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.
Aileen joined Friends of the Children in October of 2021 and has over twenty years of experience in nonprofits. Starting out at Boston Children’s Museum, planning public events and working with external outreach led to her designing arts programming for a number of Boston After School Programs. Her experience working at the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood House and Hyde Square Task Force allowed Aileen to enrich and improve children’s out of school lives, as well as instilling the belief in her that focusing on the youth and building their skills/personal resources creates positive change for both the kids and their neighborhoods. After leaving the sector for 16 years to work in retail management, her desire to come back to her roots was strong. Becoming Chief of Staff at a dynamic organization like Friends of the Children allows Aileen to utilize her community and youth building skills, along with her management skills, to focus on providing the best support for the organization and the dedicated staff at Friends of the Children Boston.
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.
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.
Paula joined the Elementary team as a Mentor in 2018. Just a year in, she received our 2019 Annual Superstar Friend Award, which honored her thoughtfully planned activities and her commitment to our model. She works with now third and fourth-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 & opportunities her immigrant family from Colombia worked so hard to create for her: her bilingual abilities, her US citizenship, her bachelor's in psychology and sociology from Boston University, and her motivation and compassion. She believes in her duty to honor her family’s efforts by supporting the families she works with to better navigate institutions and to build opportunities for her youth’s growth & success.
Paula uses her extensive experience in conducting psychological research during her time at BU in her role as our Data & Evaluation Lead. She conducts monthly data share outs to staff to make sure our efforts are on track, as well as supports staff through the goal setting & tracking process. Paula also contributes to data projects that help share the voice of our youth and families, to help us directly address their needs.
She uses her love of arts and crafts to connect with her girls creatively every day!
Addy has nearly a decade of experience working with children throughout Boston and the greater Boston area. Addy holds a Bachelor of Science from Lesley University in Counseling and Child, Youth, and Families Studies, where they also served as a Teaching and Research Assistant for the The Girlhood project and facilitated identity-focused groups for middle schoolers. Addy has also worked as a Milieu Counselor and Family Liaison with the Boston Youth Sanctuary, a therapeutic after-school program for elementary age kids in the Dorchester area. Throughout their career, Addy has witnessed firsthand the impact of positive relationships on children's social emotional wellbeing and academic success, and it has been an honor to advocate for the many merits of building resilient communities.
Mikael Negron has been working with youth for over 10 years. He went to school at Northeastern University where he studied Psychology and Secondary education. After Northeastern, he was a teacher for about eight years teaching English and History at both the middle school and high school levels. He is now focused on and excited to engage with youth in a mentor capacity.
JP has been an Elementary Youth Advocate since 2018. He developed his passion for helping children and families through his volunteer community efforts, which has included bringing in events such as concerts and parades, holding semi-annual food distributions, supporting youth’s interest in music, and helping neighborhood youth access jobs that develop their skills. He particularly enjoys his work with Elementary Achievers because he feels that intervening early to develop positive habits and skills will help them over their entire lifetime. He particularly values helping his youth become responsible, direct, and finishing what they set out to do. JP has a degree in Computer Science, as well as certificates to be both an electrician and mechanic. He has been a programmer for an online radio station for over ten years.
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.
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.
Franny graduated from the Boston Community Leadership Academy in 2006, and continued her education at Newbury College, graduating in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. In June of 2022, she joined Friends of the Children - Boston as the 2Gen Caregiver Support Specialist. In her role she serves as an advocate and support system to the families and caregivers of Achievers in the program.
Her passion for helping youth and families began in her teenage years while serving as a Community Leader at the Hyde Square Park Task Force in the Ritmo en Accion program. During her time with the program she focused on multicultural arts and community leadership. If you ever visit the train station in Jackson Square, you will see her artwork on the cultural murals as she was one of the artists to paint them back in the early 2000s.
For the past three years, Franny has taught Gotan Ryu after school through Boston Public Schools for children ages 4 - 12. She also teaches martial arts in both English and Spanish at the East Coast School of Combined Martial Arts Arroyo’s Program, where she helps students achieve their personal goals and build confidence. She earned her second degree blackbelt in 2018 and is currently working toward her sensei belt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Estephanie joined Friends of the Children-Boston as the Operations Manager in April of 2022. Over the years her career path has taken a few different routes, coming full circle when she recently started with Friends. In high school Estephanie served as a Health Educator for the non-profit Sociedad Latina. In her role she worked with youth and their families to help break the cycle of poverty and inequalities in access to health services, education, and professional opportunities within the community.
Estephanie experienced first-hand the impact Friends-Boston has in the lives of those it serves. Her brother is a graduate of Friends and through the years she saw the immense support the organization gave to both him and her family. She is thankful for the opportunity to work for Friends and to get more involved serving the youth in her community.