The Neighborhood Advocate

YAP’s Chief Operating Officer is Moving on After More than Three Decades of Service

Savannah, Ga. –  YAP Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dorienne Silva is moving on from YAP after more than three decades of service. Her last day is Feb. 17.  

 Silva, who started her career with YAP in 1992 as a Vice President in New Jersey, held several positions within the national nonprofit before becoming COO. Her previous posts include Interim CEO YAP UK, Deputy CEO, President of the Southeast, and President of International Relations and Development.

Diana Matteson (left) and Dorienne Silva during a workshop in Warsaw.

“I leave with a mixture of emotions that include sorrow as well as excitement for what my future holds,” Silva said. “Most of all, I leave with gratitude for all the opportunities to contribute, learn and grow that I have been afforded throughout the years in my numerous roles.”

YAP was founded in 1975 by Tom Jeffers and offers community-based services in 33 states and the District of Columbia. The agency’s programs are an alternative to youth incarceration, congregate residential care, and neighborhood violence. Silva is lauded as one of the early builders of YAP. As COO, Silva led YAP’s national leadership team responsible for coordinating operational and business functions, building and facilitating collaborative working teams, and pursuing business efficiencies, best practices and program innovation.

Diana Matteson (left) and Dorienne Silva outside a conference venue where they made a presentation in Lyon, France.

Overall, Silva has led several initiatives that have improved YAP’s operations, including expansion of programming in the Southeast and New Jersey, where she managed diverse youth, family advocacy and behavioral health programs across multiple states overseeing all personnel, policy, quality compliance, media/marketing, and fiscal concerns; as well as the evolution of the organization’s international footprint.

“Her international work is still bearing fruit,” said YAP President Gary Ivory. “For those of us who know (Silva), she is a mission-driven leader who pushes for excellence in all things. “(Silva) has played a large role in YAP’s strategic direction, strategic plans and various workgroups and teams across YAP. Please join me in wishing her the very best in her future endeavors. She leaves a very positive legacy at YAP.”

YAP’s international programs include partnerships in Sierra Leone, Australia, Guatemala, Ireland and Sweden. Silva has positioned the organization to expand overseas by providing support and by spearheading intercultural collaborations to help curb community violence, connect program participants to employment opportunities and access to mental health help; assisted in helping to overcome racial inequities, and more.

Dorienne Silva (left) and Diana Matteson in Sydney, Australia.

“(Silva) has had an impact on youth and families all over the world, not just in Sierra Leone, Guatemala, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Scotland, and England but in many other places as a result of the workshops and trainings, human rights advocacy, and system change work done on YAP’s behalf,” said YAP’s Director of International Programs and Development Diana Matteson. “It’s been an honor to be at her side advocating for policy, program, and practice innovation. For her tireless efforts for youth, families, and communities on a local and global level, her advocacy for women leaders at YAP, and her mentoring of many of us…GRACIAS…te extranamos mucho.”

YAP South Carolina’s Community Relations/Program Development Director William Cameron, who met Silva in 2006, describes her as a caring and insightful mentor.

“She was on-point and a true social worker who knew the dynamics of people,” Cameron said. “Dorienne had a style where she could relate to people and people could relate to her. She knew how to connect with people. I trusted her and she had my back.”

Additionally, Silva has served on YAP’s Board of Directors, Executive Team, and was Deputy CEO under former YAP CEO Jeff Fleischer who retired earlier this year. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, graduate degree from Rutgers University, and is fluent in Spanish and English.

Diana Matteson (left) and Dorienne Silva during a site visit to Guatemala.

“I have worked with many exceptional people whom I will miss and wish everyone and the organization the very best for the future,” Silva said. “Though we cannot do everything, my hope is that in the coming years you continue to receive grace and strive as a YAP team to work together to do those wildly important things you focus on very well, and most importantly, on behalf of those we serve.”

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