Executive Leadership Team
Michelle Basham, Executive Director
Michelle brings to The Bridge for Youth more than 20 years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors. She has started and led organizations focused on runaway and homeless youth, child welfare, racial disparities and strengthening families since the early 1990s. In 1993, she started Avenues for Homeless Youth, one of the first programs in Minnesota for homeless youth and an organization still in existence today. Between 2001 and 2008, she worked in progressively higher positions at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, eventually leading department priorities regarding racial disparities in health care, healthcare reform, licensing regulations and child maltreatment. She left the Department in 2008 to serve as the Executive Director for FamilyWise (formerly Genesis II for Families) and between 2008 and 2013, led a dramatic organizational turnaround including the organization more than doubling in size, completely rebranding and merging into it several smaller nonprofits and programs. Michelle also co-founded the Minnesota Runaway and Homeless Youth Coalition in 1998 and the Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Academy in 2009. She also served as a Vice President at CommonBond Communities and as the CEO for the YWCA of Delaware.
Michelle holds an undergraduate degree in communications and organizational development, a graduate degree in public administration and a law degree in addition to having previously served as a Fellow at the Humphrey Institute Public Policy Forum where she did her group work on women and people of color in political leadership. Michelle is also a part-time adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She brings to The Bridge her education, experience and more than anything, a deep and unwavering passion for protecting and serving runaway and homeless youth.
Angela Alvarez, Human Resources Director
Angela Alvarez graduated with a BA in psychology from Minnesota State University at Mankato and an M.A. in counseling and psychological practices from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis. She started as a Youth & Family Counselor intern in the fall of 2011, before joining the staff full time in the Emergency Shelter Program. With a passion for organization, policies and supporting BFY staff, Angela made the transition from direct staff to administration staff when the HR Coordinator position opened up. Angela was promoted quickly to HR Manager and was recently promoted to HR Director where she oversees the daily HR functions for staff, interns and volunteers. Angela enjoys reading, writing, traveling, the outdoors, being a sports fan and spending time with friends and family.
Christina Heineken Woodlee, Program Director
Christina has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit administration and development. She has developed nationally recognized donor engagement programs – Women United, Emerging Leaders and Arise Project – for United Way. She spent 4 years as the Director of Leadership Affinity Groups at United Way of Central New Mexico, and 5 years as the Manager of Leadership Giving at Greater Twin Cities United Way. Prior to joining United Way, she worked at Discovery Creek Children’s Museum in Washington, DC, as the Special Events and Board Relations Manager. Most recently, Christina was the Director of Donor Relations at Perspectives Inc. in St. Louis Park. In this capacity she introduced an audience segmentation and donor acquisition strategy focused corporate women and millennials.
Christina is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a Master Degree in Public Administration as well as an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Family Studies. She and her family live in the Twin Cities metro.
Gladys Estoista, Finance and Operations Director
Gladys Estoista has joined The Bridge for Youth as Finance and Operations Director. She holds a B.S. in Accounting from Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines and an M.S. in Accounting from Colorado State University. She brings more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector to The Bridge for Youth. After graduate school, Gladys worked in public accounting with Carpenter Evert, a CPA firm prominent within the nonprofit sector. She has also worked for Project for Pride in Living, Inc. as their Accounting Manager and, more recently, for Greater Twin Cities United Way as their Assistant Controller. As the Finance and Operations Director, Gladys is responsible for leading and managing financial management, information technology, properties management and compliance functions.
Jennifer Harding, Development Director
Jenny brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit development and fundraising to The Bridge for Youth. Her experience includes having served as the Development Director at the Children’s Law Center, MELD and WATCH. In addition, she has served as a Gift Officer for Augustana Care, the Associate Director of Corporate Giving for the Guthrie Theater and Development Manager at the Page Education Foundation among other positions. Her wide-ranging experience includes consulting with and working for organizations committed to legal services, human services and education. Jenny also has volunteered in various capacities in the nonprofit sector. Jenny holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth College. When she is not at work, Jenny enjoys hanging out with friends and family including her rescue dog Jackson.
The Bridge for Youth’s Board of Directors
Scott Thomas-Forss, Board Chair
Minneapolis Federal Reserve, Vice President
Amy Asche, Board Vice-Chair
UPS, Director of Sales
Kristine Oberg, Board Treasurer/Finance Committee Chair
Elavon, Inc., Vice President of Strategic Planning
Wanda Kay Sigurdson, Board Secretary
Best Buy, Attorney
James Denniston, Governance Committee Chair
Xcel Energy, Assistant General Counsel
Hays Companies, Assistant Vice President
Ameriprise, Senior Vice President of Internal Communications
U.S. Bancorp, Vice President State Government Relations
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Assistant Director of Finance
Medtronic, Senior Global Product Manager
Thrivent Financial, Corporate Recruiter
Sarah Sanchez, Development Committee Chair
Director of Grassroots Advocacy for Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota, American Heart Association
Children’s Minnesota, Social Worker
CommonBond Communities, Executive Vice President of Housing and Services
OptumCare Services, Vice President Performance Management