Melynn Schuyler is the Founder and Executive Director of YouthWorks. Originally from the state of Washington, Melynn trapped pocket gophers in New Mexico while studying biology, lived, worked and hitch-hiked across Japan, earned her BA in International Relations from Boston University and her MA in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy from the Phillips Graduate Institute in California. Melynn has three sons, raised as a result of the help of YouthWorks participants, joined as a large family to assist each other to meet success.
YouthWorks was created as a community-based organization to connect marginalized “opportunity” youth in Santa Fe to hands on workforce training, life skills training, alternative education instruction, case management and counseling and career and college placement. In addition to having created a caring, open-door youth-serving organization with wrap-around services, Melynn has polished YouthWorks into an agile, creative nonprofit that addresses social equity through an evolution of initiatives that are entrepreneurial, collaborative, replicable and sustainable. Contact: Melynn@santafeyouthworks.org
GED Classroom Instructor
Nikki B. Bustos, a native of Espanola, New Mexico, has been working with youth in northern New Mexico for close to 20 years. She is a 2000 graduate of Espanola Valley High School and obtained a BFA from University of New Mexico in 2005. Nikki comes from a family of artisans and deeply values the rich culture and faith of northern New Mexico. In her spare time, she enjoys creating art in the forms of black and white photography, retablos, and pottery to name a few. Both of Nikki’s parents are artists and her and many family members showcase in the annual Spanish Market held in July of every summer. Nikki has used art as the main foundation for a large majority of her therapeutic sessions as well as in her ability to engage and build rapport with youth and adults.
Nikki’s professional experience includes working with northern NM public school districts and non-profits in the capacities including: art teacher, special education instructor, behavior interventionist, substance abuse support staff, and other mental/behavioral health related roles. In her role as GED teacher in the YouthBuild program Nikki enjoys working directly with the students and seeing them reach their goals and become better versions of themselves and believes that all individuals deserve this opportunity.
Karen Cain is a licensed clinical mental health counselor. She studied in Texas and received her masters in counseling in 1997. Karen has 25 years of experience in the field. “My greatest reward as a therapist is helping my clients explore ways to make the changes in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope.” Karen specializes in adolescent , family, group and individual therapy. She uses a variety of theoretical approaches, tailored to individual needs. Karen is a life long animal rights activist and is the executive director of a local non-profit. The non-profit’s mission is to provide veterinary care, food and more for the companion animals of people experiencing homelessness. Karen grew up in Dallas but has a long history in and love of New Mexico.
Construction Program Director
Johnny Gee was born and raised in Santa Fe New Mexico. Johnny left Santa Fe to study in Oregon at Portland State University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Community Development, only to find that he left his heart in New Mexico. He has since moved back to Santa Fe to retrieve it, and to give back to the city that raised him. Johnny is the YouthBuild Construction Trainer and is a certified Core Curriculum Instructor with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Having grown up in Santa Fe, Johnny is passionate about the future of Santa Fe youth and loves watching his students build better lives for themselves one nail at a time.
YouthBuild Program Director
Hicham has been serving the youth at YouthWorks for over than a year as the YouthBuild program director. Hicham has accumulated several years of experience serving the youth with the State of New Mexico’s Juvenile Justice Services. Hicham has a passion for serving the youth through the utilization of a strength-based, unbiased, and culturally-sensitive approach. Hicham is a doctoral student of management and organizational leadership and holds a Masters in the administration of Justice and Security.
Culinary Program Director
Jacqueline “Jackie” Gibbs found YouthWorks twelve years ago as a high-school dropout trying to make it on her own. She took every training course offered—from culinary arts to river restoration—and worked every job available. From the beginning, Jackie demonstrated natural leadership, and emerged from the ranks of trainees to several levels of crew supervisory roles.
Today, after some years away from Santa Fe, Jackie is back in a new role at YouthWorks as the Culinary Operations Direct for the culinary arts program. She strives to ensure that the program maintains the highest quality health and safety standards across operations ranging from the preparation of daily after-school meals for children to catering for high-end events.
