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Leadership Team

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Our leadership team and all of our dedicated NYAP staff members are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed professionals with a deep understanding and appreciation of NYAP’s vision to never give up on the children, youth and families we are proud to serve.


Marvena Twigg


Marvena has spent nearly twenty years of her professional career with NYAP, previously serving in the capacities of the Executive Director of Ohio and the Assistant National Director and Chief Operating Officer before being named its President and CEO in March 2004.


Marvena previously worked for thirteen years at Franklin County Children Services in various direct service and supervisory roles. Marvena is a Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. She obtained her Master Degree in Social Work from the University of Dayton.

Wellington Chimbwanda

Executive Vice President of Finance & Administrative Services

Wellington Chimbwanda was appointed Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration in January 2014. He joined National Youth Advocate Program (NYAP) in July 2005 as Finance Director primarily providing analytical and financial planning assistance to Operational Executives and Senior Management. Wellington was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in July 2011.


Prior to joining NYAP, he worked for Franklin County Children Services from 2001 to 2005 as an Accountant - Revenue Enhancement. Wellington moved to USA in 2001 from Zimbabwe after a 10 year stint in banking wherein he rose through the ranks from Loans Officer to Director- Corporate Banking.



Renee Ellenberger

Director of Foster Care

Renee first joined the West Virginia operations of NYAP in 1993 as a licensing supervisor and progressed through the organization to serve as the Executive Director of West Virginia for six years before her promotion to Director of Foster Care in January 2008.


In June, 2011 Renee assumed the role of Program Director in WV in additon to her role as Director of Foster Care.  Prior to NYAP, Renee served as the Director of West Virginia operations for Try-Again Homes.  Renee obtained her Master of Social Work degree from West Virginia University and is licensed in both West Virginia and Ohio.  Renee is active on a number of state committees.  Renee has a BA in Psychology from Waynesburg University and hold a Management Certificate from WVU and a Master in Social Work from West Virginia University.


Michelle Corry

Vice President for Organizational Excellence

Michelle joined the National Youth Advocate Program in 1999 and has served in various roles with NYAP including Clinical Supervisor, Regional Director for Northwest Ohio, Ohio Director of Continuous Quality Improvement, National Director of Quality Advancement, and Program Excellence. In 2006, Michelle was named NYAP Director of Clinical Services and has been serving as the Interim State DIrector for NYAP Indiana since September of 2011. In January 2016, Michelle was promoted to Vice President for Organizational Excellence, and now leads the clinical and continuous quality improvement areas of operations, as well as NYAP Indiana.


Prior to joining NYAP, other professional experience includes serving as the Clinical Program Manager for EMQ Children and Family Services in Sacramento California running Wrap-Around programming and Therapeutic Behavioral Services;  as a Child and Adolescent Therapist for the New Connecting Point in Toledo, OH; and as a front line Case Manager for the No AIDS Task Force in New Orleans Louisiana in the 1990s.   Additionally, Michelle has served as both the Treasurer and the Vice Chair on two HIV/AIDS organizations, and is currently serving as a CASA in St. Joseph County Indiana and as a COA Peer Reviewer.


Michelle holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Houston.  She has been a Clinically Licensed Social Worker since 1997.


Katie Warner

Program Director, Florida

Katie joined NYAP in September 2007 as our Director of Program Development in Florida, responsible for the recruitment and licensing of foster parents and for the program growth of our newest location.  Previously Katie serviced as the Foster Home Recruitment Coordinator for the Broward County Lead Agency, ChildNet.


Katie earned her BA in Social Work from Nazareth College of Rochester and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Reyahd D.J. Kazmi

Director of Business & Government Strategies

Reyahd Kazmi is the Director of Business & Government Strategies for National Youth Advocate Program where he oversees multiple programs and divisions, manages the organization's service contracts, and advocates at the municipal, state, and federal level.  Prior to joining NYAP, Mr. Kazmi worked in the private sector for a law firm and in the public sector for various political campaigns, the City of Chicago, the City of Columbus, the Ohio General Assembly, for former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, and Chaired the Ohio Commission on African American Males.


Recently, Mr. Kazmi was the Chief of Staff for Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely where he managed all aspects of the office. In addition, Kazmi was appointed by City of Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as a Commissioner on the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Kazmi is a graduate of The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and Glenn School of Public Affairs where he received his Juris Doctorate and Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management.  Kazmi is a member of City Church Chicago,  an Associate Board member for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and is an Associate Board member and mentor for Chicago Scholars.

Cathy Milless

Cathy Milless

Executive Director, South Carolina

Cathy is a resident of Charleston County, South Carolina and joined the NYAP family in 2008.  She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio, Ashland University, Columbus, Ohio, and Capital Law School, Columbus, Ohio, in the fields of business and education.  Cathy is a Certified Public Accountant, a licensed teacher (Integrated Business and Technology, grades 4 -12) and a trained Guardian Ad Litem for Charleston County.  She has twenty (20) years of combined experience in the arenas of business administration, education, child and family services, and youth advocacy.


Sharon Marconi

Program Director, Ohio

Sharon joined the National Youth Advocate Program in 2002 and has served in various roles within NYAP including Treatment Supervisor, Clinical Director for NYAP - West Virginia, and Director of Quality Advancement and Program Excellence.  She currently serves as the Program Director for NYAP Ohio and oversees all Ohio programming including foster care, Emergency Shelter Care, Group Care and behavioral health services.  


