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."”
Lead Counselor and College Access Coordinator
Fabian Cotten has worked with Crossroads for six years, serving as a counselor, advocate, and mentor. Currently, as Lead Counselor and College Access Coordinator, he manages and coordinates Crossroads' counseling services, providing leadership and guidance to scholars as they navigate college access and preparedness.
Fabian also maintains partnerships with local pre-college organizations and institutions, ensuring that scholars are connected to resources, and he provides support to seniors and families throughout the college application process to promote a seamless transition into post-secondary education.
Fabian holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his Master's in Education School Counseling from Liberty University. Before joining Crossroads, Fabian served as a school counselor in Charlotte, North Carolina and officiated high school basketball for several years.
To relax, Fabian welcomes the opportunity to play a round of golf with friends, take neighborhood walks, and visit visiting downtown Pittsburgh with his family. Plus, his kids keep him pretty busy with their extracurricular activities.
"Working at Crossroads, I am most inspired by building positive relationships with the families and scholars that we serve. As a counselor, I understand the importance of establishing strong connections, and my hope is that our students graduate from our program with solid community ties, which has such positive impact on their lives overall."”
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."”
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."”
Julie Sloan, LSW
Julie is a counselor at the Crossroads
To relax, Julie enjoys making memories with her family, planning events, and trying new recipes!
My belief that education is the foundation that cultivates dreams into reality and aspirations into tangible successes is what brought me to Crossroads.”
Brionna Street has been the Office Administrator of Crossroads for four years, assisting the organization with all daily operations and ensuring that staff and scholars are supported. A Crossroads alumna, Brionna graduated from Oakland Catholic High School in 2012, and, before joining the team at Crossroads, she worked for several years as a licensed cosmetologist.
During her time with Crossroads, Brionna has been a driving force behind several initiatives, including spearheading a scholar-talk series called Let’s Talk, where students have the opportunity to get to know more about each other outside of the school environment. Brionna is also involved at her high school alma mater, coaching the Oakland Catholic Step Team (OC H.Y.P.E.). She continues to find ways to use her experiences as a Crossroads alumna to mentor and help current scholars.
When she's not working, Brionna is studying to earn her bachelor's degree in Business Management and enjoys spending time with her adorable son.
"Crossroads is the solid foundation students need to help guide them in the right direction going into high school. Crossroads brings out the best in our scholars, molding successful young men and women."”
Director of Programs
As Crossroads' Director of Programs, Damion Wilson focuses on initiating new programs and refining existing programs so that they align with current research and best practices while meeting the needs of our scholars and their families. With over 15 years of experience in community education and outreach, Damion has proven himself to be a social advocate on several fronts.
In addition to being named one of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 in 2010, Damion was honored in 2012 with the Academy of Adolescent Health Youth Advocate Award in Pennsylvania. Extremely involved in his community, Damion has also served on several local and statewide boards and coalitions.
A University of Pittsburgh alumnus, Damion holds a B.S. in Marketing, and he is also a proud resident of Penn Hills, where he lives with his wife, Ruth, and three children.