Tych Cowdin, Executive Director
Phone Extension: 413
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 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.
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.”
Kim Caraganis, Assistant to the 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. She fulfilled this role through March 2020. She will work as Assistant to the Executive Director starting in April 2020, and her responsibilities will include assisting with fundraising, grant writing and budget management, in addition to reporting for local, state, federal and foundation grants. In addition, Kim serves as a liaison to volunteers, families, grantors, community, state agencies, and CISNC.
Shirille Lee, Youth F.I.R.S.T. Student Support Specialist
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 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
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 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.
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!”
Wes Lail, Student Support Specialist, Bonlee School
Phone Extension: 407
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.
Tiara White, Student Support Specialist, Chatham Middle School
Phone Extension: 408
From the early age of eleven as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, Tiara knew working with youth was her passion. She has over fifteen years of experience carrying titles such as; tutor, youth leader, counselor, mentor, and case manager. In her newest roll as Student Service Specialist for Chatham Middle School she hopes to empower students and their families to be the best individuals they can be. She is inspired by this quote from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.
Pablo Avendano, Program Manager: Teen Court
Phone Extension: 403
I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. After graduating high school, I moved to Queens, NY where I studied modern languages for two years at the Community College. After obtaining enough credits there, I transferred to City College of New York and relocated to Harlem. There I was awarded my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During my time as a student, I did community work at the Johnson Community Service Center; where I learned to work with youth who are at risk of falling behind on their academics. My goal is to bond with teens and to provide them with the tools needed to overcome the risks that may face them. I believe it is essential to teach our youth not to “borrow from tomorrow.” instead, we should cultivate our present so that our future reaps the fruits of our hard work.
Ramiro Martinez, Program Manager: Community Service & Restitution
Phone Extension: 406
“My main focus is to have a positive impact on the youth through the programs in order to help guide them along their path.” – Ramiro Martinez
Welcome home to Ramiro Martinez, our newest Program Manager. Originally a mentee in our founding organization, Chatham County Together!’s, mentor program more than a decade ago, Ramiro now oversees our Community Service & Restitution and Teen Court programs. Graduating from Pfeiffer University in 2014 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology, he spent 4 years as a program director at the Chatham YMCA and is glad to have the opportunity to continue his work serving the extraordinary youth of Chatham County. A native son of Chatham, Ramiro has lived in the community for more than 20 years and loves its rich diversity. He hopes to be a positive role model for all the youth he will work with through Communities In Schools of Chatham County. He also enjoys playing soccer and getting strawberry milkshakes from S & T’s in his free time.
Angela Degraffenreaidt, Youth F.I.R.S.T. Program Assistant
Phone Extension: 412
Angela Degraffenreaidt is a life-long resident of Chatham County and a product of
Chatham County Schools. She attended J.S. Waters Elementary School and she
graduated from Chatham Central High School in 2013. From there she went on to
further her education at Central Carolina Community College, where she received her
Associate of Arts Degree in 2018. As a child, Angela loved drawing or doodling on
random pieces of paper and giving it to her teachers to make them smile. As a young
girl she was always willing to help others and could be found in the company of other
children. Little did she know that this interest would guide her career path for many
years to come. She worked for the Chatham YMCA since she was 16 years old and
obtained several titles while there, counselor, site coordinator, office manager and
Leadership Team Member. All of which gave her much experience and fond memories
to hold onto to!
Her favorite title yet, being Program Assistant for Youth F.I.R.S.T.! In 2020 Angela was
made a part of the CIS Chatham County Team and her life was changed forever. “Being
able to stand behind such a powerful organization that influences the lives of youth is an
amazing opportunity!” She is honored to serve the community and wants to be a
positive role model for struggling youth. One of her favorite quotes to summarize her life
journey is “The Task Ahead of You is Never as Great as The Power Within You.” –
unknown. In her free time Angela can be found spending time with her family, making
others smile and “painting” her mark on the world!
Fatima Beck, Family Advocacy Program Assistant
Fatima joins our Family Advocacy team with many years of case management experience. She is very
familiar with high risk populations who struggle with mental health, substance abuse and challenging life
circumstances. Fatima believes that strong communities and mentors are an essential part of creating a
brighter future for our youth. Advocacy, teaching heathy life skills, re-enforcing positive behaviors and
empowering clients are her main focus. She looks forward to working with our families and making a
difference in the community.
“A person’s a person no matter how small.” -Dr. Seuss
Devin Callery, UNC-CH Social Work Graduate Student Intern
Phone Extension: 407