Jonathan Leslie | Executive Director/CEO
Jonathan has been our fearless leader since 2007.
Hailing from the Hoosier state he earned his BA in Psychology from Indiana University. Jonathan is a cycling enthusiast, enjoys sports, playing organic farmer, and spending time with his family. He is inspired through helping others and one of his heroes is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Most people are surprised to learn that Jonathan views life as a musical and sings constantly while at home and is known to compose his own rap lyrics.
Carrie Tam | Chief Operating Officer
As Chief Operating Officer, Carrie manages the overall operations of PYB.
A native Floridian and Gator alumni, Carrie earned her BA in Environmental Policy with a minor in Theology from the University of Florida. Carrie launched PYB alongside Jonathan in 2008. She is an obsessive reader and also enjoys cooking, Pilates, yoga and the outdoors. Her biggest heroes are those that close to her that have modeled character and grace in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Jamie Patanjo | Fiscal Analyst
Jamie has been with PYB since the beginning and is our financial analyst keeping track of every penny in accordance with Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles.
A New Yorker by birth, Jamie earned his BA in Music Education at Pacific University in Oregon. He later earned his MBA from the University of West Florida and is 6 credit hours shy of earning his Master’s degree in Accounting from Florida Atlantic University. Jamie is a food and movie critic in his spare time. He is stroke survivor and inspired by members of his Aphasia book club. Jamie’s hero is his Grandma. A little piece of trivia on Jamie–he hates going to the beach! Who lives in Florida and hates the beach??? Maybe it’s the sand…
Rachel Gillis | Director of Youth Services
As Director of Youth Services, Rachel manages the day to day activities of PYB.
Originally from Princeton, MN, she holds an AA degree from Nova Southeastern; Rachel joined our team in 2013. When not at work you’ll find Rachel spending time with her family and friends, at the beach or traveling. She draws inspiration from her two children and strives to be better every day. Rachel’s hero is her Grandfather. Little known fact (for those who don’t work with her), Rachel is very sarcastic—no really…
Gwen Galloway | Youth Advocate
As Youth Advocate, Gwen works side by side with students to help them reach their goals.
Gwen was born and raised in Gainesville and bleeds orange and blue—she is a die-hard University of Florida Gator fan. Gwen joined the PYB family in 2013 and has been a strong voice for our students. Gwen enjoys the opportunity to travel and read when she has the chance. Her mom is someone that inspires her and her hero is her oldest son. One can always count on Gwen to have dinner for breakfast—who knew that was a thing?
Aaron Brame | Leadership & Wellness Coach
As the Leadership & Wellness Coach, Ms. Aaron Brame develops and facilitates leadership and wellness activities for young people at Project YouthBuild. Aaron works with young people to help them develop strategies to address obstacles keeping them from meeting their personal, educational, and occupational goals through 1:1 coaching sessions and in group settings.
Aaron grew up in Gainesville and after graduating from high school, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in African American and Critical Race Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. It was at Hampshire college that Aaron began to develop a passion for teaching, specifically incorporating critical and social pedagogy in Early and Elementary Education. After graduation, she spent the next seven years working as an educator. As a native of the Sunshine State, Aaron missed the warmer climate and made the move back to Gainesville in 2015. Upon returning, Aaron worked as a teacher and then as an educational specialist with the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding. Aaron is passionate about incorporating trauma and cultural responsiveness into her teaching style and methods. She is currently a student herself, working towards a Masters in Social Work from Florida State University. In her spare time, Aaron enjoys yoga and is a certified yoga instructor.
Ashten Mays | Education Instructor
As the Academic Instructor, Ms. Ashten Mays is responsible for developing individualized academic plans for young people at PYB.
Ashten is a native Floridian and is originally from the seven hills of Tallahassee and remains an avid Seminole fan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Classics and Art History and most recently earned a M.S. in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences from the University of Florida with a focus on the utilization of arts for communication and healing with vulnerable and incarcerated youth. In her free time Ashten enjoys music, cooking, crossword puzzles, caring for plants and exploring Florida nature. She is also an avid cyclist and has been known to go on long bike rides— like from Gainesville to St. Augustine long.
