CEO Message


I wanted to take the time to reach out to you and express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all your love and support for FRIENDS FIRST and me personally over the last 12 years. Being a part of this community and working with youth is my life’s work. As many of you know, I grew up with a lot of adversity in my life and I always wanted to be the person that I needed most when I was a child. I believe that my tenure here as FRIENDS FIRST has given me the platform to do just that.

When you work at a nonprofit for 12 years you see many people come and go. I believe people and situations come in your life for a reason and a season. I am so proud of many FRIENDS FIRST staff, past and present, who have started, cultivated or catapulted their careers with FRIENDS FIRST. Over the years, I have seen many staff be promoted within our organization, advocate for other positions to be created or others to be promoted, and other members go on to serve other mentoring or human services organizations. We have some employees that went on to be C level executives and executive directors of other youth serving organizations. I am even more proud of all the youth we have ser

ved and the contributions FRIENDS FIRST has made in their journeys. So many of our alumni are doing so well in their careers or educational paths. More than that they are good strong humans making a difference to build strong communities.

In this transition, I couldn’t be more proud of my colleague and friend, Andy Matott, who will be taking on t

he leadership role of Interim President & CEO during this transition. She has been with FRIENDS FIRST for more than seven years in several different roles, including being heavily involved in our grants, partnerships, and programming and new curriculum projects and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise into this position. Above all, Andy’s love of learning, advocating for youth, and altruistic style will be a wonderful fit to drive the organization forward and be a great partner to our communities. Andy will also continue our internal and external commitment and work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion so that all youth and communities have access to quality mentoring and programming. I know I am leaving FRIENDS FIRST in great hands.

To that end, I know you never really leave a family or an organization. FRIENDS FIRST has been a major part of my life for the last 12 years and I will truly miss being in the day to day. I will always be a friend and supporter of FRIENDS FIRST. Thank you again for being a part of this journey with me and your continued support for youth mentoring.


Elycia Cook

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