Director of Operations
For two years, Jay Richard Hennicke was one of the Academic Instructors for Santa Fe YouthWorks. After leaving to pursue a PhD in Buddhist Studies, and to teach English and Philosophy classes at community colleges, Jay returned to YouthWorks in September of 2019 in the role of Director of Operations. Jay Has lived in five different states and visited forty-eight of them, but has chosen New Mexico to call home because of the natural beauty and vibrant, diverse culture. As Director of Operations for Santa Fe YouthWorks, Jay’s personal mission is to be of service to this community and to have a positive impact on the lives of Santa Fe’s youth and young adults.
GED Classroom Instructor
Lisa Miles is an educator and artist who creates one-of-a-kind and limited-edition artist books under the imprint Dutchess Press. Originally from New England, Miles considers the high desert of New Mexico home. She holds an MFA in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book, a BFA in Graphic Design from the New England School of Art & Design, and an AA in Printmaking from the Santa Fe Community College. In 2017–2018, she represented the United States as a Fulbright Arts Researcher in Indonesia. At present, she serves on two non-profit boards – North American Hand Papermakers and Santa Fe Book Arts Group. As former president and cofounder of Bike Santa Fe, a bicycle advocacy non-profit, she organized community events, worked to improve local cycling legislation and infrastructure, and taught on-street cycling to children and adults.
In the Youthworks classroom, she focuses on providing a safe and productive learning environment that incorporates student interests while expanding awareness towards global issues and perspectives. Beyond the GED curriculum, her educational approach includes hands-on projects, heightening appreciation for art and film, field trips to local cultural institutions, and time for self-care. Outside the classroom, she can be found riding her bicycle, growing vegetables, and soaking in hot springs.
Workforce and Personnel Development Director
Rachel assists youth with career planning and helps to develop work opportunities for YouthWorks youth by growing relationships with employment partners in New Mexico. Rachel earned her master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico before serving in Peace Corps Nepal. In Nepal, Rachel worked as a Food Security Specialist, designing and implementing trainings for farmers and women’s groups on sustainable agriculture and nutrition. With the goal of helping community members to realize their strength through supportive actions and connections, Rachel has worked for many years with nonprofit organizations that focus on environmental advocacy, environmental education, and sustainable agriculture. When not at YouthWorks, Rachel volunteers with the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation to restore watersheds and wildlife habitat and enjoys hiking and rock climbing in the public lands of the desert southwest.
Stacey serves as finance manager at YouthWorks and holds an Associate’s Degree in Accounting and Business Administration. After moving to Santa Fe in 2001 from northern Virginia she started working as a bookkeeper in the fields of home building, construction, restaurant and retail, non-profit and more. Stacey loves to spend her spare time in the outdoors of New Mexico, baking, and volunteering for animal and homeless shelters in the area.
Culinary Program Training Director
Cecillia was born in West Africa and moved to Santa Fe, NM over 30 years ago. She has been happy to call Santa Fe her home all these years. She is She is the founder of The Ceci Tchakounte Tadfor Foundation (C.T.T.F.), a non-profit foundation to educate, support and empower people with physicalisabilities, and to stop sex trafficking in Cameroon. A board member for The Tessa Foundation, an organization devoted to furthering human rights for people challenged by oppression, disability, hunger, and other abuses. She feels a moral duty to give back to her birth place with the same support she has felt here in Santa Fe.
She runs a food blog, cecisafricankitchen.com, hosting a variety of cooking workshops where the saying goes: “One cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~Virginia Wolf
Cecilia Tapia was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has been connected to YouthWorks since she was 15 when she worked as a crew member for the YouthWorks YCC (Youth Conservation Corps). In this role, experiencing first-hand the hard work and dedication these kids put into helping the community.
Being involved with YouthWorks and YCC as a teenager helped Cecilia in many ways such as creating lasting friendships with other YCC members, graduating High School and later attending Santa Fe Community College, and ultimately completing a Dental Health program in 2010.
Cecilia has come back to YouthWorks to join as a staff member assisting in Case Management and Administration. Cecilia is excited to be a part of YouthWorks team helping the youth.