National Advisory Council

Advisory Council members serve as strategic thought leaders, collaborators and catalysts for action representing the national goals of the Alliance for Positive Youth Development. The council identifies, articulates and prioritizes the issues, topics and challenges affecting youth in the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Members identify best practices for youth development and ideas for collaboration across sectors.

Alliance for Positive Youth Development National Advisory Council

Joel Arce

Joel Arce has dedicated a great portion of his academic studies and professional work to youth education and development. Currently, he is a trainer for the Posse Foundation at the New York City site. There, he provides support to Posse scholars who are transitioning into college as well as scholars who are currently on college campuses. In this role, Joel serves as a facilitator, counselor, academic advisor, interviewer, and liaison.

Joel received a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College with a concentration in political science. As an undergraduate, he gained experience in the non-profit world as a teacher for Breakthrough New York and a community service assistant for the Protect the Dream Youth Program in Poughkeepsie, New York. After playing a significant role in the daily operations of the Protect the Dream Youth Program, Joel became a board member for the small, start-up non-profit organization. Following his undergraduate career, Joel taught middle school social studies in the Bronx as a Teach for America corps member. During his time with the New York City Department of Education, Joel not only taught in the classroom, but also took on leadership positions within the school. He was a member of the Core Data Inquiry Team as well as the team leader for the Social Studies Department. Joel also has a Master of Arts from Lehman College (City University of New York) with a concentration in social studies education. 

Thenera Bailey

Thenera Bailey is the President/CEO of the SISGI Group. In this capacity she serves as the Interim Director of the SISGI Beyond Good Ideas Foundation, the organization’s nonprofit charitable division, and as the Editor of the social research blog, Thenera has an accomplished career as a consultant, trainer and technical assistance provider to programs, organizations, government agencies, nonprofits, corporations, schools and school districts. She has extensive experience in social entrepreneurship and started a nonprofit organization immediately upon completion of her undergraduate degree. Over the last decade, she has continued to assist other individuals and organizations in developing their nonprofit organization, grant writing, fundraising, strategic planning, financial management and general start-up and expansion assistance.

As the CEO of the SISGI Group, Bailey has developed key programs and organization initiatives for the organization's nonprofit division, with the assistance of the board of directors, key partners and volunteers. Since 2011, she has served as the director of the organization's cutting edge virtual internship program, overseen the increase in free trainings offered by the organization and established the organization's strategies around collective impact and collaboration in youth development. Thenera serves as the SISGI Group key contact for the Alliance for Positive Youth Development. 

She has served with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Office of Leadership Development and Training as a member of their Training and Technical Assistance Workgroup and as a consultant assisting large multi-state grantees and applicants. Thenera is a Certified Grants Manager and has received certification in crisis intervention for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She also has received training in federal grants management and monitoring. She has worked as a community organizer in Baltimore, MD, as a social worker in public schools and served on the board and advisory groups for a variety of charitable organizations.

Sandra McMillan, Ph.D.

Sandra McMillan has worked with Girls Incorporated for the past 28 years. Previously, she was the Executive Director with Girls Incorporated of Central Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama for 13 and one half years. Currently, she serves as a Regional Director with the national organization providing assistance and support to Girls Incorporated organizations throughout the Southeast.

A teacher at heart, Dr. McMillan is based in Atlanta and serves a seven-state area. She provides consultation to the Executive Leadership and Trustees in the local Girls Inc. organizations regarding the management and governance issues they face. She finds the intrinsic rewards from helping the local organization build its capacity to effectively impact the lives of girls very significant.

A graduate of the University of Montevallo, the University of Maine and The Ohio State University, Dr. McMillan has completed numerous management training programs including those offered by Girls Incorporated.

Wanda Minor, PhD

Dr. Wanda Madison Minor is principal of Madison Minor Group, LLC located in Oakhurst, New Jersey and adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Interdisciplinary Studies at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. In May 2011, she joined the National Issues Forums Institute (Dayton, OH) Board of Directors for a three-year term. She also serves on the Advisory Council of Monmouth University’s Center for Human and Community Wellness. Minor received a Ph.D. in Communication and Information Sciences with a concentration in Communication and Culture, an Educational Specialist and Master degrees in Counseling, and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Afro-American Studies from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Minor has more than 20+ years working in both public education (K-12) and higher education. She has also been a director of program operations for a local affiliate of Girls Incorporated where she also served as a regional trainer for Girls Incorporated and was a certified trainer in afterschool programming by the Center for Early Adolescents Planning Program. She has extensive experience in program development and implementation, serving 10 years as coordinator of adult education program and serving four years in the professional development department, three of which she coordinated the school district’s National Board for Professional Teaching Standards mentoring and professional development certification program.

Minor continues her 28-year affiliation with the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio, studying democracy through public deliberation and civic engagement and leading community and public issue forums. She is currently working on understanding how Non-College-Bound Youth acquire civic, political and life skills. She is a two-time recipient of the Outstanding Young Woman in America award, a finalist for the Public Administrator of the Year by the Alabama Association of Public Administrators, one of 12 recipients of the National Issues Forums’ 25-Year honoree, a recipient of the NAACP’s Outstanding African American in Birmingham, AL, and a graduate of the Southern Region Educational Board’s Doctoral Scholars Program.

Javier Sanchez

Javier A. Sanchez is an internationally recognized specialist in effective youth communication. He has spoken to and worked with thousands of teens and adults across the U.S. and abroad, including Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, and throughout the Caribbean.

Javier is a Certified Prevention Specialist and a graduate of Capital University (Columbus, OH) and Senator Ray Miller's Institute for Leadership and Change. Mr. Sanchez was also one of forty selectees nationwide to be part of a fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse Program (DLRSA). DLRSA is a national program designed to encourage and support emerging leaders in the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment.

As a professional speaker / trainer, Javier incorporates his expertise in the area of effective youth empowerment with his love for comedy, spoken word poetry, and storytelling. He has also the author of the children’s book for Fathers and Daughters entitled, Look in My Mirror.

After 15 years of working in the Substance Abuse Prevention field, Javier founded R.E.A.C.H. Communications Inc. Their mission is to use the arts and education to challenge and equip both youth and adults to experience life to the fullest by Reaching Excellence in Attitude, Character, and Health.

Amber Cruz

Amber Cruz is Director of Programs + Partnerships for, working to develop and oversee Millennial engagement programming, including summits, funded projects, community outreach, leadership training and development. Previously, she worked in development for a non-profit, managing their events and PAC contributions. 

Cruz came to Washington, D.C. with three years of event planning experience at a private event planning company in Oregon. In 2008, she worked as a field organizer for Senator Jeff Merkley. 

Amber brings to her belief in the power of Millennials to make a difference through innovative, grassroots solutions. Cruz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Willamette University in Oregon.