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Youth Bureau Staff

ADMINISTRATION

Frank Williams, Jr.

Executive Director

Frank Williams, Jr. has had a long and distinguished career in human services. He is currently the Director of the Youth Bureau and has been with the agency for 29 years. Prior to his current position, he was the Director of Employment Services, for the Grand Street Settlement in New York City. In addition to providing leadership at the Youth Bureau, Mr. Williams sits on the Board of Directors of Good Council Academy, is a member of the Black Scholars Committee and a member of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He has received numerous awards for his community work.

Mr. Williams holds a degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. He has a Masters degree in Social Work from Fordham University.

Elizabeth Almonte

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

With over 25 years of management, marketing and consulting experience, Elizabeth has directed strategic initiatives to maximize financial, social and environmental impact from the private, public, and non-profit sectors including Goldman Sachs, Kraft Foods, the William Clinton Foundation, the New York City Department of Education, and New York Needs You, a non-profit organization helping first-generation college students realize their full potential. Previously, she advanced county-wide infant-to-young adult advocacy efforts in leading the Westchester Children’s Association (WCA)’s Gathering Policy Solutions for Kids Collective Impact Initiative. 

Her cross-sector advisory experiences span seven countries and public-private partnerships with state education departments, higher-education institutions, school districts, NGOs, foundations, corporations, professional associations, non-profit and faith-based organizations to help raise K-16 student achievement and turnaround schools in rural, suburban and inner cities across the U.S. 

Elizabeth graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BBA degree from Baruch College, is a Management Leadership for Tomorrow Fellowship alumna, and received her MBA degree from the New York University Stern School of Business. A White Plains resident and New York City native, Elizabeth enjoys teaching financial literacy to high school students and mentoring her nephews, niece and godchildren. 

DEPARTMENT SUPERVISORS

Catherine Backes Valenzuela

YOUTH SPECIALIST II, ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM

PROGRAM DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP & COUNSELING

Catherine Backes Valenzuela was born and raised in White Plains and a graduate of White Plains High School.  She has been working for the White Plains Youth Bureau for over 20 years.  She was hired by the agency the same year she received her Masters of Social Work from Fordham University and has been there ever since.     When she is not working she loves to be outside, enjoying the sunshine. 

Byron H. Smalls

YOUTH SPECIALIST II, aFTER scHOOL prOGRAM

Program Director, After School Connections

Byron H. Smalls a lifelong resident of White Plains and is head of the After School Department. Prior to working with the Youth Bureau, Byron worked for the White Plains Public Schools at Ridgeway and Church Street Schools and holds degrees from Norfolk State University, State University of New York at Purchase and a Master’s in Public Administration from Metropolitan College. Byron has received endless awards for his work with youth, families and his community and has served as the President of the Westchester School Age Directors Network, National School Age Care Alliance, Institute for School Age Care, Head Trustee for Ridgeview Congregational Church, as well a member of the Gedney Farms Neighborhood Association, among other agencies. When Byron is not working in his community he loves to travel and traveling across the entire United States as well as over 30 countries.

Patricia Staffiero

YOUTH SPECIALIST II, YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

Program Director, Youth Employment Services

A White Plains native and a graduate of White Plains High School, Patti fell in love with the work of the White Plains Youth Bureau while doing her undergraduate internship and never left!   She received her Bachelors in Social Work from Iona College and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University.  Over the past 20 years, Patti and the YES team have provided opportunities for White Plains youth to gain experience and skills in the workforce, and feel grateful for being able to provide many young people with their first jobs.  During her free time she loves crafting and spending time with her husband and daughter.   

Gina Covington

YOUTH SPECIALIST I, nEIGHBORHOOD SERVICES

Program Director, Neighborhood Services

Gina Covington is the Director of Neighborhood Services and has been with the Youth Bureau since 2016. Gina started in a part time role as Coalition Coordinator facilitating grant programming for both Wellness Week and White Plains ComicCon events. She then moved into a full time position as the Director of the STEAM Academy servicing elementary students in 7 locations across the city. She has since been promoted to Director of Neighborhood Services and is responsible for afterschool and weekend programming to support the needs of middle school, high school students as well as their families. Please contact Gina if you are looking for something fun and timely for teenagers.  

Kassandra Mindingall

YOUTH SPECIALIST I, GRANDPA'S UNITED

Program Director - Grandpas United

Kassandra Mindingall is a lifelong resident of White Plains who began her relationship with the Youth Bureau when she was in elementary school attending the After School Connections program. Kassandra went on to attend University of New Haven and Mercy College where she earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice with minors in both Psychology and Health Sciences. She has taught high school chemistry and forensics at Our Lady of Victory Academy and Pre-kindergarten for Family Services of Westchester. Her love of serving youth has also availed her to many part-time positions in the Youth Bureau programs throughout the years. Kassandra is currently a full-time employee of the Youth Bureau, where she is the Program Director for the 21st Century Community Learning Center STEAM Academy. She is grateful to be serving the youth of the community in the agency that serviced her as a youth. Kassandra’s children are also active participants in the programs that the Youth Bureau offers.

Yesenia Ruiz

YOuth Care Specialist, After School Connections

Assistant Program Director - after school department

Yesenia was born and raised in White Plains and is a first-generation college graduate. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies from SUNY Oneonta and has a Master of Science in School Counseling from Mercy College. Aside from working with the Youth Bureau’s After School Program as the Assistant Program Director, on the weekends Yesenia works with adults with mental disabilities. She has always had a passion for working with students and believes in the importance of showing up for them and making a difference in their lives. When Yesenia is not working she enjoys spending quality time with her friends and family, traveling and doing obstacle races.

