Director of Teen Mentoring & Dream Path Program
Katia Goodman’s zest for life, hard work, persistence and simplicity has created an excellent foundation for her leadership as Director of the Dream Path Teen Mentoring Program. Katia understands the challenges of growing up in a family with modest means. She learned to balance multiple responsibilities as a teen including school, part-time jobs, volunteering and taking care of younger siblings, which has given her a greater appreciation for people of all backgrounds.
She is a native of the St. Louis area and attended Missouri State University. After graduating with a major in global studies and minor in French in 2015, she spent several years travelling the globe and working, including as an English teacher in Thailand. Her adventures took her to 33 countries by the time she was 23. She came back to the U.S. and worked as a recruiter and in fundraising. In 2016 she started volunteering with Join Hands as a Teen Mentor and was hired full-time to lead the program in October of 2019. As she explains, “Every day, I am amazed at how all the moving parts at Join Hands come together. Everyone is actively cranking and moving, getting so much done with so few people.”
Katia directs efforts that primarily serve Join Hands’ young people high school age through college. She is responsible for overseeing a structured program where mentors and staff journey with teenagers, helping them to navigate the many, many barriers that exist to academic success for children growing up in intergenerational poverty. Overseeing programming, individual mentoring and group activities, Katia and her team help to empower our young people and provide a pathway to and through college graduation. Katia warmly embraces the teens she serves, calling them “the most unselfish, kind and generous kids; they have a level of respect you don’t often see.”
In March 2020 Join Hands will be opening a teen center on State Street in East St. Louis. The center will serve as a safe environment for Katia and her associate Vanessa Wright to conduct their many outreach efforts including college planning services, standardized test preparation, guest speakers, Peace Warrior meetings and training, teambuilding and leadership activities, and for students to unwind, relax and enjoy time with their peers. As Katia says, “Our vision is to continue to grow Dream Path program opportunities and the number of students involved. We want our young people to realize their potential so they become active and thriving citizens in society.”
Katia enjoys spending time with her Join Hands family. When not at work, she loves to experience life, take hikes with her dog Darwin, and explore on weekend road trips.