Andrew Touchette, Head of School

Andrew Touchette joined the YouthBuild Public Charter School team at the start of the 2015-2016 school year as Resident Head of School. He has served students, teachers and communities in various school leadership capacities since 2004, most notably as the founding principal of Chavez Prep in Columbia Heights. He works with school leadership teams to improve student performance and ensure sustained success. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in history from Fordham University and a Master’s degree in education from New York University.

Wellington Crutchfield, Dean of School Culture

Wellington N. Crutchfield joined YouthBuild PCS during the 2015-16 school year, after serving as Dean of Students at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Washington, DC.  In addition to his experience as Dean of Students, he brings extensive hands-on working knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing YouthBuild students. He established two youth organizations, including Future Success Mentoring, which mentors at-risk middle and high school boys. Wellington is a graduate of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.

Eva Camacho, Student Support Service Coordinator

Eva Camacho has served at YouthBuild PCS since 2006. She manages a team of two case managers and oversees all aspects of student supportive services. Previously, she was a Case Manager at the Latin American Youth Center, and served as Adjunct Faculty in the Psychology Department at Prince George’s Community College. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida International University and an Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Argosy University in Washington, D.C.

Amber Owens, Special Education Coordinator

Amber Owens has worked in special education for more than 6 years in Washington, DC. She has a proven track record of leadership through experiences as a Dean of Students, special education teacher, and through continued work at American University. Ms. Owens is experienced in providing special education services for secondary grades in both traditional and non-traditional academic settings. Ms. Owens obtained a Bachelor’s degree in African-American and African Studies with a minor in Women's Studies from The Ohio State University. She holds a  Master’s degree in Special Education with a focus on learning disabilities.

Fernando Saldana, Transitions Coordinator

Fernando Saldana got his start in community and adult education in his home country of Nicaragua—as a youth leader working within communities to teach adult literacy and health education. He came to the US in 1999 and has worked in a variety of fields since his arrival including construction, health, and education. For the past six years, Fernando has worked in the DC public charter school sector, facilitating student enrollment, career development, and outreach and recruitment, as well as managing data and transition responsibilities. He has dedicated many years of his life to better the communities and the lives of the students he serves. Fernando holds a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology and a Master's degree in Management from the Catholic University of America.


"We rise by lifting others."

- Robert Ingersoll



Iris Mata, Office Manager/Registrar

Iris Mata has served at YouthBuild PCS since the school’s inception. Iris oversees student registration and records, as well as facility management. Previously, she held the positions of Receptionist and Office Manager at the YouthBuild Program of the Latin American Youth Center.  She is a graduate of the Latin American Youth Center’s Next Step Public Charter School. Iris is bilingual.

Maria Sanchez, Receptionist

Maria Sanchez has been with YouthBuild PCS since 2006, where she manages student attendance, stipends, and the front reception area. She is a graduate of the YouthBuild PCS program of the Latin American Youth Center and served on the LAYC AmeriCorps team at LAYC, performing community service in the local area. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice at the University of the District of Columbia. Maria is bilingual.


Academic Instruction Staff

Eugenia Reyes, Instructor

Eugenia Reyes joined YouthBuild PCS in 2013 as the Special Education Instructor. Eugenia has 22 years of teaching experience, including her work as a Spanish teacher at DCPS Oyster-Adams and Lafayette, ESL teacher at Carlos Rosario PCS, and Elementary and High School teacher in El Salvador. Ms. Reyes graduated from the University of El Salvador where she studied Education and earned a Masters in School Administration. She also recently graduated from Strayer University with a Masters in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.  

Ligia Arreaga, Instructor

Ligia Arreaga teaches GED subjects in Spanish to Spanish-language students at YouthBuild PCS. She has been with YouthBuild PCS since the founding of the school and before that taught at the YouthBuild program of the Latin American Youth Center. She has nearly two decades of teaching experience, from kindergarten through high school, in both Guatemala and the United States. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a law degree in Education from the University of San Carlos, Guatemala.

