Youth Guidance executive director to retire; board of directors announces new executive director


Phil Barnes

Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy Board of Directors announces that Executive Director, Felix Cruz, will retire on March 13, 2020 after years of dedicated service. After a thorough search, the Youth Guidance Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Philip Barnes will succeed Mr. Cruz commencing March 5, 2020.  Mr. Cruz will be retained in an advisory capacity to ensure a smooth transition.

The Board expresses its tremendous gratitude to Mr. Cruz who first served in a supervisory capacity with Youth Guidance in 2014 and assumed the Executive Director position in August of 2017. Mr. Cruz was responsible for the transformational redirection of Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy.  This includes the S.T.E.A.M. Magnet program, which develops children with a focus on a variety of skills that are essential for their success in a futuristic technological society. In addition, Cruz is credited for enhancing the Youth Guidance brand, formalizing the name of Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy, and substantially improving programing, with the development of the innovative Group Mentoring process, hands on guidance and academic support.

“I want to express my deep appreciation for the opportunity to work with the dedicated board, colleagues, mentors and volunteers at Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy,” said Cruz.  “It has been a very rewarding experience to be able to improve the lives of the children in our community.”

“Upon my return from a recent trip to Italy, I realized that I wanted to travel more and spend quality time with my family, grandchildren and friends,”  continued Cruz.

No stranger to the local nonprofit community, Philip Barnes brings significant experience, great skills, insight and energy to the position of Executive Director.  We look forward to working with him to grow the recently launched “Shaping Brighter Futures” building campaign and to increase the awareness of Youth Guidance in Indian River County,” says Greg Miller, current board Vice Chair.

Phil Barnes has an extensive background in nonprofit development, particularly within the youth education and mentoring sector. He started his career as a copy editor and then editor for LRP Media Group in Palm Beach Gardens, writing articles to help school administrators comply with special education law.

From there he landed his first nonprofit role as Grants Manager for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, where he researched funders, wrote proposals, and directed site visits for 5 Boys & Girls Clubs.  His proposals helped generate more than $357,000 in new grant funding over a 2-year period.

Most recently, he served as Director of Resource Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County, helping the organization raise the funds needed to meet a $2.1 million operating budget. He is looking forward to bringing his fundraising experience, creativity, and passion for kids to Youth Guidance as their new Executive Director.

Philip Barnes is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and President Elect of the Sebastian Exchange Club.  He graduated Cum Laude from Ohio University Scripps College of Communication with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism.

Youth Guidance is dedicated to enriching the lives of Indian River County youth through mentoring relationships that inspire trust, self-esteem and positive futures. Youth Guidance works with kindergarten-12th grade children. Programs are all free and children are provided with a nutritious meal before evening programs.  The Youth Guidance children are all from low income homes, who without guidance, may remain trapped in a cycle of generational poverty, dimming their hopes for the future. With direction from our staff, mentors and volunteers, these children can experience a path toward a brighter future.

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