Our Team

Mary Ellen Sprenkel
President & CEO

Mary Ellen Sprenkel has been a long-time champion for youth. Mary Ellen came to The Corps Network in March of 2008 as Director of Government Relations. She was promoted to Vice President of External Affairs in 2011 and then appointed Interim CEO in May of 2012, prior to being selected as the President and CEO in October of 2012. During her tenure, Service and Conservation Corps have become better known programs to lawmakers and policymakers throughout the federal government. Legislation that would expand and bolster youth programs including Service and Conservation Corps has been routinely introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Under Mary Ellen’s leadership, in 2010 more than $63 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects were granted to Service and Conservation Corps throughout the country by 15 federal agencies. These projects provided youth with jobs and service opportunities while connecting them to public lands including national parks and forests. More recently, Mary Ellen has served as a member of the Federal Advisory Committee tasked with providing recommendations to federal land management agencies on how to implement a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

In addition to her productive time at The Corps Network, she has ten years of Capitol Hill experience, including two years on the House Committee on Education and Labor handling postsecondary education, training, and life-long learning programs. She also worked for Representatives Matthew G. Martinez (D-CA) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Before joining The Corps Network, Mary Ellen was Vice President of Government Relations at the Education Finance Council, the national trade association for nonprofit and state based student loan providers. Prior to that, she spent two years as the Assistant to the President of the University of Montana.

Contact Mary Ellen Sprenkel

Marie Walker
Vice President

Marie Walker joined The Corps Network in 2014 as Vice President. She previously served as the Director of Programs and Development for the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia (CCCWV).

During her 15 years with CCCWV, Marie was involved in the development and implementation of several innovative programs, including the first Brownfields Job Training Program in West Virginia, and the Office of Surface Mining’s VISTA team, which provides leadership and community-building capacity to coal mining counties in eight Appalachian states. Marie also oversaw CCCWV Youth and Development department, which employs disadvantaged young people throughout West Virginia. In 2013, as a member of CCCWV’s senior management team, Marie helped organize and managed the oversight of 352 service projects that occurred in the span of 5 as part of the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative. The projects took place in 9 southern West Virginia counties and on National Park Service property. Over 1,700 local volunteers participated, as well as over 30,000 Boy Scouts of America Troops from across the country, and 16 teams of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members. The Initiative generated over 319,000 service hours during the 5 day period.

Marie has served on the board of directors for several organizations, including NASCC (National Association of Service and Conservation Corps); WV Development HUB; Harpers Ferry Job Center Community Council; American Cancer Society; and Main Street Martinsburg. She currently serves as a board member for OSM/VISTA Teams, and as a member of the Service Year Advisory Committee.

Marie holds bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology, as well as MPA in Public Administration. She studied at Concord University, Old Dominion University, and West Virginia University. Go Mountain Lions, Monarchs, and Mountaineers!

In her spare time, Marie enjoys playing nine holes of golf, listening to great jazz music, and watching college football.

Contact Marie Walker

Carolyn Benard
Director of Grants & Agreements

Carolyn manages grants and agreements for The Corps Network. Previously, at The Corps Network, Carolyn worked as the Grants Compliance Manager of the Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans. In this role Carolyn was responsible for managing the data and evaluation side of the program as well as providing training and technical assistance to subgrantees regarding Corpsmember management and support, grants compliance, performance measurement and data collection, and program development.

Carolyn has worked in the nonprofit and government sector for a cumulative 17 years in the fields of youth development, violence and drug prevention, and service learning. She has been involved in national service in a variety of capacities for 16 years as a Corpsmember, supervisor, grant manager, and trainer.

While earning her bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology at Pacific Lutheran University, Carolyn studied abroad in Jamaica where she served as a teacher at a local children's home. She obtained a certificate in Federal Grants Management: Pass-Through Track, with Management Concepts in 2012, and looks to take advantage of lifelong learning opportunities whenever possible to stay inspired. Immediately prior to joining to The Corps Network originally, Carolyn worked for the Washington Service Corps (WSC) for nearly four years as a Program Coordinator supporting Corps across the state as well as the WSC Civic Engagement initiative. Just out of college, Carolyn served as an AmeriCorps member in 1999-2000, with a local community action agency as a Volunteer Coordinator for a senior nutrition program in Washington State.

In her off hours you can find Carolyn walking around aimlessly on her own photo safaris, looking to find new ways of seeing the world and the everyday “mundane;” trekking through nature when she can escape the urban jungle, finding green spaces; and soaking cultural experiences that Washington, D.C. offers.

