Kim Caraganis, Executive Director
Phone Extension: 402
“At CIS we believe that every child and youth is “of promise.” It is up to all of us to make sure that they feel valued and have the support and opportunities they need to succeed.” ~ Kim
Kim started working at the agency in 1990 and became Executive Director in 1998. Her responsibilities include fundraising, grant writing and budget management, oversight and involvement in all program components, supervision of the agency’s staff, management of local, state, federal and foundation grant reporting, and the agency’s transition to become a Communities In Schools affiliate in 2014. In addition, Kim serves as a liaison to volunteers, families, grantors, community, state agencies, CIS NC, and the board of directors.
Pam Johnson, Chief Operations Officer
Phone Extension: 401
A long-time resident of Chatham County, Pam Johnson has been devoted to the agency as an employee since 1999. As Chief Operations Officer, she is responsible for the financial tracking of all funding sources, serves as personnel/human relations liaison, manages physical operations, and fulfills a major role in fundraising.
Originally a volunteer mentor, Pam shares from firsthand experience that “CIS CC brings adults–who are willing to show up, be accountable and pass on this example—in contact with kids of promise. I believe that we are here because there were adults along the way who believed in us.”
Shirille Lee, Student Support Specialist/Youth FIRST
Phone Extension: 404
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 FIRST, 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.
Gwen Overturf, Manager: CIS Youth Garden
Phone Extension: 409
Since 2004, Gwen has been fortunate to work with youth after under a variety of umbrellas. Gwen first joined the CIS staff as a teacher for youth who were long and short term suspended from school. This was followed by serving youth who were learning from home. Gwen then recruited mentors to assist high school students who were working on their required graduation projects. She then coordinated Community Service/Restitution and Teen Court which later included her becoming the Youth Garden manager. Her last program was serving families who were participating in the Learning Institute, a pilot program. Now Gwen manages of the CIS Youth Garden, enjoying working with youth and families in her favorite spot … outdoors.
Jeremiah McCaffity, Coordinator: Community Service & Restitution & Teen Court
Phone Extension: 406
Jeremiah brings his passion and enthusiasm for mentoring people through leadership in his community, family and professional career. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Criminal Justice and Criminology. He has held several roles as a Diversion Coordinator, Counselor and Teacher. Jeremiah’s mission “…is to educate and equip people with the knowledge needed to make better decisions.” As a new member of CIS CC he looks forward to making a difference in the lives of young people.
Maria Soto, Family Advocate
Phone Extension: 405
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 fortheir 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.
Tych Cowdin, Program Director / Student Support Specialist, Chatham Middle School
Phone Extension: 413
Joining our team in 2014, Tych will divide his time between Chatham Middle School and program development and expansion support in the agency. Tych arrived in North Carolina just over four 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 joins the CIS of 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 by joining our team. In his free time, you can find Tych firing up the grill, playing with his 9 year old pitbull named Slim, and enjoying the outdoors.
Bieisy Santiago, Program Assistant: Community Service & Restitution, Family Advocacy, and Teen Court
Phone Extension: 403
Bieisy Santiago has lived in Chatham County all her life. She graduated from Jordan-Matthews High School in June 2014. She is currently enrolled in Randolph Community College pursuing her education in Human Service Technology. Bieisy is the current assistant for three of CIS CC’s programs; Community Service & Restitution, Family Advocacy, and Teen Court. Biesy says, “I have always wanted to help out other people since when I was young because I wanted to return the favor that other people gave me when I needed the help.”
Jazmin Mendoza Sosa, Student Support Specialist, Virginia Cross Elementary
Phone Extension: 410
After moving from Mexico to Chatham County, Jazmin Mendoza Sosa grew up in Siler City and graduated from Jordan Matthews High School. Jazmin Mendoza Sosa moved to Raleigh to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Meredith College. Being 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 young professional, she hopes her contribution as a staff will benefit those families in need and contribute to improving the quality lives of Siler City children. Jazmin Mendoza Sosa wants to lead by example and strongly believes if you believe you can do it, you can do it.
“Querer es Poder!”
Ashley Kazouh, Administrative Assistant
Phone Extension: 408
Ashley Kazouh is an intern with Communities in Schools of Chatham County. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Wake Forest University. Ashley’s passion for working with students was ignited during her experiences as an AmeriCorps member facilitating social justice workshops for students and while collaborating with community members to promote the well-being of students as a Program Coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ashley is pursuing dual masters’ degrees in Social Work and Public Administration with a minor in Public Policy.
Wes Lail, Student Support Specialist, Bonlee School
Phone Extension: 408
Wes Lail can’t stay away from Chatham County. After growing up on a working farm near Randolph County and thirteen years of education in Chatham County Schools he was ready for a change and left to attend college in the mountains. Less than a year later he returned, having learned some important lessons about time management and effort. He has spent 12 of the past 20 years in Chatham County working and taking the odd class at CCCC. Time outside of Chatham has been split between completing a B.S. in Psychology at Appalachian State, Graduate School at NC A&T, and teaching in Ankara, Turkey and Bogota, Colombia. Now, twenty years after graduating from Chatham Central in 1997 Wes lives in South Chatham near the Deep River. He splits his time between his family and helping students empower themselves and achieve their goals.