Justin PowellExecutive 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 BurninghamReal 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.
International 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, 2017), Youthlinc Board Member (2012-2014), Young Humanitarian Award Finalist (2010), and Local Service Director (2014-2017).
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 Katherine W. Dumke 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. In her free time, Jerika finds herself studying as a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Community Leadership program at Westminster College.
International Service Director
Erin has been involved with Youthlinc since the 2015-2016 Service Year, when she served as a Mentor in Madagascar. As a high school International Relations teacher and debate coach, she was inspired to apply by her students who participated in Youthlinc. As an educator, Erin appreciates the crucial link between what happens in the world and how it impacts local communities.
Since childhood, she has been involved in several volunteer organizations. These organizations include Free To Breathe, the Utah State Archives, the Salt Lake City Library, AIDS Services North Texas, the American Cancer Society, and various speech and debate teams. She also served as a County Voting Registrar in college. In 2017, she was named District Volunteer of the Year by the Wasatch District of the National Speech and Debate Association.
Erin is from the bustling metropolis of Robinson, Texas, which is just outside of Waco. No, she does not know Chip and JoJo. She holds a BA in History and a Masters in Education, both from the University of North Texas. Previously, she taught high school in Texas and Utah for 8 years and had a stint as a history textbook writer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two year old son, writing, baseball, music, and attempting to visit all 50 US states and 10 Canadian provinces.
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.
Megan is Youthlinc’s Graphic Designer. 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.
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 Operations 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 2016. 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.
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!