Robert Shears, Executive Director

staff-shearsExecutive Director Robert Shears joined YCC 2 years ago to make a difference in young adults' lives.  Bob came from Little City Foundation, a nonprofit that offers services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  He spent 6 years there as Chief Administration Officer.  Bob's corporate experience spans 32 years at Maytag Corporation in various leadership roles, including the International Division Chief Financial Officer and President.

Bob has a BS in Physics/Math from Illinois State University and a MBA in Finance from Roosevelt University.  Bob enjoys hiking and camping in the true wilderness.

Ben Richards, Program Director

staff-richardsBen is in his fourth year at YCC heading up Programs. Ben has 17 years of experience career development experience from the public and academic sectors. The son of a carpenter, working in education, and a strong emphasis on public service, YCC brings life full circle for Ben. He also has a BA in Psychology and Communications and MS in Public Service Administration. Ben has a passion for the outdoors serving as a Cub Scout leader and park district commissioner in Wildwood, IL. Fun fact, Ben hosted a radio program for five years and is a published concert critic.

Fred M. Williams, Jr., Program Manager

staff-williamsFred is a native son of Chicago, Illinois, born to Fred and Cordie Williams, Sr. His personal development began with their unconditional love and parental guidance. He continued his educational formation at Brother Rice High School, The University of Iowa, and completed his Masters of Divinity at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Pastoral Care and Counseling. He also completed a residence program of Clinical Pastoral Education at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

His educational formation was interspersed with serving honorably in the United States Air Force as an Administrative Specialist. Afterwards he worked as a Mental Health Specialist and a Substance Abuse Counselor. His ministry formation includes becoming a licensed and ordained Minister. He has served as a Youth Pastor, Assistant Pastor, Resident Chaplain and Senior Pastor. He is the Program Manager for Youth Conservation Corps, where he uses his educational/ministerial formation and life experiences to help ‘opportunity youth’ overcome barriers to their success and become productive citizens in the global community.

Bill Foltz, AmeriCorps & Mentoring Program Coordinator

staff-foltzI began working at YCC-YouthBuild as an AmeriCorps VISTA in July 2012, when I was named as the Bridge to College Specialist.  After having served two terms in that post I became a full-time AmeriCorps member, taking on the position of Program Coordinator.  I recently added new responsibilities and a new title: AmeriCorps & Mentoring Program Coordinator.  My primary focus will be on developing the organization's new mentoring program.

While working for a large corporation's Y2K project in the late 1990s, I discerned that what I really wanted to do was find a job where I could help people.  Serving at YCC-YouthBuild has provided me the opportunity to realize that goal.  The term, "No two days are alike", definitely applies.  Providing assistance to our young adults is extremely gratifying.

I am a proud graduate of The Illinois State University, where I majored in Mass Communications/Radio-TV-Journalism.  In no particular order my experience includes working in radio (sales/DJ), sales (business forms, computer supplies), temp work (marketing/sales support/purchasing/credit/data entry), voiceovers (narrations/commercials) and consulting (fraternity-sorority alumni/association communications).

As for hobbies, I enjoy spending time with my wife & extended family  in Geneva, IL, and have also been an active fraternity alumnus (serving in a variety of roles for two different Lambda Chi Alpha chapters).  I also volunteer with my church youth group and am a co-coordinator for our Community Meals team.

Judy Payne, Finance Manager

staff-payneI have been the Accounting Manager at Youth Conservation Corps since November, 2014. My previous experience in the nonprofit sector was with Illinois Growth Enterprises, a sheltered workshop in Loves Park, IL. I worked as Staff Accountant for 5 years.

Working in the nonprofit world is very rewarding, Just seeing the pride on the faces of the people we work with tells me that we’re doing good things. Giving our students here a better opportunity for success through education and work/life experiences is our main goal.

I have an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Cabot College of Applied Arts in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. And when I’m not at work, I’m with my husband and our ‘four-legged kids’. We train our dogs in Agility and spend a lot of our weekends at local AKC Agility Dog Shows.

