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Celebrating Our Outstanding Specialists and Program Accomplishments

An important part of Summer Summit, our professional development conference, is the awards ceremony. This gives us the opportunity to celebrate outstanding specialists and program accomplishments from around the state. Youth Solutions Board Chair, Barb Anderson, was joined by board member Jeff Swears along with Youth Solutions staff, Mollie Waller and Sonya Blanzy, to announce the award winners and provide them the recognition they deserve.

JAG “5 of 5” Award Winners

The Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), our national affiliate, ‘5-of-5’ Award is the most prestigious programming award given to JAG affiliate programs to include state, regional, and program level recognition. Recipients of the JAG ‘5-of-5’ award have met or surpassed all of JAG’s five rigorous performance metrics dedicated to ensuring young people succeed in education and employment.

Regional ‘5 of 5’ Winners - all programs in the following regions met '5 of 5' criteria:

  • Capital Area Michigan Works!, Alternative Program

  • Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, Multi-Year and Out of School programs

  • Michigan Works! Southeast, Alternative Program

  • Networks Northwest, Alternative Program

Program ‘5 of 5’ Specialist winners:

Alternative Programs:

  • Amanda Althouse

  • Lisa Baldyga

  • Kim Benz

  • Jocelynne Braddock

  • Claire Bogrow

  • LeAnne Bush

  • Vincent D’Ettore

  • Mike Vandermus, two alternative programs

Multi-Year Programs:

  • Tiffany Banks

  • Jocelynne Braddock

  • Anita Graham, 2 multi-year programs

  • Jeff Olson

  • Carolyn Miller

  • LaChelle Williams

Out of School Programs:

  • Lupe Salazar Hamden

  • Sheena Saffold

  • Reggie Williams

JAG High Performers ‘5 of 5’ PLUS

Annually, JAG recognizes a group of specialists and managers who are high performers in all aspects of JAG Model programming. This year’s award winners were selected because of their dedication to exceptional JAG programming and consistency in delivering on our mission: to equip youth with the skills to overcome barriers and succeed in education, employment, and life. This year’s High Performer Award winners were recognized at the recent JAG Virtual National Training Seminar. In addition, we recognized these Specialists as our 5 of 5 PLUS winners. These individuals not only achieved 5 of 5, they also completed and met all expectations for model service tracking, contact hours and first month follow up with a Graduation Rate exceeding 90% and an Unable To Contact rate of less than 5%.

Alternative Programs:

  • Kim Benz

  • Jocelynne Braddock

  • Lisa Baldyga

  • Claire Bogrow

  • LeAnne Bush

  • Mike Vandermus, 2 alternative programs

Multi-Year Programs:

  • Jocelynne Braddock

  • Anita Graham, 2 multi-year programs

  • LaChelle Williams

COVID 19 Above and Beyond

This award was given to recognize the dedication, persistence and care given to their young people throughout this difficult year of additional COVID related challenges:

  • Ashley Fanson, Out-of-School Specialist from Family Literacy Center in Lapeer

  • Amanda Althouse, Alternative Specialist from Orchard Center in Monroe

JAG Outstanding Specialist Awards

Each year, JAG National invites state affiliates to nominate up to three Outstanding Specialist award winners. These award winners are all-around outstanding, consistently delivering on the mission and offering best-in-class programs. Yearly, specialists from across the state are nominated by their managers and peers, and three awardees are selected. Congratulations to our three JAG Outstanding Specialists:

  • Charron Basey, Out of School Specialist from Lansing School District and Capital Area Michigan Works!

  • Lupe Salazar Hamden, Out of School Specialist from Michigan Works! Southeast

  • Carolyn Miller, Multi-Year Specialist at Pershing High School

Outstanding Manager of the Year

A new award this year, Outstanding Manager of the Year, was created because we received nominations without prompting. This manager goes above and beyond to help her team with whatever their needs are. During the pandemic, she held numerous virtual group and individual meetings to check in and hosted trivia game nights where her team could socialize and interact virtually. “She is truly everything you dream of in a manager,” says one of her Specialists. Our first ever Outstanding Manager of the Year was awarded to:

  • Susan Ward, Manager of Networks Northwest JMG Programs

Living Our Values Awards

Each year we recognize members of our JMG network who embody each of our organizational values in their everyday lives: collaboration, leadership, excellence, and remaining solutions-focused.


Whether it’s finding resources to help young people, spending additional time with a youth to help them through a unique problem or working to connect many different employers to their youth, our Specialists and Managers know the value of collaborating and how the power of partnerships help more young people succeed. We were pleased to recognize three members of our JMG network for their outstanding collaborative efforts:

  • Dominque Clay- Out of School Specialist at Michigan Works! GST Service Center

  • Pranvera Myftiu - Out of School Specialist with ACCESS, a partner of SEMCA

  • Drew Klopcic - Dean of Students with Northview Next


With leadership, we inspire those around us to influence critical outcomes on behalf of Michigan’s young people. Each of these individuals wear many hats including teacher, parent, coach, mentor, advocate and trusted role model. We were pleased to recognize the following three leaders:

  • Corey Sterling, Multi Year Specialist at Benton Harbor High School

  • Stacey-Brown Smith, Alternative Specialist at River Rouge High School

  • Cheryl Irvin, Manager at Michigan Works! Great Lakes Bay


With excellence, we recognize that good is never good enough when young people’s lives are on the line. These winners consistently strive for more, working to ensure our youth have the resources they need and support to succeed. Congratulations to our excellence winners:

  • Debra James, Out of School Specialist, Michigan Works! Southwest

  • Terri Karavas, Alternative Specialist, Odyssey Alternative High School/MW! Great Lakes Bay

  • Sheena Saffold, Out of School Specialist at Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation


With our solutions-focused approach, we search for new opportunities that will lead to more young people graduating, gaining employment, and beginning down the path towards a career. When someone says it isn’t possible, we pride ourselves on being the team that figures it out. Congratulations to our solutions focused winners:

  • Lisa Byars, Out of School Specialist at Employment and Training Designs, Inc. Highland Park/SEMCA

  • Caitlin Drinkard, Multi-Year Specialist at Hamtramck HS/SEMCA

  • William Braylock, Assistant Manager at West Michigan Works!


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