The RightWay Team
Franco Vega, Executive director
Franco Vega began his career in employment services 21 years ago teaching ‘Rites of Passage’ to transition age foster youth (TAY) with Department of Children & Family Services. Following this, Franco went on to provide case management/supervision for 5-12 years old who were severely neglected and abused. He then created a Job Development Component for the Youth Opportunity Movement in Watts & Boyle Heights with the Community Development Department for the City of Los Angeles funded by the Department of Labor. Franco moved to a focus on labor compliance and was contracted to work on the W-Hotel (600 Million Dollar) Project to ensure local hiring. After the W-Hotel was completed, Franco’s next project was to create an employment center on Skid Row for the Midnight Mission working with homeless individuals and folks who suffered with drug addiction (many of whom came from the foster care system). From all of his experience, Franco recognized it was time to develop a program that combines mental health services and job readiness training for TAY foster youth in Los Angeles County.
Working with struggling foster youth felt like the perfect match for The RightWay Foundation and Franco. Like many of the youth he now serves, Franco Vega had a traumatic upbringing. Franco suffered a great deal of mental/physical abuse and neglect from the one person who should have protected him the most, his mother. Franco’s dad, who was a good father, died of a terrible disease, alcoholism. Five years later Franco’s mother passed away of cancer. At the age of 15, he was now in and out of juvenile hall and remained on probation until the age of 18 years old. He bounced around to more than ten different schools and graduated from a continuation high school before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He received an honorable discharge in 1995. In 2000, he graduated from California State University of Dominguez Hills in Human Services and has been hard at work with projects related to job development for underserved communities.
Aside from running the foundation like a family, Franco has a family of his own, raising four beautiful children (22 years, 17 years, 8 years, and 4 months), and finds time to coach little league baseball and sit on several boards. Franco and The RightWay Foundation provide support in a family atmosphere, and are building new foundations the right way, one foster youth at a time.
Andraya slyter, Director of Programs
Andraya Slyter is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Director of Programs for The RightWay Foundation. She earned a BA in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach in 2002 and a Masters of Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing, Planning, and Administration from University of Southern California in 2004. For over 10 years, Andraya has been providing outpatient and field based clinical services to families, children, and transition age youth in residential treatment facilities, schools, and in the community. Her passion for working with foster youth began when she was a Unit Leader for the National Family Life and Education Center, facilitating life skills and personal empowerment workshops to teenagers in the Child Welfare system. In her current role, she oversees RightWay's core program Operation Emancipation and the mental health services program at The RightWay Foundation, which includes supervising Bachelors and Masters of Social Work interns from CSULA, CSUDH, USC, and Columbia University.
Gabriel Gutierrez, Director of Operations And Planning
Gabriel Gutierrez first joined RightWay Foundation as an intern in 2012 shortly after receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Cal State University Los Angeles. He has remained dedicated to the agency throughout the years and worked his way from an intern to a case manager, development coordinator, and now serves as the agency’s Director of Operations and Planning where he takes lead on strategic planning and fund development efforts, and also performs all proposal writing for the agency. In addition to his Bachelor’s degree, Gabriel also received a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.) from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in 2016 where he concentrated in community economic development and housing. He is interested in policy and direct service efforts that support marginalized populations as they seek stable housing, financial independence, and self-sufficiency. Gabriel hopes to combine his background in social services with an urban planning and public policy lens to help fill gaps in services for those most in need in Los Angeles. His passion for social justice was influenced by his diverse upbringing and exposure to indigenous cultures of North and South America.
THALIA HENDERSON, Business Development Specialist
Thalia Henderson is a recent graduate of University of Southern California, where she participated in numerous activities involving homelessness prevention. While a student, she was a Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach for America, which involved creating and managing a strategic branding and marketing campaign. She also worked at USC's Joint Educational Project as the Pre-Law Project Student Director, supervising interns who were placed at public interest law firms around LA. Thalia has spent years working on homelessness issues through activities such as clothing/food distribution, a 2-year ethnography of The Midnight Mission's education program, interning for California's pioneering Shriver Project on Inner City Law Center's Homelessness Prevention team, and teaching art and math classes to homeless men.
LAKIEYA Patterson, Clinical Youth
LaKieya Patterson has over 10 years in the social services field working with severely emotionally disturbed children, pregnant and parenting teens, families of children with developmental disabilities, and families involved in the criminal justice and child welfare systems. In 2005, she obtained her Bachelor’s in Social Work with a specialization in Child Maltreatment and Family Violence and graduated with honors from Cal State LA. She started at RightWay as a MSW intern, and providing individual therapy and case management, and now is a full-time therapist who is pursuing her LCSW. She is passionate about helping her clients heal from trauma while gaining the knowledge and skills desired to increase positive self-perception and interpersonal relationships.
Shawn Evangelista, admin. Assistant/
Shawn is a student at LATTC studying Visual Communications.
our wonderful interns
Listed from left to right, as pictured
Barbara Rhoades - MSW, University of Southern California
David Miller - Journalism, LA County foster youth
Jennifer Ojeda - BSW, Cal State Los Angeles
Jean Lee - MSW, Columbia University
Michelle Luevano - MSW, University of Southern California
Alicia Johnson - MSW, Cal State Dominguez Hills
Ian Andrade - Sociology Undergraduate Intern, University of Southern California
Claire Justin - Sociology Undergraduate Intern, University of Southern California
our Supportive board
(Listed from left to right, as pictured)
Wayani Jakai Taylor, Esq.
Nell Rutledge-Leverenz, Board Secretary
Paul Tacorian, Board President
Nick Buford, Esq., Board Treasurer