Program Associate, Roger Williams University
Vianna Mercedes arrived to Worcester, MA from the Dominican Republic at the age of nine. She eventually found community during her senior year in high school when an educator encouraged her to share her story with a group of young people. That experience sparked her understanding of the power of her voice and of telling her story. Subsequently, she connected with the Latino Education Institute, one of her first stepping stones into community work. There, she learned the basics of mentorship, using her personal platform and understanding the gaps in access to resources in the certain communities. After several years of working with local non-profits focused on youth development and mental health initiatives, Vianna started a position with the Health and Human Services Department in the City of Worcester. Within her multilayered work, she led city wide initiatives to increase exposure of resources and opportunities for young people, while reducing negative stigma and violence in communities. She especially enjoyed working closely with local government officials to impact policy. Currently, Vianna is working at CYCLE, the Center for Youth and Community Leadership in Education, based in Providence, RI. Through this work, she supports youth organizing and research projects. In addition, she is currently serving with the following organizations: the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), New England Youth Organizing Network (NEYON), and the Counselors Not Cops research report. Vianna serves as a board member for several organizations, including Worcester Addressing Childhood Trauma (Worcester ACTs). Prior to CYCLE, Vianna received a BS in Sociology and Global Studies and an MS in Non-Profit Management from Worcester State University. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her loved ones, nourishing her house plants and trying new recipes.