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



Gateway to Opportunity Program


Ahmen Cabral

Email: ahmen.cabral@maine.edu


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.  

Cheri Crossman

Email: cheri.crossman@maine.edu


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.

Claire Schroeder

Email: claire.schroeder@maine.edu


Claire has worked with YCE since 2014 and is passionate about ensuring that systems and organizations are informed and directed by those they seek to serve. Claire works with the Southern Maine Youth Transition Network (SMYTN) to address the barriers and supports for youth as they transition between services or points in their life. Additionally she is a facilitator, workshop designer, facilitation coach and trainer with Youth Justice League, an off-shoot of the Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT), and the Youth Engagement Partners (YEP) through Portland Empowered. As a white girl growing up in a diverse city, racial justice has been an essential part of Claire's learning and life's work which is directly tied to her focus on equity and inclusion with the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative (MYTC). Claire's passion for this work is rooted in learning from and with young adults, and collaboratively working together to address challenges. Claire loves to ride the NYC subway, canoe in the wilderness and dance. 

Muntaha Mohamed



Muntaha joined the YCE team in February 2019. She focuses on working with underrepresented youth in a way that encourages the importance and power of telling their own stories. Specifically, Muntaha works alongside Portland Empowered, Gateway to Opportunity, and the Postsecondary Support Project. Through these groups, she continues to engage youth voices, and is grateful for the opportunity to help uplift individuals impacted by systematic struggles. As a Black, Somali, Muslim girl from Maine, Muntaha has grown up keenly aware of the injustices that impact people of color, the erasure of different identities, and the lack of equity that is present within white majority communities. She feels inspired everyday by these issues and is dedicated to addressing them. In her free time, you can catch Muntaha delving into her writing, reading cozily, dancing on her own, or spending quality time with family and friends.

Sheri Moulton



Sheri has been involved with the Portland Empowered since 2014 supporting many wonderful, selfless staff and occasionally mentoring and guiding students. She witnesses, on a daily basis, how the dedicated PE staff interact with and mentor PE students and believes the educational opportunities provided them will have a profound, long-lasting positive effect on their futures. Sheri has been working with G20 since 2018, and so appreciates how G20 and Portland Empowered help complete a holistic and complementary approach to education and career success. Helping support youth as they grow through secondary and post-secondary education into young adulthood is a true joy.

Nikki Williams

Email: nikki.williams@maine.edu


Nikki joined the YCE team in 2016 as the Project Director for the MEIF: Gateway to Opportunity program. She also assists with Youth Healthcare Career Pathways work and other projects relating to youth workforce development . Nikki is a recent transplant to Maine from New York City where she spent 6 years managing workforce development programs for low-income New Yorkers. While at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), she oversaw the NYCHA Resident Training Academy, an innovative, employment-linked training program for public housing residents that served over 250 residents per year. She also helped launch the pilot program, HireNYC, while at the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which was the City's first attempt at incentiving local source hiring by linking the City's real estate development projects with the publicly-funded workforce system. Nikki has been inspired to learn more about the programs and partnerships in place at Muskie aimed at helping young people thrive. She is a lifelong city-dweller and product of a large public school system. From a young age, she learned to value diversity in all forms, and have deep respect for the open expression of identities, ideals, and lifestyles. The dedication she's seen from colleagues here and the commitment from the youth who are so central to their work has been a true inspiration. 


"In a short time, I have seen the tremendous value and impact of youth-focused and youth-driven work that amplifies their voices and empowers them to implement their vision for more inclusive institutions, systems, and communities."

Penthea Burns

Email: penthea.burns@maine.edu

Penthea is a Senior Associate at YCE, and co-directs Maine-Wabanaki REACH. 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 was involved in the development of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and works with the Capacity Building Center for Tribes, developing distance learning materials to support tribal child welfare programs. She helped to found the nationally recognized Youth Leadership Advisory Team, engaging older youth in foster care as leaders for change and child welfare system's improvement.

“I believe in supporting communities to truly know themselves, their needs and their solutions.  At heart we should approach our daily lives and our work in the same way – with curiosity, wonder, love, compassion and generosity. We belong to this world - the world does not belong to us.”

Pious Ali

Email: ali.pious@maine.edu

Pious has worked at YCE with the Portland Empowered program since 2014. He is focused on creating opportunities for unengaged members of our community to be heard through their own voice and empowering young people to speak up for themselves. Pious is inspired by his work at YCE because it gives a voice to all members of our community and provides a platform for students, families and their school districts to enagage each other and make education the best it can be for all students. He is committed to this work because it is leveling the playing field for students who have been left behind, and creates equity in a system that prepares young citizens from all backgrounds for participatory in American democratic  and public life. 

Shannon Saxby

Email: shannon.saxby@maine.edu

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 continuing 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, and is the voice behind YLAT's social media pages. Shannon 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.

Tara Chabot

Email: tara.chabot@maine.edu


Tara joined the Cutler Institute in July of 2016. She is an Administrative Specialist 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.

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