Jonathan Burnette, Instructor

Jonathan Burnette joined YouthBuild PCS during the 2016-2017 school year as a GED instructor. He is a Maryland native and uses his entrepreneurial and non-profit management experience to help serve DC youth. In his fifth year of teaching in adult education, he focuses on real world experiences to connect with his students. Jonathan has a Bachelor’s degree in Science and Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

rashid darden, Instructor

Rashid Darden is a seasoned educator of disconnected youth, with experience in several DC Public Charter Schools. He also has leadership experience in the educational nonprofit sector, including roles at the National Campaign to Stop Violence and Heads Up: A University-Neighborhood Initiative. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in English with a concentration in writing. Rashid joined YouthBuild PCS in 2017.

Akil Kennedy, Instructor

Akil Kennedy, M.Ed brings 15 years of experience in public education—as a teacher, school founder, teacher mentor and online learning coordinator—to his work as a GED instructor and blended learning specialist at YouthBuild PCS. A graduate of Hampton University and the City College of New York, he spent the first four years of his career as a high school teacher and one of the founders of The Gateway School of Environmental Research and Technology in the Bronx, NY. In 2005, he transitioned to Washington, DC, where he spent six years working for DCPS as an instructional mentor and three years as blended learning coordinator at Luke C. Moore SHS before transitioning to YouthBuild PCS.


Student Support Staff

Gina Fognani, Case Manager

Gina Fognani joined YouthBuild PCS as a Case Manager in 2008. Previously, Gina worked in the Social Services Department at the Latin American Youth Center, working with a diverse population of young adults. Gina continues in this student support role at YouthBuild, where she is responsible for coordinating student services and advocating on behalf of these young people to address issues at school and home. Gina holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia and a Master’s in Social Work from Howard University. Gina is bilingual.

Makuti Lee, Case Manager

Mr. Lee joined YouthBuild PCS in 2012 as a Case Manager, supporting YouthBuild PCS students as they work to overcome barriers to academic success and career advancement. Mr. Lee earned his Masters of Human Services from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and has over 10 years of experience in youth development and social service work. He has worked extensively with at-risk youth at both public and private institutions, including the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (DYRS), Maya Angelou Academy, and the Department of Employment Services in Washington, DC.


Transitional Services Staff

Marili Alvarado

Marili Alvarado joined the YouthBuild team in the fall of 2014. She helps students explore academic and career pathways and reach placements. In her previous experiences, Marili has worked with students of all ages, as a tutor, mentor, interpreter and teacher. Fluent in both Spanish and English, Marili has enjoyed working with diverse populations, particularly minority youth. Marili earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Spanish from Queens University of Charlotte and her Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Durham University in England.


Workforce Training Staff

Franz Arandia, Construction Trainer

Antione Clipper, Construction Trainer

Antione Clipper has been a member of the Youthbuild PCS staff for over five years. His role as a Construction Trainer allows him to impact the lives of our students on a daily basis. Along with his consistent effort to implement the Youthbuild PCS education standards, Antione combines his fondness for classroom instruction with his passion for hands on practice. His "Big Brother" teaching style and his dedication to mentorship allow him to teach with his personality. Antione prides himself on his ability to build trustworthy and personable relationships with each one of his students. Antione is also a former YouthBuild PCS student.

jeffrey palacios, vocational education instructor

marvin venable, construction manager

Marvin Venable joined the YouthBuild Public Charter School team at the start of the 2017-2018 school year as Construction Manager. He manages a team of three, two construction trainers and one vocational education instructor, and oversees all aspects of construction certifications and construction work sites. Prior to joining YouthBuild PCS, Mr. Venable managed a Youthbuild program in the state of New York. Mr. Venable has over 30 years’ experience in the construction field. He holds trainer certifications in OSHA, HBI, NCCER, and MC3. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has completed counseling-related coursework.


Board of Trustees

Ms. Mary Blatch, Board Member

Mr. Noel Bravo, Board Member

Ms. Elizabeth Grant, Board Secretary

Mr. Mark Jordan, Board Member

Mr. Steve Lanning, Board Chair

Mr. Suraj Patel, Board Treasurer

Mr. Hector Sanchez, Board Member

Mr. Nolan Smith, Board Member

Ms. Yolanda Torres, Board Member