Staff

Robert Shears
Executive Director

Shirlese Locke
Director of Programming and Education

Susan Green
Education Services

Tom Berry
Director of Construction

Judy Payne
Finance Director

Trisha Blythe
Grants Administrator

Bill Foltz
Program Coordinator

Tyrone McGee
Construction Supervisor

Tiffany Micek
Case Management

Danielle Kroll
Case Management

April Decker
HVAC/R Supervisor

Brandon Barnhouse
Information Technology, AmeriCorps VISTA

Destiny Davis
Career Development, AmeriCorps VISTA

Kevin Espinoza 
Construction Assistant

Rachael Barbour
Program Assistant, Full-Time AmeriCorps Member

Kryztal Jimenez
Education Assistant, Full-Time AmeriCorps Member 


Robert Shears, Executive Director

Robert Shears is a graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Physics/Math and has a Master’s Degree from Roosevelt University in Finance. His career with Maytag Corporation spanned 32 years and he spent 15 years as the CFO and President of Maytag’s International Operations. He then worked for Little City Foundation supporting adults and children with Development Disabilities. He became the Executive Director of Youth Conservation Corps in January of 2014.

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Shirlese Locke, Director of Programming and Education

Shirlese is currently working towards her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies at Columbia College. Shirlese has worked in the non-profit sector in Lake County for over 10 years including other YouthBuild programs in the area. Shirlese has been a dominant activist in fighting for others to help improve their lives and have a life free of poverty and inequality. Shirlese currently works as YCC’s Program Director, where she oversees the Education and Program department. Shirlese’s goal is to ensure that everyone will be equipped with the proper tools before they walk out of the door at YCC.

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Susan Green, Education Services

Susan earned her Bachelor of Arts from Lewis University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Loyola University, Chicago. She worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago for nineteen years as a teacher and principal. During her years as a stay at home mom, Susan was a volunteer for the Girl Scouts as a Leader, Unit Registrar, and Unit Cookie Partner. Starting in March 2015 Susan became the GED Instructor at YCC.

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Tom Berry, Director of Construction

Tom Berry grew up in Waukegan and attended East High School where he developed an interest in carpentry from shop class. He also developed a passion for building while attending LCAVC in 1988. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving in California. Upon returning, he married and began building houses in 1993. Working with youth on mission trips from church had him wanting to give back, and found great reward from helping youth in the lake county area attain skills to be successful. Tom has been working in YCC’s construction department for years and was recently promoted to Construction Director.

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Judy Payne, Finance Director

Judy has been the Accounting Manager at Youth Conservation Corps since November, 2014. Her previous experience in the Non-Profit sector was with Illinois Growth Enterprises, a sheltered workshop in Loves Park, IL where she worked as Staff Accountant for 5 years. Judy says working in the non-profit world is very rewarding, seeing the pride on the faces of the people we work with lets you know what you’re doing is good thing. Judy obtained an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Cabot College of Applied Arts in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

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Trisha Blythe, Grants Administrator

Trisha earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Spanish from The University of Iowa. She completed her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education at National-Louis University, in Wheeling, IL. She then taught fifth grade for several years before starting her own private tutoring business in the north and west suburbs of Chicago. In the summer of 2018, Trisha began working as the Grants Administrator for YCC and has really enjoyed the experience of working for a non-profit organization.

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Bill Foltz, Program Coordinator

Bill Foltz received a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Illinois State University, and has been a member of the YCC staff since 2012. He started out at YCC serving two terms as an Americorps VISTA as the Bridge to College Specialist. He then served one year as an Americorps member in the role of Program Coordinator, and has been in charge of keeping member files up to date and in compliance with government regulations. Bill has been the full time Program Coordinator at YCC since 2015.

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Tyrone McGee, Construction Supervisor

Tyrone is a graduate from Zion Benton High School. After high school he attended Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), and was a member in the YouthBuild program. Tyrone relocated to Springs, Texas to expand his career in carpentry by starting a family business in construction. Tyrone now serves as Construction Supervisor and helps teach members at Youth Conservation Corps. Tyrone also serves as YCC’s Mentor Coordinator.

