YCE Program Key
Maine Youth Transition Collaborative
Youth Leadership Advisory Team
Gateway to Opportunity Program
Young People's Caucus
Ahmen provides leadership for the Youth Leadership Advisory Team, engaging youth leaders in the foster care system in advisory committees, policy and practice change, and training. Ahmen joined the YCE team in 2005 and her work has focused on youth development, mentoring, facilitation and promoting practice and policy change in the child welfare system. Ahmen is committed to providing skills and opportunities for young people to share their experiences to promote systems change. She is continually inspired and energized by youth leaders and community partners who demonstrate a strong commitment to support all young people successfully achieve their aspirations.
Claire has worked at Cutler with the Youth and Community Engagement team since 2014. Claire has focused on ensuring our work is informed and directed by those we work alongside. Claire is a facilitator and workshop designer, and is passionate about engaging people in learning, change and transformative processes. Central to Claire's work is a deep commitment to racial justice and to understanding how oppression impacts us as individuals and the organizations and systems in which we work & live.
Claire has recently joined the Child Welfare Cooperative Agreement team as a trainer and facilitator of Foundations Training for new OCFS Caseworkers. She is excited to bring her years of experience with youth engagement, training and education to this team and work.
Claire continues to support the work of the Young People's Caucus (YPC). YPC is an integrated network of youth leaders that promotes and supports the implementation of youth engagement across the State.
Claire loves to ride the NYC subway, canoe in the wilderness and dance.
Lily Maass joined the YCE team in August of 2019 after studying Child Development and designing and implementing teen programming in a variety of direct-service settings. Lily’s passion for working with youth and young adults stems from the belief that all young people hold an inherent ability to strengthen the systems and communities they engage with through sharing their expertise and unique perspectives to enact change. You will find Lily facilitating YLAT meetings across the state, developing curriculum and activities for trainings and YLAT groups, and creating social media content. Outside of work, Lily loves to try new recipes, relax on the beaches and in the woods of Maine, and spend time sitting on the porch with friends listening to old music.
Melissa joined the Cutler Institute in December of 2019. Over the past 20 years, she has been inspired by and supported youth and families in various capacities. For the past ten years, Melissa worked at a Therapeutic Foster Care Agency in Maine, where she had the opportunity to listen to voices of foster care youth and resource parents. Melissa is excited to have the chance to redesign the Resource Parent Training at Cutler. She feels very fortunate to be able to work with youth who experience Foster Care, and strives to impact the child welfare community's changes that will positively affect the lives of youth.
Upon joining YCE in 2011 as a BSW intern, Shannon knew she had found her niche working with young people in the child welfare system. After graduating with her Master's Degree in Social Work, Shannon was approached to continue working with YLAT as a group facilitator. Currently, Shannon designs and facilitates YLAT meetings statewide, panel presentations and trainings for young people and their adult partners. Shannon is the voice behind YLAT's social media pages. She is continually awed and inspired by the courage of young people who use their voice and their personal experiences in foster care to promote positive change not only for themselves, but for future generations of youth in care. As someone who is adopted, Shannon feels personally invested in the importance of providing a space where youth are connected to people and places where they feel supported, understood and that they belong. Shannon feels lucky to be strengthening her connections with youth and adult partners to create a larger voice and to develop sustainable change.
Sheri joined the Youth and Community Engagement Team in 2014 specifically as a Team Member with Portland Empowered. She currently provides administrative, logistical and design support for the Young People's Caucus (YPC). "I believe voices of young people need to be heard; youth voice is imperative in the enactment of systems and policy changes that affect them most in our state. Youth need to feel heard, worthy, safe and successful in the world and in their communities. The Young People's Caucus is a wonderful platform to ensure it happens."
In addition to YPC, Sheri provides logistical, administrative and design support for other YCE events as needed.
Sheri loves Jazz music, kayaking, hiking, golf and spending time with her 3 precious grandchildren.
Swathi joined the YCE team in 2021 after working as a middle school science teacher. As a teacher, Swathi was inspired every day by the strength and conviction of her students’ voices as they proposed creative, compassionate solutions to the inequities surrounding them. From her students’ activism and her training in Kingian nonviolence, Swathi learned to believe fiercely in the power of collective action. She is so excited to work alongside young people who care about each other and about bettering the systems meant to serve them.
In her roles with the Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) and the Young People's Caucus (YPC), Swathi facilitates meetings, develops curriculum and creates pathways for young people to directly inform systemic change in Maine. Swathi is also involved with the Opportunity Scholars initiative, which helps connect people with lived experience of incarceration to higher education and fulfilling careers. Across all of her projects, Swathi seeks to bridge communities and strengthen youth-adult collaboration towards co-creating systems that truly support and empower all people.
Outside of work, Swathi loves to hike, tell and hear stories, lounge with her cats, and sing.
Tara joined the Cutler Institute in July of 2016. She is a Policy Assistant supporting several projects. She is honored to be part of these teams working to make a better world for the people of Maine. She spends her spare time greatly enjoying the outdoors of Maine.