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.

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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.

LEmi Song, Program Coordinator

 

Lemi Song’s relationship with The Rightway Foundation budded when she first volunteered for the organization in the summer of 2015.  She recently graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Psychology and a concentration in Criminology and English. While in school, Lemi mentored under a well-esteemed psychiatrist and was an active volunteer with Communitas, where she developed a special understanding of holistic therapy through connections of the mind, body, and spirit. In addition to her role at The Rightway Foundation, Lemi is a mental health worker at the BHC Alhambra Hospital, where she provides support, safety, and milieu management for her patients. As she continues to grow with Rightway, Lemi ultimately hopes to counsel and teach youth in the juvenile court system.

Shawn Evangelista, admin. Assistant/
Graphic Designer

Shawn is a student at LATTC studying Visual Communications.

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Patrice TheardDevelopment Associate

 

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

Not Pictured
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)
Franco Vega
Wayani Jakai Taylor, Esq.
Nell Rutledge-Leverenz, Board Secretary
Paul Tacorian, Board President
Stephen Alexander

Not Pictured
Nick Buford, Esq., Board Treasurer