Meet Our Team

Amy Lemley

Executive Director

Amy Lemley is the Executive Director of John Burton Advocates for Youth. Her areas of special interest are child welfare policy and services, affordable housing, the special needs of transition-age youth, public benefits and youth homelessness.

Ms. Lemley co-founded and served as the Executive Director of First Place for Youth, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization providing affordable housing and supportive services to current and former foster youth. In her role at John Burton Advocates for Youth, she has led the organization’s policy advocacy, resulting in the passage of key reforms, including extending foster care to age 21, increasing financial aid for foster youth and improved access to affordable housing.

Ms. Lemley was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship, the Peter Hass Public Service Award, the Do Something Brick Award and named the UC Berkeley Goldman School Alumnus of the Decade. She received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Debbie Raucher

Project Director

Debbie Raucher has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and currently serves as John Burton Advocates for Youth’s Project Director, providing leadership and strategic visioning for our Education initiatives. In this role, Ms. Raucher provides technical assistance and training designed to improve post-secondary educational outcomes for foster youth along with implementation of a statewide advocacy agenda crafted to better address the needs of foster youth attending college.

Ms. Raucher has worked in the social services field for over 20 years including extensive work in the areas of implementation of Extended Foster Care and developing solutions to homelessness. Prior to her role developing the post-secondary education program California College Pathways, she worked with the John Burton Advocates for Youth’s Homeless Youth Capacity Building Project. Her previous positions include serving as the Deputy Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic where she oversaw all program operations for over 1500 units of supportive housing in San Francisco.

Simone Tureck

Associate Policy Director

Simone Tureck is a Bay Area native with a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Simone spent several years doing direct practice in the foster care, mental health and youth development fields before transitioning into advocacy and sector development work. Simone worked for John Burton Advocates for Youth from 2009 to 2014, where she supported AB 12/Extended Foster Care implementation, the Homeless Youth Capacity Building Project and the THP-Plus Statewide Implementation Project. Simone was the Executive Director of the Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance from 2014 to 2016, before returning to John Burton Advocates for Youth as the Associate Policy Director where she manages the housing- and health-related initiatives of the organization.

Deborah Pruitt

Project Manager

Deborah Pruitt is an educator with over eighteen years’ experience teaching in California community colleges while also serving as a management consultant in the nonprofit sector. Her award-winning book Group Alchemy: This Six Elements of Highly Successful Collaboration is a practical guide for creating a collaborative culture in groups that can produce big impact and social change.

Jessica Petrass

Project Manager

Prior to joining John Burton Advocates for Youth, Jessica worked as a Program Manager at Hillsides Youth Moving On, serving transitional age youth (TAY). Jessica joined Hillsides in 2010 as a therapist in the Full-Service Partnership program where she provided intensive community-based mental health services to children and TAY. In 2012, Jessica transitioned to the YMO department where she could continue to fulfill her passion and commitment to serving young adults. Jessica received her Masters in Social Welfare from UCLA and her bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego in Psychology and Communication Studies.

Carolyn Ho

Project Associate

Carolyn Ho is a Maryland transplant with several years of experience in operations research and nonprofit work. She is passionate about improving quality of life outcomes for those in her community. Prior to JBAY, she worked in the Office of Planning at the Food and Drug Administration and previous to that, she developed and implemented educational programs for a cancer support nonprofit. She graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park with degrees in Community Health and Psychology.

Shameka Bolds

Administrative Assistant

Shameka Bolds is an innovative and creative administrative assistant who has provided over 5+ years of administrative and youth services to the Northern California area. A former foster youth herself, Shameka understands the benefits and the necessity of organizations like John Burton Advocates for Youth that help challenge policies of today and strengthen policies for tomorrow. Shameka graduated cum laude from HBCU Lane College and holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice.

Alexis Barries

Youth Advocate

Alexis Barries is a Youth Advocate at John Burton Advocates for Youth. In this role, she advocates for policies to improve the lives of foster youth, homeless youth and youth involved in the juvenile probation system. Alexis was formerly in foster care and was part of the first cohort of youth to participate in extended foster care to age 21. She is a full-time student at Sacramento City College. In September 2018, Alexis Barries was appointed to the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council.

Xavier Mountain

Youth Advocate

Xavier Mountain is currently working on his Masters of Social Work at the University of Southern California with a focus on Public Policy. He previously completed his undergraduate studies at the University of the Pacific with a BA in Sociology. He hopes to receive his Judicial Doctorate and establish his career.

Kista Holani

Youth Advocate

Kista Holani is a student at Modesto Junior College. Her goal is to transfer to Fresno State, and work towards a masters in Macro-level social work. She is focused on advocacy work that includes seeing state legislation pass and connecting that to local practice amongst those that work in the system. Kista has experienced foster care and homelessness and has a passion to work for youth that have experienced the same.