Youth Opportunities Development (Y.O.D.), officially incorporated in 2012, originated as a result of a need to more fully address the root causes of violence in Pittsburgh. Y.O.D. merges the practical knowledge and experiences of Mr. Taili Thompson and Mr. Brandon Ziats, as well as research and evaluation experience of Dr. Joseph Johnson in an effort to build effective methods in successfully addressing violence. In particular, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Ziats are former Area Managers of the One Vision One Life (OVOL) program, at which Dr. Johnson played a role in evaluating the effectiveness of the OVOL model as a RAND researcher. Working together for several years, and after many discussions, these individuals came to a similar consensus that the effective methods in successfully addressing violence in Pittsburgh needed to be more preventative than intervention-based. Furthermore, any effective violence prevention model also needed to be closely tied with data collection and an ongoing evaluation of its own methods and model. As a consequence, these individuals worked to develop a model designed to “ensure peaceful, prosperous communities through the mentoring, education, and empowerment of youth.” 

Executive Administrative Staff:

Brandon Ziats has worked in the Violence Prevention field for over 10 years. He began his career working with One Vision One Life. Throughout this period of time, he managed operations and supervised outreach staff in the communities of Clairton, Mckees Rocks, Hill District, and South Pittsburgh. He also supervised mediation efforts inside of Sto-Rox School District and the Clairton Education Center. He was the co-creator of Youth Opportunities Development and served as Director of Programming from 2012-2016. In 2017, he became Executive Director. He has also consulted for the Positive Deviance Initiative with projects in Clairton, Pa and Bronx, NY. Brandon received his Bachelors Degree in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.