Tych Cowdin, Executive Director
Since joining the CIS Chatham County team as the organization’s first student support specialist in July 2014, Tych has served in a number of capacities with the agency – most recently as Director of School Based Programs. Starting April 1, 2020 Tych will assume the role of Executive Director. His focus will be aimed at supporting the 7 CIS school and community based programs, by continuing to build on their strong tradition of youth and family support. Tych will also assist with social media communications, expansion support, and community engagement as well as program oversight and personnel management.
Tych arrived in North Carolina just under 10 years ago from Topeka, Kansas after completing his Masters of Business Administration at Washburn University. Tych has held a wide variety of roles throughout his professional career, and joined the CIS Chatham County team after two years as an Operations Assistant with the University of North Carolina football team. Tych has been a teacher, coach, and mentor, and is excited for the opportunity to utilize his people skills and passion for community development. In his free time, you can find Tych firing up the grill, playing with his 13 year old pitbull named Slim, and enjoying the outdoors with his wife Courtney.
Perla Ayala, Chief Operations Officer
Born in Washington State and moving to Siler City at a young age – Perla Ayala was educated in the Chatham County School system – working her way through Siler City Elementary, Chatham Middle School, and Jordan Matthews High School – graduating in 2010.
As a first-generation college graduate – earning her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting – Perla will bring her passion for helping youth and business experience to her role as Chief Operations Officer.
Perla was first introduced to CIS Chatham County through her engagement as a high school volunteer with two Family Advocacy programs – Hablando Claro and Cuidate, and now returns in her role as COO. She maintains her commitment to being a positive role model for youth in the community, and is excited to take on this new opportunity. When she is not crunching numbers and building budgets, you can find Perla spending time with her beautiful family, including her two lovely children – one who is in third grade at Siler City Elementary.
She is inspired by the quote ‘everything is possible if you believe in yourself’, and looks forward to helping grow CIS Chatham’s impact in the years to come.
Jazmin Mendoza Sosa, Senior Program Director
Moving from Mexico to Chatham County, Jazmin Mendoza Sosa grew up in Siler City and graduated from Jordan Matthews High School. After graduation, Jazmin moved to Raleigh to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Meredith College.
Being a first generation college student and the oldest of three siblings, she is committed to providing support and information to families to foster the importance of education. As a young professional, she hopes her contributions through community engagement and youth development will benefit those families in need and contribute to improving the quality of life for Siler City children.
Jazmin wants to lead by example and believes, “if you believe you can do it, you can do it”.
“Querer es Poder!”
Shirille Lee, GYS Youth FIRST Program Coordinator
Shirille Lee first became involved with CIS CC as a volunteer mentor, going on to serve on the Board of Directors before coming on board full-time as a staff member in 1998. In that time she has served in a variety of positions, from Governor’s One-on-One Coordinator to Volunteer and Youth Services Coordinator, bringing her infectious enthusiasm to every task.
In her current mission as Student Support Specialist/ Youth F.I.R.S.T., she is guided each day by a favorite quote from an unknown source: “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” – Dr. Seuss
Shirille will be embodying this quote as she initiates a new program, “Mentoring Plus”, where she will be working more directly with schools to provide Mentoring, Lunch Buddies and other kinds of supports for students.
Shirille is the proud mother of two lovely, lively daughters.
Maria Soto, Family Advocate
It has long been said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Twenty years ago, it was necessary for Maria Soto to become a very inventive mother indeed in order to successfully advocate for her own child’s individual needs within the school system. It wasn’t long before friends and neighbors began to come to Maria seeking her help for their children…and she found herself set upon a lifetime path of family advocacy.
Having joined the agency in 2006, Maria coordinated the Hablando Claro/Plain Talk Program. She continues to serve Chatham’s Latino community in her role as Family Advocate, combining her passion for its mission with generous helpings of patience and persistence.
