Meet The Staff

Robert Aboites
Chief Operating Officer
Robert has 25 years of experience as a strategic and operational director in the corporate Information Technology arena, the last 15 of which he spent working for Fox Entertainment Group as Executive Director in Information Technology. Robert also has over 15 years of experience in various areas and levels of ministry and currently serves as COO of UYWI and Executive Pastor at Seventh Street Church in Long Beach.
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Larry Acosta
Founder/Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Larry Acosta is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic Ministry Center, Urban Youth Workers Institute. Larry’s passion is to envision and shape the emerging generation of urban leadership for transformational ministry. Larry’s claim to fame is that he is married to his lovely wife Jayme and they have four wonderful children.
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Maria Cortez
 Vice President of Strategy & Execution
Full of passion for at-risk youth, Maria is driven to serve and has over 10 years of experience working with youth & community serving organizations as a Business Manager & Overseeing Operations. Technically she has no kids, but claims her nieces & nephews as her own. She enjoys spending time with her husband Will, riding their motorcycles, beach days and hiking with friends.
Andy Fierro
Director of Creative Solutions
Andy comes with volunteering experience in youth ministry. As a volunteer and attendee at various UYWI events, he also knows that we provide resources like none other to youth workers. It is because of this knowledge he was glad to jump on board when asked to join the UYWI Staff. When Andy is not designing for the organization, he’s enjoying family time with his wife Stephanie & son while serving at their home church Disciple Church.
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Derek Hoiem
 Digital Engagement Manager
Derek is the Digital Engagement Manager for UYWI. Derek runs the JamTheHype.com platform and helps with strategic initiatives across UWYI to raise visibility for programs and share the Gospel more widely.
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Tommy Nixon
Chief Strategy Officer
Tommy has over 15 years experience in building teams and non-profits to have a greater impact in the urban center. His job is to articulate and implement a strategic vision for UYWI as we enter into a new season. He is a founder of Solidarity a community development organization and currently the lead Pastor at One Life City Church. He is married to his wife Rachael since 2003 and has five amazing children.
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John Park
Content Curator
John is the Content Curator for UYWI. With 15 years of youth and college ministry experience, John is passionate to see healthy leaders disciple the next generation of young people.
Lisa Schoch
Before becoming a pastor’s wife and mom, Lisa worked in the global public accounting field for sixteen years. Her focus and passion is to assist churches and non-profits with their accounting and finances.
DiAnna Spells
 Training Administrator
DiAnna brings in-depth experience in project management, marketing research, consulting, and conference planning and execution. She earned a degree in Business Administration (Management) from the University of Cincinnati. Having directed several conferences in both the church and para-church settings, along with solid senior administrative skills, DiAnna is an asset to the UYWI staff. She resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband James. They have two children; daughter Jocelyn, a college student and son, James, a high school student.