This spring YOU Boston welcomed Tanya Robinson, as our Assistant Deputy Director of Youth Case Management and Recruitment. In her role she will be overseeing case managers to ensure efficient and professional delivery of services to designated youth, and coordinating the agency’s youth recruitment and outreach efforts.  To get introduce our newest director, we asked Tanya to sit for an interview and share more about herself, her background, and her goals for the agency.

Tell me about yourself. 

I graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelors of Science for Criminal Justice with a focus on Juvenile Justice. During college, I worked for the Core Unit and then I moved on to work part-time in a group home in Jamaica Plains. That is where I began my first real position and from there, I graduated college and continued to work at the group home as I was gaining the necessary skills. I later moved on to work for another organization where I was partnered with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and I was putting in resources & services for youth and their families. From there, I just bounced around from place to place and I was just gaining knowledge & experience working with the youth. I took a break for a while and I decided to work more with families & individuals. I worked for them for about eight years but now I am back. I think I definitely have a natural calling for the youth so I figured this was a good way of giving back and getting reacclimated with what is going on. In the past eight years, things have changed for our youth such as their activities outside of school that involve drugs and gangs. By getting acclimated to what is going out there, we can figure out what is more appealing to them and how we can better assist them. This is why I am interested in YOU because I am working alongside the at-risk youth and helping them get to a better place. 


What skills do you think are important to have as the Assistant Deputy Director of Youth Case Management and Recruitment at YOU Boston? 

You have to be a people person because there is a lot of networking going on. You have to be comfortable putting yourself out there and talking about the organization. Not only talking about it but also believing in it. You have to appreciate working with the youth because it is not something that can just be sold like “Yeah, this is what I do” but you actually have to have a liking for it because there are different levels that will cause you to really push yourself. It isn’t something you do for the money and you really have to enjoy what you do. I would definitely also say that having the experience of how non-profits or any organizations work is beneficial because not only do you need to know the importance of numbers and data but you also need to understand the roles and what is required of them. It is also necessary to have a connection to the youth because if you don’t have a connection with them, you can’t serve them because you might be making decisions for them that might not fit them. This is why it is important to know your audience and dedicate yourself to what works best for them. 


As the Assistant Deputy Director of Youth Case Management and Recruitment at YOU Boston, what is your main goal? 

My main goal is to be able to successfully serve our youth. I want to ensure that they are getting the most out of their YOU experience. I know we are here to give them a taste of the real world but I want them to be able to move forward and say they learned this at YOU or I had this experience already because of YOU or I had a great case management or career coordinator that really helped me along the way. I just want to have a positive mark on their life that they can reflect on and I just want to be a real support system for them. I also want to have a connection with all of the organizations since we are all working with the same population and we are all for it. Sometimes, it feels like who gets it the best but it shouldn’t be about that; it should be more about helping the youth and getting us all back on the same page. It is about all of us being in the same room and saying “I got Matt and Matt can go here and he can service for here and there” and knowing that we all are working for the betterment of the youth. 


What are you mostly looking forward to while working at YOU Boston?

I am always looking for growth as far as knowledge and experience. I am definitely looking to meet lots of partners; hearing what they have to offer and learning different ways of serving our youth. I have been meeting lots of partners and I ask them how they deal with situations. It is good to know we are both on the right direction because we are all doing similar work. Learning is really important to me and if I am not learning anything, it becomes a drag and I question what my purpose is. And at YOU, I have been learning a lot since I have been seeing how things have changed and I am excited to see all the support & programs that are provided to youth on so many levels. There are so many partners out there that are willing to participate and step in so that is amazing because there weren’t as many when I first started working. 


What are some things youth should know about YOU before joining and what would be some advice you would give them?

I would tell them to be open minded and they will be surprised how successful they can be especially with the employment piece. Sometimes some of the youth that we are geared to are kinda like “I can do this and I can do that” and I say just give it a chance. There is nothing wrong with trying to see if it works and even if the employment aspect of the program doesn’t work, there is the case management team that youth can seek. We have some cool case managers who are really focused on youth and they are committed to them on a whole different level. Youth can take so much from this experience and it doesn’t matter if one piece doesn’t work because I am sure you will find something and if that doesn’t work, we are definitely working on connecting with other organizations. If we are not the match for a youth, that is ok because we will find someone else for them because it is about them always. I want them to know that this is a good stop, take a look around and try it because we can connect you to something that might really resonate with them. 


Post/interview by Adelaine Pichardo, Program Operations Intern