Contact Carolyn Benard

Lael Bialek
Grants Assistant

Lael assists with the management of grants at The Corps Network.

She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. During college, Lael spent a summer working on a trail crew with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) in Colorado.

After graduation, Lael moved to Bellingham, Washington to work for Washington Conservation Corps (WCC). As a WCC crew member, Lael worked on Salmon habitat restoration projects with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA). The following year, Lael continued her work with NSEA, as Volunteer Coordinator, through the Washington Service Corps (WSC). After her term with the WSC, Lael worked at REI in Bellingham as a Banker and Customer Service Specialist.

Lael enjoys running, eating carrots, waking up early, playing board games, singing along to top 40 hits, and exploring the outdoors on foot.

Contact Lael

Joe Gersen
Director of Government Relations, Public Lands Service Coalition

As Director of Government Relations for the Public Lands Service Coalition, Joe works with federal policy makers in Congress and the Administration to promote youth service jobs and career development on our nation's public lands and waters.  Each year, Coalition members engage more than 17,000 young people in jobs and service opportunities, and they are poised to expand greatly to address youth unemployment, billions of dollars of backlogged maintenance needs on public lands, and the disengagement of youth from the great American outdoors.  Joe leads coalition activities and handles policy related to environmental stewardship, resource conservation, and public lands-related policy and programs for The Corps Network.  

Joe has over a decade of experience in Washington DC at non-profit organizations, as well as in Congress and in the Executive branch.  Joe has also spent time on both national and state wide political campaigns. Joe started his career as an AmeriCorps VISTA in California and has a Masters of Business Administration from University of Maryland. Joe lives in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in NW Washington DC with his wife and dog, and enjoys bicycling, hiking, and scuba diving.  

Contact Joe Gersen

John Hosey
Gulf Coast Restoration Corps Director of Development

John Hosey joined The Corps Network staff in December of 2013 as the Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative (GCRI) Director of Development. In 2012, he completed his M.A. in Human Services (Counseling) and also holds a M.Div. degree (Pastoral Counseling) from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Anthropology and Biblical Studies from Criswell College.

His current responsibilities include identifying and engaging government and non-governmental partners to develop a local environmental restoration workforce opportunities for youth and veterans. The focus of the GCRI Program is to provide a trained and qualified local workforce that will participate in and contribute to conservation and restoration projects in the five state gulf region associated with the BP Oil Spill Restore Act.

These programs will provide resources and support for starting programs that are focused on at risk community members and veterans. The programs will provide ecological and environmental restoration training and leadership development components. In the end, the goal is to assist local communities to produce long term Corps resources that provide conservation/restoration skills based jobs and education for young adults and veterans.

In his previous assignments he served as Director of United Way’s Volunteer South Mississippi, Board President for the South Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and Mental Health Response Director for MS Interfaith Disaster Task Force. He was actively involved in disaster response and community development projects related to expanding volunteerism across the state and building collaborative partnerships to address both current and future needs related to improving community resiliency and disaster response and recovery efforts.

Since 2007, John has assisted in regional research projects with several universities.  As a result he has co-published several articles and served as both Investigator and Co-Investigator on grants related to these projects.  These programs focused on collaborative community partnership development, disaster mental health interventions and crisis response efforts following disasters (e.g., hurricane Katrina, Gustav and Gulf Oil Spill).  He is also currently serving as a member of the Gulf Coast Center for Resiliency Advisory Board and the MS Gulf Coast Regional Planning Sub-Committee on Resiliency.

John enjoys the recreational and sports events offered along the Gulf Coast. When he is not working he enjoys spending time outdoors fishing, hiking and exploring historical sites.

Contact John Hosey

Levi Novey
Director of Communications & Marketing

As The Corps Network's Director of Communications & Marketing, Levi is responsible for telling the incredible stories of Service and Conservation Corps nationwide. He was one of the co-authors of the book Join the Crew: Inspirational Stories of Young Adults in America's Service and Conservation Corps.

Prior to joining the Corps Network, Levi worked for the U.S. National Park Service for 10 years as a park ranger, social science researcher, and science communication specialist for 20 different national parks.

He has received a master's degree in Conservation Social Sciences from the University of Idaho and a bachelor's degree in History from Tufts University.

