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 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.
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.”
Perla Ayala, Chief Operations Officer (In Training)
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.
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, Lead Student Support Specialist, Virginia Cross Elementary
Phone Extension: 410
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!”
Wes Lail, General Youth Services, Success Coach
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.
Travis Patterson, Program Manager: Community Service & Restitution
Phone Extension: 406
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 the team–as Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Fatima Beck, Family Advocacy Program Assistant
Phone Extension: 409
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 healthy 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