Janet Spencer

YOUTH SERVICE AIDE, YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

Program Coordinator, Youth Employment Services

Janet Spencer started working at the White Plains Youth Bureau 13 years ago with the goal in mind to make a difference in the White Plains community. She has a degree in Psychology from Fordham Univ. and a Master’s in Social Work from NYU. Janet works in the Youth Employment Department running different programs including: The Greening Project, Babysitting, Junior Counselor Training, Hospitality, Culinary Arts and our Summer Youth Employment Program. During her free-time she enjoys being outdoors, smiling, laughing and being with family and friends.

Eric Rios

YOUTH SERVICE AIDE, ALTERNATIVES DEPARTMENT

Program Coordinator,- Aviation Academy & Mayor's youth counselinG

Eric Rios is the father of 3 wonderful girls who helped him discover his love of enriching the lives of young people. After many years in the corporate arena, Eric joined the White Plains Youth Bureau team as the Church Street STEAM Academy Site Director. Eric now works with middle school and high school students by way of the Aviation Academy and the Mayors Youth Council. Eric has also played a role in bridging the gap between the YB and the White Plains Spanish-Speaking community with his outreach efforts.

Helena Marescot

YOUTH SERVICE AIDE, INstitute for Health & wELLNESS

Program Coordinator, iNSTITUTE FOR HEALTH & WELLNESS

Helena Marescot is the Program Coordinator for the White Plains Youth Bureau Institute of Health and Wellness.  Helena’s passion to improve the overall health and wellbeing of youth has positioned her to oversee and spearhead numerous programs and activities. Her scope of work spans across various platforms- from large-scale community engagement events such as Wellness Week, Red Ribbon Week, Comicfest, and Merry Fitness Holiday Celebrations. The Peer Advocates for Healthy Living, Youth about Change, The Nest, and WPCSD School Breakfast and Lunch Revitalization initiative are all practical hands on learning modules and initiatives that support the implementation of healthy lifestyle changes in youth. Helena received her Master’s in Business Administration degree from Adelphi University and Bachelors of Arts degree from Baruch College. She has worked for 20 years in Top Fortune 500 companies within the Food and Beverage industry.  Her certifications from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Villanova University affords her the opportunity to coach and teach obesity and chronic disease prevention to disadvantaged communities for the past 10 years

Antonio Martinez

YOUTH SERVICE AIDE, YOUTH EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT

Program Coordinator, WESTCHESTER DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY FOR YOUTH

Born and raised in White Plains, Tony’s first job came through the YES Summer Employment Program, working as a Camp Counselor at Bits N’ Pieces Summer Enrichment Camp. Tony has worked in various capacities with the Youth Bureau since his time as Camp Counselor, he has served as a Youth Service Aide with the Youth Employment Department, Site Director for the Youth Bureau’s Afterschool Program, Instructor for Saturday Academy, and as a mentor with the Mentoring Program. While working for the White Plains City School District, Tony received his Master’s Degree in Teaching from Manhattanville College.  His passion for working with youth brought him back to the Youth Bureau, where he is the Program Coordinator for the Workforce Development Academy for Youth (WDAY), assisting older youth with identifying a career pathway and gaining the skills and experiences needed to be successful.  During his free time, he enjoys reading, listening to music, and producing podcasts.

OTHER FULL TIME STAFF

Nicolette Johnson - Business Manager

Nicolette has over 30 years of experience in business administration and management with not for profit and government entities. Nicolette holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Metropolitan College of New York and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Morgan State University. In her free time, Nicolette enjoys reading and volunteering her time with not for profit organizations devoted to social justice and empowerment.

Agnes Kadavil - Grants Manager

Agnes was born and raised in Kerala, India.  She graduated from Mahatma Gandhi University with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics & Education and a Master degree in Physics.  After migrating to the United States the early 90’s she obtained her Associates degree in Accounting from Westchester Community College. Agnes’s career with the City of White Plains spans more than 25 years. She started her career working in the White Plains Housing Authority and later transferred to the Parking Authority. In 2000, she was hired at the White Plains Youth Bureau. At the Youth Bureau, she initially worked with the After School program team, not long after she received a promotion to the position of Bookkeeper where her primary role is Grant Management.

Laura Montoya - Admistrative Asst. (Spanish Speaking)

Laura was raised in White Plains having immigrated to the United States from Colombia, South America as a young child. She was educated in the White Plains School system from elementary through high school graduation. She has been the Youth Bureau’s Office Assistant for nearly 20 years. In addition to providing front office oversight, she serves as the departmental translator assisting our Spanish speaking families.  She loves being able to provide the community with resources and information in their language. Laura is an integral part of the agencies administrative operations. In her spare time, Laura enjoys watching movies, bike riding, dog-walking, reading, and spending quality time with her loved ones.

Sheila Foley - Program Coordinator, Mentoring Program & Summer Career Academy

Sheila Foley has a Masters of Science in Social Work, Columbia University. She has worked at the Youth Bureau for 34 years. Sheila manages the High School and Middle School Great Potential program, the Mentor Program, Young MENtoring Group, and Summer Career Academy. Her hobbies are staying active and physically fit!

Sherry Bannister - After School Connection Mgr.

Sherry Bannister has a Master of Science in Information Systems, Pace University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Berkeley College. Sherry has worked at the Youth Bureau for 17 years. Sherry manages and oversees registration for the After School Connection Program, Before School Program and Bits N’ Pieces Summer Camp. She also processes and manages New York State SACC licensing certifications for After School Connection Program and ensuring the Youth Bureau remains in compliance with regulatory requirements. Hobbies: Gardening and Exploring Nature.

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