Yi-Chin Chen serves as the Executive Director of Friends of the Children–Boston,
an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing
youth facing the toughest challenges with 12.5 years of relentless
professional mentoring from kindergarten to high school graduation, no
matter what. She is responsible for setting the strategic direction of
the organization and managing the day to day operations. Since joining Friends–Boston
in late 2015, Yi-Chin has led the effort to successfully elevate the
organization’s public profile as the ONLY organization in the state of
Massachusetts, making a long-term, unconditional, commitment of support
to children facing the highest risks utilizing a professional mentoring
Yi-Chin began her career in youth development nearly two decades ago
as a school counselor with the GEAR UP Program at Thomas Edison Middle
School and Brighton High School. While working at both institutions, she
helped develop and deliver college and career preparation and
exploration curriculum to at-risk youth. After receiving her master’s
degree in social work from Boston University, she joined the Hyde Square
Task Force (HSTF), where she served as an integral member of the
organizational leadership team as both the Deputy Director and Interim
Executive Director. During her twelve-year tenure, she was behind the
creation of several award-winning programs, including the Paths to
College and Career Program. Her written case study of HSTF’s youth
community development model was printed in the book “Youth-Led Community
Organizing,” published by Oxford University Press in 2007 and used as a
required course reading for first-year MSW students at Boston
University’s School of Social Work.
As an immigrant born and raised in Taiwan, Yi-Chin is a strong
advocate for building a pipeline of leaders of color in the city of
Boston. She currently serves on several cities and state-wide boards and
committees, including Boston Children’s Hospital Community Advisory
Board, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Board of Directors, Boston
University School of Social Work Alumni Board, and Harvard Catalyst
Community Advisory Board. As a graduate of the Institute for Nonprofit
Practice (INP), she serves as a Senior Fellow and a mentor to several up
and coming nonprofit leaders through INP. In her spare time, Yi-Chin
volunteers with several animal rescue organizations and participates in
local Help-Portrait events as a volunteer portraiture photographer.
Stacy joined the team at Friends of the Children–Boston in September 2014 and serves as a strategic ally to the Executive Director while providing leadership to Friends–Boston as the organization continues to implement its strategic growth plan. During her tenure, Friends-Boston has grown from just under a million-dollar origination to a 2 million-dollar organization with a growing team and a relentless commitment to the youth they serve. Stacy works on developing diverse revenue strategies, implementing an ambitious fundraising plan, providing leadership to inspire an increase of philanthropic support, and managing key donor relationships to sustain Friends–Boston plans for programmatic growth and sustainability.
Both a development professional and an organizational specialist, Stacy brings with her over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and strategic fund development. Prior to Friends of the Children–Boston, Stacy served as Deputy Director of MathPOWER, Director of Development for Peace First, a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, as Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the YMCA of Greater Boston, Senior Development Officer at Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and Director of the Foster Grandparent Program in Lawrence, MA, a program she brought to Lawrence in 1999.
Recognizing the importance of giving back, Stacy is a member of The Philanthropy Connection – a women’s collective giving group. Stacy previously served on the Board of Directors of Families First and MathPOWER. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Suffolk University and a Bachelor's degree from Merrimack College. Stacy decided to dedicate her career to public service after serving on two Alternative Spring Breaks in College and began her service to the nonprofit community as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Stacy is an avid snowboarder, admitted food snob, and sports fanatic.
Marie Smith has been working with youth and families in the Boston
area for 15 years. She began her work at Dare Family Services, working
with high needs youth in foster care. Prior to joining Friends–Boston,
Marie worked with Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention at the Irving
Middle School, where she worked with students in the Learning Adaptive
Marie is a social worker experienced in achieving results with
disenfranchised populations. She is most passionate about community
building and providing quality service to youth and families. With other
senior staff, she leads and execute vision and strategy for all aspects
of Friends–Boston programming, integrate best practices in
research from the fields of mentoring, social work and education to make
Friends–Boston a leader in the field, and provides full oversight of
Friends–Boston programming. She has previously worked at the Alliance
for Inclusion and Prevention at the Washington Irving Middle School,
Casey Family Services and New Mission High School. She received a B.A.
in Mass Communications from Bennett College and her Master of Clinical
Social Work with certification in Urban Leadership from Simmons College.
Assistant Director of Program Training Development
Chloe has been working with youth and families in the greater Boston area for ten years. She started out as a youth worker in after-school and summer programs teaching dance, theater, and creative writing and went on to earn her Master’s in Social Work at Simmons College. She helped develop an arts-based youth program in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2009 and has worked as an outpatient therapist, an advocate with the Boston Public Defender's office, and an In-Home Family Therapist prior to joining the staff at Friends of the Children–Boston.
