Meet Our Team


Executive Director

For over 40 years Helen Banner has been working for nonprofits in Pueblo to help young people make wise decisions for a successful future. She has seen the devastating results of poor choices and the heartaches and poverty it brings. As Executive Director of A Caring Pregnancy Center, she helped create Pueblo Youth Project 20 years ago by collaborating with three other youth serving organizations, to provide positive after-school programs to build the 40 Developmental Assets (Character Education) into the lives of Pueblo youth. Most recently Helen has partnered with Friends First in Denver to provide mentoring programs (Project AIM and STARS Mentoring) in our Pueblo schools. As a Community Partner, both of these programs are being implemented in Pueblo City Schools. Helen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management from Colorado Christian University. She is married and has three grown children and nine grandchildren. She is a member of Pueblo Christian Center and volunteers for Voice of the Martyrs as a leader for their International Trauma Recovery Program in third world nations.


Assistant Director

April has worked in the nonprofit sector for over eight years, and has worked in jobs reducing teenage risky behaviors for over six years. She previously worked at the Pueblo YWCA, where she taught a dating violence prevention program in Pueblo D60 and D70 middle and high schools, and as a data specialist. Through her experience working with teens, April has developed a passion for seeing teens make healthy choices and feels that PYP’s positive youth development programs are making a difference in Pueblo’s youth. April graduated from Evangel University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Intercultural Studies in 2010. She recently co-wrote a chapter on sex education in the book Christian Morality: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Thinking About Contemporary Moral Issues.


STARS Mentoring Program Coordinator

Justin Garcia developed an interest in working to equip youth with the tools to succeed while serving with a local youth ministry. He began by helping with programming details such as setup and tear down and soon took opportunities to serve as a mentor and a leader with the youth ministry. He spent a year in Virginia as an Assistant Director for a middle school youth group mentoring inner city students. He accepted a job as the Student Ministries Intern with Fellowship of the Rockies in 2015, and has worked there since that time. He shifted into the Intern Student Pastor position early in 2016, and was hired to work with Pueblo Youth Project in November of 2016. He is excited to continue helping equip students to succeed through peer-to-peer and adult-to-student mentoring.


STARS Mentoring/Project AIM Program Coordinator 

Growing up, Vanessa’s mother owned a large home private daycare, where Vanessa learned at a young age how impactful an individual can be in others’ lives. Throughout middle and high school she became involved in organizations like Special Olympics Pueblo and Interact Club along with in-school mentoring and math and science tutoring. In 2014, Vanessa became involved in “Friends” ministry group, mentoring and teaching middle school girls along with volunteering her time with iDentity student youth ministries at Praise Assembly of God Pueblo. In college Vanessa became involved in Pursue Mentoring, Community in Schools Baylor Buddies Chapter, and Engineers with a Mission. Here she found passion in reaching out to at risk youth and identifying and nurturing their natural talents and intelligence. Vanessa currently works for Pueblo Youth Project as a STARS Program Coordinator at Dolores Huerta Preparatory High and an AIM Project Coordinator in several Pueblo middle schools.


STARS Mentoring Program Coordinator

Kyra first became interested in supporting teens when she was a teenager. She was finally able to get involved as a mentor in a youth group in 2011. In 2014, she accepted a job offer to become a Youth Pastor, at SonRise Church. She continues to work there, alongside being a Mentor Coordinator at Pueblo Youth Project. She has seen firsthand the effect a mentor can have on a teenager’s life. She believes that relationships with teenagers, whether that is adult to teen, or peer to peer, can be effective in positive change. Kyra is excited to begin working more with students as she continues to grow. Kyra graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Masters of Arts in English and Creative Writing in 2016. In 2014, Kyra graduated from Colorado State University-Pueblo, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music.  She continues to use her love for music and writing to connect with students, as well with her musical duo, “Bois D’arc”.


Project AIM Teacher

Barb Rivera has been a board member and volunteer for Pueblo Youth Project’s Pursue Program for 4 years, and recently became a Project AIM teacher. She has a passion for Pueblo’s adolescents, and has given much of her time to programs that empower and inspire teens. In her presentations for the Pursue Program, Barb remains open and vulnerable about her past, and shares her story with teens in an effort to help them avoid risky choices. Barb believes that despite people’s mistakes, they always have potential. She is a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, and has been certified in SRAS. Barb is a proud small business owner of Look’s Beauty Salon & Barber, and has been a cosmetologist for over 26 years. She serves on the women’s ministry leadership team, in the girls’ ministry, and in various other ministries at her church, Praise Assembly. She has been involved in multiple mentoring programs in Pueblo over the years. Barb is married and has one grown daughter.