Charlene Santos (she/her)
Charlene was born and raised in the Ithaca area. She began her career focused on human services with a goal of enhancing the lives of disadvantaged populations and young people in the community. She joined the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) as a youth program assistant in 2011. GIAC plays a crucial role in the Ithaca community by providing extensive services for people of all ages. In her role, Charlene enhanced the lives of GIAC’s student population. During her stint at the center, she worked in a dual capacity, also serving the Hospitality Employment Training Program (HETP), providing wrap-around services to Tompkins County residents.
In 2019, Charlene embarked on another rewarding chapter at another City of Ithaca Department as a Youth Program Leader at the Ithaca Youth Bureau (IYB). Under the umbrella of the IYB’s Youth Employment Services (YES) program, she helped the youth of Tompkins County obtain employment. While at the IYB, Charlene mentored the Youth Council Ambassadors, a cohort of high school students dedicated to fostering adolescent civic engagement within their community, and helped implement the IYB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative. Charlene’s professional development led her back to GIAC, this time as the HETP’s Program Coordinator. She revitalized HETP with a focus on empowering underrepresented and vulnerable participants, recognizing them as a crucial and valuable segment of Tompkins County’s population. In July 2023, she enthusiastically seized the opportunity to join Park Foundation, driven by a strong desire to extend her impactful contributions on a broader and more significant level.
Charlene supports several causes that align with her career goals during her leisure time. She has volunteered as a Board member for The Learning Web, a non-profit organization that aims to address youth homelessness, among other vital issues. Additionally, she is also pursuing further education by completing her associate’s degree and intends to transfer to a bachelor’s program by Fall 2023. Alongside her professional pursuits, she takes pride in managing her family, pets and nurturing a thriving collection of plants.