Dave-Grazian

David “Dave” Grazian

Founder/President

Dave had a 36 year career with Granite Construction, Inc where he was a Vice President and managed the tax department of 15 people.  He retired on June 30, 2009 with the intent to start a nonprofit youth center for Watsonville students, choosing to focus our services for high school students. His vision was a youth center where students would have a place to receive academic support and personalized tutoring. Dave created a coffee house to have a safe social space for mentoring and enrichment activities.  A few months after opening Youth N.O.W.’s doors on February 23, 2010, he expanded to add a middle school site. Dave is pleased with Youth N.O.W.’s success and all the students they have served. He appreciates all the support the community has given us to accomplish our mission. He is excited about the quality of our staff in their commitment to our mission and fulfilling his vision by serving the youth of Watsonville.

Dave was born in Santa Cruz and moved to Watsonville at the age of 2. He attended the local schools and graduated Watsonville High School in 1967. Dave attended Cabrillo College for two years and then transferred to Stanislaus State College receiving my B.A. in Business with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Economics. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. His grandparents were Italian immigrants who settled in Chicago where his parents grew up. His parent’s first language was Italian, learning English in school.  They both dropped out of high school after their freshmen years to work and help support their families, as times were difficult in the late 1930’s. Dave highly values his education and appreciates the opportunities an education can give.

 

“I am blessed to be married to a beautiful woman, Sandra Grazian (1972); raised four children, daughter Nicole, son Dave, two nephews Ryan and Brett.  I serve on three nonprofit boards, and I am an officer of two of those nonprofits. I enjoy gardening, building things, woodworking, playing guitar and being a grandfather of three.  My wife and I love New York City for the live theater and Italian restaurants. We enjoy traveling together. We have traveled to most of the states in the U.S. and have done some foreign travel including Italy, Scotland, England, France and Canada.” 

Michele Chaney

Michele Chaney

Executive Director

Michele immigrated to the States from Johannesburg, South Africa and has now called Santa Cruz County her home for 24 years. She received her BA in English  in South Africa, and went on to complete a BS in Psychology upon moving to the USA, and then completed a M.A. Ed with a focus on TESOL from Grand Canyon University. She feels honored to have worked with children, families and staff for over 20 years in various roles as a teacher, home support visitor, director and educational program specialist. Many of her years have been spent working with Head Start families in the Watsonville area. She feels a deep commitment to all education from the early preschool years through to adult education.

She says that to be the Executive Director of Youth N.O.W. is a privilege for her because she believes in the potential of all youth, and the impact that the organization and its staff can have in empowering not only them, but also the whole community. “I have a strong commitment to social service, equity, based work, and working to improve the lives of families in our county. With a space like Youth N.O.W. to belong to, I am proud to see our youth receive the base needed to improve academically, feel supported socially and emotionally, and realize their own potential.” Michele is a mother of two who both went all the way through school in PVUSD. Her son is 24 and lives in South Lake Tahoe, and her daughter is a freshman in college this year.  When she is not at work, she enjoys music, dancing, movies, walking at the beach, hiking in the redwoods and traveling whenever she can to see her family, or to other countries to learn about other places and cultures.

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Lizette Ramos

Office Manager

Lizette was born and raised in Watsonville, by two immigrant parents who have worked and continue to work in agriculture. She is second to youngest of six siblings and a first generation Latina. As Lizette was growing up she saw various areas of Watsonville, from living over the bridge in Pajaro to living in central, and the outsides of town. She was exposed to the numerous lifestyles that our youth are living, and saw how they were impacted. Lizette received her B.A. in Collaborative Health and Human Services, with a concentration in Social work and Community Health. One of her main motivations to work with youth were her two older brothers who were constantly in and out of the prison system since they were juveniles, she saw the barriers that they had to overcome. “It truly is an honor to be able to work at a place where I am able to interact with youth and provide guidance and services that will benefit them!” When Lizette isn’t working with our youth, she is out exploring with her two son’s Leonardo and Esteban.