Tom Berry, Construction Manager/Trainer

staff-berryAfter serving in the Marines, I began building houses, a passion I found in high school, taking a ‘trades’ class. I have been in the construction trades for 20+ years, in many different facets. I ran a one-man home remodeling business for a few years and really wanted to teach my trade to others who may benefit from my knowledge. I developed a love of helping out and giving back through my mission trips with the church and the youth group helping those that cannot help themselves in very poor communities.

Working at Youth Conservation Corps the past 3 years allows me to serve our community, while at the same time teaching our members how to earn a working wage to become productive citizens. Along with teaching our youth a nationally recognized construction certification, we also teach valuable life skills to help them on a path to success.

Carrie Madden, Education Director/PSEI Program Coordinator

staff-maddenI started working at YCC YouthBuild in September of 2012 working on post-secondary opportunities and outcomes for our members. Throughout the years, my role has evolved into working as our Education Director. In this position, I am responsible for the implementation and outcomes of our GED program, post-secondary program, and hospitality program. I also supervise our AmeriCorps VISTA grant and members.

The most exciting part about working at YCC YouthBuild is watching our students meet their goals and being a part of that process.  It is incredible to see the progress students make, and being a part of their journey is amazing.

I graduated from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning-Secondary Education and I am also an alumna of the University of Iowa where I majored in History and American Studies. (GO HAWKEYES!) I hold a Professional Educator License in the State of Illinois for teaching the Social Sciences in Secondary Education.

On my free time, I love to spend time with my family, watch sports (especially football), and catch up on all my favorite TV shows.

Susan Green, GED Instructor

staff-greenSusan Green is the GED Instructor at YCC. Prior to joining YCC in early 2015, she held several educational positions with the Archdiocese of Chicago as teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Susan finds it rewarding to work with students at YCC as they experience success for their efforts.

Susan earned her undergraduate degree in education from Lewis University and earned her M.Ed. from Loyola University, Chicago. Some of her favorite past times include reading, particularly fiction, biographies, and mysteries. Susan has also volunteered as a Girl Scout Leader for nine years. Together with her family, they are regular campers in the Colorado Rockies where they enjoy hiking on a regular basis.

Tanya Burgess, Americorps VISTA Educational Services Coordinator


Tanya is currently pursuing a degree in Adult Education at Ashford University while working at YCC as their Educational Services Coordinator.   She has 8 years of experience working with young adults and adult education in post-secondary and higher education. Tanya has worked with organizations to spread awareness on topics such as victim advocacy, safety, communication and mental illness. She believes that as she grows professionally, she also grows personally. When she’s not working, Tanya enjoys activities like hiking, writing, cooking and tutoring. Tanya is inspired by YCC’s mission to create opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Lake County.  She sees the time and resources spent in this pursuit as an incredible feat and hopes to add her own experience to the success of upcoming projects and YCC members during her year of service. 

Toney Dixon, AmeriCorps VISTA Curriculum Developer

staff-dixonBienvenidos! My name is Toney and I’ve been serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Youth Conservation Corps since August 2015. Prior to starting at YCC, I served in AmeriCorps State/National for the Maryland Park Service, and before that was a VISTA at a non-profit clinic in Baltimore.

I love the fact that Youth Conservation Corps is a conservation-driven organization and focuses on youth. At-risk youth deserve just as fair a shot at being successful as other demographics. I enjoy helping the Earth and I desire our members to be winners in life.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Morgan State University and I enjoy juggling, writing, laughing, and cooking. And eating!

Adrienne Dougherty, AmeriCorps VISTA Bridge to College Specialist

staff-doughertyI am the new AmeriCorps VISTA Bridge to College Specialist at YCC. I have only been with the team for three months but in this time, I have witnessed the impact our program has on the youth in our community. Through my work, I have had the pleasure of watching a few of our members aspire to and meet the challenges that come with starting their college careers.

Education is very near and dear to my heart. I traveled here from my home state of California to become a part of the team at Youth Conservation Corps. Previously, I was a substitute teacher and Elementary Science Educator for the University of California, Santa Barbara. In my time as a teacher, I learned about the importance of ensuring that youths’ basic needs are met before they are able to flourish as students and community members. YCC meets its members’ needs in every aspect and offers the support necessary so that they may then go on to pursue their right to an education and career.

After my year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA, I plan to re-enter the world of teaching and pursue my Master’s in Education and credentials. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies with a minor in Anthropology.

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