Esther Mellinger Stief
A steadfast advocate of learning and the pursuit of higher education, Esther Mellinger Stief has served as the Executive Director of Crossroads Foundation since 2017. Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, she worked as the Director for Research and Program Development of Crossroads for five years.
Esther first began her career in education as a high school English teacher, working with students in the classroom for 10 years. Following her years as an educator, Esther used her expertise to provide support to other organizations, working as a Research Site Coordinator, freelance writer, and Educational Consultant before joining Crossroads.
Esther holds undergraduate degrees in Sociology and English from Westminster College, as well as a graduate degree in Education from the University of Pittsburgh.
When she has a moment of free time, you'll find Esther outdoors — hiking, kayaking, skiing, or biking with her family and friends. She's also an avid reader and is usually in the middle of two or three books.
"Working at a small nonprofit like Crossroads provides opportunities for getting involved in almost every part of the organization's functioning — there is always a new challenge, creative idea, or beneficial program to become engaged in. I like being able to immediately problem-solve, measure impact, and effect change; I'm never bored. But most of all, working at a small nonprofit allows me to work tangibly toward our mission every day as I interact with our scholars and see firsthand the results of the work our team does."”
Ramona Crawford, Ed.D.
Senior Director of Programs
Dr. Ramona M. Crawford is a skilled and motivated nonprofit leader. With an extensive history working in various educational, nonprofit and family/child service settings, she has brought value to organizations across various systems. Ramona's passion lies in promoting child and adult development through effective community building, teaching, tutoring and training. Additionally, she works tirelessly to understand organizations to advance educational practices, especially with regards to the interconnectedness of environmental, human health, social equity, and economic systems.
Currently, Dr. Crawford serves as the Senior Director of Programs at Crossroads Foundation. With this position, she oversees all aspects of programing and program development at Crossroads Foundation, ensuring best practices and regular evaluation of program functioning. In Ramona's previous role she served as the director of research and impact at Green Building Alliance and a community-engaged research assistant at Duquesne University.
She holds a bachelor's degree from Florida State University in Family and Child Science with a minor in Psychology, a master's degree in Counseling Psychology, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Duquesne University.
When she is not working she enjoys cycling, reading, writing fiction, traveling, frolicking on the beach, and going to baseball games.
I am excited to join Crossroads Foundation because I strongly believe in working to increase access and opportunity through positive and intentional relationship building with our scholars, their families, our partner schools and the larger community.”
As Program Coordinator, Gabriella Davis plans and implements programs that support the academic, personal-social, and college and career development of the Crossroads scholars. Gabriella specializes in youth programming, particularly involving restorative justice practices and conflict resolution.
A Pittsburgh native, Gabriella volunteers as a community mediator with a local nonprofit called Just Mediation PGH, and serves on the YWCA (Greater Pittsburgh) Young Leaders Board.
Gabriella earned her B.A. in Political Science from Delaware State University. On her days off, she enjoys spending time with family/friends and exploring her hometown of Pittsburgh.
"Working at a small non-profit, like Crossroads is inspiring because we have the ability to make such huge impact with such a small team. We are providing necessary support and services for young people looking for opportunities, and that makes a difference."”
Crossroads is where I spent my time in high school as a scholar. And when Sister Sandy gave me her key to the building as an employee, I said... "It's about time!"”
Director of Development
With nearly 10 years of experience in nonprofit work, Landis Erwin has realized her passion for helping communities thrive. She joined Crossroads in 2019 as the Director of Development, coming from an extensive background of event fundraising, capital campaign design, individual and corporate relationships, program development, and marketing through numerous media platforms.
Landis earned a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism communications with a leadership minor from Gannon University in 2012, as well as a Master’s Degree in organizational leadership and project management from Geneva College in 2018.
In her free time, Landis is a member of several professional organizations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Western PA Chapter, AFP International Conference Education Committee and Pittsburgh Young Professionals. She is often found hiking, reading, writing, spending time with her family, and traveling. She also enjoys volunteering for several different organizations, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Night to Shine and St. Angela Merici Parish in Youngstown, OH.
“Our goal at Crossroads is to help students succeed and secure the best possible future for themselves. It is so exciting to be part of this process, watching them grow into incredible young men and women. I am in awe of their strength, motivation and passion for life. They in turn motivate me to be a better person and accomplish all that I can for them. I am so proud to be part of the Crossroads family."”
Nina Hoyt is a Counselor at Crossroads, primarily serving students at Seton LaSalle, Bishop Canevin, and Our Lady of Sacred Heart high schools. Prior to her role as a counselor, she worked as a tutor for Crossroads through the AmeriCorps KEYS program.
Nina has worked with and mentored youth for over seven years, as well as led high school Bible study groups during her years as an undergraduate student. She truly believes in the potential of every young person to achieve their goals and, as a Crossroads Counselor, is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer support and resources for scholars and help prepare them for life beyond high school.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Nina holds a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Ohio State University.
On her off-days, Nina enjoys being in the great outdoors — hiking, camping, playing volleyball, and just generally working out. She also loves a good book and a fresh cup of coffee.
"What I love about being part of a small nonprofit like Crossroads is that we get to really focus on the students that we serve. The scholars aren't just a number in the system, they get individual attention and care from staff members."”
Sr. Sandy Kiefer
Director of Academic Support Services
An early and steadfast champion of Crossroads Foundation, Sr. Sandy Kiefer has been a part of our organization for over 30 years, serving in every capacity from Counselor to Executive Director. Currently, as Director of Academic Support Services, she functions as a teacher, mentor, and advocate for scholars and coordinates Crossroads’ academic support systems, including daily tutoring, guidance, and intervention.
Sr. Sandy has been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden for 50 years, during which time she has served as a missionary in the Amazon, a middle school teacher, and the principal of Holy Rosary School. Sr. Sandy also holds her B.A. in Education and Biology from Carlow University and a Master’s in Theology from Duquesne University.
A deeply caring and compassionate individual, Sr. Sandy has fostered over 90 children. She also enjoys gardening, spending time in nature, reading poetry, and watching sports in her free time.
"I believe in the importance of equitable educational opportunities for all children, and that's the reason that Crossroads exists. I am so blessed to have had the inspirational privilege and honor of accompanying our young scholars on their journeys for over 30 years."”
Justin Pacini has worked for Crossroads for almost two years and is a dedicated Counselor. While he primarily works with scholars at Central Catholic and Serra Catholic High School, he takes every opportunity to influence young people in a positive way and support their growth. Prior to joining Crossroads, Justin worked for five years as an educator, teaching social studies and providing academic guidance to students in a cyber-school environment.
Justin earned his B.S. in History and his Secondary Social Studies teaching certificate from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. Additionally, Justin holds an M.S.Ed. from Duquesne University in Instructional Technology and is a certified Instructional Technology Specialist.
A major hockey fan, Justin never misses a Penguins' game. He also enjoys exploring the city of Pittsburgh with his lovely wife and their pup, cooking for his friends and family, and reading — particularly history books.
"I believe that education is one of the most powerful agents of social change and am humbled to be in a position to help others take charge of their own education. At Crossroads, we aim to help every scholar find a vocation that truly speaks to them and ensure that their potential finds its path. I'm grateful to be a trusted member of such a dedicated, close-knit team."”