Sharon has been working in the behavioral health and child welfare fields since 1995 and has previously worked in community mental health, residential treatment and private practice all with focus on advocating for the needs of youth and families.  Sharon has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling and is a graduate of Ohio University.  She is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Ohio, a Licensed Professional Counselor in West Virginia and a National Certified Counselor.


Lila Cavasos

Director of Development, Florida

Lila Cavasos currently serves as the Director of Development for NYAP. She is responsible for facilitating the agency's growth by managing business development activities through strategic and tactical management decision making.  This includes cultivating and nurturing relationships with current and potential funders as well as responding to solicitations for program services.


Prior to this appointment she served for 10 years as the Director of Contracts and Licensing for the lead child welfare agency in the State of Florida and was instrumental in the start up of child welfare privatization efforts during the transition from the State run system of care.  Ms. Cavasos has over 20 years of social service and mental health experience including serving as the Executive Director of a private not for profit agency and a children's mental health specialist for the State of Florida.


Stacie Conliffe

Program Director, Georgia

Stacie is the Executive Director for the state of Georgia.  She provides oversight on the day-to-day administrative and service functions for the state.  Stacie also provides Clinical Supervision for CANEI programs while actively working towards growth and expansion throughout Georgia.  Stacie is very active in the states Alliance for Children and Families Association, Together Georgia, and has been on the Board of the association since 2012.  Stacie is also actively involved in the local FFTA chapter.


Prior to NYAP Stacie had 15 years of experience working in the Behavioral Health and Child Welfare Programs throughout Georgia to include residential and community based programs.  Stacie has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of Transylvania and a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Kentucky.  She has been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 2003.


Viviane Ngwa

Program Director, Illinois

Viviane Ngwa, MSW, LCSW works with National Youth Advocate Program as the Executive Director for Illinois where she leads the provision of a continuum of services to children and families including youth with juvenile justice involvement. Her knowledge and expertise on the issues of substitute care and child welfare were recently leveraged as a subject matter expert and international consultant in Latvia and Lithuania where she was invited by the American Embassy to lead a series of working sessions with state officials, leaders of local non-governmental organizations and social workers around the issues of wellbeing of children in orphanages with the goal of exploring community placement options.  Prior to that, she provided senior leadership for a high-end residential programs, has held various leadership positions in the child welfare field, specialized care and the area of services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Along the way, she continues to provide consultancy services to social service agencies across the country on issues of mergers, leadership, performance-based contracting and outcomes management.  


She comes with prior experience in for-profit human services leadership having worked with a major national for-profit company 10 years as Senior Executive Director as well as Director of Business Development during which,  Viviane was responsible for the company’s business operations in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and advocated for services to children in care through lobbying and public policy advocacy. Her experience on national boards include serving as a member of the Board of the Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA) for six years, and led as a (former) president of their Board/Executive Committee. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council on Accreditation  (COA) for the past 5 years. She is a Peer Reviewer Team Leader for COA as well as a Hague Evaluator, having successful lead the accreditation site review of many agencies within continental United States, Hawaii and Canada.



Lynette Santiago

Lynette Santiago joins NYAP from Fellowship Connection, an organization she founded in 2005 with the purpose of meeting the increasing needs for family support services in communities experiencing gentrification, urban flight, and increases in crimes to property and person. Under her guidance, the organization developed successful mentoring, job readiness, out of school/after school, and parenting classes which are constantly growing and evolving to meet the needs of the urban life.


Lynette Santiago, is no stranger to the challenges facing the urban family. Both Lynette's parents and grandparents began a family tradition of serving families burdened with socioeconomic factors that often lead to addiction, family violence, poor school attendance, poverty and crime. Each generation made the commitment to matters of community safety and individual well-being.


Lynette received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Liberty University, a master's degree in theology from Vision International University and is completing a Master of Nonprofit Management at North Park University.  While living in Chicago, Lynette served as Commissioner of the Zoning Board of Appeals for the City of Chicago and Commissioner of the Illinois International Port District, both appointments by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.


Director of Integrated Services & Organizational Development

Charles K. (Pete) Milless

General Counsel

Pete has been NYAP’s General Counsel since leaving the Board of Directors in April 2000.  Pete provides legal support for NYAP management and all NYAP programs including matters involving real estate, employer-employee issues, regulatory requirements, benefits, contracting, risk management and insurance, and coordinating outside counsel when needed.  Pete has been licensed to practice law since 1975.  He received his bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University and his J. D. from Capital University Law School.  

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Dru Whitaker

Chief Strategy Officer


Druann K. Whitaker, MS, LSW, LPC, joined the National Youth Advocate Program in 2016 as the Chief Strategy Officer.


Dru received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from The Ohio State University, her Master of Science in Counseling from the University of Dayton, and her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University.


Throughout her career in child welfare and behavioral & mental health services, Dru has held many noteworthy roles including Protective Services Case Worker for Putnam County Department of Human Services; Intake Supervisor for Hillside Cottages Residential Treatment Center; Case Manager for Ohio Youth Advocate Program and Senior Vice President of Treatment Services, Chief Operating Officer and President and Chief Executive Officer for Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth of America, Inc. (SAFY).  In addition, Dru served as Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at OhioGuidestone.  Dru brings her wealth of expertise to the National Youth Advocate Program and is an integral part of our agency’s operational and strategic planning.



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