Meet the YP! Employees

Brianna Gower, Director

Pronoun: She/Her
Email:
BGower@youthpowerny.org
Phone:
518-598-2467

Brianna is a hardworking young professional with first-Brianna Valeseyhand experience developing self-advocacy skills as a young person with a disability and experience in the mental health system. Dedicated to amplifying youth voice across the state, she works hard to spread messages of hope and resiliency to those around her. She began her time with YOUTH POWER! serving as a mentor for the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program and after graduating in 2014 from Sage College of Albany, she began working as YOUTH POWER!’s Youth Engagement Consultant. During this time she led the E3: Engage, Educate, Employ initiative in partnership with the NYS Department of Labor. As this initiative came to a close, she then began her work with the NYS Success initiative, ensuring our system of care is youth-guided. As her role in YOUTH POWER! grew and developed, she then went on to serve as the Social Marketing and Events Coordinator, working closely with YP! members, partners, and other stakeholders. Leveraging her years of experience growing through different roles in the youth peer profession and gaining critical expertise in mentoring, youth peer advocacy, program/event coordination, social marketing, and providing trainings and technical assistance, she is excited to serve as the Director of YOUTH POWER! in this new era of leadership.

Bianca Logan, Youth Peer Development & Training Manager

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: BLogan@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 585-622-1221

Bianca is a passionate young professional who has personal experience in the mental health and special education systems. She has been working professionally in the youth movement since 2012 with 8 years volunteer experience prior. Bianca is passionate about all things youth and determined to make sure youth voice is represented at all levels in her community and beyond. She comes with experience working directly with young people and also supporting young professionals in her community. She serves as a member of the Youth Peer Services Advisory Council working towards the development of the NYS Youth Peer Advocate Credential, training, and the implementation of Youth Peer Advocate workforce in New York State. Bianca has experience serving on both the Families Together in NYS and YOUTH POWER! board of directors. Bianca’s experience with YOUTH POWER! has shown her the power and strength of the peer movement. She respects the movement, its history, and its future. Keeping the integrity of the peer movement is important to Bianca as Youth Peer Services are formalized in NYS. Bianca is excited to be working with the Regional Youth Partners across the state to support communities with their youth involvement and implement Youth Peer Advocates successfully and sustainably. She believes this will enhance the wraparound experience for young people.

Bianca wholeheartedly believes that youth are our future, and they deserve to feel empowered to play a role in shaping the next generation, inclusive of Peer Professionals. Most of all she encourages young people to have HOPE that the future can be a better place!

 

Elijah Fagan-Solis, Statewide Emerging Leadership Manager

Pronoun: He/Him
Email:
EFagan@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-432-0333 ext. 19
Cell: 518-949-4617
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.ANY

Elijah Fagan-Solis, a God-fearing Capital Region native, is a highly motivated, young professional with firsthand, lived experienced as a person with a disability. At age 14, Elijah was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Failure and labeled disabled. Despite the label placed on him, Elijah was determined not to let a disability control his life or future; through all the trials and tribulations he faced with his health, Elijah graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Hudson Valley Community College, and Magna Cum Laude from the Sage College of Albany. While at HVCC, Elijah was honored by the Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York for winning the David A. Garfinkel Essay Competition and had his essay published in Judicial Notice, as well as participated in a documentary about his involvement with the contest. Elijah has worked with the NYS Assembly, is a member of two national honor societies, and has received awards for involvement in his community, and for his belief in the ability of people to change, grow, and make a contribution to the world. Elijah participates in charity events and fundraisers such as the National Kidney Foundations Kidney Walk and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s Walk in the Park. Elijah also volunteers his time to do community service and is highly active with his church where he serves as a Deacon, the administrative assistant, and heads the youth ministry among other responsibilities.

