The AmeriCorps VISTA project has been supporting Santa Fe’s collective impact efforts to improve the birth to career outcomes of children, youth, and young adults up to age 24 in Santa Fe to achieve the Opportunity Santa Fe Aspirational Goals with particular focus on low-income and at-risk target populations.
Our VISTA members work closely with community leaders and partners to develop and implement collaborative community outreach strategies, improve resource coordination, and engage youth and adults in the community, as well as research best practices to ensure long-term sustainability and success of the collective impact efforts.
Penny Holcomb is primarily working with The Reading Group and MathAmigos during her VISTA service with Opportunity Santa Fe. Penny is a Minnesota native, but relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2002 after 18 years of public service in Minnesota – first as an assistant attorney general in the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, and then as executive director for the Minnesota Board of Social Work. In Portland, Penny pursued a new-found passion working with seniors at a multi-level long term care community doing marketing and sales, event planning, and directing a choral group. Penny loves music, hiking, and exploring new places. She is excited about serving the needs of children and young adults through the collaborative efforts of Opportunity Santa Fe.
Ralph Holcomb works on grant writing and research for Opportunity Santa Fe, coming to us from Portland, Oregon. He is unsure if he is retired. Ralph has an MSW + Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Minnesota. He spent fifteen years tenured teaching and administration in undergraduate and graduate social work programs at St. John’s University and the University of St. Thomas. Then, he spent fifteen years in public service as a senior researcher and policy analyst for Multnomah County (Portland OR), mainly in county human services, but also in the DA’s Office. He’s interested in grant writing, program evaluation, presentation of data, data storage problems, research/data collection among at-risk youth and underserved client populations. Hobbies include hiking, doing crosswords and just hanging out with his best friend, Penny Holcomb.
Christopher Torres is serving as a Backbone Support Coordinator for Opportunity Santa Fe. Christopher oversees ongoing relations with partnering organizations. Previously, as an AmeriCorps State and National member he helped undertake multiple tasks, including but not limited to tutoring, conflict resolution, problem solving, working with volunteers, event organization, publicity, fundraising/resource development, community outreach, and research/data analysis. Christopher graduated from the Appalachian State University in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in History; during his time in North Carolina he also took courses at a local community college. He also studied computer science at universities in Puerto Rico; there he also undertook assisting in data analysis of the Guanica Dry Forests and their struggle with invasive species. In his youth, Christopher gained firsthand knowledge of the struggles of the impoverished community and has since made it his goal to grow, learn, and assist in community service endeavors. In his spare time, he enjoys the sublime splendor of nature’s beauty and escapes of into one off his novels embracing the peaceful and tranquil moments of everyday life.
Sarah Canelas has returned for a full year of VISTA service with Opportunity Santa Fe following a term as a Summer Associate in 2018. Sarah works with the Santa Fe Community Educators Network as the Extended Learning Coordinator. She was originally from New England, but graduated from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design with a BFA in Studio Arts, as a part of its last graduating class in May 2018. Whenever possible, Sarah enjoys spending time outdoors, working on knitting projects, and documenting random moments. In the future, she intends to get her Masters.
Lhadze Bosiljevac has joined us as first year VISTA Backbone Support Coordinator for Opportunity Santa Fe and it’s Collaborative Working Groups. She holds a B.S in Population Health along with a B.A. in Chemistry with a minor in Psychology from the University of New Mexico. Originally from the Bay Area, she has returned back to focus on drug research for the University’s Chemistry Department while doing more research in University of New Mexico Hospital Emergency Department Resuscitation Unit. Lhadze is in the process of applying for medical school to be a pediatric trauma physician. She enjoys the gym and birds on her free time.
Emily McClintock supports Opportunity Santa Fe as a VISTA Backbone Support Coordinator for Opportunity Santa Fe. Emily spent much of her childhood in Iowa before moving to Arizona ten years ago. She fell into teaching after graduating from Northern Arizona University with a BFA in Studio Arts with and a minor in Art History. She is excited to use this opportunity to connect with and help the community here. In her free time, she enjoys reading, drawing, and watching documentaries. She hopes to get her Masters in either Printmaking or Illustration, and to teach at the college level.
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