YCE Program Key 

Learn and Earn to Achieve

Potential Initiative

Portland Empowered

Southern Maine Youth

Transition Network 

Youth Leadership Advisory Team

Maine Youth Transition Collaborative

GTO

GTO

Gateway to Opportunity Program

G2O

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Ahmen Cabral

(She/her/hers)

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.  

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Cheri Crossman

(She/her/hers)

Cheri joined the YCE team in August of 2017. Cheri was one of the founding members of YLAT, and has been involved in leadership and advocacy work ever since. Cheri is a Policy Analyst working with the Youth Leadership Advisory Team and the Maine Learn and Earn to Achieve Initiative. Cheri combines her personal experience as a former youth in care with her education, and clinical training at Cutler, and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. Her experience working with the homeless and the educational systems has helped inform her approach in working with the child welfare system. Cheri is passionate about helping young people and sees each youth for their individual strengths, goals, and resilience. Cheri brings this belief of individuality and personal inner strength into her work with others, as well as her life as a mother of three beautiful children. Cheri strives to help young people attain their goals through connections, supports, and encouraging them to share their stories to promote change and healing.

YCE Program Key 

Maine Youth Transition Collaborative

Gateway to Opportunity Program

YPC

Young People's Caucus

 G2O

Youth Leadership Advisory Team

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MYTC

Ahmen Cabral

(She/her/hers)

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.  

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Claire Schroeder

(She/her/hers)

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. 

YPC

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Lily Maass

(She/her/hers)  

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. 

Nikki Williams

(She/her/hers)  

Nikki joined the YCE team in 2016. Her portfolio focuses on youth workforce development initiatives, including the launch and expansion of the Gateway to Opportunity (G2O) program. Nikki also supports system partners and community-based organizations to align and integrate services for youth and adults within the publicly funded workforce system as the One-Stop Operator for the Coastal Counties region. Nikki is a transplant to Maine from New York City where she spent 6 years managing education and training programs for low-income New Yorkers at the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), as well as overseeing NYC-based programming for skilled immigrants at the national nonprofit, Upwardly Global. From a young age, Nikki learned to value diversity and equity in all forms, and has a deep respect for the open expression of identities and ideals and the hard work of transforming systems. She is honored to support youth-driven work that amplifies their voices and empowers them to implement their vision for more inclusive institutions, systems, and communities.

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G2O

MYTC

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Penthea Burns

(She/her/hers)  

Penthea is a Senior Associate at YCE. She co-directs the Maine Child Welfare Cooperative Agreement to revise Maine child welfare policies and strengthen child welfare training programs. Since 1999, she has worked with the Wabanaki tribal child welfare programs and the State of Maine DHHS to improve Maine's compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). She co-founded the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is one of the founding board members for Wabanaki REACH, and works with the Capacity Building Center for Tribes. Penthea was one of the founders of the nationally recognized Youth Leadership Advisory Team and Camp To Belong Maine.

Shannon Saxby

(She/her/hers)  

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.

Melissa Allen

(She/her/hers)  

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.

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YPC

Sheri Foster

(She/her/hers)  

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.

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Tara Chabot

(She/her/hers)  

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.