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The Gifford Youth Achievement Center (GYAC) recently welcomed new staff, Christel Jones, Student Support Specialist and Jay Lundy, Director of Youth Employability Program.

A Bronx native from New York City, Christel Jones has a passion for working with children and families and has worked in the mental health field for over thirty years. Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership/management from Palm Beach Atlantic in 2010 and a dual master’s in mental health and marriage and family counseling in 2016. Jones has been certified as a community health advocate since 2004 and has a passion for community advocacy initiatives including: healthy families, higher education, trauma informed care, intervention/prevention programming, mentoring/counseling environments, and agency collaboration. Jones believes every individual has been “given a special voice in the world which deserves to be heard.”

As GYAC’s Student Support Specialist, Jones will be focusing on the mental health aspect of assisting students, helping to align and enhance their academic, social and emotional growth. A familiar face, Jones previously collaborated with GYAC in 2018 and 2019 while working as the ALTOSS Program Coordinator for Tykes and Teens while the program was housed at GYAC. At the time, Jones assisted with GYAC’s rites of passage classes offered to middle and high school students enrolled in GYAC’s afterschool program. “Christel’s energy and passion for GYAC’s students is palpable, and we are thrilled to welcome her back on campus,” remarked Angelia Perry, Executive Director for GYAC.

Jay Lundy Sr. is a workforce development professional who moved from St. Lucie County (SLC) to his hometown in Indian River County. A 1975 Vero Beach High School graduate, Lundy served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for 6 years before earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in literature-communications from the University of North Florida. He worked briefly as a news reporter for the Vero Beach Press Journal before starting his 30-year career in the publicly funded workforce development system.

Lundy’s work experience involved employment and training programs for youth, adults, military veterans, seniors, and targeted programs such as Job Corps and Welfare-to-Work. He has served on several boards, including the YMCA of SLC, United for Families, and Council of Social Agencies of SLC. Venturing into entrepreneurship in 2007, Lundy left the workforce development industry to start both a marketing company and preschool with his family. In 2013 he returned to the workforce industry, managing career centers and training programs for CareerSource Research Coast before retiring in January 2021. Lundy is most looking forward to using his knowledge and experience to help create an engaging youth employability program that empowers GYAC’s students to grow and excel in the workplace.

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