Youth organization welcomes new members to leadership team – Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley-based youth social service organization Rancho Cielo welcomed two new members to its leadership team.

Former Senior Director of the Monterey County Office of Education’s Alternative Education Program, Chris Devers, Assumes CEO Role, While Nicole Irigoyen Leaves a Position at the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center to Become Deputy Director of Rancho Heaven.

“We are very pleased to have Chris and Nicole join our management team of seasoned professionals at Rancho Cielo,” Board Chair Susan Black said in a press release. “They both bring exceptional skills and experience to build on Rancho Cielo’s strong heritage of helping students earn college degrees, life skills, and career training.”

Established in 2000, the 100-acre ranch is a comprehensive learning and social service center for underserved and disconnected youth in Monterey County. The non-profit organization, which focuses its curriculum and methodology on the goal of building self-sufficiency and self-esteem, is a hub of opportunity for local students. Programs include diploma training for people up to age 25, job training with industry professionals, mental health counseling and probation case management. The organization also offers courses in job readiness, life skills and physical activity, as well as links to health, social and family services.

It was this kind of support and commitment to students pursuing an education outside of the traditional K-12 environment that attracted Devers to Rancho Cielo early on – a relationship that began there. years old.

At the start of Rancho Cielo, Devers was instrumental in creating the academy’s flagship project, the Silver Star Youth Program. Offering intensive instruction to students aged 15.5 to 18 – but primarily probationary minors – the program was developed in conjunction with the county’s Department of Education and Probation.

Devers helped set up the Silver Star program as a teacher, but soon continued his work in alternative education with the County Office of Education. Throughout his 18 years with the county, Devers said he stayed connected to Rancho Cielo, among other community schools, as he created additional tuition options for local students. Today, he sees his return to the organization as the realization of decades of interests, experience and values.

“I really feel like all the experiences in my life and the training throughout my journey led me to this position,” Devers said. “For me, it goes back to the beginning.”

As CEO, Devers hopes to strengthen Rancho Cielo’s partnerships with local agencies and private businesses, but more importantly to have an impact.

“I want to make a difference in the lives of the people I’m most interested in working with, the local community…including all of Monterey County,” he said.

Devers succeeds Cecilia Romero, who served as interim CEO of Rancho Cielo since August of last year. Initially, the organization’s deputy director, Romero, took on different responsibilities when longtime CEO Susie Brusa stepped down. With the assistant manager position left vacant and Romero only temporarily acting as CEO, Rancho Cielo thought it was time to find permanent replacements for the two.

Like Devers, Irigoyen enthusiastically embraced his new leadership position. As Director of Prevention Education at the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, Irigoyen has developed close relationships with schools and support service organizations throughout the region. Having visited Rancho Cielo several times before, she is “passionate about the mission (of the organization) and the incredible work of the entire team and faculty.”

More information about Rancho Cielo can be found at

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