Soraya Martini – Digital Marketing Director
Soraya graduated from high school with Honors, and was awarded the Presidential Scholarship to the University of New Mexico, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. After graduating, she was recruited by a Fortune 100 company, and moved to Dallas, TX. While working, she attended Southern Methodist University, and completed a Master’s Degree in Finance. Although her professional background has primarily been in Advertising Sales, she has also held the position of District Manager with ADP, Territory Sales Manager with Philip Morris USA, and Account Executive with FedEx Office. Soraya has a passion for helping others, and when she has free time she volunteers at The Storehouse Food Pantry and Pink Warrior House Foundation, to name a few.
Sean Cowgill – Wings WORKS
I was born in 1964 and raised in San Francisco. I was brought up in a violent alcoholic household filled with daily verbal and physical abuse from my father. I went to 5 different elementary schools, 3 junior highs, and 5 high schools as my mother ran from city to city and state to state in fear of our lives from my father who chased us for years. I was always the new kid in school. I learned to find other kids from broken homes to befriend. This eventually led to drug addiction and criminal behaviors. Although I was always a straight A student, I was never in one school long enough to aspire to a happy future.
I did manage to attend several junior colleges in my 20s and 30s including Columbia School of Broadcasting along with majors in Advertising and Marketing. I never received a degree as I had no money for higher colleges. I have worked for 30 years in the Restaurant and Hotel industry. I have had positions as Head Chef, Restaurant Manager, and Director of Food and Beverages.
Drug addiction struggles, along with depression and lack of self-esteem from my upbringing, led to a criminal record. Drug possession charges of small amounts which were felonies in the 1990s landed me in 11 county jails over 20 years. With help from AA, therapists, and residential drug programs I managed to get a year clean and sober several times, but always returned to what I thought were my father’s words growing up that “I would never amount to anything.” Both parents died of alcoholic related deaths.
Finally, at 48 years old, I was indicted on federal charges of wire fraud. I was released on a pretrial bond for 4 years and eventual sentenced to 52 months in federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado. Prison saved my life. I now have well over 5 years drug free. I started AA meetings in prison with the help of the Associate Warden who allowed me to write to AA and have books, literature, pamphlets, a meeting space, and time slot each week. I also completed a 6-month residential “attack therapy” drug program while on pretrial, a 500-hour residential drug abuse program in prison and a 90-day residential drug program after release from prison. I now attend regular AA and NA meetings as part of my continuing recovery. I also sponsor other men in AA.
Since my release 2 years ago I started a YouTube channel called Federal Prison Talk where I help people facing federal prison on pretrial and after prison as well. I have made over 200 videos, interviews, and live podcasts and my channel keeps growing with over 130,000 views and 2,000 subscribers.
Now I work for Wings For LIFE helping families of incarcerated and people being released from prison known as returning citizens. My life now has a purpose. My father was wrong. I did amount to something!
Ken Jackson – Wings Program Director
Ken Jackson is an author, professional speaker, WHY Certified Professional, personal and business development coach and an entrepreneur. He has created seminars and workshops for high schools, Startup Teen Entrepreneur Summits, Office of African American Affairs, the Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission and Wings for Life, a non-profit organization that teaches soft-skills. Other non-profit organizations in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas that he has worked with include: Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Junior Achievement.
Ken works with young adults and helps them aim for their full potential. Through in-person and online workshops, life-coaching, motivational talks, and mentorship, he uses real world applications to encourage and inspire others to identify and overcome the challenges that are holding them back from greatness. In his book Live and Learn Your Way to Success, readers are encouraged to evaluate their life choices and redefine their mindsets to avoid being bound to regret and self-doubt. You can also find Ken volunteering as a high jump coach in local middle and high schools. Ken holds a degree in electronics and computer engineering and worked for Intel Corporation over 15 years. Ken has been a certified business mentor with SCORE and has over 30 year’s business experience. Ken is personal and business development coach, he is knowledgeable and dedicated to helping people discover their personal WHY Operating System and his WHY is to help people find a better way to achieve their personal and professional goals. Learn more about Ken at: www.TheKJEffect.com
Yolanda Mattison – Volunteer Coordinator
Yolanda has been involved with WFLI for since 2006. Since 2013 she has been the Volunteer Coordinator. Prior to being the Volunteer Coordinator she served on the Board of Directors for 5 years, and volunteered prior to that. Yolanda is retired from Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit after 25 years of service and also worked as a mortgage loan originator with Access Funding Inc. for 8 years.
Mike Sylskar – Tutoring Leader / Pre-K Director
Mike has run his own company, Quality Custom, Inc., for the past 20 years doing metal fabrication, remodeling, engineering, automotive, electronics, and has been a dedicated volunteer for numerous organizations as well. Mike is the father of three daughters and loves working with children and their parents.
Marti Wolf – Wings Marketing Director
Marti Wolf brings over four decades of high-level business experience to Wings For LIFE International. She began her career in the Chicago area working for a Fortune 100 Company where she was Director of Marketing Communications at the corporate level, managing several nationwide marketing programs, including over 200 events held across the world each year. Her 11 years with the company included major travel throughout the US and parts of Europe.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1985, Marti was Director of Business Development and Show Manager for
Electronic Conventions Management, one of the largest producers of trade shows in the US, with full responsibility for regional shows in Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Seattle and Portland. Leaving there, she was Director of Business Development for a large environmental communications company headquartered in LA. While there she authored recycling plans for San Diego, Long Beach and Los Angeles. She also developed the first phone book recycling program in the U.S. for NY/NE Telephone. A friend from her trade show days entered the world of Direct Response Television (DRTV) and had her first TV product hit, but minimal business experience. Marti joined the then-small team of 3 people and, as Senior VP, helped build the firm into one of the top three in the industry. Relocating from LA to South Orange Country CA in 1997, Marti was hired as President of a very high-tech skin care company that licensed, developed and launched one of the most innovating products seen in several generations.
Returning to Albuquerque in 2004 to support family during her mother’s last days, she formed her own consulting company, working on contract with the City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department for 16 years, as well as working with many other clients. She brings to Wings a fresh perspective on marketing/communications and has been working hard to increase our profile throughout our area, our state, the U.S., and the world.