John Figueroa – Employee Spotlight
“The best part of my job is seeing the changes we’ve been able to help put in motion. It can feel like you might not have an impact when you’re helping these kids turn their lives around, but when they reach back out and tell us about their successes it makes it all worth it.”
John is a Program Director, overseeing all of the New York Youth and Family Services programs for Southwest Key Programs. He was first introduced to Southwest Key by a former colleague who asked him to become a youth mentor. He signed up and was matched with his first mentee, Marquis, and went on to be a mentor to three more youth. When asked about each of his mentees he said, “success is relative, but I’m proud to say all of my mentees have their high school diplomas. They each have a resume and are stable; not getting into trouble. It’s a testament to them, not me. They put in the work and it shows.” And even though he’s no longer their mentor, each of them is still in contact with him.
John has an Associate’s degree in Human Services and Chemical Dependency Counseling from Niagara County Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Public Administration and Non-profit Management from SUNY Buffalo. John is also an adjunct instructor at SUNY Buffalo, teaching Supervision in Human Services to undergraduate and graduate students. He is a member of the International Sociology Honor Society, the Public Administration National Honor Society and the NASPAA.
Youth justice hits close to home for John. He grew up in an inner-city community where a lot of his friends were getting in trouble and going down a negative path.
“I wanted to be able to break the cycle of poverty in my own life, and I wanted to be able to grow up and help young people to make better decisions.”
On an average day, he’s meeting and guiding staff, reviewing documentation and working diligently to provide service to kids and families enrolled in our programs. Because of his personal connection to youth justice, he can see himself in every child that walks through the doors.
One young man who stood out to John is Demarion. Demarion was going down a negative path but turned his life around. He was making self-destructive choices but had a grandmother who loved him and wanted him to make a change. With the help of Southwest Key, he was able to make significant changes and get on the right path. You can read Demarion’s full story here.