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Our Team

Josephine DiCesare, MA
Executive Director

Josephine DiCesare is thrilled to be joining Youth Crossroads as the new Executive Director. With a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor.5’s in Sociology from Northeastern Illinois University, she has spent the last 15 years dedicated to the non-profit sector. This includes working with the homeless population at Pilsen’s former San Jose Obrero Mission and, most recently, with performing arts and education at Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater. 

In her spare time, Josephine volunteers with Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly and enjoys making memories with her husband and two children. 

“I have always been compelled to do mission-driven work, and I look forward to continuing the important endeavors of Youth Crossroads.”

Michelle Desideri, MA, LCPC, CCTP
Director of Counseling Services

Michelle is a former resident of Cicero and graduate of the local school districts. She obtained her Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Lewis University, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Illinois and most recently a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. She has 30 years of experience, specializing in the areas of youth, family and trauma. Michelle currently oversees all Counseling Services at Youth Crossroads, including the Counseling Training Program.

Teri Terrazino, CMP
Donor Relations

After volunteering for Youth Crossroads events for several years, Teri officially joined the YC staff in 2012. As a Certified Meeting Professional, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization and was the driving force behind YC’s and YLP’s logo rebranding, website redesign and printed material update. Teri has extensive experience in  all aspects of meeting and event planning, production, and marketing, having worked in the corporate sector for over 25 years.

Tayra Romo, MA, LPC, NCC
Associate Director of Counseling Services

Tayra received her Bachelors in Sociology from NPU Chicago (2008). She worked for JCFS as a Respite Worker (2008-2013), provided services to children with disabilities ages 2-16 yrs. Tayra worked for CPS for 6 years in ECE, supported low-income families. Graduated from Concordia University with a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Completed internship at Youth Crossroads (2017-18), provided counseling services at Morton West High School. Joined us during internship as a crisis counselor. She is passionate and excited to continue working with youth here at Youth Crossroads.

Claudia Campos, MSW
School-Based Counselor

Claudia Campos graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Claudia completed the Advanced Standing Graduate Program from Dominican University, graduating in May 2017 with a Master’s degree in Social Work. She interned at Youth Crossroads in 2016-17  at Morton East High School and is now a full-time bilingual school-based counselor. Claudia has a passion for helping people and enjoys working with youth. Her personal experience living in Little Village, attending high school in Pilsen and working in Cicero allow her to relate culturally, academically and socially with community members that Youth Crossroads serves.

Lauren Gestes, LCSW
School-Based Counselor

Lauren received her Master of Social Work from UIC in 2018 with a mental health concentration. She completed internships at HOW and Sarah’s Inn, where she provided individual and group interventions to domestic violence survivors. She has been a Community Support Provider at Pillars Community Health since 2015 where she provides additional socio-emotional support to youth receiving therapy. She is a trained domestic violence and sexual assault intervention advocate and is passionate about learning trauma-informed practices. She now works at Youth Crossroads as the School-Based Counselor at Morton West High School and is excited to serve her community.

Cynthia Saldana, MS, LPC, CCTP
School-Based Counselor

Cynthia received her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Criminal Justice from UIC and provided services to crime victims at Crisis Center for South Suburbia (CCSS). In 2017, she received the CCSS Courage Award for emulating selflessness, dedication and commitment. Cook County’s State’s Attorney also presented Cynthia with a service award for her unshakeable, inspiring commitment to empowering victims of domestic violence. She obtained her Master’s in Counseling from National Lewis University and was hired as our school-based counselor at Morton High School Freshmen Center. Finding courage, resiliency and healing from life’s challenges is what Cynthia believes to be part of the path to finding one’s self.

Natalia Dorsz, MA
School-Based Counselor 

Natalia received her Associate Degree in Science from Waubonsee Community College and her Bachelor’s Degree in Arts at Lewis University in 2017. Natalia then completed her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, with a concentration in children and adolescents. She did her internship with Youth Crossroads in 2019-20 at Morton West High School. Natalia is bilingual in Polish and has taught preschool children of various backgrounds. She is now a Youth Crossroads’ School-Based Counselor at Morton West High School and is thrilled to continue serving youth.

Briani Shorter, MSW
High School Program Coordinator/Field Instructor

Briani Shorter is the High School Program Coordinator/Field Instructor for the Youth Leadership Program at Youth Crossroads. She graduated from Western Illinois University with her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. In 2018, she completed her undergraduate practicum at Youth Crossroads as a Youth Development Intern. Her experience at Youth Crossroads helped her realize her passion for youth development. In 2019, Briani received her Master’s in Social Work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her specialization was Organization and Community Practice (OCP). Briani is committed to being a trusted adult and a resource to youth.

Lyric Westbrook, BA
Middle School Programs Coordinator

Lyric received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Sociology and Spanish. She currently resides in Berwyn and grew up on the West Side of Chicago in North Lawndale where she received most of her experience with youth. Lyric served as a mentor, teacher and coordinator to students ages 6-13 years old in schools and non-profit organizations.  She is now the Middle School Programs Coordinator at Youth Crossroads, managing the middle school After School Programs. She’s excited to continue being a part of the development of our youth.

Katrina Diaz, BSW
Youth Development Specialist

Katrina received her Degree in Bachelor of Social Work in 2019 and will complete her Master’s in Social Work in May 2020. She now works as a Youth Developmental Specialist at Youth Crossroads. Katrina comes with a wealth of experience in the private and non-profit world, partnering with grassroots organizations to bring awareness of social issues to her community in La Villita and advocating for families of undocumented citizens. Having been part of a youth program herself and a volunteer in her community since a young age, Katrina is devoted to utilizing her experiences to serve, mentor, and inspire youth through life’s challenges. She lives in Cicero with her 7-year-old daughter and their two cats.

Morgan Eslinger, MA
Youth Development Counselor

Morgan received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from North Central College. She worked as a Registered Behavior Technician where she provided therapy for children and adolescents on the Autism spectrum. This is when her passion for working with youth was solidified. She went on to pursue her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration on children and adolescents at Lewis University. Morgan did her internship at Youth Crossroads at Morton West High School and is now the Youth Development Counselor. Morgan has a passion for fostering youth development and for working with individuals and their families to provide the best level of support.

Elida Ortiz
Community & Parent Liaison / Administrative Support

Elida grew up in Rogers Park and obtained a degree in Applied Sciences from Robert Morris University. Elida has worn many hats to reflect her passion for community work. These include being former Coordinator to the Cicero Community Collaborative – United Way Neighborhood Network; Parent Leader within the Cicero 99 School District; ESL Facilitator at Universidad Popular; Computer Instructor at Corazón Community Services; Ambassador/Coordinator for the NRI, CVPP and Innovations Zones/Escuelita Movil Parent programs. Of the varied experiences, the common thread throughout is the gratification of helping others grow personally and professionally.