Staff & Support

PYO Staff

Julie Wells PYO

Julie Wells

Executive Director

After working with youth in non-profits for 23 years, the only way to stay energized and motivated is to love the people you work with. From PYO’s Board to staff to volunteers, families and students, I have never had such a diverse team of people working together to truly change the outcomes for young people. I am inspired by making connections and recognizing resiliency and I am not afraid to fail. I am raising two daughters as a single mom so like never before, I can relate to the parents- not just the teens- that we serve. The struggle is real…parenting teens is hard! Away from work, I am surrounded by friends and family that I love and I like to spend time reading, dancing, travelling and watching Netflix in bed with my kids.
E-mail: [email protected]

Miriam Valle PYO

Miriam Valle

Director of Operations

I have been working in the Non-Profit Sector for 10 years, it all started as a job opportunity and then it became my purpose in life. I have always felt passionate about people, but my heart and soul has always drifted towards our youth. Having a connection with students and families is satisfying because I know we are building relationships and a place of comfort and support, in which we can all come together and work through any situation from the smallest to the biggest. It takes more than one person of support to help someone make it through life. PYO is a place of support and opportunities, we all work together and give our heart and soul to make things happen for our students and families. We are a family that’s unbreakable and that’s what every person needs, someone stable and available to keep you together throughout life.
E-mail: [email protected]

Carlton Koonce PYO

Carlton Koonce

Workforce Development Director

The main reason I got involved with PYO is that I care about youth and community. I am a firm believer in that they will be leading us all in the near future and we want to make sure we’re being led by responsible people laden with integrity. I want to show teens that the world is bigger than their own little corner of Durham. I think I bring good energy to PYO along with a wealth of knowledge about our community and its people. I also bring love and understanding of our PYO students to the organization because I grew up like many of them.
E-mail: [email protected]

Adam Barnard PYO

Adam Barnard

Director of Programs

Adam didn’t picture himself working with teens when he moved to Durham. He came to North Carolina to study religion at Duke after completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy in Texas. While Adam was completing his degree, he had the fortunate opportunity to get involved with Partners for Youth Opportunity. Adam fell in love with the students and the program model and just stuck around. He’s been the Director of Programs since the summer of 2015 and has a passion for helping students identify their interests, think critically about the world around them, and feel empowered to effect change and achieve their goals. Adam has his hands in all of the areas of PYO to some extent. If you’re interested in volunteering with PYO in any capacity, he’s your guy. When Adam isn’t at work, hanging out with students or returning emails, he spends his time reading, playing music, or hanging out with his wife, Emily, and dog, Chloe.
E-mail: [email protected]

Dosali Reed-Bandele PYO

Dosali Reed Bandele

Academic Director

I have a strong passion for education and that passion continues to be fueled by the intelligence and resilience of the many young people I work with. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I started working in education by working as a junior camp counselor the summer of my freshman year in high school. That summer started a 15+ year career in teaching, youth programming and curriculum development. I live in Durham with my husband and four children who I love spending time with dancing, playing Scrabble and having current event debates. One of my favorite quotes that I believe embodies my work at Partners for Youth Opportunity is from a song called “Free Your Dreams” by Chantae Cann. “REACH UP & touch the sky, fly high…JUMP UP and kiss the sun, you’ve already won…LOOK UP but don’t look back, you’re on the right track…WAKE UP & free your dreams into reality!”
E-mail: [email protected]

Dedicated Volunteers

Amy Daubert PYO

Amy Daubert

College Support Specialist

Before her 4 children were born, Amy was a counselor in the Durham schools. Fast forward 27 years, with her last child was heading out to college, Amy found through PYO, the opportunity to work with students again while developing PYO”S comprehensive college program. Amy has served on several boards of non-profits, including Partners for Youth Opportunity, focusing primarily on development. When she is not helping students with their college search and applications, you can find Amy gardening, cooking, sewing or taking long walks around Chapel Hill with her dogs.
E-mail: [email protected]

Dan Brenner PYO

Dan Brenner

Workforce Development Consultant

Dan is a retired educator who recently relocated to North Carolina from New York and worked as a teacher of Career and Technical Education for thirty years where he taught courses in Commercial Photography, Film Production and TV/Video production. In addition to teaching, Dan served as the school’s Job Developer and Job Placement Counselor securing part time employment for students in the areas of advertising, architecture, interior design, illustration, theater tech, photography and video. Upon retiring from teaching, Dan spent the next three years as a Video Journalist for “My Long Island,” a news program that aired on Verizon Fios One. He is very thrilled to be working again with students, helping them to secure employment and watching them grow into young adults.

