YMCA Selects Sylvan Argo for Teen Center Director

Sylvan Argo. Courtesy photo


By Carol A. Clark
Los Alamos Daily Post

The Family YMCA has hired Sylvan Argo as its new director for the Los Alamos Teen Center.

Argo will fill the position left vacant by former director Michelangelo Lobato who has accepted a counseling position at Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock.

Lobato served on the four-panel committee that reviewed 20 applicants before selecting Argo.

“I am ecstatic and very excited that Argo is getting the job,” Lobato told the Los Alamos Daily Post today. “She has done an amazing job on every program she has been involved in. I know she will take the Teen Center to a whole next level.”

Argo has been serving as Community Programs director at the Y for more than a year.

“I’m thrilled to have been chosen for this position and feel very lucky to be involved in this part of our community,” Argo said during an interview this afternoon.

In a news statement earlier today she said, “I believe the Teen Center is a critical asset for our community, and I am excited by the opportunity to explore, create and promote programs, including the development of a new space, that support the teens of Los Alamos.”

Lobato began training Argo on her new duties at the Teen Center Wednesday and again today. She officially takes over the reins Friday.

Argo graduated Cum Laude from Whitman College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She earned distinction on coursework for a master’s degree in Human Ecology from University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. She has lived in Botswana, Swaziland, Kenya, Mozambique and Egypt and holds an avid personal interest in community development. Her personal credo is to embrace cultural differences and promote positive communication between individuals of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and ages.

She moved to Los Alamos in 1998 and graduated from Los Alamos High School with “the class of Cerro Grande.”

“I can identify with life as a teen in Los Alamos and appreciate our community for the assets it provides to support our youth,” she said.

Argo brings more than 10 years experience researching, creating, piloting, implementing and evaluating youth and teen programs in nonprofit and school settings. She was a summer intern for two summers at the United States Agency for International Development in Cairo, Egypt, and spent another two summers with USAID in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, where she explored a piece of her undergraduate thesis research through the Health and Social Development Office, in cooperation  with Save the Children Federation STI/HIV Prevention Program. She also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for Build a Bridge International in Philadelphia, a program that teaches life skills through the arts to underserved youth and adults in homeless shelters and transitional homes.

Argo began working seasonally for the Y in 2004 directing the Y’s Earth Service Corps (YES Corps) program. She completed her MSc dissertation based on this experience, which was titled, “Planting the Seeds of Ecological Literacy in an Environmental Education Programme: Cultivating Connections Between Place, People and Community.” She performed this function for several summers, and also served as a contract employee with Los Alamos County as its Community Outreach coordinator. 

Her role at the Y expanded to a fulltime position in 2009 as she directed the Climbing Wall and Adventures Programs. Argo worked with the Y’s JUNTOS and Youth Mobilizer programs, providing mentorship and leadership to high school age youth in Los Alamos and Española. In 2012, she became the Y’s Community Programs director overseeing YES Corps, the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), iCare Wednesdays and iCare Camps, and the Los Alamos Youth Food Project. Argo also supported teachers at the environmental clubs at the high school and middle school.

“Sylvan is a tremendous asset to the Y and to our community,” YMCA CEO Linda Daly said in a news release. “Her passion for connecting youth to the outdoors is evident through her development of our YES Corps program, which is now a summer model that the YMCA of the USA has benchmarked as a national standard. Like Michelangelo, Sylvan is considered a ‘go to’ resource in Los Alamos in issues pertaining to youth.”

Michelangelo Lobato and Sylvan Argo. Courtesy Photo

Argo enjoys painting and drawing, photography, gardening, guitar, theatre, poetry, ultimate Frisbee, yoga, hiking, camping and climbing.

About the Teen Center: The Y has operated the Los Alamos Teen Center through a contract with Los Alamos County since 2011. The Teen Center serves up to 50 youth daily, with peak periods of more than 100. The center is next to Los Alamos High School, on the ground level of the Trinity on the Hill Church. Plans are underway to develop portions of the former Community Building at 20th Street and Central Avenue as a new Teen Center space.

The Teen Center collaborates with many organizations including Los Alamos Public Schools, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Los Alamos County and UNM‐LA to bring enriching programs and opportunities to connect caring adult mentors with youth. The Teen Center is available free of charge to high school age youth.


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