Meet the founders
Network Connect’s two founders have a strong background in employment creation services, with a breadth of experience in administering employment and training programs, as well as working with vulnerable populations, social work, and community outreach. Together, they have experience with all of these populations; low-income, low-literacy, learning disabled, incarcerated and reentering, homeless, victims of domestic violence, English language learners, youth at risk of dropping out of school, and victims of traumatic stress. Both have become credentialed trauma-informed trainers. Both grew up in Wilmington public schools, have degrees from HBCUs, and have personal experience in navigating the same obstacles faced by Future Culture Creators participants. Their passion and effectiveness in helping youth overcome these obstacles is clear from their track record.
Erin Hutt earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Strayer University and a Bachelor's of Science in Marketing from Delaware State University. With over a decade of experience in directing, coordinating, and implementing youth programming, Erin has served as Dean for Tyler’s camp (a summer enrichment program for Wilmington’s highest needs youth), Program Director for YWCA Homelife Shelter, and Youth Program Coordinator for United Way of Delaware. Through her work history encompassing many other prominent Wilmington organizations—Hilltop Community Center, Wilmington Housing Authority, the Achievement Center, and Bethel Villa—Erin has a wealth of expertise in youth programming, employment training, case management, and community outreach. She single-handedly created new programming at many of these organizations as a response to unmet needs discovered through her highly proficient community engagement skills. Besides her strong work record, Erin also serves on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit and established 20 Under 20 and 40 Under 40 to recognize the achievements of outstanding young people in Delaware.
Cierra Hall-Hipkins, a Wilmington native, wife, and mother, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from University of Maryland Eastern Shore and focused her early career on mental health, working in several roles at Sheppard Pratt Psychiatric Hospital. Cierra has honed her expertise in managing youth and adult programs and spent 10 years in leadership positions at three different non profit organizations. As Director of the Northeast Region for Humanim Inc. Cierra was so successful at expanding the organization’s reach. She was sent to Delaware to start a new branch. After this, Cierra worked with Serviam Girls Academy in Wilmington, as Director of Student Affairs increasing admissions during her time there. Cierra has worked as Program Manager for an SEL non profit and a Coordinator for an ACT team. Among many other professional experiences, she also serves a board Member for the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She is dedicated to youth services and is a strong mental health advocate.
For over 5 years, Network Connect’s founders have been working together to serve hundreds of youth in the community. Since officially incorporating and receiving 501(c)3 status in 2019, Network Connect has proved its ability to provide a highly effective youth employment program, even with limited funding and staff, and during a global pandemic. The success of the Future Culture Creators program can be highlighted by the accomplishments of the participants, who excelled even during quarantine restrictions and were able to provide important services for their peers.