Contract Support

Susan McCraw PYO

Susan McCraw

College Retention/ Financial Aid

I have worked with students and families in a variety of settings in a career spanning more than 30 years. My experience as a special education teacher, behavioral specialist, parent educator, student advocate, and parent coach and home visitor for teenage moms gave me valuable insight when I began working with Partners for Youth as the Academic Coordinator in 2006. My roles changed and the organization grew, becoming Partners for Youth Opportunity, but my interest in teaching, strengthening relationships, forging connections, creating community, and supporting students in achieving their goals never wavered. After a brief time away, I have returned in a smaller capacity to provide support to PYO college students and assist students and families navigating the financial aid process. I am eager to continue fostering relationships, problem solving and finding opportunities for students.

Janeen Gingrich PYO

Janeen Gingrich

Development Consultant

Janeen has 21+ years of experience working with non-profits, with an emphasis on capacity building, strategic partnership development and grassroots fundraising. Janeen has built non-profit development programs from the ground up for a range of organizations, with budgets ranging from $250,000 to $20M annually, and with local, statewide and international focuses. Janeen’s fundraising expertise includes annual campaign development, data-driven strategy, foundation relations, strategic partnerships, board development and volunteer organizing. Janeen loves working with the incredibly talented board and staff at PYO to help raise money to support their critical programming. Janeen has worked with non-profits all over the area and continues to be wowed by the team at PYO. It is the kids, the parents, the staff, the mentors and countless other volunteers that make this program a true stand-out. It is her personal mission to ensure that PYO gets the attention it deserves in this rich and diverse non-profit community.

Tanya LaDille PYO

Tanya LaDille

Academic Support

Tanya LaDille is a senior at North Carolina Central University who expects to graduate May 2017 with a BSW in Social Work. She plans to on continuing to get a MSW in Social Work following her graduation. She enjoys helping people and watching them succeed which merges into her future plans – to create a non-profit to assist and educate parents on sending their kids to college.
“While working at PYO I plan to teach the kids how to apply for free student aid, look for and apply for scholarships and to look up research information online to assist with school. I will lead by example in showing students how to be a well-rounded person. I want to assist them in any way possible. I will one of their biggest cheerleaders.”
E-mail: [email protected]

Kai Caraganis and Lou Pica PYO

Kai Caraganis and Lou Pica

Data Systems and Analytics Support

Healthcare Augmentation Partners(HAP) is a data, technology/systems and analytics management consulting firm located in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. HAP works with business of all types (Healthcare, Non-Profit, Life Sciences) to make the process of collecting, accessing and using data for reporting/analytics simple and adoptable for all members of an organizations. HAP is grateful and excited to work with Partners for Youth Opportunity(PYO) to further empower and unlock the organizations capabilities to use data and analytics as a guide in their great work within the Durham, NC community. HAP has partnered with PYO in 2016 to; maximize the value of PYO’s current and new investments in; data, technology/systems, and analytics. Additionally, HAP is working with leadership to design a data driven business strategy through the adoption of measurable goals, assist any development needs and support with internal operations.

PYO Interns

Mataya Hardy PYO

Mataya Hardy


I am a Jersey girl and a Master’s of Social Work student, wanting to engage students by expanding knowledge of secondary education, while focusing on their goals and aspirations. I have a passion to help students improve their routine life-skills to become productive citizens to society. I believe one’s education is the most important tool to succeed in today’s society and would like to assist as an academic resource person to students at PYO. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, shopping and giving back to the community with my sorority. My future goal is to start her own Recreation Assistance Center for teens ages 13 to 20, but for now, I would like to specialize in working with families, to effectively implement parent and child management skills.
E-mail: [email protected]

Shep Willis PYO

Shep Willis


I am coming to PYO after spending the last nine years in Cape Town, South Africa. I served as the manager for the high school and bridging year programs of the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP), a non-profit organization providing educational opportunities in some of South Africa’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. It was that work that led me to pursue a master’s degree in social work at North Carolina Central University. I am thrilled to join the team at PYO as I share their passion for helping young people reach their goals. I love that PYO works with each student in so many different ways, caring about the entire person is the only way to make meaningful, positive change.
E-mail: [email protected]

Jenique Taylor PYO

Jenique Taylor


Lover of baked goods and social media. PYO intern, dream chaser, and difference maker. Currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work and interning with PYO. She is assisting with social media, marketing and youth engagement. Jenique is committed to the PYO mission and helping the youth obtain the tools they need to pursue their dreams.
E-mail: [email protected]