In addition to having co-authored Join the Crew, Levi has written several guidebooks to U.S. national parks, as well as scholarly papers and over 300 articles as an environmental journalist while living abroad with his family in Peru. He has written for numerous publications and groups including The Huffington Post, Live Oak Media, and Greenopolis. He enjoys traveling, outdoor activities, photography, movies, visiting the parks and museums in the DC area, and spending time  with his wife Alicia and daughter Coral.

Contact Levi Novey

Theresa Precia
Assistant to the President and Office Manager

Theresa has well over 25 years supporting C-level executives in the nonprofit sector of the Metropolitan area.

As Assistant to the President and Office Manager, Theresa provides C-level executive administrative support to the President/ CEO, Vice President and Director of Finance and Administration. Her duties include managing calendars and workload, compiling materials for meetings, meeting planning and routing information among the Management Team. She also provides general office support for The Corps Network's Washington, DC office team.

Theresa holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, numerous continuing educational training certificates and a DC License and Bonded Notary. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, listening to smooth jazz and visiting the Caribbean Islands.

Contact Theresa Precia

Emilie Rafal
Data Collection Systems Coordinator

Emilie Rafal joined The Corps Network in May 2012 as the Data Collection Systems Coordinator. In this role, Emilie is responsible for implementing and managing a data collection system that will allow individual Corps and TCN to track programmatic elements and outcomes.

Prior to joining The Corps Network, Emilie supported out of school time programming for middle school youth at Higher Achievement Baltimore, where she managed the data collection databases, supported development, and assisted with recruitment.

Emilie graduated from the College of William & Mary (Tribe Pride!) with a BA in both Psychology and Women’s Studies. Outside of the office, she enjoys taking her Corgi mix on hikes and cooking vegetarian feasts.

Contact Emilie Rafal


Tess Richey
Program & Development Coordinator

Tess joined The Corps Network in December 2013. As the Program & Development Coordinator she helps provide support in the areas of fund development, external and government relations, membership, and programs and projects.

Tess has a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources. While in college, Tess was the President of the Natural Resources Management Society and played on CSU’s rugby team.

Prior to joining The Corps Network, Tess worked for a non-profit, Southwest Youth Services, which focused on the health and wellness of Native American youth as well as at-risk youth.  She served as an AmeriCorps Vista for Southwest Youth Services for two summers, and during her second summer she supervised the Youth Conservation Corps program located in New Mexico. Her responsibilities included teaching and supervising young Native American students about ecology, restoration, conservation and natural resources management. Tess also spent two years during college working in the Operations department at i-cubed, a geospatial information systems organization based out of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Tess is a native New Mexican who enjoys hiking, kayaking and eating green chile.

Contact Tess Richey

Capri St. Vil
Director of Education Programs

Capri St. Vil is the Director of Education Programs at The Corps Network in DC. She joined the Corps Network in 2012 to work on the Post-Secondary Success Education Initiative, which was funded by Open Society and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Capri has over 25 years of experience in education in New York City, Seattle, and DC working early on in Adult Education. For seven years she taught high school English. It was there that she was selected to work collaboratively with IBM and the reading department to introduce educational technology with a program called P.A.L.S (Principle of Alphabet Literacy System) into the remedial high school reading program. She successfully wrote a grant with a member of the science department, where they introduced the first Macintosh SE computers in teaching HyperCard to the student population.

She went on to teach Media Studies/Cultural Studies for ten years at Seattle Central Community College, where she was introduced to the concept of “Coordinated Studies/Learning Communities,” which is a collaborative interdisciplinary approach to higher education. She was selected to teach the Intercultural Communication course for international students, among students primarily from Japan, Taiwan, China, and Indonesia at Seattle Central Community College. Capri served four years as a Core Faculty Member and then the Director of Student Life and Disability Services at Antioch University Seattle. Capri has developed college-level and high school-level curricula.

Prior to joining the Corps Network, she was in NYC at Federation Employment Guidance Services (FEGS) in their Education and Youth Division where she developed the education program for their now signature Bronx program (serving over 400 young people a year) that works primarily with foster care youth. 

Capri has a BFA in Television Production and her MA in Educational Technology and Instructional Design from New York University.

Contact Capri St. Vil

Nancy Siegal
Director of Finance and Administration

As the Director of Finance and Administration for The Corps Network, Nancy's activities include, but are not limited to budget and finance (including all grants awarded to The Corps Network), general office administration, meeting planning, and human resource functions.

