Staff Bios

Founder and Executive Director

Jana has served in inner-city Boston as a teacher, mentor, provider, and leader in different educational, mental health related and institutional settings for over twenty years.  After graduating from Union College in 1999 with Honors in English, she began teaching third and later fourth grade at St. Patrick School in Roxbury. She taught at St. Patrick from 1999-2009, served on the School Board from 2016-2020 and continues to mentor many former students. In 2006, she received her Master’s in Education from Lesley University, where she was a member of the Board of Trustees from 2009-2021. Jana worked as a home-based Case Manager in Dorchester, MA from 2010-2011 where she coordinated services for children with mental health issues and their families. In 2013, Jana joined The Board of Trustees for The Steppingstone Foundation, where she served as a Trustee until 2019. Also in 2013, she received the Elizabeth Seton Community Leadership Award. In 2014, Jana became a member of the Crossroads, MA Board of Directors, and is still currently a Board Member. In 2015, Jana was selected by the Boston Chamber of Commerce to receive a TOYL (Ten Outstanding Young Leaders) Award for her work founding Boston Youth Sanctuary. In 2018, Jana became part of Boston Children’s Hospital Community Advisory board, reporting directly to the hospital board. Jana’s work in Boston’s inner city over the past two decades+ has allowed her to communicate directly with children and families about their needs and the types of services they find most helpful; this work is what led her to found Boston Youth Sanctuary. Among the experiences that Jana is most proud of and that she finds to be most rewarding, she lists being an emergency placement foster parent and 10 years (and counting) of former St. Patrick students employed and growing professionally at BYS!

Chief Operating Officer

Brooke is a dedicated and passionate nonprofit leader with a commitment to making a real, and lasting positive impact on the under resourced children and families of Boston. Born and raised in the Boston area, Brooke attended Wellesley College for the first 2 years of her secondary education, and then spread her wings to attend and graduate from Barnard College at Columbia University Summa Cum Laude with a double major in psychology and African American studies in 2002. After college, she worked as a care coordinator for children in intensive foster care placements across the state of Massachusetts.
In 2010, Brooke embarked upon her 11-year journey working in a variety of administrative capacities at The Home for Little Wanderers. She began as an Administrative Manager for one of Massachusetts’ pioneer Community Service Agencies, and in that position learned a tremendous amount about the wrap-around mental health and social services available across the state, as well as some of the gaps in services. By displaying her leadership qualities and command of that role, Brooke was asked to develop and manage The Home’s first central intake department in 2012. Over the course of the next 9 years, Brooke grew in her career at The Home to ultimately become Ops Manager of Behavioral Health and Clinical Services, working in partnership with the VP and Directors to administratively manage 6+ community-based programs including an outpatient clinic serving over 2,000 children and families.
Brooke is elated to join BYS as the program’s COO, with a mission to lead expansion efforts for what has proven to be an outstanding model of after-school therapeutic supports for some of the most vulnerable children and families in the city of Boston.

Program Director

Jordan graduated from The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in December 2008. He began working as a Child Care Worker for The Italian Home for Children in December of 2008. In October of 2009, Jordan became a Therapeutic Mentor for the Italian Home, working with youth in the Boston community. In September of 2010, Jordan received an Outstanding Service Award for his work with youth as a Therapeutic Mentor. In November of 2010, Jordan began working as an Intensive Care Coordinator at The Home for Little Wanderers, continuing his work with families in the Boston community. In July 2012, Jordan joined the BYS team as a Case Manager and since that time, has been an integral part of growing the organization and its services. In July 2013, Jordan was promoted to Milieu Coordinator, a role that he helped to design and implement, and in July 2015, Jordan was promoted to Milieu Director. Jordan received a Master’s in Organizational Psychology from William James College in July of 2016. In July of 2019, Jordan became BYS’s first Director of Training and Outreach Initiatives, spreading his knowledge, skill, and experience in trauma-informed youth work to more providers in the community. After being closed for the ’20- ‘21 school year to ensure the safety of the staff, children, and families, BYS reopened in March ’21 with Jordan returning as the Program Director.

Director of Family and Community Engagement

Malcolm is a Chicago native and came to Massachusetts in 1994 to attend school in Brookline. Malcolm attended the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Malcolm has an extensive background in social work. He started his career as a Guidance Assistant for McKinley Prep where he built education plans, consulted with families, and implemented the “10 Boys Initiative Program” which taught life skills to teenage boys and provided a safe space for them to interact.  During Malcolm’s 14-year tenure at Boston Public Schools, he also served on the Student Support team where he provided direct support to students and families in crisis to maintain stability and encourage peaceful and supportive boundaries. Malcolm was also instrumental at McKinley Prep in collaborating with outside agencies to provide support for families. Malcolm has joined the BYS organization recently and is excited to partner with leadership, families, and outside organizations to provide support and resources. Malcolm enjoys traveling in his spare time and playing semi-professional football. He currently plays for the Boston Bandits in the ECFL.

Administrative Liaison

Kayla has been a member of the Boston Youth Sanctuary team for the past couple of years, joining the team as a Milieu Counselor immediately after completing an internship within that department. She is a recent graduate of Lesley University, where she received a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Kayla devoted much of this time to taking classes learning about child psychology and development. She has worked with children in different capacities, babysitting and tutoring for children of many diverse backgrounds. In her free time, Kayla enjoys playing with her puppy, seeing her nieces and nephews, and baking. She is excited to continue learning within her new role of Administrative Liaison in the BYS space.

Milieu Coordinator

Destanie first joined the BYS team in 2018 as a milieu counselor. Born and raised in Dorchester, she has experience working with kids from all type of backgrounds. Before graduating in 2015, she was a volunteer for the “Best Buddies” program where she worked with youth with developmental and intellectual differences. Since getting her first job as a teen counselor in high school, Destanie has always had a passion for working with kids. Her favorite things to do include cooking and spending time with her family. She is happy to be returning to BYS and stepping into her new role as Senior Milieu Counselor.

Adonna Ferrell
Expressive Arts Therapist

Adonna is a Massachusetts transplant from Brooklyn, NY. She came to MA in 2005 to attend Eastern Nazarene College where she obtained a Bachelors in Religion in 2012. While at ENC, as the program coordinator for The Center for Responsibility and Justice’s arts-based initiatives, Adonna oversaw the Bronx Summer Immersion Program where 6 interns were able to teach different artistic modalities in the Bronx, NY summer of 2012. It was this experience that expanded Adonna’s passion for youth but also expanded her understanding of the transformative power of artistic engagement. Adonna became the office manager for ESAC’s GED Plus program, an alternative education program for high at risk youth in Boston where she was able to create a spoken word class called the V.O.I.C.E. Scheme. The creation of this class reignited Adonna’s passion for both art and youth, while also providing her the courage to apply to Lesley’s Expressive Therapies program. After completing internships at both BYS and Roger Williams Medical Center’s dual diagnosis unit, Adonna received her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy. Adonna has since been able to work with children, adolescents and adults and has found that the most powerful seed sown, regardless of age, is sometimes simply an “alternative conversation,” where a variety of artistic or expressive modalities may be utilized to increase personal insight or growth. Trained in both TF-CBT and Gestalt therapies, Adonna is excited to continue as well as create new conversations as she resumes her role as BYS’ Expressive Arts Therapist.