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Tiffany Micek, Case Management

Tiffany received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Latino/a Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign and then went on to pursue a Master of Social Work at the University of Illinois – Chicago. Tiffany comes prepared with experience to best serve our members through her training and education. Tiffany has served as a Clinician with all age groups throughout the Chicagoland area, has offered intensive case management services to diverse populations and continues to utilize a holistic lens in order to provide compassionate care and support as her client’s progress towards their goals.

Tiffany provides social service referrals, access to community resources and therapy for members of the YouthBuild program at Youth Conservation Corps.

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Danielle Kroll, Case Management

Danielle attended Western Illinois University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. She then attended Loyola University Chicago and earned a Master’s degree in Social Work with a specialization in working with children and families. Danielle also works as a Youth Therapist at a private practice in Grayslake.

Danielle is currently a Part-Time Case Manager at YCC, and works with our members in many aspects of their lives such as: assessing member treatment needs, developing, monitoring, and evaluating treatment plans and progress, and teaching life lessons.

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April Decker, HVAC/R Supervisor

April attended Youngstown State University in Ohio where she received a Bachelor of Science in Earth Science, and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography.

April previously served a term as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Youth Conservation Corps as the GED Curriculum Developer. Most recently, April held a position at Eastern Gateway Community College, in Steubenville, Ohio as a multi-site GED instructor and multi-site lead.

As the HVAC Supervisor, April oversees fifteen student apprentices, offers guidance throughout their time at the College of Lake County, helps develop both relationships and partnerships with local HVAC professionals, and will serve as Case Manager for two additional years. During those years, April’s goal will be to ensure that all the HVAC apprentices will maintain some type of employment.

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Brandon Barnhouse, Information Technology, AmeriCorps VISTA

Brandon Barnhouse graduated from the University of DePaul University, class of 2010. He studied Game Development and received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Game Development, with a focus on Design and Production. Brandon formerly worked as a Ticket Agent for GrayLine Tours in Chicago, which is a company that provides tours on double decker buses. Brandon is currently an IT AmeriCorps VISTA at YCC. He takes care of any issues good or bad technology related, i.e. phones, computers, printers, internet, data servers, and software.

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Destiny Davis, Career Development, AmeriCorps VISTA

Destiny was formerly a Member at YouthBuild, Lake County. There, she obtained her High School Diploma and received extensive training in preparation for the workforce. While serving as a member at YouthBuild Lake County, Destiny engaged in several service-based projects, as well as earning various construction skills and certifications. Destiny is currently serving as YCC’s Alumni Coordinator through our AmeriCorps VISTA program.

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Kevin Espinoza, Construction Assistant

Kevin earned his GED while enrolled in the YouthBuild program, here at YCC. Previously, Kevin worked at Pure Food Specialities, Incorporated as a mixer/scaler. Currently, Kevin is a full time AmeriCorps member, and works as the Construction Assistant at YCC. As the Construction Assistant, Kevin helps our construction team with any project they need assistance with, or is sometimes assigned his own construction task for the day. He primarily helps with projects on location at YCC, but does assist on our construction sites as well.

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Rachael Barbour, Program Assistant, Full-Time AmeriCorps Member

Rachel is a recent high school graduate, and she graduated Valedictorian of her homeschool class. She then enrolled as a member in YCC’s YouthBuild program, and completed the program in 2018. She then started working as a full time AmeriCorps member as an assistant to our program director, and performs tasks such as coordinative speaker series events, basic office duties, and reaches out to former alumni on a regular basis.

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Kryztal Jimenez, Program Assistant, Full-Time AmeriCorps Member

Kryztal graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Health Studies. Kryztal has several years of experience working with vulnerable populations in both Lake and McLean Counties. Currently, Kryztal is a full-time AmeriCorps Member serving as a Program Assistant at YCC. She is primarily responsible for mentoring members, tutoring members in various GED subjects, and planning service projects. Kryztal is also a Direct Support Person for children with development and intellectual disabilities.

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See how our staff make a difference through our programs.