Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award 2017: Sophia Rose Kelley

As a lead up to Mentor Appreciation Night Friday November 3rd, we will be highlighting our award recipients for the year who we call our #illumentors!

We are pleased to announced that the recipient and #illumentor for the Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award is Sophia Rose Kelley! Sophia has been an active member in the Access to Theatre family at PYD! This award honors those dedicated to the Making Healthy Connections and Access to Theatre programs.

Sophia wanted to share her words on receiving this honor:

My name is Sophia Kelley, three years ago Partners for Youth with Disabilities changed my life for the better. Having moved to Brookline I didn’t know many people. ATT is and always will be family to me.

Please RSVP to Mentor Appreciation Night here!

Partnership Mentor of the Year: Joey Buizon

We are delighted to honor #illumentor Joey Buizon (center in the photo) as the inaugural recipient of the “Partnership Mentor of the Year” award for his tremendous collaboration on Project LENS (Linking Expertise and Networking for Success). For the past three years PYD has collaborated with Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to run LENS. The goal of LENS is to help individuals with visual impairments find employment through pairing them with a caring adult mentor who have a similar disability and are working in their intended career field. Mentors will provide job counseling, resources, and professional experience to their mentees.

Picture of Curtis, Joey (center), and ReginaJoey first connected with PYD a number of years ago to volunteer as a caring adult mentor to a young adult who was blind. Joey has dedicated his personal and professional life to creating more employment opportunities for youth with disabilities.

Professionally, Joe Buizon is the Supervisor of Employment Services at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind where he oversees a wide range of work programs from job fairs and internships to mentoring and other opportunities to engage  with  employer  partners. He has been with the agency  for 10  plus  years  and  has worked  as  rehabilitation  teacher, a social   worker  and  an Employment service specialists.  Joe has a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the  University  of Massachusetts Boston.

When reflecting on his personal and professional journey, Joey shared, “I met some of the greatest people in my life when I was going blind. ” He further described, “What we do changes peoples’ lives.”

We at PYD are so grateful for his wonderful dedication to help create more mentoring opportunities for young people with blindness or vision loss through LENS.  We deeply appreciate his commitment to illuminating and nurturing the power and potential of young people with disabilities through mentoring. With Joey’s strong collaboration and partnership, LENS is well poised to reach new heights and illuminate more futures.

#illumentors #IAmPYD

Please RSVP to Mentor Appreciation Night here!

Mentor of the Year 2017: Leidy Quiceno

We want to congratulate our Mentor of the Year for Mentor Appreciation Night 2017, Leidy Quiceno! Leidy has been a mentor with PYD for 5 years supporting and empowering her mentee Seana in our Mentor Match program and setting an example we will never forget!

Leidy Quiceno was born in Medellin, Colombia and raised in Boston, MA. She is passionate about civil, racial, and educational rights. She has a BA in Criminal Justice (magna cum laude); is a member of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma); and has earned a Graduate Certificate in Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

As a former teacher turned Youth Advocate, she works to racially, politically, and academically empower “at-promise” urban youth of color. She also works as a Research Assistant for UMass Boston’s Latino Student Success Initiative (LSSI) and the Latinx Leadership Opportunity Program (LLOP). Her 2016 LSSI research presentation shed light on the personal, academic, and professional experiences of Latinx transfer students from Bunker Hill Community College, whom expressed the many barriers (language, racial, cultural, and financial) they face on a day-to-day basis as non-traditional first generation students. Her presentation at the Annual Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) conference, sought to communicate how educators and higher educational institutions can listen to the voices and narratives of vulnerable and marginalized populations in order to best support such students to achieve academic success.

As a graduate student, Leidy Quiceno focuses on the School-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline and educational reform through the use of Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies (TCCS). She aspires to continue working with Black and Latinx communities as an educator, leader, youth mentor, and advocate.

#illumentors #IAmPYD

Please RSVP to Mentor Appreciation Night here!

Chris Dunne Leadership Award 2017: Jessica Fiasconaro

As a lead up to Mentor Appreciation Night Friday November 3rd, we will be highlighting our award recipients for the year who we call our #illumentors!

We want to congratulate our Chris Dunne Leadership Award this year to Jessica Fiasconaro for Mentor Appreciation Night 2017! Jessica has been part of PYD for a long time, serving as a Peer Leader at this year’s Youth Leadership Forum as well as active participant in Making Healthy Connections and Access to Theatre! The Chris Dunne Leadership, in honor of the memory of Chris Dunne, recognizes Jessica’s accomplishments, strong leadership, and for being a role model to the PYD community.

Jessica wanted to share her words on receiving this honor:

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Fiasconaro.
I first found out about PYD through the Massachusetts Commission of Rehabilitation. It was suggested to me by MaryEllen MacRae that I apply as a delegate in the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Forum (YLF). I enjoyed it so much I applied and served as a Peer Leader the following year! I also did an internship under the supervision of Deep Chinappa, PYD’s director of Outreach and Recruitment. During that time, I grew as an artist, a leader, and a student!

I am honored to have been chosen to receive this year’s Chris Dunne Leadership Award!

Please RSVP to Mentor Appreciation Night here!

Anna-Mariya Kirova

Anna-Mariya Kirova joined PYD in October 2017 as the Pre-Employment Coordinator to provide job coaching and support to transition age youth. Anna-Mariya has previously worked at the Walker School and Massachusetts General Hospital where she supported children, adolescents and young adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities. She is excited to be a part of PYD and to serve as a resource for students looking to gain independence and cultivate critical job skills.

As the Pre-Employment Program Coordinator, Anna-Mariya provides soft skills training to transition age youth and helps coordinate internship placements for them with one of our employee partners.

In her spare time Anna-Mariya enjoys cooking, trying new food, being outdoors and painting.

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