Maximilian Mendoza aka "Mr. Max"
Maximilian is a native of the Kansas City Metro area. Youth and prevention programs are passions of his and he dedicates a majority of his time to such programs. He himself was a troubled youth who ended up in the juvenile justice system in his adolescence. Coming from a background of drugs and gang activities, system involvement was inevitable. While Max was incarcerated, his cousin was killed in drive-by shooting. This incident helped initiate his reform. He opened up to the opportunities provided; through the help of mentoring and the realization of his own self-value, he began working to reform his life. While working on his education and participating in activities that allowed him to help his fellow inmates, Max developed a passion for helping those like him.
Upon his release, Max continued his education in Social Work. Due to his criminal background, he had difficulties finishing his degree and finding work in that field. His determination did not allow that to stop him. He volunteered to work with youth at every opportunity he could find. He began doing his own community outreach, advocating for juvenile justice reform and speaking to youth groups about his mistakes and overcoming them. Through his volunteer work he eventually made a reputation for himself that eventually reached the Kansas governor’s office. In 2012, Max became a governor appointee to the Kansas Advisory Group, (KAG), on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In the first year of his term, he was sent to Washington D.C. for the Coalition for Juvenile Justice national conference. He learned about youth engagement training and returned to Kansas with the information for the KAG to receive a federal grant for the training and development of a state youth committee. He was appointed chairperson and retains that position.
In addition to serving as the chairman of the KAG’s Youth Committee, Max also serves on the KAG’s Executive Committee and DMC Committee (Disproportionate Minority Contact). Nationally he is a member of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and locally he is involved as a member of the Advisory Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, as Sub Committee Member of Wyandotte county’s DMC committee, and as a mentor to youth in his community.
Jose M. Benavides
A Native of El Salvador moved to the United States with his family at age of 5 and by way of New Jersey ended up in Kansas City, MO where he attended college and has lived for over a decade. Mr. Benavides started teaching as a youth worker for an after-school ESL program in KCMO then was given the opportunity to help create and run a summer program and afterschool program for a Community Center in KCMO geared at serving low income families. He went on to hold positions as a private Spanish Tutor and Kindergarten teacher before taking a hiatus from education and teaching.
He waited for the perfect opportunity and is now the Lead Facilitator for the Heartland 180 program and is both striving to serve the student population of KCK as well as help strengthen the community support for a very often underserved population.
Assistant Program Coordinator
Ms. Jane Knoche
Ms. Heavenlea 'Lea' Glavin
Like many others in the metropolitan area, Ms. Lea was raised between both Kansas and Missouri. Coming from a struggling home her siblings and herself were bounced between different foster and group homes. Facing many of the same issues as a lot of troubled teens she made poor choices and spent most her teen years in the juvinile justice system. With guidance from the right people she was able to turn her life around. Graduating from USD 500 school district was just the beginning. She then continued her studies in Art School Completing her Associates and Bachelors Degree, which lead to her starting her own retail company where she owns and produces the products. After all she's been through she has now dedicated her time to mentoring young adults. Having had completed all the programs and living proof that the tools really work she is like everyone else on the team an amazing asset to our program.