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Stacy Leon

Communications Manager

Stacy was born and raised in Watsonville. She graduated from Watsonville High and attended Cabrillo College where she obtained an A.A. in Sociology and an A.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Stacy graduated from CSUMB with a B.A. in Human Communication with a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric and another in Creative Writing and Social Action. Aside from a college education, Stacy recognizes the importance of being in tune with one’s body, mind, and spirit. To further her personal practice, she attended Mount Madonna Institute and obtained her Yoga Teacher Training certification. Seeing the beauty and fierce work ethic in her hometown, but feeling it hasn't received the attention and care it deserves, has been her driving force to give back to the community. Believing that social change begins with the self, she feels it’s essential to teach the youth the importance of their worth, while also instilling values in them that can cultivate their growth and a sense of contribution to the success of their community.

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Martha Rodriguez

Accountant

Martha is a mom of two grown men and has three incredible grandsons. She has worked in customer service/retail for many years. She had an accident which required her to get back surgery and she decided to go back to school and obtain a degree in Business Administration. This was an incredibly difficult time for Martha as she recalls being as old or older than most of her teachers, but she did not let that stop her.

Her eldest grandson attends Sacramento University and her middle grandson is finishing up high school and will soon be in college as well. Her youngest grandson is in grade school, and he has goals to be a professional NASCAR driver! “I admire my peers at Youth N.O.W. very much, as well as the young adults we encourage to be their best selves in all they do!”

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Noemi Rodriguez

High School Learning Center Coordinator

Noemi was born in Watsonville, and continues to live in her childhood home with her parents and two older siblings. Noemi’s parents left their home in Mexico to migrate to the United States in the hopes of creating a better future for their children. Because Noemi’s parents sacrificed their education to work, Noemi was taught at a young age the value of receiving an education and how it had the ability to open doors for her. As a first generation college student, she underwent challenges that her more privileged peers did not have to endure and this led her to become a mentor for high school students applying to universities. “I wanted to give students the guidance I never received when I was in their shoes.” She graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2019 with a B.A. in Political Science and Education. Noemi feels grateful for the opportunity to work with Youth N.O.W. because her own goals align with the organization’s mission of cultivating success in the community. “I’m thankful to be working and collaborating with the youth of Watsonville, and watching our community prosper!”

Mayra Toscano

Middle School Learning Center Coordinator 

Mayra was born and raised in Watsonville, California. She graduated from Watsonville High School and went on to attend the University of Redlands and Cabrillo college before eventually finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she received a BA in Mathematics. Mayra has worked with youth consistently for about five years, with work ranging from summer camps to tutoring. Growing up in Watsonville, Mayra knows how important it is for Youth to have positive influences in their lives and safe spaces to be in. Youth NOW is a center that provides this and much more and is one of the reasons Mayra was passionate about wanting to work here. A fun fact about Mayra is that she loves taking care of her wide variety of pets. She also likes to read, travel, solve puzzles, go hiking and go on bike rides. 

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Maritza Toscano

Middle School Learning Center Assistant & Tutor

Maritza was born and raised in Watsonville, California. She grew up as a first generation college student so it was engraved in her at a young age how important getting an education was. Her parents migrated from Mexico with very little education and would consistently remind her about the value of achieving a good education and the importance of getting a degree. Thanks to their support, Maritza graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she received her B.A in Psychology. Maritza has had the privilege of working with adolescents for the past 2 years and is excited to be given the opportunity to work with Youth N.O.W. She understands how important it is to empower and create an engaging and supportive environment for our youth. “I’m looking forward to being a team member in this organization to help contribute to our youths success!

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Willie Bobo

Recreational Coordinator

Willie Bobo is originally from Bruce, Mississippi. He came to Watsonville at a young age and the very first school he attended was Linscott Charter. He graduated from Watsonville High School and attended Cabrillo College for two years. Willie spent most of his time on the basketball court. He retired from Safeway and joined the Youth N.O.W. team as our Recreational Coordinator. When asked what made him want to work at Youth N.O.W. Willie’s response was, “I love working with kids!” Willie’s hobbies include playing basketball and coaching. A fun fact about Willie is, he goes for a walk every morning at 7 am! Way to go coach Bobo!!

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