Gerald Mobley | Construction Instructor
As Construction Instructor, Mr. Gerald Mobley is responsible for providing construction and general trades training along with overseeing construction projects undertaken by Project YouthBuild.
Gerald is a lifelong Gainesville resident and attended Duval Elementary School, Howard Bishop Middle School, and graduated from Gainesville High School. After graduation he attended Santa Fe College, completed an apprenticeship as a plasterer, and ultimately started his own plastering business that has been in operation for over 30 years. Through his work he has developed a vast knowledge in all the trades and even constructed his own home. When not at work, Gerald enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, cooking, and singing—he was a professional singer for years, but has since retired.
Danyel Williams | Job Developer
As Job Developer, Danyel works each day to help create career pathway opportunities for young people attending Project YouthBuild and alumni. She works closely with local employers identifying new jobs that will help young people take their first step towards a new career. Most importantly, Danyel works closely with young people to help ensure they are ready to take full advantage of opportunities in front of them.
Danyel was born and raised in Gainesville, and graduated from Eastside High School. She then earned her A.A. Degree in Sociology from Santa Fe College. Prior to joining Project YouthBuild, Danyel spent the majority of her professional career working in the insurance sector. Danyel has a 10 year old daughter and a 12 year old son. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, visiting the beach and window shopping. Something a lot of people don’t know about Danyel is that she earned her cosmetology license before graduating from college.
Mackenzie Morris | Education Liaison
As Education Liaison Mackenzie works closely with young people to develop individualized academic plans for students to specifically address their academic needs.
Mackenzie was born and raised in the province of Ontario in Canada near Niagara Falls. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Education from the University of Florida and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Health Education at UF. Mackenzie aspires to earn her Ph.D. and become a college professor conducting research in the area of substance abuse and sexual violence prevention. In her free time she enjoys watching horror movies, is an avid reader, and collects clay earrings. Little known fact… you may see Mackenzie skateboarding around town and she drives a 4×4 pickup truck.
Sarah Mills | AmeriCorps Community Engagement Coach
As the AmeriCorps Community Engagement Coach, Sarah develops and implements daily service projects with local non-profit and governmental entities.
Sarah is a lifelong resident of the Sunshine State. Unable to finish traditional high school, Sarah dropped out school, but though self-education and devotion to learning, she earned her high school diploma in 2011. Sarah believes in the power of young people to reach their dreams. When Sarah is not at work, you can often find her working on Heritage Animal Conservation, a small family farm she operates with her 4 sons. Sarah, keeps breeds of livestock and poultry that are currently at risk of extinction due the rise of industrial agriculture. A little-known fact about Sarah… her exploration and love for the arts led her to learn how to tattoo as a fun passion and hobby!
Katie Usrey | Parenting Program Coordinator
As Parenting Program Coordinator, Katie is responsible for the day to day operations of the Project YouthBuild Parenting Program.
Originally from upstate New York, Katie relocated to the Sunshine State in 2008. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience as well as minors in Anthropology, Classical Studies, and Health Disparities in Society from the University of Florida in May 2023. While a student at UF, Katie was actively involved in supporting first generation college students on campus as well as representing students in the honors program as an ambassador and peer instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys paddle boarding and exploring the local music scene. Little known fact—Katie has volunteered for over 10 years as a cast member for the nonprofit Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire in Tavares FL.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lynn Janoski, Board President
Pure Energy Solar
Will Halvosa, Treasurer
Office of the Public Defender of the Eighth Judicial Circuit
Andrew Barker, Secretary
Barr & Barr
Dr. Michelle Abraczinskas, Director
University of Florida
Lisa Thorne, Director
Dr. Anne Wolfe, Director
City of Gainesville
Lt. Marquita Brown, Director
Gainesville Police Department