Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative has an incredible team dedicated to our cause, both staff and volunteers.

Joe Calendino

Executive Director + Co-Founder

Joe has over 10 years of experience working with youth in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods.  His experience, as well as his unique personal background, motivated him to create Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative in 2009.  As a former member of the Hells Angels and addict, Joe has experienced firsthand the consequences of his choices.  He went from being a successful businessman in the mobile phone industry to living, drug addicted on the streets of Vancouver after losing everything to drugs and gangs. Joe was honoured with the Courage to Come Back Award in 2014 for overcoming his addictions and using his experience to help others. Along with his Business Degree, Joe holds a certificate in Substance Use from the Justice Institute of BC and is a certified black-belt in Jiu-Jitsu. Joe published To Hell and Back, a novel about his personal experience, in 2018.

Brenda Calendino

Director of Education + Co-Founder

Brenda holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC.  Brenda has been working as an educator, consultant, and Registered Clinical Counsellor with vulnerable children, youth, and their families for the past 25 years. She has been involved with YBYG since its inception and plays an integral role in curriculum development and program expansion. Brenda provides many hours of one-on-one support to YBYG participants and is leading the organization's efforts to gather impact data through the Youth and Programs Strengths Survey.

Youth Leaders

One of our objectives is to empower our youth to become ambassadors, mentors, and role models.  Youth Leaders are a dedicated group of YBYG participants who demonstrate leadership qualities among their peers by offering a positive influence in their schools, community, and programs.  Youth Leaders mentor youth new to the program and are trained to work with elementary school students involved in our Street Safe program.  There are currently 25 Youth Leaders making a real difference at YBYG and in our community. 

Program Assistants

YBYG youth who have participated in our programs and demonstrated the capacity to lead and facilitate programs are hired as Program Assistants once they graduate from high-school. They are dependable, supportive, and responsible individuals who implement our core values while facilitating programs.  There are currently 12 Program Assistants contributing to the success of our in-school and after-school programs.