Nancy has over 30 years of Washington association experience and has built a network of financial, human resource, and hotel resources within the community. Prior to joining to The Corps Network, Nancy served as Assistant Vice President for Finance and Administration at the Association of Academic Health Centers. Nancy is a graduate of Lesley University and holds a Masters degree from Central Connecticut State University.

Contact Nancy Siegal

Bobby Tillett 
Member Affairs Assistant

As the Member Affairs Assistant, Bobby works closely with The Corps Network membership to promote and strengthen our mission and build relationships between member organizations and TCN staff to inform interested parties about TCN initiatives. Bobby also supports the mobilization and outreach strategies of the Government Relations team.

Prior to working at The Corps Network, Bobby completed two AmeriCorps terms-of-service with the Montana Conservation Corps as both a crewmember and a crewleader. He served on a backcountry wilderness trails crew as well as a roving habitat restoration crew. Bobby also worked as the Government Relations Intern at The Corps Network where he assisted both Directors of Government Relations as well as provided logistical support for the Public Lands Service Coalition.

Bobby graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a BA in International Affairs. Outside of work, he enjoys running, documentaries on netflix, and watching the Wizards and Nationals.


Hannah Traverse
Communications Coordinator

As the Communications Coordinator, Hannah develops and produces written, graphic and video content. She also helps manage The Corps Network’s website and social media accounts. Hannah was the lead author of the book Join the Crew: Inspirational Stories of Young Adults in America's Service and Conservation Corps.

Hannah received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While in college, Hannah volunteered at the National Air and Space Museum, and volunteered in DC Public Schools through DC Reads (a tutoring program) and Prime Movers (a journalism education program). She also spent a semester interning with the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and spent over a year interning and writing for Street Sense; a DC-based newspaper focused on raising awareness about homelessness.

Hannah enjoys warm jackets, houseplants and figs. 

Contact Hannah Traverse


Leslie Wilkoff
Director of AmeriCorps Education Award Program

Leslie began with the Human Environment Center in 1984 and transitioned to The Corps Network when it was created in 1985. Since she began, Leslie has planned numerous conferences, designed and edited a quarterly newsletter and directed member services. Leslie has taken on almost every responsibility possible at one time or another, and has become one of the most knowledgeable leaders in the Corps Movement, sought out for her wisdom, command of Corps history, and expertise in AmeriCorps programs and initiatives.

Leslie Wilkoff leads The Corps Network's AmeriCorps Education Award Program (EAP) and created TCN's AmeriCorps Program Manual as well as a document on non-traditional uses for AmeriCorps Education Award (scholarship). She also ensures compliance and provides technical assistance to TCN Subgrantees in Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) AmeriCorps grants.

Throughout her tenure Leslie has developed a cache of tools for national service and youth development programs and has emerged as one of the leaders of the EAP serving on numerous working groups for CNCS. She also provides training to Subgrantees for the eGrants Portal on-line member management system, AmeriCorps Compliance and other aspects for running a successful, compliant program. In addition, she worked with Willis to develop The Corps Network's Health Insurance Plan for Corpsmembers and AmeriCorps members.

Contact Leslie Wilkoff


Tyler Wilson
Director of Government Relations

As Director of Government Relations for The Corps Network, Tyler focuses on developing and advocating legislative and policy initiatives for the Corps Network; providing analysis and tracking of Congress, the White House, and federal agencies; and working with advocacy organizations here in DC on improving the outlook for youth development and other issues for Corps. He also focuses on raising Corps’ federal and legislative profile, improving internal government relations operations, representing The Corps Network publicly, and developing new Corps initiatives on education and workforce development, along with other key Corps issue areas.

As a native Iowan, Tyler has long had a love of politics and policy and volunteered on political campaigns and organizations in college. He has 8 years of experience working for a Member of Congress from the State of Iowa and on Congressional and Presidential campaigns. For 6 years in Congress, he managed a wide-range of issues including agriculture, education, energy and environment, financial services, housing, labor and workforce, national service, and transportation/infrastructure.

He worked with the House Education and Labor Committee and managed disaster recovery issues through the worst natural disaster in the Iowa’s history. Additionally he has drafted successful policy, legislation, and amendments related to education, energy and the environment, workforce, natural disasters, and transportation among others. He also has broad experience developing communications, public affairs, and press-related projects.

Tyler lives with his wife, twin boy and girl, and dog in DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He enjoys reading, music, movies, exercising, and all types of outdoor recreation. He has a BA in both Political Science and Communication Studies from the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, IA - Go Hawks!

Contact Tyler Wilson