More Than Credentials: Apprenticeship Opportunities for Rural and Native Youth Livestream Discussion Series  


Rural Youth Catalyst Project and Jobs for the Future (JFF) will present a livestream discussion series “More Than Credentials: Apprenticeship Opportunities for Rural and Native Youth” on May 17 and May 26th at 2 p.m. ET. 

Work-based learning can be the key to student success by providing context for academic content, the opportunity for career exploration and skills for job readiness. The structure of rural economies creates specific challenges for developing work based learning opportunities, including apprenticeships, for rural and Native young people. We will explore those challenges and uncover strategies to create a robust work-based learning ecosystem and build stronger relationships with employers resulting in more placements and greater retention. 

Register for both or one session here.

Employer Engagement in a Rural Context

Thursday, May 26th, 2-3pm ET  

Moderated by: Kathy Moxon, Co-Founder, Rural Youth Catalyst Project and featuring panelists:
Amy Hayden, Director, Deep East Texas  College and Career Alliance

Becky Roe, Shasta College Business/Ag/Industrial Technology/Safety (BAITS) Division, Director of Forest Health 

Vanessa Bennett, associate director at JFF with 15 years of experience in youth and workforce development

Rachel Moore, Workforce Developmental Director, Sante Fe YouthWorks


 Panelist bios 

Becky Roe, Director of Forest Health, Shasta College Business/Ag/Industrial Technology/Safety (BAITS) Division 

 Becky’s philosophy is simple: show and tell. Show real world jobs and tell real world stories. 

Responsible for oversight, expansion and strategic success of Shasta College’s Heavy Equipment Logging Operations certificate program, Becky is a workforce development and community partner professional focused on building bridges between the emerging workforce, stakeholders and career opportunities across the region.  Prior to joining the Shasta College team in 2019, Becky expanded her knowledge and understanding of the forest products industry during her time with Sierra Pacific Industries. 

 Becky is proud to serve as co-chair of the Workforce Development subgroup under California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force. She also serves on the State Board of California Women in Timber. Becky is a Sierra Pacific Foundation Scholarship Committee consultant and in recent years, has also served as co-chair of the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office’s K12 Strong Workforce Program Grant Selection Committee for the North/Far North region. 



Vanessa Bennett is a staff member of the Rural Youth AssemblyVanessa Bennett, is an associate director at JFF with 15 years of experience in youth and workforce development. Her work focuses specifically on advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the workforce system, with an emphasis on pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and work-based learning. In her role, she co-designs place-based strategies and pathways with communities and partners that support economic advancement for young adults. She manages a body of work focused on equitable economic mobility in rural communities and leads efforts to expand on-ramps to work and education through AmeriCorps and other service programs. Prior to joining JFF, Vanessa spent 6 years at YouthBuild USA where she led national service programs, developed career pathways for Opportunity Youth, and provided technical assistance to local programs. She began her career providing direct service programming to youth in rural New Hampshire and earned her Masters of Public Administration from Northeastern University in 2013. Vanessa hails from the White Mountains of New Hampshire and still mourns the loss of the Old Man in the Mountain.  

Kathy Moxon is located in the Northwest corner of California. She is the Co-Founder of the  

Rural Youth Catalyst Project, a national rural youth initiative. Previously, she served as the Director of the Rural and Native initiative for YouthBuild USA where she developed a national model for education and career pathways for rural youth as well as spearheaded the technical assistance and training to a field of over 80 programs across the country.  Utilizing an intensive learning community approach to capacity building, Kathy led numerous regional and national learning communities with rural and Native youth practitioners and organizational leaders. Across her work, Kathy brings expertise in trauma informed care, education equity, and youth development in a rural and Native context. 

In addition, Moxon brings to her role, 15 years in community banking and 20 years in philanthropy, community and economic development. Her banking years were spent in commercial lending and management including the development of a government lending division (USDA 504, SBA Preferred Lender Program) for the bank. She was the executive director of Arcata Economic Development Corporation ( ) where she continued working with both USDA (Intermediate Relending Program) and SBS (Microlending program) and increased higher risk regional capital availability by $7 million.  She spent 15 years as the director for community strategies for Humboldt Area Foundation focused on the development and implementation of a regional economic development strategy.  She was the program design lead for The California Endowment, Building Health Communities Initiative in Del Norte County, CA. 

Moxon provides leadership for Redwood Coast Rural Action (, a four county leadership network in northwestern CA focused on work best addressed by the collective region including policy, research, regional planning and project implementation.  In her leadership role she has served as the chairperson for the California Stewardship Network (, a geographically diverse group of organizations bound by an ethic of stewardship and triple bottom line outcomes (social, environmental and economic.) She is dedicated to the development of the next generation of statewide leaders and is the co-director of the Becky Morgan Steward Fellows program developing collaborative leadership skills focused on triple bottom line outcomes at the local, regional and state levels. She was awarded the CA Regional Steward of the Year award at the CA Economic Summit in 2019. 

 In addition to her paid work, she served on the Rural Assembly Steering Committee. Currently, Kathy volunteers as a board member of:  Open Door Community Health Clinics ( a $80 million, 14 site, clinic system serving Humboldt and Del Norte counties in northwestern California, Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. ( a non-profit that owns 50,000 acres of timber production land operated for the long term benefit of the proximate communities and Garfield School District board of trustees, a small rural school district in Humboldt County CA. She has raised 4 children in Humboldt County CA and enjoys spending time with her 6 grandchildren.  

Amy Hayden, Director, Deep East Texas College and Career Alliance

Amy Hayden is the director of the Deep East Texas College & Career Alliance (DETCCA) which is a partnership between six rural school districts in Deep East Texas. Together the districts agreed to share resources to provide their students with access to a broader range of college & career courses. Their goal was to offer students a larger variety of coursework and to increase access to dual credit courses.  

She is a fierce advocate for deep east Texas, particularly youth. She is results-driven professional offering 15+ years of experience leading key growth initiatives. Known as an expert in utilizing technology to deliver innovative, high-quality, cost-effective solutions and implementation strategies that increase productivity and community engagement in a fast-paced education environment.  Prior experience includes the development corporate tech based communication strategies and community relations. She received her Bachelors of Science from LaMar University and has a master’s in education from Walden University.  Having four children has given Amy first hand experience raising kids in a rural setting. Amy currently lives in rural eastern Texas.  What spare time she has is spent hiking, traveling and cooking. 

Rachel MooreRachel Moore, Workforce Development Director, Santa Fe YouthWorks 

Rachel assists youth with career planning and helps to develop work opportunities for YouthWorks youth by growing relationships with employment partners in New Mexico. Rachel earned her Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico before serving in Peace Corps Nepal. While in Nepal, Rachel worked as a Food Security Specialist, designing and implementing trainings for farmers and women’s groups on sustainable agriculture and nutrition. In addition to her work at Santa Fe YouthWorks, Rachel serves on the board of Albuquerque Wildlife Federation.  

Previous event in this series

Building the Foundation for Success: Work Based Learning in a Rural Context 

Tuesday, May 17th, 2-3pm ET 

Moderated by: Kim Phinney, Co-founder, Rural Youth Catalyst Project  


Myriam Sullivan, Director, JFF Center for Apprenticeship and Work Based Learning

Amanda Bastoni, Ed.D., CTE Specialist, Educational Research Scientist, CAST 

Cathy Taylor, Executive Director, California Heritage YouthBuild Academy  

Kara Johnson, Program Director, Heart of Oregon Corps 


 Panelist bios 


Kim Phinney is the Co-Founder of the Rural Youth Catalyst Project. Working nationally, the Rural Youth Catalyst Project (RYCP) aims to strengthen and create opportunities that allow rural and Native youth to realize their hopes and dreams while remaining in or returning to their communities. RYCP seeks to: strengthen the capacity of local practitioners, pilot replicable innovative solutions to persistent barriers, and change the policy indicators used to measure success for rural young people and their communities.  

 Previously, Kim served as the Vice President of Program Design for YouthBuild USA where she oversaw the organization’s education, career pathways, and support service components of the YouthBuild model. In this role, she helped craft the strategy for YouthBuild USA’s overall vision and mission for scale and sustainability, managed a $13 million annual portfolio of federal and private funders, built cross-sector national partnerships, and crafted a range of technical assistance and professional development strategies across the field of 262 urban and rural programs. In addition, she piloted several national initiatives including strategies for building foundational readiness skills from a trauma informed and Universal Design for Learning lens. She also led opportunity youth career pathway projects in manufacturing, IT, Customer Service, and natural resources, as well as designed an education and career pathway framework for rural and Native youth.   

Prior to her role as a Vice President, Kim established a national rural initiative to develop the YouthBuild model in rural communities and create a framework for technical assistance and training. Over the course of a decade, 16 rural YouthBuild programs scaled to 83 across the nation. During this time, she launched the Rural Youth Caucus gathering in Washington D.C., the only national, leadership development gathering of rural and Native Opportunity Youth in the country. Additionally, she led numerous policy initiatives, Hill Day campaigns, and served on a range of policy working groups including the Rural Assembly Steering Committee.  Kim received the 2016 YouthBuild Impact on the Field Award and the 2012 President’s Award. 

In addition, Kim worked as the development director for Third Sector New England (TSNE) as well as an interim program officer for Boston LISC/Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative leading their Human Capital Development Program. At the start of her career, Kim directed a program at a Community Action Agency in Burlington, Vermont supporting the self-sufficiency goals of low-income single mothers. That work committed her to addressing the numerous obstacles faced by rural young people living in poverty and isolation. Over the following decade she went on to serve as the Executive Director of the Vermont Women’s Rape Crisis Center where she advocated on a range of public policy issues including helping secure VT’s first Violence Against Women’s Act federal grant, helping establish the City of Burlington’s Human Rights Commission, and helping create the first Single Room Occupancy (SRO) for homeless women. In 1998, she was given the Women’s Rape Crisis Center Visionary Award.  


Kim has also served as a member of the Westford School Board and lives with her family in the wonderful community of Westford, Vermont. 


Myriam Sullivan headshotMyriam Sullivan is a director at JFF, helping low-skilled adults advance to family-supporting careers while enabling employers to build and sustain a productive workforce. Ms. Sullivan’s current portfolio includes New Skills at Work, a landmark JPMorgan Chase workforce readiness initiative aimed at closing the skills gap. Prior to this project, Ms. Sullivan led Credentials That Work, JFF’s emerging work in the development and application of labor market information (LMI) and workforce research. 

Before joining JFF, Ms. Sullivan served as a presidential management fellow for two offices within the US Department of Labor. As program analyst in the financial management division, she managed LMI grants for 10 states and oversaw key convenings of state and federal LMI stakeholders. As a manpower development specialist in the Office of Workforce Investments, Ms. Sullivan also managed federal grants and provided technical assistance to state- and local-level entities that administer and provide workforce development programs and services to various adult and youth populations. Ms. Sullivan previously worked at the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

Ms. Sullivan holds a master’s degree in public administration from Long Island University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Albany. 


CTE Specialist, Amanda Bastoni, Ed.D.: Amanda leads CAST’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) initiatives. Before joining CAST in 2019, Amanda was an accomplished Career and Technical Education (CTE) director and CTE teacher with 20+ years of experience in K-12 Educational Leadership, journalism, and business. As a CTE Director, Amanda oversaw and designed professional development for a staff of 45 at the largest CTE Center in the state of NH. During her time as an educator and director Bastoni developed a proven record of achievement including being named the 2019 NH CTE Leader of the Year. As an educational leader and teacher Amanda has focused on increasing equity and access for special populations in CTE. Specifically, she sought to use Universal Design for Learning to increase pathways for English Language Learners, increase opportunities for female students to explore STEM careers, and develop innovative CTE programs for rural learners. Amanda helped start innovative cross-disciplinary programs in CTE including Robot Algebra, a course that combines math and technology, and Drones in Technology, a course that combines art and technology. Amanda has presented on a variety of topics – including work-based learning, professional development for CTE educators, special populations, and strategies for teaching CTE online – at numerous National and Regional CTE conferences and events. Currently, Amanda is a Co-PI on an NSF ATE project designed to build bridges that increase access to biotechnology careers for rural CTE students in NH. She has also written articles for local, regional, and national publications on these topics, including authoring the CTE chapter in the 2020 book: From the Inside Out: Concrete Steps to Transforming Education Today, Rowman and Littlefield Inc. In 2022 Amanda was named National Inclusion, Access, Equity, and Diversity (IAED) Coordinator for the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).  

Kara Johnson joined the Heart of Oregon Corps in 2010 and was Heart of Oregon Corps YouthBuild’s Employment Transition Coordinator, Case Manager/Advocate, before becoming Program Director in 2012. Kara has proven that she is able to meet targeted goals and performance outcomes for the youth in the program.  She has experience in managing and mentoring staff to provide quality vocational education programming for at-risk youth, including youth with varying abilities.  Prior to joining Heart of Oregon Corps, she began her career in service to the community and was employed in varying positions in both School-age Before and After School programs, Summer Day Camp, and Early Childhood Education programs at the Treasure Valley Family YMCA in Boise, Idaho for 12 years.  Kara also was employed as a TEACH Counselor through the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children providing scholarship support for Child and Youth Care Professionals throughout the state of Idaho to pursue higher education opportunities within the Early Childhood Education field.  She received her BS in Exercise Science and Physical Education from the College of Idaho and received her teaching certificate K-12 through Boise State University.  In 2010, Kara and her family were blessed with the birth of an exceptional child.  Jace, who is now 12 years old, was diagnosed with Down syndrome soon after he was born.  The hands-on experience of raising a child with cognitive delays and health issues have allowed Kara and her family to become advocates for children and adults with disabilities. 



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