Amanda Benjamin, LCSW-C, is the Part-Time Grads2Careers Counselor through Baltimore’s Promise. She was born and raised in Philly and has found community and belonging in Baltimore since moving here for Social Work school 8 years ago. Amanda is passionate about creating healing spaces and helping young people discover their best and most authentic selves. She is part of the Counseling Team at Grads2Careers which aims to support G2C participants individually and in groups with mental health supports and connection to resources and community. Amanda enjoys working with young people because they always keep it real and are absolutely hilarious. She finds it a true honor to hold space for others and she strives to be gentle, intentional, and honest in her approach.
Before moving to Baltimore, Amanda spent 3 years as an AmeriCorps member serving high school students and out-of-school youth in service-learning programs in Philly. Amanda loves an adventure and can be found in parks, on hikes, and at new restaurants and local shops quite often. There is usually a very friendly, fluffy dog named Milo with her. She also spends a lot of time in community with friends and family and Milo, of course. Amanda is also very involved in the black and brown rock climbing community in Maryland and is super passionate about making climbing more accessible for black and brown self-identifying women and girls, in particular.
Ayanna strives to provide person-centered care whose focus is primarily around remediating intergenerational trauma in minority communities and teaching healthy relationship behaviors as a preventative measure for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Ayanna is passionate about educating and empowering individuals who have been exposed to and/or personally experienced patterns of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Ayanna aims to be a supportive figure for those who have been physically and psychologically impacted by various forms of abuse and an advocate against violence perpetuation.
Outside of work you can find Ayanna binge watching Insecure, taking long drives, or looking for new restaurants.
Bonita Harrell is the Grads2Careers Data Technician and is stationed at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED). Throughout her career, Bonita has been very passionate about the education of children/youth in Baltimore and surrounding areas. She has spent time working with different Baltimore organizations in both teaching and data capacities. Bonita proudly achieved her bucket list goal of earning her BS degree in education and psychology. She also holds a certification in data management.
As the G2C Data Technician, Bonita’s daily tasks are managing, analyzing, and auditing data as well as providing training to staff. She finds it a real thrill to compile, process and build a story with the data that she manages. According to Bonita, “managing and reporting data helps to tell stakeholders and participants about parts of the G2C Program that are data driven—where we stand as a program, our successes, what areas we need to improve and how to better serve the graduates of Baltimore City.” She loves that her job allows her to work with partner organizations that provide career training to help young people gain new skills and enter jobs in areas of growth. Bonita also volunteers as a member of the Maryland New Directions Alumni Board.
In her spare time, Bonita enjoys writing plays for her church youth ministry, watching HGTV and being around family.
Gerrod is an educator and direct service professional from Baltimore, MD. He found his love for social justice work, within the field of education, while earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Winston-Salem State University.
He is motivated by the knowing that talented youth are everywhere, however, opportunities for every youth is not. Working tirelessly to provide more spaces and opportunities to youth in underserved populations and communities.
His passion for youth education has afforded him the experiences to serve as an AmeriCorps member, classroom teacher, curriculum developer, college readiness professional, adult literacy educator, higher education professional, civic engagement specialist, and diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer.
Participant Support Coordinator
Greg Couturier, LMSW, is the Participant Support Coordinator with Grads2Careers through the Baltimore City Schools Office of College and Career Readiness. Greg is a Baltimore City-based Social Worker with a passion for youth development and workforce development, and the dynamic intersection between the two. Greg’s main function on the Grads2Careers team is to help connect applicants to training programs that align with their passions and interests. Greg is deeply grateful for the opportunity to meet and build strong relationships with youth across Baltimore City, and believes that G2C can play a pivotal role in training the future leaders of our city. If you are an applicant with questions about G2C’s training programs, please reach out by phone, text, or email! Prior to G2C, Greg served as a Community School Coordinator in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Southeast Baltimore and is a passionate advocate for the Community Schools movement in the city and nationwide. Greg has also spent time as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Choice Program in Baltimore and a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, and believes deeply in the value of service work and civic engagement. Greg enjoys getting lost in a good book, running, writing, and traveling the world.
Jessica Mott, LCSW-C, is the Grads2Careers Counselor through Baltimore’s Promise. Originally from New York State, this is Jessica’s 22nd year living and working with young people and families in Baltimore. Jessica believes in the life-changing impact of strong relationships, the necessity of always looking through a lens of racial equity and inclusion, the importance of young adults having access to new opportunities and experiences, and the need to honor the expertise of each person’s lived experience. Jessica goes to individual career training sites to provide voluntary counseling and wellness support to Grads2Careers participants through individual and group meetings and with information and connection to community resources. Jessica is always excited to learn a new way of doing something or to hear a fresh perspective. She loves her job because she is able to create space for young people to speak freely about their challenges, think through options, celebrate progress, and value their journeys and the people they are becoming. In her time outside of work, Jessica enjoys growing flowers, listening to music, experimenting with new recipes, being outside and spending time with her family, friends, and energetic dog.
Megan Heidler is the Grads2Careers Project Coordinator and sits at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED). Originally from Pennsylvania, Megan came to Maryland to pursue her education in Sociology and Juvenile Studies at Towson University. Megan’s love for the Baltimore community outweighed any desire to explore a new city and she has found herself a permanent resident ever since. Megan’s main function on the Grads2Careers team is to support the implementation of G2C while managing and monitoring the activities of participants and training and support service partners under the initiative. Megan serves as the primary point of contact for the occupational training providers and legal services partners. She helps coordinate the academic summer bridge program and helps connect G2C to the city’s workforce development system. Megan has past career experience working with young people marginalized in state systems and calls upon this knowledge to help close the divide between young people in Baltimore communities and equitable access to opportunities they deserve, including workforce development. Megan believes in the value of all young voices being heard and has an extreme passion for direct service to those in our communities through strengths-based supports, anti-racist practices, and humility. Outside of work, Megan enjoys being outside, listening to music, cooking, gardening, and spending time with the ones she loves most, including a particularly grumpy cat named Willow.
University of Maryland School of Social Work
Social Work Interns
The Grads2Careers team would like to recognize the contributions to the delivery of participant support, mental health and wellness made by Social Work Interns from the University of Maryland School of Social Work:
2018-2019 – Maureen O’Bua
2019-2020 – Vivien Buvawala
2020-2021 – Kayla Aliese Carter