The work culture demands proactive thinking, a love of learning new things, being willing to take professional calculated risks, and being willing to put in the work to get the job done.


The vibe is comfortable, professional and highly productive. We are challenged by our supervisors, and in turn, we challenge ourselves. We push ourselves to our limits and make sure we are always reaching for a new challenge. Although our individual roles are job specific, we all wear many hats. We believe in cross-functionalism, and the organic family-like atmosphere that it creates. We laugh, we play, we celebrate, we live, and we love, all while doing whatever it takes to get the job done.

Meet The Team!

Jennifer LawrenceCEO AND FOUNDER
Jennifer Lawrence is the Executive Director at the SEAT Center. Her work includes the creation and oversight of YouthBuild Schenectady and the ongoing expansion of our social enterprise services. Jennifer holds a Masters of Social Work Administration from Fordham University and attended the SUNY Albany Executive MBA Program. Jennifer’s current focus is on building sustainability and infrastructure, with special attention to programming that provides a participatory learning environment, models high expectations, incorporates youth voice, and creates future hope. Jennifer is a strong advocate of youth employment as a means to decrease crime, increase hope, and make sustainable change. Jennifer is a graduate of the American Express Leadership Institute/ Center for Creative Leadership and was a 2009-2011 YouthBuild USA Director’s Fellow. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spending quality time with her son Anthony and obsessing about all things SEAT!
Rebecca PaavolaSenior Director of Education and Program Development
Rebecca Paavola is the Senior Director of Education and Program Development at SEAT Center/YouthBuild Schenectady. Rebecca has been with YouthBuild Schenectady since November 2012. Prior to this, she was the Assistant Principal and Special Education Coordinator for LAYC YouthBuild Charter School. Rebecca has over 18 years of experience as an educator and school administrator at a range of elementary and secondary schools including YouthBuild Community School in Ohio. She has a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University, and continued on to graduate studies in Literacy and Reading at Ohio State University. Rebecca is trained in Quantum Learning, Mockingbird Education, and Contextualized Learning, and is a Bridges Out of Poverty Train-the-Trainer.
Kristen earned her associates degree from SUNY Schenectady and immediately began working as a Program Director with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady. Her areas of responsibility included oversight of the MacGathan Clubhouse and the Steinmetz Clubhouse. Kristen’s work with OCFS and Brightside and trainings that align with NYS regulations earning Accreditation through the state. In addition, she managed the Child and Adult Food Care Program for three clubhouses, providing healthy meals for over 100 children daily. Kristen is a long-time resident of Schenectady with her husband and son and loves the region.
Joseph ManciniSenior Program Advisor
Joseph Mancini has over thirty-seven years’ experience of juvenile and criminal justice experience, which began in 1985 as a county juvenile probation officer and eventually assumed the positions of Director of Probation and Deputy Commissioner of Youth and Families for Schenectady County. In 2015, Mr. Mancini was appointed by Governor Cuomo to the position of Associate Commissioner over the Office of Community Partnerships for the NYS Office of Children and Family Services’ Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY). Mr. Mancini was responsible for the supervision and oversight of DJJOY’s re-entry/aftercare programming. In that capacity, he designed and implemented the NY Model of Aftercare which included the Community Credible Messenger Initiative (CCMI). Mr. Mancini retired from government service in 2019. Mr. Mancini then served as the Director of the Capital District Juvenile Secure Detention Facility until Sept 2022 just prior to joining the SEAT Center.

He has been active in professional organizations at both the state and local levels, having served as treasurer of the NYS Council of Probation Administrators, Co-Chair, NYS Detention Risk Assessment Work Group, NYS PINS rule revision and NYS Juvenile Delinquency Rule Revision. He holds bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Buffalo State University and a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University.

Lakeia earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Delaware State University. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Community Mental Health Counseling from the College of Saint Rose. Lakeia has spent the majority of her career focusing on Career Services and Workforce Development Initiatives. Lakeia is passionate about supporting people in their restorative journey as they move towards happier, healthier and empowered paths forward. She also has experience working with individuals with histories of trauma who are experiencing depression, anxiety, and other serious challenges in functioning or in their relationships.

Her goal is to help our students realize their strengths, make personal changes and to heal by increasing self- awareness and confidence in a safe and supportive space, which will allow them to address their past, own their stories and achieve their goals.

Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Communications from SUNY Oswego. Over the course of her career, she held oversight of Marketing, Public Relations, Business Development and Organizational Development/HR departments at CAP COM Federal Credit Union. Her passion for community engagement was realized in co-founding CAP COM Cares Foundation. As an entrepreneur, she is a consultant in marketing, organizational/culture development and strategy. She serves on the Board of the American Cancer Society and Better U Committee for the American Heart Association. In her role as Corporate Services Administrator for SEAT Center, Sharon is focused on the employee experience which aligns culture and strategy to drive the SEAT mission.
Husnan (popularly referred to as H) has over 10 years of experience in the accounting industry that range from working as a CFO, Auditor, Tax Expert, and internal accountant in non-profit, public and private sectors. H has a Masters degree in Accounting from Siena College, and is an Adjunct Accounting Professor at Mildred-Elley College teaching course modules including Financial and Managerial Accounting, Payroll Accounting, and QuickBooks (Online & Desktop). Husnan has proven technical skills with the ability to integrate technology to enhance overall accounting practices and specializes in delivering accounting functions including AP/AR and payroll, report generation, Financial Statement Development, and innovative solution development that improves performance and processes to help business thrive. When H isn’t at work, he’s managing his addiction to his favorite sport…Tennis!
Matt RectorEducation Coordinator
“Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” -Rumi
Suellen JonesAcademic Instructor
“Failure is not defeat; it’s proof you are advancing.” – Daisaku Ikeda, Japanese Philosopher
Kurticiah ThompsonCommunity Services Coordinator
Athena FitchOperations Liaison
Sharmayne VanDykeCrisis Intervention Coordinator
Jamie DoriguzziStudent Support Associate
Raina MontroyGrants and Contract Coordinator
“No one is you, and that is your power.”- Dave Grohl
Brian DeanConstruction Trainer + Facilities Coordinator
“Keep moving forward. Head up and shoulders back. Be a real model, not a role model.”
Jallah KucijConstruction Trainer
Surendra SinghConstruction Trainer
“Everyday that I come to work, it feels like heaven.”
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