Sarah Young-Sheppard, MSW
Founder/Executive Director ~
Sarah Young- Sheppard is an advocate for youth. Growing up in a Boys & Girls Club, she has always known that this is where her passion resides. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach she went on to work for an international children’s rights organization as a leadership facilitator and outreach manager. Through this opportunity she facilitated youth trips to Kenya, which allowed participants to experience first-hand the difference they could make. These powerful events drove Sarah to want to expand her work across different communities.
Sarah continued her education and received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Soon thereafter, she founded the Social & Emotional Wellness Initiative (SEWI). While developing the SEWI team, Sarah served as the Senior Director of Program & Operations for a Boys & Girls Club in the Los Angeles area. Sarah has presented on the importance of Social & Emotional Wellness programs at conferences throughout the country. Sarah is committed to offering youth-serving organizations well-trained staff, and services to help make an impact on youth lives.
Luke Patterson, MSW
Director - Youth Services ~
Luke Peng-Patterson was born in Washington DC, raised in Los Angeles, and has returned to LA to join the SEWI team after a decade in New York City. Luke obtained a BS from UCLA and an MSW from Columbia University, and has worked with young people in a variety of settings from South LA activism centers to South Bronx high schools. Luke has been recognized for his passionate empowerment and healing work, including being named "Mr. Hyphen 2007" by Hyphen magazine, "Community Builder of the Year 2009" by the Youth Justice Coalition, and "Social Work Student of the Year 2012" by the National Association of Social Workers, NYC chapter.
Luke also has an extensive history as a community organizer and multidisciplinary artist, which have led to co-creating film projects in China, connecting with indigenous schools in the Philippines, facilitating community mural projects in Harlem, and performing in numerous cities around the world. These days, Luke spends much of his creative energy developing healthy artistic outlets for youth, as well as finger-painting and singing at the top of his lungs with his son. Luke is excited to positively affect many more young lives with SEWI, and looks forward to seeing our young people become the next generation of leaders!
Suelen Yancor, LCSW
Manager - Impact and Development ~
Suelen Yancor is the Manager of Impact and Development at the Social and Emotional Wellness Initiative. She graduated from Boston College with a Master’s degree in clinical social work. She was a Social Work Fellow at the Cambridge Health Alliance: Victims of Violence Program. She presented at the 2006 NASW Symposium on cultural issues that affect Solution Focused concepts in working with Latino clients.
Her clinical work focuses on integrating Solution Focused Therapy with multi-stressed families and individuals. For over 10 years, she has been working with English and Spanish speaking families, children, and adults providing in-home and community based counseling services to aid with crisis stabilization and trauma focused care. She has also provided administrative, training and programmatic support to non-profit agencies seeking to implement new programs. She has supervised MSW students for over 8 years and enjoys being part of the professional growth process of students.
Jessica Rubecindo, MA
Manager - Operations ~
Jessica Rubecindo is a native of Boston, MA where she received a Bachelors in Education from UMASS Boston and a Masters in Psychology from Regis College. She has over twenty years of experience in nonprofit operations and community engagement. Jessica has worked with various entities including housing authorities, school districts, local government and afterschool programs. In 2013 she moved to Southern California to spearhead the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica's partnership with the Housing Authority of Los Angeles. Jessica opened the Santa Monica's club very first clubhouse in a housing development. Since its inception that clubhouse has been a beacon of hope for the community.
Jessica has extensive experience in staff & volunteer engagement and development, community outreach, program development and fundraising. Through her various roles she has served the community to provide needed life enhancing services. In 2017, Jessica was recognized as Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Administrative Professional of the Year. Jessica is passionate about working with the underserved populations and at SEWI is focused on providing staff the tools necessary to make a meaningful impact.