Veronica Núñez, GYS Youth FIRST Program Assistant
Veronica Núñez was born in Los Angeles, California; however, she moved to Siler City after high school graduation in 1996. Her family was looking for a new beginning. At first, she worked as an interpreter for Chatham Hospital. It was there where she decided to pursue a career in human services. Veronica followed this goal by becoming a student in the Registered Nursing program, but she could not continue. Everything changed when she started working at Chatham Child Development Center (CCDC) as a teacher assistant. She enjoyed working with students and their families; therefore, she pursued becoming a Chatham county school employee. Veronica had many roles as a Chatham County employee, such as secretary, interpreter, and data manager.
Growing up, her parents did not speak English; therefore, it was hard for them to assist her brother and her with homework or have school involvement. Often her mother worked long hours, and her father is disabled. Her parents did not reach out for support nor seek programs available due to the language. As a result, Veronica promised herself that she would help non- English speaking parents and be their voice when she was older. She looks forward to utilizing her skills and experiences in support of the GYS Youth FIRST program.
Eva Depaz, Student Support Specialist, Virginia Cross Elementary
Born and raised in Siler City, North Carolina; Eva Depaz was educated in the Chatham County school system. Since a very young age, Eva always knew she wanted to do something with children. As Eva grew and gained experiences in the community she realized that working with children was not enough to fulfill her career goals.
There is more to bettering a child’s life; she realized that the overall well-being of the family as a whole is essential. She now dreams of empowering children’s lives and helping families strive for a better future. The family is the most important foundation in a child’s life!
She has served in many different roles throughout her career; including nine years of experience working with children and families in this community. Eva is a strong believer that it is essential that we put our care and love into our children today because they are our future tomorrow! If we grow successful children and families, then our world will be better and full of wonderful things.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it” –Abraham Lincoln.
Travis Patterson, GYS High School Success Coach, Jordan Matthews High School
To every thing, there is a season, and a time for every purpose…
Travis is a life-long Chatham County native, and first became involved with CISCC in 2009 as a surveyor for what was then Chatham County Together’s! Plain Talk/Hablando Claro program. In 2010, Travis joined the permanent staff at CCT! as the Program Assistant for the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, and served in several capacities until 2015, when the winds of change blew.
Travis stayed close to home and mission, and continued to empower youth and other community members through various projects and through work with other organizations. As of March 1, 2021, Travis returned to CISCC as the Community Service and Restitution Program Manager, and now looks forward to bringing his passion and perspective for youth services to the CIS Chatham team in his new role as GYS High School Success Coach at Jordan Matthews High School. As Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Deanna Fox, Student Support Specialist, Chatham Middle School
Deanna Fox was born and raised in Siler City, NC. She attended Chatham County Schools for elementary, middle and high school. Upon graduating from Jordan Matthews in 2009, she attended Elon University and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Human Service Studies. After graduating in 2013, she returned to Siler City in 2015 and has been working here since then!
As a former classroom teacher at Virginia Cross Elementary, Deanna has cultivated a love for working with youth and supporting student success! She understands the importance of quality instruction and education and wants to help students reach their full potential. Deanna looks forward to using the experience that she has gained in the classroom to uplift the voices of students and their families!
Deanna lives by the African Proverb of Ubuntu. There are various translations but the important one to her is “I am because we are”. To Deanna this means that she is able to be who she is because of the community around her. She wants to ensure that everyone is provided with the support and the opportunities that were afforded to her when she was in Chatham County Schools!
Hadasa Rivera Marin, Student Support Specialist, Siler City Elementary
Born and raised in Siler City, North Carolina; Hadasa knew from a young age she wanted to work for her community. Hadasa graduated from Jordan-Matthews High School in 2019 and went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies with a minor in Communications from Appalachian State University.
