Our Staff

Justin Powell

Executive Director

Justin has been involved with Youthlinc since 2008 when he joined the Thailand team as a mentor.  Since then, he has been on a total of 10 Youthlinc trips, including a multi-time team leader, to Cambodia, Vietnam, Peru, Kenya, and Madagascar.  He has been instrumental in our business program, developing our animal loan program internationally.  He has also been highly involved in the development of our international English Camp model and Cultural Conversations program.  He has lived abroad for several years, including Australia, South Korea, Egypt, and Vietnam.

Justin has been instrumental in expanding Youthlinc’s Real Life program.  He has helped Real Life grow from two sites to eleven in the past two years.  He has strengthened partnership with Promise South Salt Lake, and forged new partnerships with Catholic Community Services, Asian Association of Utah, Salt Lake City School District, Granite School District, and Department of Workforce Services.

Locally, he has volunteered with refugee and under-served youth and adults and formed a civic engagement club in the Salt Lake City School District.  Justin was a high school teacher in English, history, and business.  He taught at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education and at West High School.  He has an International Business degree from Westminster College, an English degree from the University of Utah, and a Master’s of Teaching degree from Westminster College.

Justin’s son, Atticus, is the youngest Youthlincer on record. He went on his fourth trip this summer at the ripe age of 3.

Shelly Burningham

Real Life Director

Shelly has been involved with Youthlinc since 2011 when she joined the Kenya team as an education mentor.  It was a magical experience. She immediately became a dedicated volunteer because she strongly believes in Youthlinc’s mission to create lifetime humanitarians. Since then, she has served as a team leader to Guatemala, Peru, Nepal and Cambodia.

Shelly says that the biggest draw to Youthlinc is the opportunity participants have to serve both locally and internationally. Shelly is excited to work as the Real Life Director because she can continue fostering the value of local service. Real Life is a peer mentoring program with a life skills curriculum befitting refugees and under-served youth in Salt Lake City.

Shelly has a degree in Family History Studies from Brigham Young University and a Paralegal Studies degree from Mountianwest College of Business. She worked six years as a certified Paralegal and ten years as an Elementary Teacher in the Davis County School District.

Shelly is the mother of three children and a grandmother of four adorable grandchildren. Her greatest joy comes from her husband and family. Her second greatest passion is service and Shelly delights in helping our youth value and incorporate service in their lives.

Rebekah Meads

International Service Director

Bekah has been involved with Youthlinc since 2012 when she was a participant on the Cambodia team. She often says how that initial Youthlinc trip was a “life changer” for her. She is grateful for the direction and impact that her Youthlinc experience had on her and hopes to provide similar experiences for future Youthlinc participants.

Since 2013 Bekah has served as our International Service Intern where she accompanied the Cambodia 2013, Thailand 2013, and Vietnam 2013 teams on their international trips. She also served as an Assistant Team Leader for the Cambodia 2015 team. She believes strongly in the Youthlinc model, and has seen how this organization attracts fantastic people and produces lifetime humanitarians.

Bekah graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a Bachelor of Science in Health Society and Policy. She was also a co-chair of the Bennion Center Service Corps for a time, and conducted her own undergraduate research in partnership with the Utah Department of Health while attending the U of U. Bekah enjoys rock climbing, cycling, boating, and of course traveling. She is absolutely thrilled to be working for Youthlinc as the International Service Director.

Shannon Moss

Local Service Director 

Shannon’s involvement with Youthlinc began in 2015 as a parent of a Youthlinc student. Watching the growth and development in her own daughter ignited the dedication she has for Youthlinc and it’s mission. Service as a way of life is something she is passionate about and finding an organization that shares these same beliefs has been important to her.

Internationally, Shannon’s family sponsors a young girl from Colombia to come to the United States each year for a prosthetic fitting due to a birth defect.  She says watching her family bond with someone who speaks a different language has been inspiring. Through these experiences, she has found that love transcends language barriers and physical differences.

Shannon believes what sets Youthlinc apart from other organizations is its local service component. She believes that local service is where lifetime humanitarians are born. She is excited to help support Youthlinc students to foster a lifetime of service.

Shannon graduated from the University of Utah in Early Childhood Education and received her MBA in 2013. She taught pre-K for 14 years and was in the financial industry for 4 years. She is a lifelong learner and continues to explore new ways she can learn and grow in her life.

Shannon bio

Jerika Mays

Local Service Director

As a Youthlinc student participant on the 2008 Kenya team, Jerika  simply fell in love with the idea of serving both locally and internationally and has been involved with Youthlinc ever since. Jerika has served as an Assistant Team Leader (2011), Real Life Intern (2011), Mentor (2012, 2014, 2016), Youthlinc Board Member (2012-2014), and Young Humanitarian Award Finalist (2010).

In 2014, Jerika was hired as the Local Service Director where she has been able to put her project management, program development, and fundraising skills to use – fostering a commitment to service among Utah high school and college students. Jerika oversees the local service component of the Youthlinc Service Year – ensuring that 200+ Youthlinc students each contribute 80 hours of local service.

