Meet the Staff

Jill Hrinda-Patten
Jill Hrinda-PattenExecutive Director
Jill, Founder and Executive Director of Mission Empower, lives with her husband, Kirk Patten, of 24 years and her Son Rodolfo, Rudy, 11 years old. Kirk and Jill went to Guatemala in 2007 to adopt their wonderful son, Rudy. Jill has significant disabilities herself, and she owes her success in life to her parents having high expectations of her and to being included at school completely starting at sixth grade.

Jill brought together other parents and advocates with and without disabilities to form Mission Empower in December, 2007. “We all new that there was a need to support families and students to understand and advocate for true inclusion in school and the community”, Jill said. “Kids were still segregated like I was in the 70’s and 80’s; we had to do something about that!” And thus Mission Empower was born. We formed because of the passion of a small group of committed volunteers working long hours with no to little pay.

Norma Lewis
Norma LewisMission Employment Connector
Norma is the youngest of 5 children, lives in Girard, PA. Has a wonderful husband Rick, 2 wonderful adult children, Michael & Rebecca and 2 precious grandsons, Bryan and Riley. With being involved in her church and youth groups, she has been committed to the youth. She did own her own business for 13 years, hired youth and worked with the public for many years. Through the years, she has seen a need to guide the youth to see what different opportunities that they can achieve. Norma is excited to work with Mission Employment and guide the youth to know their prospects and help them to get a start for their future.
Britney Myers
Britney MyersYouth ENVISION Connector
My name is Britney Myers. I am the youth envision connector. I am dyslexic and have ADHD, because of this I struggled and felt like I was behind in school. Mission empower helped me and my family through advocating, supporting me, and making sure I got the help I needed in the classroom in high school. through their help I was able to achieve a geology degree from Edinboro University. Now it’s my turn to help other youth achieve their dreams.
Wendi Wojtecki
Wendi WojteckiFamily Support Connector
Wendi is our Family Support Connector that works in conjunction with our Community Parent Resource Center located here at Mission Empower. She attended Youngstown State University with a focus on Elementary Special Education. Wendi worked as a part-time substitute Paraprofessional in her local school district as she raised her children. Before that, she was a Foster Parent for the Erie County Office of Children and Youth where she gained vast experience in advocating for the youth in our community. She has had extensive personal experience with IEP meetings, as well as finding resources for improving emotional and behavioral concerns, collaborating with therapist, doctors, and caseworkers, and has also continued her own education in this area by taking many new trainings and seminars.

Wendi is looking forward to working with you by encouraging and guiding as well as helping you locate resources in our Mission Empower Community Parent Resource Center. Her goal is to help mold you into a strong educated advocate for your children in the educational system.


Curtis Jones Jr.
Curtis Jones Jr.Training & Leadership Consultant
Curtis Jones, Jr. earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with a minor in Theological Studies, from Thiel College in 1998. Curtis is the father of 4 wonderful children and the oldest of 14 children. Mr. Jones, Jr. began his career working at a non-profit organization which provided behavioral health services for children and their families. Since then he has spent 20 years professionally dedicated to serving youth in Erie County, Pennsylvania and has been a part of the Mission Empower team for almost 6 years, as the Lead Trainer.

Curtis’s commitment to the greater Erie community is further evidenced by his participation on numerous community groups and organizations. He has served on boards for both non-profit agencies and economic development organizations. Additionally, Mr. Jones completed his third consecutive term on Erie’s City Council in 2017. During this tenure he was Council President for two years. In 2019, Erie City Council selected Mr. Jones to serve for another year.

In addition to his youth empowerment and civic work, Mr. Jones serves as Pastor of Light Center Ministries.

Curtis approaches his work from the foundational belief that all individuals have unique gifts to offer the world and that connectivity is of paramount importance. These core values translate into his focus on the significant role of effective communication in the social service field and his inspirational and empowering approach of serving others while in a leadership position. Mr. Jones, Jr. remains constant in his effort to remind people of their greatness and that they should always strive to be their best selves.

Joseph Phelps
Joseph PhelpsWeb Manager
Joe graduated from Allegheny College with a bachelors degree in Environmental Science and Studio Art (double major). He was inspired to create a successful program those who have disabilities during college when he led a chapter of Best Buddies International. Now was the youth program coordinator (also known as Youth ENVISION) at Mission Empower, focusing on developing a two-pronged Transition Success Pilot Program utilizing best practices of self-advocacy / determination and building social capital of youth ages 14-18 in Erie County. He now serves the organization remotely, focusing on web development and design.