promote their physical, social, and emotional development. As a middle grades educator, Bianca has a passion for working with adolescents and saw a need in her community for a safe space where girls could grow and glow. As the founder, she continues to work with her team to build organizational capacity and increase opportunities for girls. Drawing upon her own life experiences, she knows that navigating through life as a woman can be challenging, and she believes everyone could use a mentor.
Bianca is a fierce advocate for building social, emotional, and conflict resolution skills that encourage healthy relationships. Domestic & intimate partner violence education is a passion of hers and she been a guest speaker for various events and organizations such as The YWCA Richmond, The James House & Petersburg Sheriff’s Department’s Walk a Mile in My Shoes Event, and the United States Army’s nationally known SHARP Summit, always speaking through the lens of encouragement and authenticity.
She is a 2010 graduate of the Department of Teaching and Learning at Virginia State University, where she is currently an adjunct instructor empowering her freshmen students with tools to be successful in life. She has a masters degree in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, and hopes to receive her certificate in nonprofit management soon through the Duke University/Cameron Foundation Learning Series. Her goal is to continue nonprofit leadership and build her consulting career. Bianca enjoys reading, dancing, and having fun outdoors with her nine year old son.
A champion of youth leadership, mentoring, and academic enrichment programs, Rameka has more than 25 years of experience advocating for the growth and success of young people. A warm-natured, committed, and trusted leader, she has utilized her wide range of professional skills, including sharp problem-solving abilities and attention to detail, to help individuals and organizations overcome obstacles and achieve results. As a former Big Sister of Rhode Island, Program Director of Providence Summerbridge, Director of Kidz Klub, Director of Student Life at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy, Program Manager of Mentors, Inc., Program Director of Eyes Wide Open Mentoring, and current James Farmer Scholar Instructor at the University of Mary Washington, Rameka is well-versed in applying research-based practices to strengthen and empower individuals, families, and communities. Rameka’s motto, “Students come first,” has enabled her to receive a host of awards and recognition in the communities that she has served.
John Harris specializes in program evaluation and survey development with a particular focus on assessing match characteristics. He has worked as an independent consultant supporting mentoring programs since 2000. He joined the MENTOR Virginia team as a Technical Assistance Consultant in 2016. The National Mentoring Resource Center’s work dovetails perfectly with John’s mission to make high-quality evaluation and consultation useful and affordable to all mentoring programs.
John is the lead author of the Match Characteristics Questionnaire (MCQ) and the Youth Mentoring Survey (YMS), which are recommended by the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) and used around the world. His publications have focused on mentoring relationship quality and include peer-reviewed journal articles, toolkit contributions, and the chapters, “Assessing Mentoring Relationships,” in both editions of the Handbook of Youth Mentoring (DuBois & Karcher, Ed.s). In 2015, John partnered with the School Volunteer Program (now EdConnect) in Australia to develop an evaluation toolkit that won a National Social Impact award.
John earned his Masters at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education many, many years ago. He currently works and lives in Fairfax, VA, with his wife and two wonderful kids.
Melody is an alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied French and Spanish, and developed an interest in social policy and social justice issues. In further pursuit of those interests, she is earning her graduate degree in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University and serving as the VISTA STEM Mentoring Coordinator with the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Richmond’s East End. A year with AmeriCorps is an exciting opportunity to work within a non-profit organization and give back to the city that she calls home.
During her service, she is working with the Boys & Girls Club to build a group mentoring program that brings adults and teens together to learn and connect over fun activities in the fields of science and technology. She hopes to contribute to a sustainable initiative that has a positive and lasting impact on the lives of young people in Richmond.
My name is Emily Bolinger, and I am proud to be serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Peter Paul Development Center in the East End of Richmond, Virginia. I am a recent graduate of James Madison University (GO DUKES!) where I double majored in Sociology and Anthropology, from which I decided I would like to dedicate my first year post-grad to exploring my passions for non-profit work and the humanities by serving a year with AmeriCorps. My primary initiative at Peter Paul is to help grow their mentoring program by increasing its capacity to ensure its longevity, as well as to help it expand from their central community center location to the surrounding elementary schools. Day by day, I am enjoying my job and the surrounding city more; I cannot wait to see what the future holds, for myself or the residents of the East End.
I recently graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia with a B.A. in Psychology, and completed my summer internship with the Parenting Education Programs at Fairfax County Department of Family Services. I stayed on at DFS after my internship, and currently work as an AmeriCorps VISTA as the Assistant Study Buddy Coordinator. I am passionate about working with kids, and hope to attend graduate school next fall to get my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and become a play therapist. In my free time, I enjoy going to my rec center, babysitting, dog-sitting, hiking, and teaching myself guitar. I am excited for a fun-filled year as an AmeriCorps VISTA!
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Lynsey is excited to be living in the beautiful rolling hills of Charlottesville, VA. She currently serves as the Volunteer Coordinator at Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries, a community-based nonprofit in the Prospect Neighborhood. Lynsey graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in May with a B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies, a course of study which opened her eyes to the inequities that plague the United States school system for those of lower socioeconomic status. She decided to spend this year working toward and learning more about community development through AmeriCorps before continuing studies in occupational therapy. Lynsey experienced first hand the transformative power of mentor relationships for both mentee and mentor as a Younglife leader in college. She is passionate about creating and supporting those relationships at Abundant Life in a way that will lead to mutual flourishing and understanding. Lynsey believes that in a world that is so often divided, relationships have the power to build bridges, affirm dignity, and broaden perspectives in individuals thus spurring integral changes to the community as a whole. She loves to read, explore the outdoors, go on a good walk or run, spend time with loved ones, and cook good food among many other things.
