IMG_8431Angel Cotto

Angel joined the Hub in September 2015 as an Action Researcher. He is a very energetic young man who gives a younger view to the hub. Since he is a teen, he has experience in the way youth talk, what they like, and what ways they get information. He joined to better help people and make a difference. He recently graduated from High School Inc., a business and insurance academy located in Hartford.

Angel is currently attending Capital community college until he transfers to Central Connecticut State University to study Community Psychology. He is currently working for Bear’s Smokehouse, a restaurant in Downtown Hartford, but he also likes to volunteer in the community and help others in his spare time. Angel is a part of youth advocacy group in Hartford called Compass Junior Peacebuilders. He volunteers there in different communities to help advocate for educational rights. He wants to advocate more for youth and LGBTQ+ rights and spends time helping youth organizations around Hartford. He has worked with neighborhoods and organizations advocating for different rights and community issues, event planning, social media outreach, and getting youth involved. In his spare time, he competes in triathlons, travels, and loves to play video games.

For inquiries about our social media presence, contact him at:


13267730_10153717329083251_5355624996638916743_nDiana Fontaine

Diana joined the team as an Action Researcher with direct experience with youth homelessness in September 2015. In the summer of the same year, she helped to establish a crisis hotline for youth and young adults through Advocacy Unlimited and received an award from the Keep The Promise Coalition for being active in advocacy and research towards ending homelessness in CT.

Diana is currently working on a certification for IT & Networking and plans to further her education. She aspires to use her professional training and experience at the Institute for Community Research to make a difference in the LGBTQ+ community.  As someone who has experienced homelessness and struggled with her identity, she is motivated to help create a more positive world for people like them.  In her spare time, she likes to pet dogs and plays video games.


jayzon coleJay Perry

Jay is an Action Researcher at the Institute for the Community Research. He joined the Youth Action Hub in February of 2016. Jay’s research interests focus on understanding the scope of youth homelessness in Connecticut and what can be done to end youth homelessness.

Jay is currently enrolled in college to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work. He has completed two years at Capital Community College and earned an associate’s degree in human services. In addition to his educational background, he has had direct experience with homelessness and DCF.  He enjoys watching TV, cleaning and hanging with his family and friends. Jay is a very opened minded person who enjoys having fun. He is a big supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.


Natalie Garcia

Natalie is a research coordinator at the Youth Action Hub. She is a big part of the behind-the-scenes activities of the project. Scheduling meetings and events, talking to youth, and managing data collection and outreach are just some of her contributions to the team. She brings positivity and critical thinking to the team, preferring to play devil’s advocate during heated discussions at the hub. She is very passionate about helping and guiding people in vulnerable situations, because of the help that she’s received in her past when she was struggling with being LGBTQ+ and dealing with a toxic home situation. She wants to be able to help other people who have had struggles due to rejection by families and communities.

Natalie graduated from UConn in the Fall of 2014 with a bachelors in Psychology and wants to continue working in the field surrounding human services. She strives to understand best practices for reaching and engaging others in vulnerable populations, so that she may work in the future to engage these populations, as well as educate others on best practices. Her goal in life is to spread happiness, hope, and positivity to those around her and to enjoy life along the way regardless of life’s ups and downs. Her hobbies include art, music, and she is an avid video game nerd.

For general inquiries, contact her at:

sexinesss-4127430424-1523045482535.jpgMel Serrano

Mel joined the Hub in March 2017 as a youth action researcher. Mel is a very humorous and outgoing youngster to everyone she meets. She joined to help youth have a voice and to organize better-living situations. She was once homeless and wants to let people know that it’s not the end of the world, even when you hit rock bottom. You can’t give up on your dreams just because you feel numb with your life; it should give you more of a reason to do better and become who you want to be.

Mel has recently graduated from New Britain High School and is currently attending Tunxis Community College. She plans on working in the filming field and is planning on getting her Master’s degree in Fine Arts. She was president of the Gay-Straight Alliance club in her high school her junior year. She’s very friendly, sweet and communicates well with others. Mel spends most of her free time drawing and writing. She is also running a YouTube channel called “MELANO” where she vlogs and tells different stories about her life. She plans on publishing her experience with homelessness and having other situations to inspire young teens to never give up.


20180330_165252Jammel Nelson

Jammel has been an action researcher for the Hub since May 2017. He is 21 years old and has a passion to encourage and empower youth and young adults. He is a great listener and has experience navigating the housing system and seeking services. His experience at YouMedia (a local teen space at the Hartford public library) has connected him with a large network of individuals with lived experience.  He has a passion for journalism and media as well as youth advocacy and politics.

Jammel is currently working at Amazon and also working on a degree in journalism and political science to create a youth-powered media outlet. He is hellbent on ending youth homelessness and empowering youth with the tools to succeed in society with their own rules and views. One way he is doing this is through his website Jam-Dragon.Productions where youth are able to write and express themselves. He likes to spend his free time writing blogs and poetry as well as playing video games.



Heather Mosher

Dr. Heather Mosher is a Research Scientist and the founder and director of the Youth Action Hub at the Institute for Community Research. Dr. Mosher received her doctorate in systems science and social/community psychology. She specializes in youth participatory action research, youth-adult partnerships, systems science, and community-based participatory research that utilizes longitudinal design, quantitative and qualitative research methods, ethnography, participatory video, and system dynamics modeling. Dr. Mosher’s research focuses on social determinants of health, community prevention, mental health, youth homelessness, and housing.


For inquiries about the Youth Action Hub model, contact her at: