YouthBuild USA Announces Most Diverse Executive Leadership Team in Organization’s History

Thursday, April 18, 2019

SOMERVILLE, Mass., April 18, 2019 — YouthBuild USA today announces the hiring of three employees that will join the most diverse executive leadership team in the nonprofit’s history. With diversity a major priority, YouthBuild USA recently developed a new strategic plan for its national headquarters and 260 local programs, and each new team member will play a critical role in executing the organization’s new strategic initiative.

Heidi Brooks has been named chief operating officer, where she will be responsible for the overall performance and effectiveness of YouthBuild USA. Brooks will develop and implement annual and multi-year goal setting, while ensuring a strong system for managing against both operational and strategic goals. In this role, she will oversee YouthBuild USA’s finance, HR, facilities and digital systems/IT teams and will also contribute to the organization’s strategic plan.

Brooks’ career has been dedicated to mission-driven organizations. She brings experience leading teams and multimillion-dollar budgets at nonprofits and foundations like the Schott Foundation for Public Education in Cambridge, Mass., where she led operations, strategy and finance for the educational justice foundation. Brooks was also the director of the Citizens Charitable Foundation at RBS Citizens Financial Group in Boston and held roles at organizations in Africa, Latin America and Vietnam, including with Catholic Relief Services, one of YouthBuild International’s primary partners.

Michael Brotchner, who had been consulting for YouthBuild USA since the beginning of 2019, will fill the newly created role of chief strategy officer. Brotchner will serve as the lead steward and champion for YouthBuild USA’s strategic plan, leading its implementation and ensuring it connects strongly to the organization’s operating priorities and goals. Brotchner will supervise the departments of development, communications and data services. His extensive experience in development will allow YouthBuild to tap into new donors, especially on the West Coast, as he will remain based in Seattle.

Brotchner previously worked at the Schultz Family Foundation in Seattle, where he was a program officer for the Onward Youth portfolio, which works to empower opportunity youth—the same population served by YouthBuild programs across the country. He was also the executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing economic and environmental issues throughout New York City.

Shauna-Lee Ruglass has been promoted from special projects manager at YouthBuild USA to chief of staff. Ruglass has worked at YouthBuild USA since 2007 when she started as assistant to the former CEO. She brings a systems-based, culturally competent and trauma-informed perspective to her new role.

With a passion for youth development, personal healing and systems change, Ruglass has spent a majority of her professional career working to bring evidence-based interventions and programming to marginalized communities and individuals in need. As chief of staff, she will provide project management, strategic planning and implementation support for key organizational initiatives, as well as supporting the CEO.

Of the seven-member executive leadership team, three are women and the majority are people of color, furthering YouthBuild’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion under CEO John Valverde.

“With the hiring of these exceptional professionals, we are living our values and building a strong and inclusive team with a multitude of diverse perspectives to move us into a new era,” said Valverde. “It is important that our staff at YouthBuild USA reflects the demographics of the young people we serve across the globe, and I am very excited to get to work with our new executive team members.” 

YouthBuild programs across the U.S. help unemployed and out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24 attain their high school diploma or equivalency. During that time, they also learn career skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods while engaging in community service and leadership training. Graduates leave prepared for success in postsecondary education, careers and registered apprenticeships — and as a part of a strong and supportive global community.

YouthBuild USA provides training and technical assistance, leadership development, pass-through grants, quality assurance and advocacy for YouthBuild programs. YouthBuild USA advocates on behalf of YouthBuild programs and students to sustain and expand funding for local YouthBuild programs.

About YouthBuild USA

YouthBuild USA is the nonprofit support center for 360 local YouthBuild programs operating in 23 countries, with 260 programs in 44 U.S. states and 100 programs in 22 other countries. In YouthBuild programs, unemployed, low-income, and out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24 work toward their high school diploma or equivalency, while learning job skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods and engaging in community service and leadership training. Proven effective by the most rigorous program evaluation research, YouthBuild’s comprehensive model gives graduates the confidence and tools they need to become strong, responsible, and ethical young leaders. For more information, visit