 

Alexander Frisina, Long Island Regional Youth Partner 

Pronoun: He/Him
Email: 
AFrisina@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 631-245-5289
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.LongIsland

Alex stands in the YP office under the words Speak Up Speak Out

Alexander Frisina is a hardworking and dedicated young professional that was labeled with Special Education needs at an early age. Adopted at a young age by a family located in Eastern Long Island, Alex is the youngest of four siblings, and the only adopted member of his family. Facing issues of self-identity Alex struggled with depression. Throughout the decision-making process of his treatment, he felt voiceless and was made to believe he had no choices. This feeling pushed Alex to seek alternative methods of expression; which lead him down the road of creative writing. Alex used his writing to not only express himself but also escape from the feeling of being powerless and unheard. Since graduating from King’s College located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Alex has been seeking a position that uses his creative background to help make a difference. Learning about the work YOUTH POWER! has done and the goals they are working towards Alex realized his past experience could be used to help others dealing with similar situations. Pulling from past experiences and gaining knowledge every day Alex hopes to push for change and spread the work of YOUTH POWER!

 

Amanda Davidson, Youth Outreach & Engagement Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: ADavidson@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-949-4338

photo of amanda in front of a graffiti wall, holding a black and red hope boardAmanda is a driven, confident young individual who plans on making the world a better place for youth step by step. Her experience in mental health, troubled family situations and her skill to recognize the ability for change has made it so she wants to empower youth of all ages to also recognize their ability to seek change and actively make their voices heard in society. Amanda works state wide to amplify youth voice in systems that involve suicide prevention and school mental health education and all other systems as well. She has spoken in front of NYS Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia to influence youth necessity for mental health education. She has also spoken at the 2018 Suicide Prevention Conference, sharing her own personal experience with suicide and what helped or harmed her during that time, and also the 2018 System of Care Summit explaining her transition from child serving systems to the adult serving systems.

With all of these opportunities, she has realized her passion is to support youth with all mental health challenges who are learning the new mental health curriculum. With her story told throughout different outlets, she hopes youth can find power in sharing their own story because Amanda knows our stories matter!

 

Azaria Georger, Youth Peer Services Training & Credentialing Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her
Email:
AWittekind@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 585-866-9333

Photo of Azaria WittekindAzaria has a history of working with and for youth and young adults. This stems from the care and support she received while growing up in the foster care system. Azaria was in and out of foster care since the age of 13 and has multiple mental health diagnoses. Azaria has personally experienced the power of love, support, and caring from others who helped her find her voice, drive, and have supported her personal successes. Azaria turned her passion into supporting others to find their voices. Prior to starting this position, she has worked directly with youth to support them in finding their voice at home and in school as a Youth Mentor, Youth Ambassador, and in residential care as a Youth Care Professional. Azaria earned her Bachelors in Social Work from SUNY Brockport in 2013 after aging out of foster care at 21 while studying abroad in Vietnam.

 

 

Carly Congilosi, Western Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: She/Her
Email:
 CCongilosi@YOUTHPOWERNY.org
Phone: 585-314-2452
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.Western

carly congilosi holding the hope boardCarly Congilosi finds her identity in being a follower of Christ.  She enjoys drinking coffee and eating chocolate, preferably with a book in hand.  She considers herself an introvert, but she still spends quality time with the people to whom she is closest.  Carly began struggling with mental health challenges in middle school.  Her personal experiences led her to earn a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Psychology from Houghton College in 2016.  Following graduation, she worked as a Youth Peer Advocate for the Mental Health Association of Erie County, where she grew immensely both as a person and as an advocate.  In this role, Carly gained experience providing direct youth peer support services to youth in residential care, in psychiatric hospitals, and in the community.  She also had the privilege of presenting on a variety of mental health topics to students, parents, teachers, and community members.   Apart from her work as a Youth Peer Advocate, Carly interned with the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center and has served as a volunteer camp counselor for Royal Family Kids’ Camp, which serves youth involved with social services.  She also co-facilitated a Christ-centered mental health support group for adults in the Buffalo area.  Carly now lives in Rochester and is excited to use her skills and passion in her new role as the Western Regional Youth Partner.

