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Meet the Cradle to Career Backbone Team

Melissa Hernandez

Melissa Hernandez

Associate Vice President, Community Development

Meet Melissa

Melissa Hernandez, Ph.D. is the Associate Vice President of the Cradle to Career Partnership at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. Dr. Hernandez leads C2C in aligning organizations and individuals to change systems and improve educational outcomes for over 11,000 youth in Pima County. Additionally, Hernandez teaches college courses, is a For a Brighter Future Foundation member, serves as a board member for her son’s Scout Troop, and is a Soroptimist board member. Dr. Hernandez enjoys working locally and nationally to dismantle barriers to success across the education continuum. Hernandez holds a doctorate from the University of Arizona and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Northern Arizona University. Dr. Hernandez enjoys attending her son’s club soccer games, Saturday night gatherings with family, and hiking.

Amber Schlak

Amber Schlak

Program Director

Meet Amber

Amber Schlak is the Program Director with the Cradle to Career Partnership. Amber oversees all programming within C2C and works with leadership to develop strategies and partnerships that result in changing community conditions. She also works directly with fifteen educator teams across multiple school districts in the Leaders in Literacy Program. Prior to joining C2C, Amber was an elementary school teacher for 21 years. She specialized primarily in early childhood education, English language development, and reading intervention. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Education in Early Childhood with a Reading Endorsement from Northern Arizona University. Amber is an advocate and dedicated supporter for high-quality education, early intervention, inquiry thinking, positive classroom environments, and data-driven results to improve outcomes. She is the proud mother of three who all attend Arizona universities. This Tucson native enjoys reading, being outdoors, spending time with her family, making jewelry, and playing with her dog Daisy.

Miles Chandler

Miles Chandler

Program Manager

Meet Miles

Miles is the Program Manager with the Cradle to Career Partnership overseeing the Empowering STEM Innovators space. He is leading C2C’s new program for middle-grade youth, Up and Atom, to help create STEM pathways for future innovators in Pima County .  Miles comes to us with experience in the K-12 education system as well as experience with AmeriCorps, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Liberty Center for Language and Learning. Miles is a Tucson native with a BA in Elementary Education with an English Second Language Emphasis. He enjoys reading, writing, and hiking.

Laura Haferkamp

Laura Haferkamp

Data Manager

Meet Laura

Laura Haferkamp is the Data Manager with the Cradle to Career Partnership. She is crafting a database to make all C2C’s collected information more insightful and accessible for staff. She also supports Kassondra in interpreting data and creating visuals for all C2C programs. She joined C2C to use her technical skills to help improve education in her community, and she loves the warm workplace culture that United Way cultivates.

Laura is a Tucson native with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Arizona. Her professional background prior to C2C has primarily been with AmeriCorps. She has two cats, several houseplants, and a few house spiders. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, gardening, reading, solving puzzles, spending time with her kitties, and playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Bailie Wynbelt

Bailie Wynbelt

Data Manager

Meet Bailie

Bailie Wynbelt (They/Them) is a Data Manager for the Cradle to Career Partnership. Bailie supports the team by conducting data analysis, creating impactful visualizations, and sharing results. They are excited to bring their technical skills to United Way of Tucson and are committed to leading change within Tucson’s community through data.

Originally from Michigan, Bailie moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona and holds a B.S in Information Science with an emphasis in Data Science.  Bailie has a unique background in working with data centered around nonprofit organizations, businesses, and ecological studies. Outside of work, they enjoy hiking, reading, and practicing film photography.

Justin Curry

Justin Curry

Program Manager

Meet Justin

ustin Curry is the Program Manager with Thriving Futures at Cradle to Career (C2C). His focus will be working with youth and young adults ranging from 16-24 years old that have not graduated high school, are not currently enrolled in postsecondary education, or are unemployed.

The three programs that he will oversee are the United Youth Leadership Council, Essential Skills Workshop, and the Workforce Readiness Series. Justin has a diverse background working with youth in developing sports programs and teen events for a local YMCA, teaching English as a second language in South Korea, managing a youth group home for at-promise youth, and working at a high school as a coordinator for a Corporate Internship Program.

Justin moved to Arizona after earning his B.A. in Communications from Clarke University. Justin enjoys engaging with the community outside of work as well where he walks Tumamoc Hill, goes to the gym and is heavily involved with the Hip-Hop dance scene in Tucson. He avidly hosts practices, enters competitions, and organizes events for the community.

Gabe Mendoza

Gabe Mendoza

Collective Impact Specialist

Meet Gabe

Through the AmeriCorps Public Allies Program, Gabe Mendoza has joined the Cradle to Career Partnership as the team’s Collective Impact Specialist, assisting in the development and implementation of the Essential Skills Workshops in Pima County. Growing up between Sonora Mexico and the south side of Tucson, Gabe has dedicated his time to training mixed martial arts, volleyball, and health coaching. Completing his Fitness and Wellness Specialist Certificate via Pima Community College, and a Business Management Certification at The University of Arizona, Gabe hopes to open his own non-profit recreation center here in Pima County for youth. Through United Way, Gabe hopes to build capacity in existing workforce development opportunity youth programs and become a leader for equitable change.

Chyna Davis

Chyna Davis

Team Member

Meet Chyna

Chyna Davis is a Team Member with the Cradle to Career Partnership. She is currently working on the Math Perceptions and Experiences project, which seeks to learn about the experiences and barriers that students, educators, and parents have encountered in high school and post-secondary level math classes. In addition to her work at C2C, she also works as a bookkeeper at Tucson Foundations, where she handles a wide range of financial record-keeping and administrative tasks. She is a Tucson native, graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Linguistics, and studied abroad in Taiwan while teaching English as a Second Language. She enjoys traveling for good food, studying foreign languages and cultures, and going on early morning walks if the weather is nice.

Tamelia Wright

Tamelia Wright

Administrative Assistant Intern

Meet Tamelia

Tamelia Wright is an Administrative Assistant Intern for the Cradle to Career Partnership. She currently holds an associate’s degree from the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (Jamaica) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. She comes to us as an administrative guru and works with team members to support them in the various projects. The purpose of this internship is to open a door to cultivate new skills and develop a better appreciation for the role non-profits play in the community. As a pre-dental hygiene student, Tamelia understands the importance of nurturing the community and hopes to contribute to this vision in the facet of healthcare. She enjoys spending time in nature, crochet and reading.

Josseline Nunez

Josseline Nunez

Administrative Assistant Intern

Meet Josseline

My name is Josseline Nunez Gonzalez, and I am currently enrolled at Pima Community College. I am in my second year and plan on transferring to the UofA to get my bachelors. My current major is business administrative, and plan on minoring in Finance once I transfer. My role at C2C is to assist the team members to help make things run nice and smoothly. I am dedicated to my work and am excited to gain more office experience. I was born and raised here in Tucson, AZ and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. I of course plan to travel and see the world in the future but Tucson is my home, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

I grew up on the Southside where not everything is perfect. I have a pretty big family and they mean the world to me. They are the ones the push me the most and make me want to overcome every obstacle in my way. My family and I take care of each other and if it wasn’t for them who knows where I would be right now. Since I am one of the youngest in the family, most of my hobbies/interests come from them. Some of my hobbies are cooking, baking, photography, painting, gardening, reading, and thanks to my older and younger brother I dabble in video games. I am very excited to work here at Cradle to Career and acquire experience and knowledge that I will use in the future.