Jessica, a recent graduate of Appalachian State University, works to promote and advance partnership efforts. At ASU, Jessica took part in Alternative Service Experience programs that enabled her to engage in social justice causes, including socioeconomic disparities and racial inequalities. She also served as the Fundraising Chair for the most successful ASU Dance Marathon to date. Jessica received a degree in Communication Studies while double minoring in Sociology and Leadership Studies. Her academic and volunteer work reinforced her commitment to make a difference in the lives of others and played a big role in her desire to serve.
Tammie is the owner of Flawless Imperfections, LLC. She provides a safe supportive non-judgmental environment to a journey of emotional empowerment. Over the past 13 years, she has empowered women through coaching, public speaking, and domestic violence peer counseling. She has facilitated hundreds of workshops on forming healthy relationships, conflict resolution, effective communication, teen dating violence and sexual responsibility. Her workshops have been facilitated in women’s groups, public schools and juvenile correctional facilities. Through her work, Tammie has delivered training to over 500 youth annually. In addition, she contracted with a government agency as a field manager under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and traveled to various youth correctional facilities to conduct interviews with adjudicated youth regarding placement at the facility.
In 2008, Tammie founded Mentor, Encourage, Lift and Love, Inc., a community based organization providing life skills, educational workshops, and mentoring to teen parents. Between, 2008 and 2009 the organization hosted a diaper drive delivering over 4,000 diapers and baby wipes to a local transitional home in Odenton, Maryland.
Tammie has been interviewed on several local radio stations and newspapers. In November 2008, she was interviewed as a Comcast Newsmaker for her work with teen parents. Tammie has received several awards for her commitment and dedication to the community. The awards included the “Diva in Charge Award,” “The Educator Serving the Community Award,” “Circle of Grace Award,” and “Woman of Inspiration Award.” Her public speaking engagements have included Dwight C. Jones Mayors Day of Recognition, AmeriCorps State and National Symposium, and the National Governor’s Association Winter Meeting.
Tammie is a certified National Motherhood Facilitator, Girls for a Change Coach, and Maryland Mentoring Program Coordinator. She is an AmeriCorps alum, Adult Representative for Chesterfield’s County Youth Citizen Board for the Bermuda District, and a member of Chesterfield’s County Domestic Violence Task Force. Tammie is a wife and mother and resides in Chester, VA with her family.
Ashley Williams is a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) with 11 years of work experience within the field of education, mental health and juvenile justice in Central Virginia. She has implemented therapeutic interventions, programs and professional development trainings that combine mindfulness, movement, social-emotional learning techniques and mentoring in various settings including secondary schools, higher education institutions, detention and juvenile correctional centers, behavioral health programs, non-profits and adult education programs. Ashley is the Owner of bareSOUL Yoga & Wellness that offers daily yoga classes, private individual and group classes, educational workshops and yoga therapy sessions and other offerings that foster individual awareness, community building and holistic wellbeing. Ashley serves as a technical assistant consultant for MENTOR Virginia and a member of the Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2019. In 2018, Ashley was recognized as Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 and Richmond Magazine’s Daring Woman of 2017. Ashley lives in Church Hill, RVA and enjoys learning and exploring all parts of Richmond, Virginia.
Tiffany has over 10 years of experience in community development and youth and family programming. She has worked at Communities in Schools of Richmond, MENTOR Virginia, and the YMCA of Greater Richmond in youth development roles. She has a passion and commitment to social justice, education, and working with individuals and families through a trauma informed care lens. Tiffany is a part of the Richmond Trauma-Informed Community Network, and volunteers with the Ronald McDonald House Charities on their advisory committee and Comfort Zone Camp as a grief group facilitator.
In addition to serving as a Trainer and Technical Assistance Consultant for MENTOR Virginia, Tiffany is also the RVA Educational Programs Coordinator at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), an organization that works with schools, business, and communities to achieve success through inclusion. In her role, Tiffany facilitates educational programs on diversity and inclusion for schools in the Greater Richmond area, including retreats, forums, professional development, and customized workshops.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education with a minor in Non Profit Management from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She is furthering her education by pursuing her Masters in Social Work at VCU.
In her role, Katelyn is instrumental in supporting and enhancing the recruitment and non-profit partnership efforts. A passionate advocate for social justice and youth development, Katelyn graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Business Economics. While attending UCI, she worked with diverse groups of individuals — from first generation students to international students — through her participation in mentorship programs, club sports, and leadership organizations. During her service year, Katelyn hopes to make her organization more well known in the community, alongside advocating the importance of mentorship. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing by the pool, exploring new eateries, baking sweets, and catching up on TV shows. Katelyn has visited more than 10 countries and hopes her curiosity leads her to continue travelling throughout her life.
Hope Davis is a native Virginian from Spotsylvania. During her time at Marymount University, she studied English while performing with the university’s theater group and working with the Peer Mentoring Program. As a Peer Mentor, she was able to see how mentoring and education go hand-in-hand. During her year as a VISTA, she will be serving in her hometown at Germanna Community College, where she hopes to build a mentoring program that helps students realize their potential and allows mentors to feel supported by the program and by each other. In her spare time, Hope enjoys reading, writing, and yoga, and one day hopes to work in either theater or publishing.