Jerika has always made community service a priority in her life. She founded the first Interact Club at Brighton High School (2006-2009) and organized several service trips to the Hopi Indian Reservation. While attending Westminster College, Jerika started the Westminster College Rotaract Club (2011-2012) and planned college-wide service projects through the Center for Civic Engagement. Jerika is now actively involved in the Murray Satellite Rotary Club, which is a Rotary club for young professionals in the Salt Lake valley.

Previously, Jerika worked as a Families First Specialist at Utah Youth Village where she taught parenting and life skills to families referred by the Juvenile Courts and DCFS. Jerika received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a clinical emphasis and a minor in music from Westminster College. In her free time, Jerika enjoys cooking, hiking, and traveling with her husband.

Megan Dolle

Community Liaison

Megan is Youthlinc’s Community Liaison and Real Life Assistant.  She first joined Youthlinc as a student on the 2012 Peru team, then was the Real Life intern in 2013 and went to Peru again that summer.  Megan was named Utah’s Young Humanitarian in 2013 for her service with Real Life, ONE, Good in the Hood and ASUU Community Service, among other organizations. She has been the Real Life Assistant Director since 2014.

One of Megan’s fondest service memories was her trip to Yanamono II, Peru with Youthlinc in 2012. She made deep friendships with community members and found her calling for public health. She still keeps in contact with many of her Peruvian friends to this day, inspiring her to move forward with Spanish and continue making personal relationships in the communities she works.

Megan has a BA in International Studies with a Global Health emphasis and Spanish minor from the University of Utah.  She has studied abroad in Oviedo, Spain and participated in two other cultural exchanges as an English teacher in Kenya (2014) and Colombia (2015).

Outside of Youthlinc, Megan owns her own photography business and enjoys creating memories with her clients. She loves to travel, but struggles reconciling this with her profound obsession of owning a dog.

Melissa Pearson

Operations Manager

All her life, Melissa has been passionate about serving those around her. In the past she has had the opportunity to volunteer with English Language Learners at Salt Lake Community College, Refugees at the Asian Association of Utah, the homeless population, and refugee teens at Real Life. She went on her first humanitarian trip to Peru in 2010 and her first Youthlinc trip to Thailand in 2015. Since then, she has had the opportunity to be a Real Life intern and now the Office Manager for Youthlinc.

When she first heard about the Youthlinc program, Melissa knew it was something she wanted to take part in. She loves the Youthlinc mission and everything it stands for. In particular, she likes the opportunity that it gives for people to serve both locally and internationally. Melissa is passionate about learning and graduated from Westminster College with her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health in 2015. She hopes to one day go back and earn her Master’s and maybe someday her Doctorate as well.

Outside of work, Melissa enjoys many hobbies such as reading, hiking, snowshoeing, rock climbing,  dancing, and travel.

Alyssa Smoot

International Service Assistant Director

Alyssa first got involved with Youthlinc back in 2013 when she participated in a Service Year to Kenya. She says, “I absolutely loved my experience, my team, and all the things I learned from other students and the Kenyans. In fact, I still keep in touch with a little girl named Shamila and her mother who call me a couple times a year.”

In years following her experience in Kenya, she tried a few other organizations and just didn’t fall in love with them the way she did Youthlinc. She says, “I love how Youthlinc focuses on local service because I honestly didn’t know there was such a need here within my community, and that I didn’t have to go to another country to make a difference, although, that is a very impactful part of the service year.”

Now as a college student at the University of Utah, she has gone in a completely different direction with her major than what she had planned for herself before her involvement with Youthlinc. She says, “I’ve seen how Youthlinc impacts people’s lives literally around the world. As the oldest child, my younger siblings have seen the difference it has made in my life and have chosen to get involved as well.” Alyssa most recently went as an Alum Leader and Intern to Thailand in July 2016. She had another amazing experience there and made life-long relationships with people on her team.

Outside of work and service, Alyssa loves to be outside whether hiking, biking, surfing, or just lounging on the beach. She also loves to read, learn about other cultures, travel, blog, and paint.

Mackenzie Turner

Operations Specialist

Mackenzie has had the privilege of serving on two Youthlinc trips, one as a student to Peru in 2014 and one as an alum leader on Youthlinc’s first trip to Nepal in 2015. She also served as the Office Intern during the 2014-2015 Service Year.

She says, “Serving with Youthlinc changed the entire direction of my life and my career goals.” She is excited to come back and work at Youthlinc! She is a senior at the University of Utah studying Business Management with an ultimate goal to work in Nonprofit Management. She participates in many clubs and organizations at the U and student direct a service program with the Bennion Service Center.

When she is not hanging out on campus or at the Youthlinc office, she likes to ski, read, travel to random countries, and drink lots of coffee – which she has a hard time balancing with her love of naps!