New ‘big sister’ heads mentoring group |

New ‘big sister’ heads mentoring group

The Union StaffTilisa May (left), the new executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County, looks over materials about an upcoming fund-raiser with Charlie Abernathybettis of Maverick Designs and Sierra Fine Arts.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada County has a new biggest sister.

Tilisa May is the new executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County.

As head of the community service organization, May, 35, will lead an ambitious project that could double the number of children served by the organization.

May took the post Sept. 30, replacing former executive director Neil Bledsoe, who left to take care of business commitments, said May.

May is familiar with the area – she was a student at Nevada Union High School in her freshman and sophomore years.

One of her biggest tasks is overseeing an 18-month-old program offering in-school mentoring.

The agency received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education this month to help fund the program, which has started at Scotten and Lyman Gilmore schools.

The school-based mentoring requires only an hour a week and could get more people involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters’ traditional program, which pairs kids with adults.

With the school program, May hopes to double the number of Nevada County child participants, which currently ranges from 50 to 75.

The program could also lead to more successful matches of adults with kids – an ongoing challenge. The number of little brothers exceeds the number of big brothers by three to one.

May faces the somewhat nerve-wracking task of organizing her first fund-raiser, a Nov. 16 wine-tasting event at Miners Foundry. As the last fund-raiser of the year, it plays an important role in meeting the organization’s expenses.

Board members said they picked May to be executive director because she has the right combination of commitment to children, organizational skills and grant-management experience.

“She was just head and shoulders above the other applicants,” said board member Dick Law.

May’s interest in children was one attribute the board was looking for, said board member Michele White. She said the board didn’t want someone who was just looking for a job and wasn’t interested in kids.

May said she became interested in helping children when she had the first of her two daughters. She realized that not everyone has a supportive family, a grassy backyard or a cupboard full of food.

“I realized not everyone is that fortunate,” said May. “I wanted to reach out to families, especially kids.”

She went on to work for the Ron Wood Family Resource Center in Carson City, Nev. She was hired as a parenting instructor, then become its executive director in 1997, overseeing car booster seat, youth anger management and community service learning programs.

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