Heather Goodlett, Executive Director
Heather Brown Goodlett graduated from the University of Richmond in 1994 with a B.A. in Speech and Communications and an elementary teacher’s certificate in Early Childhood Education. After teaching for 4 years, she earned a Masters of Education in Reading from Virginia Commonwealth University in May of 2000. Heather began teaching at Glen Lea Elementary School in the fall of 2000 where she was a Title One-Reading teacher and yearned for real change in the futures of her students. In 2000, Mrs. Goodlett became aware of the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation (DGYLF) and Learning Centers in Washington, D.C. She soon began the process of fact-finding, researching, and relationship building, and in late 2001 attended a National Training Institute for DGYLF to begin launching an affiliate program in Richmond. By September 2002, the quest to establish the organization soon became a full-time position. She resigned from her position with Henrico County Public Schools and began the search for a building in the neighborhoods around Glen Lea Elementary School. The Youth Life Learning Center of Richmond officially began in Delmont Plaza Apartments, a subsidized housing community, in July 2003. Today she continues to invest in the Northside, now her own neighborhood, as Executive Director over YLFR and its four LCs.
Katharine Hunt, Director of Operations
Katharine started as the kindergarten-second grade teacher at the Delmont LC in 2007 after receiving a B.S. and teaching certification in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University in 2006. The children and families of YLFR captured her heart and she was immediately hooked by Youth Life’s commitment to long-term investment through relationships. After six years at Delmont, Katharine moved up with her students who had graduated out of elementary school to start the LC Remix program for middle and high schoolers in 2013. She is thankful for the opportunities she has had to grow as the organization and the students have grown.
Leahna Sullivan, Program Director, Highland Park LC
Leahna has been at the Highland Park LC since its inception in 2008. Her purpose is to work with kids to see them reach their potential and live the life that Christ has secured for them. Youth Life is the perfect fit for her passions; Jesus and kids. She enjoys music of all kinds, morning glories, the color purple, and resting in the embrace of God’s great grace. She lives in the Highland Park community that she loves.
Amber Smith, Program Director, Delmont LC
Amber taught in a public school classroom for 3 1/2 years but always felt there was a relational and Biblical aspect missing. Many of her former students needed individual attention for both academic and emotional needs that she wasn’t always able to provide because of the number of students in her class and the non-stop daily demands of a classroom teacher. As a Youth Life teacher, she is able to give her students the extra support they need to succeed academically and the individual attention they long for to feel known and loved. She also loves the fact that the Delmont LC is surrounded by the apartments of the families they work with, which provides the opportunity to work not only with students, but also their families. The most important reason she chose to work with Youth Life is that she gets to share the gospel with each of my students on a daily basis and teach them about the love and grace Jesus has for them. They may not all have a present earthly father but they do have a Heavenly Father that loves them unconditionally and that will never leave them.
Grace Clark, Lead Teacher, Northminster LC
Grace graduated from Maranatha Baptist University in 2015 where she developed a passion for cross-cultural communication and using teaching ESL as her ministry to others. She then taught ESL in Guam for the summer and went on to teach elementary students in China. Although she loved the experience and teaching, the rigors and demands of full-time classroom teaching to three grades left little room to connect with the students and meet their academic and relational needs. She came back to the States and now teaches at the Northminster Learning Center, where she loves connecting with the kids and teaching them both academically and spiritually.
Maggie Miller, Teacher, Delmont LC
Maggie graduated from Elon University in 2016 and moved to Richmond shortly thereafter. Through working with neighborhood kids in Richmond’s East End during a year-long program, Maggie realized the Lord had given her a passion for serving youth and teaching them about Jesus. She began to search for a way to serve long-term, and is excited to now have the opportunity to do so with Youth Life’s Delmont Learning Center. In addition to kids and Jesus, Maggie also loves writing fiction, building things, and gardening−basically anything where she gets to be creative. She believes that God has called every one of his people to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. Although imperfect, she seeks to do those things every day.
Jackie Jiménez, Teacher & Outreach Coordinator, Southwood LC
Jackie became a Spanish teacher to bring together her passions for teaching and the Spanish language. She was a student teacher during her freshman year of college, which ignited her love for teaching children. As a native speaker (being of Cuban decent), Jackie has always had a love for the Spanish language, its rich history, and its people. She is thrilled to be able to bring her gifts to Youth Life and is very grateful to God for opening this door. “I’m so excited to work with the Spanish-speaking community in Richmond and share God’s love for us. What a privilege.” When she is not teaching, Jackie spends as much time as possible with her husband of 28 years and her three adult daughters.
Brianna Jiménez, Teacher, Southwood LC
Brianna moved to the Richmond area with her family as a child and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014. She worked in communications for three years and spent time volunteering at a local non-profit focusing on the Latino and Spanish-speaking community. With her passion for that community, Brianna started mentoring at the Southwood Learning Center when it opened in 2017 and joined the staff in October of 2018. Her prayer is that students will see their God-given worth and capacity for greatness in all that they do.
Gwen Abegaz, Program Coordinator, LC Remix
Gwen is studying psychology and sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. During her sophomore year, the Lord started cultivating in her heart a passion for child development and justice. She started volunteering as a mentor at Youth life through her local church and was captivated by our vision to nurture the child, strengthen the family, and rebuild the community. She enjoys traveling, live music, listening to podcasts, and spending time with loved ones. She is so grateful for the transformative work that the Lord has done in her life and the people He has used to plant seeds and seeks to do the same with her students. She desires to witness the transformative work of God in the lives of his people in various contexts.
Avery Torres, High School Program Staff, LC Remix
Avery attended Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. He enjoys playing, eating chipotle, working out, and looking at sunsets (come on, who doesn’t). Words that would describe him include: silly, simple, and short. (He also enjoys alliteration). His drive in life is to exalt the name of his beloved savior, Jesus Christ, who died as a ransom for his soul. He is excited to know that one day he will enjoy life in the very presence of God, the creator of all good things, and live happily ever after into eternity.
Anita Williams Holloman, Middle School Program Staff, LC Remix
Anita graduated from Virginia Union University in 1977 with a BA degree in Political Science. She worked as a substitute teacher for Richmond Public Schools from 1978 to 2010 and spent 32 years working with Richmond Recreation and Parks. She married Rev. Johnnie Holloman of Norfolk in 1997 and has three children and thirteen grandchildren. In 2010, she was called by God to minister in the Highland Park neighborhood. In 2015 she was ordained a licensed minister at Healing Hands Ministerial Alliance in Petersburg. She is available to serve wherever God needs her.
Charity Smith, Mentor Coordinator, Youth Life Learning Centers
Charity moved to Richmond in August, 2014. She graduated from Wingate University in 2011 and worked in college ministry for several years. As the mentor coordinator for Youth Life Foundation, her primary responsibilities include mentor recruitment, training, and site placement.