Melinda Giovengo, Ph.D., (She/Her/Hers), CEO & President

Picture of Melinda smiling
Photo credit: Erin McKinney

Dr. Melinda Giovengo became the Executive Director of YouthCare in November 2006, rejoining the agency she had served as a case manager and program manager more than twenty years prior. She has thirty years of experience in developing and implementing re-engagement programs for out-of-school and homeless youth.

Melinda holds an M.A. in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and is published on issues regarding youth homelessness and the impact of learning disabilities in hard-to-serve populations. Melinda speaks locally and nationally on youth homelessness, adolescent mental health issues, and child sexual exploitation. She is the Board Chair of the National Network for Youth and a board member of the National Youth Employment Coalition. In her free time, Melinda enjoys traveling, spending time with her wife and son, and amassing custom-fit sweaters for her tiny Chihuahua, Pepe.

Degale Cooper, MSW, (She/Her/Hers), Chief Program Officer

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Photo credit: Erin McKinney

Degale Cooper joined YouthCare as the Chief Program Officer in June 2018. Her thirty-year professional history in the non-profit sector includes an array of direct clinical services, program development and implementation, international consulting on issues of child welfare, and executive-level experiences within organizations dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, improving foster care systems, and eliminating experiences of homelessness for youth, young adults, and families. She has held leadership positions at The Mockingbird Society, The YWCA, Treehouse and Youth Eastside Services.

Degale received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Washington, B.A. in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University, and clinical supervision certification from the University of Washington. With over fourteen years as a foster parent, Degale passionately engages in her community as a mentor and support for children, youth, and families. In her free time, Degale enjoys fishing and squid jigging, camping, designing great food, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Donavan Lam, CPA, (He/Him/His), Chief Financial Officer

Donavan Headshot

Donavan joined YouthCare as our Chief Financial Officer in January 2020. He has served as the finance executive for four different 501(c)(3) organizations and has extensive knowledge in non-profit management, accounting, budgeting and cost accounting principles. His expertise focuses on efficiency planning in addition to maximizing internal control and leveraging resources for positive program outcomes. With a background in non-profit leadership, Donavan has expertise in working with dynamic team environments to promote team success.

Donavan is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington and his Master of Business Administration from Seattle University. He participates in sports in his leisure time and is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys snowboarding, hiking, and camping.  Donavan, his wife, and their two daughters also enjoy traveling for food and connecting with different cultures.

Jody Waits, (She/Her/Hers), Development & Communications Officer

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Photo credit: Erin McKinney

A Detroit native, Jody Waits came to Seattle in 1997, determined to build a career that would make a difference to the community. Her professional history includes leadership positions at Women’s Funding Alliance, Child Care Resources, Girl Scouts of Western Washington and Pride Foundation. A former president of the Northwest Development Officers Association (AFP/Advancement Northwest), Waits is also adjunct faculty at the University of Washington with the Non-Profit Management Program. She has a bachelor’s degree in religion and history from Denison University. Jody is a committed home chef, enjoys spending time with family and friends, and slowly restoring her vintage Ford van.


Brooke Beckwith, (She/Her/Hers), Ι Director of Performance & Quality Improvement

Charese Jones, MNPL , (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Early Intervention & Specialized Services (EISS)

Christopher Hanson, (He/Him/His) Ι Director of Engagement Services

Colleen Goodwin, SPHR, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Human Resources – Operations

Emma York-Jones, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Compliance and Program Quality

Erin Chapman-Smith, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Over-18 Housing Services

Gabbi Sawrey, (She/Her/Hers) I Community Campaign Project Director

Kathryn Peterson, (She/Her/Hers) I Director of Strategic Program Partnership Integration

Katie Kolarich, JD, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Institutional Advancement

Kelly Stockman McKee, MPA, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Public Funding

Paul Ramirez, (He/Him/His) Ι Director of Operations

Randi Eseltine, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Community Engagement

Toby Addington, (He/Him/His) Ι Director of Education and Employment

Shoshana Wineburg, MSW, (She/Her/Hers) Ι Director of Public Policy & Communications