Paula started working as an Elementary Mentor and Youth Advocate in 2018. She works with first and second-grade girls to help foster their self-esteem, emotional intelligence and a love for reading and learning.
Paula is deeply grateful for all the privileges her immigrant family from Colombia was able to support her with her US citizenship, her bilingual abilities and her bachelor's in psychology and sociology from Boston University. She believes in her duty to use these abilities to help her families better navigate institutions to build their opportunities for their goals of success.
During her time at the Intergenerational Literacy Program at BU, she discovered how much she enjoyed directly supporting Spanish speaking immigrant adults. Paula was impactful not only in their education but also in guiding their desire to work on their personal goals to better support their families. She uses her extensive experience in conducting psychological research to contribute to the Evaluation Task Force's current research studies.
Paula was our 2019 Annual Superstar Friend Award, which honored her thoughtfully planned activities and her commitment to our model. She uses her love of Disney and arts and crafts to connect with her girls every day.
Mary Kate Sullivan is a dedicated youth worker who grew up just outside of Boston. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the College of the Holy Cross. She discovered her passion for working with youth while serving as a summer camp counselor in the Greater Boston area. She has also worked with youth with disabilities through programs such as the Special Olympics and Buddy Ball.
April is an Elementary Youth Advocate/Mentor who serves some of Friends-Boston' youngest Achievers. She believes in the transformative power of relationships and is committed to social justice and community building. She discovered her passion for supporting youth while interning in a domestic violence shelter and has worked with children and families in the Boston area for over 5 years. April holds an MSW from Boston University and a BA in Clinical Psychology and Asian American Studies from Tufts University. She is a recipient of the 2020 Superstar Friend Award from the Superstar Foundation.
Ryan Whiting graduated from Bunker Hill Community College with an Associates degree in Education before transferring to Salem State University, where he graduated in 2020 with a degree in Social Work. Before college, he served two AmeriCorps years with City Year Baton Rouge, where he worked with third graders on their academics, attendance and behavior. During his time with City Year, he developed strong relationships with his students but wanted to work with youth and their families on a more personal level. His background in social work and experience with education inform his positive approach to working with our elementary achievers. As a Mentor with Friends of the Children–Boston, he is a supportive and insightful resource for our achievers and their families.
Frank Coleman is an experienced youth worker who is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. He has worked with Codman Academy and The Log School, both based in Dorchester where Frank was born and raised and had deep community ties. He currently serves as a Pop Warner football coach for the Dorchester Eagles. Recognized for his outstanding work and commitment to youth, Frank was one of three individuals selected to receive the inaugural Light of Dawnn Awards. The Light of Dawnn Awards was created to honor the legacy of youth leader Dawnn Jaffier, who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to building stronger communities.
Jesse Doran is a dedicated youth worker who has served in and out of schools, providing support and fostering leadership skills in youth ages eight through fifteen. Jesse earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Skidmore College, where he discovered his passion for working with adolescents and served as an AmeriCorps member teaching literacy and life skills in an after school program for early teenagers.
Stefan Forrestal-Swaintek graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., in 2015, where he majored in sociology. From college, he did an AmeriCorps year of service with a City Year Boston, where he worked with fifth graders in a Level 4 turnaround school on their academics, attendance and behavior. During his time with City Year, he developed strong relationships with his students but wanted to work with youth for more than one year to provide support for an extended period of time. As a mentor with Friends of the Children–Boston, he is a positive resource for his Achievers and their families.
Keisha Gamble has been working with youth and families for over 15 years. She began her work at a local neighborhood shelter that housed women and children. Keisha also worked for the United Way, where she learned the importance of community development and neighborhood resources. Keisha then went to work for Dare Family services, an intensive foster agency where she worked as a social worker and family resource coordinator. She received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University. Recognized for her outstanding work meeting the career needs of Friends–Boston’s teen Achievers, Keisha was honored by the Boston Celtics as a Hero Amongst Us.
Shané Lewis is a dedicated youth worker who grew up in the Mattapan, Dorchester area of Boston. She graduated from Fitchburg State University with Bachelors in Human Services. Previously, Shané has worked in school guidance offices and The Boys and Girls Club in Leominster. Shané has been a part of Friends–Boston since she began her field placement in the fall of 2014.
Cory manages and writes grants at Friends–Boston, while assisting with other departmental projects and initiatives such as events and donor outreach. He has eight years of experience in the non-profit development world, previously working at that MSPCA-Angell and Nurtury. He graduated with a B.A. from Bard College and lives in Jamaica Plain.