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 first 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, 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!”
Pam Johnson, Administrative Assistant
A long-time resident of Chatham County, Pam Johnson has been devoted to the agency as an employee since 1999. As Administrative Assistant, 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, Youth F.I.R.S.T. Student Support Specialist
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 Nunez, Family Advocacy Program Assistant
Veronica Nunez 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 CIS Chatham Family Advocacy program.
Eva Depaz, Student Support Specialist
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, Program Manager: Community Service & Restitution
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 has returned to CISCC as the Community Service and Restitution Program Manager, and looks forward to bringing his passion and perspective for youth services to the CIS Chatham team. As Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Ilsen Lopez, Student Support Specialist
Ilsen grew up in Siler City, NC and although she left Siler City after high school, she came back and is now ready to make a difference in the lives of Chatham County students. Ilsen is an alumni of Siler City Elementary, Chatham Middle, and Jordan Mathews High School. She is hoping this role will provide her an opportunity to further her educational goals in the future and to grow as an individual.
Her goals for students at Chatham Middle School are to know they are being listened to, heard, understood, and most importantly – to feel supported in every way along their journey through education and life. Ilsen loves spending quality time with her daughter and family, and hopes to be the best role model she can be.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ― Dr. Seuss