- Jon MeskoExecutive Director
Jon is honored and humbled to serve as Executive Director - the work we do is the most important and fulfilling work he has ever been part of.
Growing up he was raised primarily by a single mother with 8 brothers and sisters. His mother worked hard to rise above the need for welfare support and earned her RN certification while raising 9 children. She taught him that he could achieve whatever he applied himself to, as long as he worked hard enough.
Years later, Jon is know for his leadership and organizational development skills. He has built many businesses throughout California ranging in size from one staff member to a team of 700. Prior to his transition to the non-profit sector, he built and opened seven restaurants in Southern California. He also founded, developed and managed Manhattan Denim in Manhattan Beach and Pure Tan in Hanford.
Jon earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Management and Operations from Davenport University in Michigan and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of California, Irvine. As someone who believes that more human connection and empathy is key to greater fulfilment for all, he loves inspiring at-promise youth. In the past he has been a board member for Positive Coaching Alliance, a mentor with Junior Achievement, a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a mentor at 1736 Family Crisis Center, a mentor at the Boys and Girls Club, and an instructor at PS I Love You. Most recently he increased mission results by 50% in one year as Executive Director of Caring House.
Jon has his commercial pilot's license, is a retired professional mountain biker, current professional beach volleyball player, has hiked the Annapurna Trail through the Himalayas, and is the father of an amazing 15-year-old young man.
- Angela AlvarezDirector of Programs
Hello! My name is Angela Alvarez. I am the Bridge to Success, Program Manager at Long Beach BLAST. I have had the privilege of working with BLAST since 2018.
Throughout my academic career, I developed a strong passion for helping others. As a first-generation, low-income Latina, I encountered culture shock upon entering college, faced familial pressures, and lacked financial stability. I felt lost, hopeless and found myself on the verge of breaking down and walking away numerous times. I needed support, so I looked for programs and people on campus that could support me. While at Rio Hondo Community College, I joined two student support services programs: TRIO and EOP&S. As a program participant, I received an abundance of support from both the program director and my advisors. They provided academic guidance, resources, mentorship, emotional support, and educational enrichment opportunities. With this support, I was able to transfer to a 4-year institution.
During my undergraduate studies at Cal State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), I joined TRIO once again. Being supported gave me the confidence to be academically involved and to support underrepresented student populations that, like myself, have the aspiration to succeed personally, professionally, and academically. As my interest in student support programs grew, I sought out opportunities to gain experience in the field. While in my undergrad, I became a NASPA Undergraduate Fellow (NUFP), Lead Transfer Peer Coach for the Dominguez Hills Transfer Learning Community, Summer Program Intern at TRIO Upward Bound, and Program Liaison Intern at the nonprofit organization Long Beach BLAST. Student support services programs helped me develop confidence in my abilities, grow professionally and graduate college in the top 1% of my class. This is why my mission is to help underrepresented student populations reach their goals by providing student support services.
In my current role, I manage a classroom-based program that utilizes a life skills curriculum and ancillary services to prepare students for a career and/or educational advancement. Thus far, one of my proudest accomplishments has been stewarding relationships with funders and school administrators that have contributed to expanding the program from two to eleven schools. This has meant a great deal to me as I went from impacting small groups of students throughout my career to making arrangements that extended our support and services to schools all across the Long Beach Unified School District.
As a leader, I believe that effective communication, maintaining relationships, transparency, and sustaining a vibrant culture are all vital. I aim to incorporate these values into everything I do or contribute to. I look forward to continuing to empower and support underrepresented populations.
- Stephanie ValenciaOperations Manager
Stephanie joined BLAST in 2017, originally as an intern. It wasn’t long before she was formally hired as Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper. Over five years, Ms. Valencia was consistently promoted, took on many new challenges, and received top accolades from all leadership (and anyone who knows her). After completing her Sociology Degree at CSULB, she took an opportunity to try something new.
After a 2-year period expanding her professional development, Stephanie is coming back to the BLAST family as Operations Manager. She will be using all her office management, fundraising, bookkeeping, social media, HR, operations, and team organizational skills, along with taking on new challenges and bringing the unique X-factor that she carries with her everywhere in life.
Stephanie will be a valued asset to our growing team. I look forward to working together with her and all of you to work hard, challenge each other to improve our personal and professional development, offer and award growth opportunities, promotions, and compensation increases, and most importantly, thoughtfully and lovingly serve and inspire every youth that needs our help in Long Beach.
On a personal note, Stephanie is a mother of a beautiful daughter named Lunamarie and loves to go camping, go to concerts, or be outside with family in her free time.
- Kassandra BeltranAMP Supervisor
Hello my name is Kassandra Velasquez Beltran. I serve the Female and Male Leadership Academies within the LBUSD. I have been working in education for over six years and have a passion for helping students see their potential. I believe in the B2S curriculum we provide and the power we bring to each classroom. I undoubtedly know our efforts will make an impact on our students and their future successes.
- Michael GonzalezCommunity & Family Program SpecialistMichael is a Divinities Major, with 27 years of experience working with non-profits organizations throughout the Counties of LA, Orange, and Riverside Counties. He is an at-promise youth and parent program specialist, advocate, case manager with a specific focus on school-site allocated programs, as well as, incarcerated and re-entry populations. Michael looks forward to serving our youth, connecting our families and communities, and engaging our student’s parents in creative and effective ways.
- Alesia BerryProgram CoordinatorThe Academic Mentoring Program Team welcomed Alesia Berry as the new Program Coordinator in 2023. Her background includes over 40 years with Los Angeles County, including Health & Human Services Administration and the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk managing and coordinating programs, projects, procedures, events, and personnel. Additionally, she worked with the Vegas Public Broadcasting Station KLVX Channel 10 and the Irvin D. Hunt Foundation. She is excited to be part of the BLAST family and looks forward to adding value to the team and serving our at-promise youth and community partners.
- Yvette MartinezLead College and Career Advisor
My name is Yvette Martinez, and I am the Bridge to Success (B2S) College and Career Advisor at Reid High School. To give you a brief background about myself, I have been working in the education field for over ten years and have worked with a diverse population of students. As a College and Career advisor here at LB BLAST, I plan to continue to make a difference with the students I mentor and teach them strategies they can use for their future success.
- Mayra PerezCollege & Career Advisor
Hello! My name is Mayra Perez. I am the Bridge to Success (B2S), College and Career Advisor for LBUSD’s Male and Female Leadership Academies. I was born and raised in Long Beach. I joined BLAST because it was very important to me to give back to the community that helped raise me.
- Pedro JimenezCollege & Career AdvisorMy Name is Pedro Jimenez, I am an educator. I am passionate about mentoring and guiding youth to become the best version of themselves. My goal is to develop the mind, body and spirit through connection and activities. What brings me to this work is the importance of mentoring our younger generation. I see the positive impact of having a role model guide me through life and I want to pay it forward.
- Rebecca GutierrezCollege & Career AdvisorHi, my name is Rebecca Gutierrez! I was born and raised in Long Beach and am passionate about working with youth in my community. I bring experience in the classroom as a substitute teacher in LBUSD and am also currently a teaching credential candidate at Cal State Long Beach. I’m excited to be a part of the great work BLAST does!