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!

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.

Clinical Director

Kat is a Massachusetts native who received her undergraduate and graduate education and training in Boston. Kat has been working with children since 2009 when she began working as a teacher’s aid at East Boston Head Start and later went on to become a therapeutic Day School Teacher at New England Center for Children in 2010. Kat transitioned into the mental health field as a clinical intern at the Home for Little Wanderers Therapeutic After School Program (TASP) in 2013 and began working as a Community Based Clinician providing intensive mental health services to children and families in the Metro Boston service area in 2014. Kat recently returned to Boston after living and working in Los Angeles, California since 2016 where she worked as an outpatient clinician providing intensive mental health services to children and families healing from trauma in the Downtown LA and South Central services areas before stepping up to manage an intensive mental health services program serving high-risk children ages 0-21 and their families in 2018. Kat is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200) and believes in the importance of helping children regain a sense of safety in their bodies after experiencing traumatic events and providing a safe space for children to have fun and connect with others.

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.

Senior Child Clinician

Covington graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Studio Art in 2015. She received a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling with a certification in Child and Family Mental Health and Wellness from Boston College in May 2017. During her time in her Master’s program, Covington interned with The Triumph Center providing after-school social skills groups to children and consulting and providing social skills groups with Somerville Public Schools. In September 2017, Covington became an in-home therapist for Walker Community Counseling providing intensive in-home therapy to families and children in the surrounding Boston area for almost 4 years. She received her license as licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in November 2019. Covington joined BYS as a Child Clinician in July 2021, bringing her knowledge of trauma-informed evidence-based practices to continue working with Boston youth and their families.

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.

Child Clinician

Jaelani graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, with a Minor in Theater from Fitchburg State University in May of 2017. During her undergraduate career she served as Volunteer Coordinator and Career Research Assistant at MyTurn agency, where she supported adults and youth with career exploration and job readiness. Later, Jaelani completed her internship at Pyramid Builders Counseling Services (PBCS). At PBCS she learned just how important representation in the healthcare field was and she became interested in incorporating cultural humility in her work. In 2019 Jaelani moved to New York city where she earned a Master of Arts degree in Mental health and Wellness Counseling from New York University. During her graduate career she served as Team Lead for Jumpstart at NYU having taught social emotional skills and literacy to youth. At NYU she also completed her clinical internship at Jamron Counseling where she provided therapy to an array of people struggling with different diagnoses. She has taken her love for helping others back to her hometown, Boston. Here at Boston Youth Sanctuary, Jaelani is most looking forward to working from a trauma informed and strength-based lens to help children and their families reach their full potential.

Family Liaison

Ciana is a Boston native and first came to BYS as a college intern back in 2019. In the Summer of 2021, she joined the Family Services Team as a Family Liaison. Ciana graduated from Fitchburg State with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychological Science and minor in Sociology. During her Bachelor’s program Ciana took a semester to study Cultural Psychology and Medical Anthropology at Universidad de Pablo in Sevilla, Spain. In her free time, Ciana enjoys painting, canoeing, traveling, learning Korean and spending time with her cat Lucious.

Milieu Counselor

Akanni graduated from Salem State University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. After working in security for two years, Akanni realized that he wanted to do work that will impact the world. Akanni is currently on a personal development journey to reach his fullest potential and pass any lessons on to the future, which are the children of today. Akanni believes that this is the type of work he has been looking do his whole life and one day hopes to have his own mentorship/leadership practice in years to come.

Milieu Counselor

Isaiah graduated from The Academy of the Pacific Rim in the year 2021. While attending The Academy of the Pacific Rim, Isaiah also took classes in animation and illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Isaiah has volunteer experience working on a farm as well as with the American Red Cross, giving food and supplies to those in need. Isaiah also worked as a crossing guard while still attending APR. Isaiah has now joined the BYS Team as a Milieu Counselor. He is very excited to share his creativity and passion for music with the children. Isaiah enjoys spending time with his dog, Muddy.

Family Liaison

James went to UMass Lowell and received a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. After taking a few psychology classes, his passion for the subject grew and he decided to add it as a minor. He graduated in 2019 as a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and with a Psychology minor. In 2020, he decided to pursue a Master’s in Mental Health Psychology and is expected to graduate December of 2021. When James is not studying and doing homework, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing video games and shopping. This is his first year at BYS and he is excited to grow and learn with the organization.