Bernadette Souza, Executive Director
A New Bedford native and life-long City resident, Bernadette is deeply committed to her community, especially its youth. She is a longtime youth advocate and has significant experience in youth programming by virtue of her long tenure at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford. She contributes her time, talent and resources by giving back, or as she says “paying it forward”, in numerous ways throughout the community. She served on the Board of Trustees for Our Sisters’ School since 2008 and now serves on the Advisory Board. She was honored by Leadership Southcoast and was presented with the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Bernadette attended Assumption College, where she received a Certification in Youth Ministries. She is a recipient of many awards: 2010 YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts. “Women of Distinction” award, “Grand Marshall” for 2009 Cape Verdean Recognition Parade, recipient of the Martha Briggs Educational Club, Inc. “Women of Vision” award, NAACP “Community Service” award, Elks” Distinguished Citizenship” award and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth “Professor Gloria Waite African American” award. Bernadette is a graduate of the Class of 2013 Leadership SouthCoast (a rigorous leadership training development program). With enormous energy and a deep seeded passion for youth development, Bernadette is an incredible asset to Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc.
JoAnn Tschaen, LCSW, Director (Founder & Senior Advisor)
A teacher and social worker, JoAnn is a dedicated youth advocate. She is passionate about human potential and is deeply committed to the cause of youth development. She is a nature lover and an avid hiker, cyclist, and cross-country skier. She firmly believes in the importance of physical fitness paired with emotional well-being. Her ability to identify compelling needs, along with a dogged determination to find resources to meet them, is a significant asset to Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. She was the co-founder of the highly successful Community Boating Center in New Bedford, Trips For Kids New Bedford and is a co-founder of Our Sisters’ School. JoAnn also holds a master’s degree in non-profit management. With her experience in social services and organizational development, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., is on very solid ground.
Doreen J. Lopes, President
As a highly motivated and skilled nonprofit manager, Doreen brings volumes of experience to the Y.O.U. Board of Directors. Her areas of expertise include fundraising, outreach and community partnerships. Doreen’s love of young people and the outdoors is evident in the highly successful youth programs she developed and managed as a longtime Executive Director of YMCA Southcoast’s Camp Massasoit. Her outstanding knowledge of experiential education, coupled with her unique skills in risk management, assures that many children and families will benefit from her commitment to Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc.
Edward J. Almeida, Clerk
As our youngest Board member, Ned (as he is well-known throughout the community), brings volumes of energy to the entire Y.O.U. organization. His remarkable accomplishments are many, and he is an outstanding role model for Y.O.U. participants & Staff. Among his multitude of interests are cycling and kayaking, and he has gained much experience and recognition through his long association with the Boys Scouts, having achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Ned also has completed training and certification in Wilderness First Aid & Rescue, enabling him to contribute significantly to Y.O.U.’s risk management program. As a city native & lifelong resident, Ned has welcomed and embraced the many opportunities presented to him. Having graduated from Northeastern University, he has ambitious career goals and thus, he is indeed an incredible role model for all local youth. Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., Trustees and participants are fortunate to have him in their midst.
Ryan Costello, Director
Ryan is well-known by many for his entrepreneurial spirit, and he consistently brings new ideas to the Y.O.U. Board for the benefit of local youngsters. He is a compassionate, intelligent, resourceful and fun-loving youth advocate, as evidenced by his tenure as a Sailing Instructor at the Community Boating Center, whose primary focus was to offer new opportunities to disadvantaged children. He clearly understands the importance of mentoring in the lives of kids, and is uniquely qualified to make Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., programs profoundly successful. Ryan possesses many leadership qualities and has received MVP awards in scholastic soccer and collegiate sailing. After graduating from Georgetown University, Ryan started his own very successful computer software business, so he is also our technical expert. We all look to Ryan for new, interesting and effective ways to actualize our goals.
Harriet Gottesman, Director
Harriet’s tenure as a public elementary school teacher has enabled her to play a critical role on the Youth Opportunities Unlimited Board. She just plain loves kids & it is evident in her many interactions with them and their families. She is calm and consistent in any situation, and she brings a mature perspective to working with urban youth, which is a very good example for the Y.O.U. Staff. Harriet is also an avid outdoors-woman; cycling, kayaking , swimming , sailing & cross-country skiing, are among her many interests. She has also completed training and certification in Wilderness First Aid & Rescue, a valuable asset to Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., with its emphasis on youth safety. Local youngsters are fortunate indeed, that Harriet is committed to their future ,not only by her choice of profession, but also by her service on the Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., Board of Directors.
Gwen Bettencourt-Fletcher, Director
A longtime city resident, Gwen takes great pride in her community and it shows! She is exceptionally civic-minded & can frequently be seen walking (at all hours) with her beloved canine, always looking out to see that all is safe and well on the Southend peninsula. Having served for many years as a nonprofit Trustee, she brings significant experience to the Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., Board. Most importantly, Gwen’s career in accounting enables her to be an astute financial steward, assuring that Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc., is on sound financial footing!