Melinda Giovengo, Ph.D., CEO & President

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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, 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.

Dina Wilderson, Ph.D., Learning & Impact Officer

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Photo credit: Erin McKinney

Dina serves as YouthCare’s Learning and Impact Officer. She has over a decade of executive-level experience within agencies focused on eliminating the experience of homelessness for youth and young adults. Broadly speaking, her work has been focused on helping organizations know their impact through the development of sound measurement systems and the incorporation of program evaluation into everyday business practices. Her expertise is in program evaluation, performance management, outcomes measurement, information dissemination, knowledge sharing, advocacy, and public policy. Prior to relocating to Seattle, Dina served as the Chief of Research and Evaluation at Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.

Dina received her doctorate degree in Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University. She is a member of the National Network for Youth Policy Advisory Committee and the National Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Center (RHYTTAC) Advisory Board. She is also Co-Chair of the All Home King County System Performance Committee.

Donavan Lam, CPA, Chief Financial Officer

Donavan HeadshotDonavan 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, 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.


Charese Jones, MNPL Ι Director of Early Intervention & Specialized Services (EISS)

Christopher Hanson Ι Director of Engagement Services

Emma York-Jones Ι Director of Compliance and Program Quality

Erin Chapman-Smith Ι Director of Over-18 Housing Services

Katie Kolarich, JD Ι Director of Institutional Advancement

Kelly Stockman McKee, MPA | Director of Public Funding

Paul Ramirez Ι Director of Operations

Randi Eseltine Ι Director of Community Engagement

Toby Addington Ι Director of Education and Employment

Shoshana Wineburg, MSW Ι Director of Public Policy & Communications