 

Denzel ‘DJ’ Wilkerson, NYC Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: He/Him
Email:
 DWilkerson@YOUTHPOWERNY.org
Phone: 347-461-2819

DJ found his start at YOUTH POWER! when he attended their UYP! for the first time in 2016. While attending the classes and engaging in activities, he got an up close observation of an organization that genuinely cared about advocacy on all levels. As a member of the mental health community and a former dedicated youth advocate, DJ appreciates being able to speak on his experiences by being on two sides of the same system and the vigor YOUTH POWER! displayed in representing advocacy in so many areas. From a young age, DJ would be interested in helping anyone and everyone finding their voice, beginning a passion for advocacy before knowing what it was. DJ left high school a year early to focus more on his mental health when he was introduced to a program that assisted him with school and promoted self-care. It was here that he started his professional advocacy as a Youth Peer Advocate Intern, over the course of 4 years, worked his way to part time and then full time YPA. While supporting the students he worked with, he began to notice a need for additional support for the individuals that work in direct care. Through YOUTH POWER!, he is given the platform to express that concern and given the tools to boost the service to those whose voices need to be heard on a broader scope.

 

Mica Gonzalez, Central Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: She/Her/ They/Them
Email: MGonzalez@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 315-679-1476
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.Central

Mica comes to YOUTH POWER! with much experHeadshot of Mica Gonzalez standing in front of a graffiti-painted wall ience working with youth and young adults. She brings knowledge and experience of working with diverse populations, youth-guided care, and youth-guided implementation.  Her passion lies in working with youth to find their voice. As a youth, she felt largely silenced and had a difficult time navigating through cross systems. Growing up in a multicultural household, struggling to maintain her mental health was challenging. At a young age she was given a few different labels and through the years those only continued to change. In addition to those struggles, Mica was diagnosed with epilepsy in the 7th grade. Trying to maintain her seizure disorder and mental health posed many challenges. Shortly after this, she came out to her family and friends. The lack of representation and acceptance only further perpetuated her mental health and resulted in many psychiatric hospitalizations. With these struggles in mind, Mica attended an alternative school from grades 10th to 12th where she graduated high school. She graduated Onondaga Community College in 2013 with her Associates in Human Services with a specialization in Social Work. Today, she attends Syracuse University where she is working to get her Bachelors in Social Work. Mica plans on continuing her education to get her Master’s degree in Social Work. When she is not working hard to amplify youth voices, she is enjoying nature, traveling, crafting and playing with her three pugs!

Zack Kilmer, NYISA Coordinator

Pronoun: He/Him
Email: ZKilmer@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-708-3808

Photo of Zach holding a black and red hope board with "Speak Up! Speak Out!" written above him.Zack Kilmer is an autistic LGBTQ+ young adult who has had a passion for activism and civics since he was a child. Raised by a single mother and brought up in special education programs, Zack knows the struggles young people face and wants to change the system to better suit their needs. He is excited and honored to be working with YOUTH POWER! to achieve that goal. Before joining YP!, Zack graduated from SUNY Brockport with a bachelor’s degree in English & Political Science. Shortly after, he worked on the New York 19th District 2016 Congressional Election in support of Zephyr Teachout. He then used the skills learned in that race to run his own campaign for Town Council in his hometown of East Greenbush.

 

Ashley Rivera, Youth Wraparound Implementation Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: ARivera@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-560-9880

Ashley Rivera is a natural born advocate. With years of experience navigating the foster care system, advocating for her siblings and herself became second nature. Throughout her years in foster care, Ashley dealt with anxiety, depression and self-identity. Through self-advocacy and natural supports Ashley was able to find treatment through faith-based interventions. Ashley has been involved with promoting youth advocacy since High School. She worked on Juvenile Justice projects such as, Alternative to Detention programs in NYC, engaging youth to advocate for funding Educational opportunity programs on college campuses. Ashley has a Bachelor’s of Science from SUNY Plattsburgh in Political Science and Latin American Studies. Ashley is currently serving Youth Power as the Youth Wraparound Implementation Coordinator on the NYS Systems of Care grant. Simultaneously, she works as a community support worker providing skill-building to youth facing their own mental health barriers. Ashley is dedicated to empowering youth and encouraging systems change so youth voice is inclusive and at the forefront of change.