Having grown up in an immigrant household and being a first generation college student, Hadasa understands first hand the barriers that can prevent or make it difficult for a child to receive a quality education. Hadasa’s hope is that through her experience, both personally and professionally, she can provide support to children and their families. “I want kids to know I’m here for them and I’m rooting for them, as well as their parents. I want to offer them the help and resources my family lacked when I was younger.”
Her goal for her students at Siler City Elementary is to foster a safe environment in which they and their families feel heard, valued, cared for and respected. Hadasa firmly believes that children are the key to a better future: “To reach real peace in the world, we will have to begin with the children.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Katie Lindley, Community Service & Restitution Program Coordinator
Katie’s journey in Siler City, North Carolina began her sophomore year at Jordan-Matthews High School. During her time as a high school student, she worked as a lead counselor for a special needs summer camp in Alamance County. Through this experience, she decided to pursue her degree in Special Education: Mild to Moderate Disabilities. After graduation, from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she put her degree to work at the very place her journey began and secured her first teaching job as a self-contained teacher. A couple of years passed and her teaching journey led to Chatham Middle School.
After one year at Chatham Middle School, the opportunity arose to help implement the first school-wide Avid program for grades 6-8. She accepted the position as Avid Coordinator/Elective Teacher. Shortly after her Avid career began she was introduced to Communities in Schools through an Avid student and became a mentor. These two positions allowed her to see firsthand the impact of positive, caring relationships on youth. It was during those years the passion for serving youth and families ignited and still burns today.
Katie hopes to bring awareness and visibility to CISCC in her role as the Strategic Communications Specialist. She hopes to assist the current team to share impactful stories and make a difference in the community she so dearly loves.
Ruby Martinez, Family Advocacy Program Assistant
Ms. Ruby is very family oriented, which is one of the reasons why she is excited to join the Communities In Schools of Chatham County Family Advocacy Program. Coming from immigrant parents, Ms. Ruby has always understood things aren’t as easy for them as they are for her. Growing up, she always wanted to become a teacher and she did, but she realized she wanted more, and found an opportunity to deepen her skills with CISCC. Coming from a religious family, Ruby wants to support youth and families to reach their full potential.
“I want families to know that we are here to help. And that we will support them to do better little by little. I want kids to know that if they try they can bring out the best version of themselves.”
Ruby looks forward to learning, growing and impacting the Chatham County community in the years ahead.
Janet Solano, School Programs Assistant
Janet was born and raised in North Carolina in the small town of Siler City. She attended Siler City Elementary and was one of the first students to attend Virginia Cross when it was just opened. Fun Fact: she was selected to participate in the ribbon cutting for VCE. After that she attended Chatham Middle and graduated from Jordan Matthews High School in 2019.
Following her high school education, she completed her Bachelors in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health at East Carolina University in May 2023. Janet is a First-Generation student ,and strives to continue her education in the future. With having parents who traveled away from their beloved hometown in Mexico to the United States for a hopeful future, she understands the gaps that exist for students getting a high quality education and the importance of parent’s involvement.
Janet shares a passion for community involvement whether it be through organizations or events. To which she expressed a high desire to work in Chatham County. Janet lives by the quote “No dejes que tu mano izquierda sepa lo que hace la derecha” which translates to “Don’t let your right hand see what your left hand is doing”. Which means that when you truly help from the heart, you should never expect anything in return. Janet believes that working with Communities In Schools will be a great opportunity to follow her beliefs and help the community.
Wes Tubel, Strategic Communications Coordinator
Wes recently joined the team as our Strategic Communications Coordinator. He is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, but now proudly calls Chatham County his home for the past six years. For more than two decades, he has been deeply involved working in several non-profit organizations, channeling his passion for helping others into meaningful work that empowers individuals to reach their fullest potential.
Beyond his professional life, he enjoys spending time with his kids and hanging out with his 3-year-old goldendoodle.
Wes is excited about his new role with Communities in Schools of Chatham County. He looks forward to working alongside his teammates to help CIS Chatham County fulfill its mission to surround students with a network of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.