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In response to the latest COVID-19 surge, spring semester classes will take place remotely through at least January 30, 2022.

Youth at Risk

2020 YAR Committee

Youth at Risk Committee Members


The 20th Annual Youth at Risk Conference is Postponed


What is YAR?


For updates and information on future conference, join our email list by emailing with your preferred address, phone and email.
CEU’s will be posted before the conference.

Diruhi Award

Each year, the Youth at Risk (YAR) conference honors a special person who lives or works in Merrimack Valley or Essex County and has made an outstanding contribution in supporting youth at risk. The Diruhi Mattian Memorial Award honors the memory of an extraordinary social worker who was tragically killed in 2008. Diruhi was dedicated to her profession and always wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people over and over again. The award was created in her name to recognize those who, like Diruhi, do outstanding work in the community for our youth.

Nominations for the 2020 Diruhi Mattian Memorial Award are closed.

Previous Award Winners

  • 2010 - Mike Duda, YAR Founder and Pastor of First Church in Wenham
  • 2011 - Kelly O’Connor, Director of the Gregg Neighborhood House Afterschool Program 2012 - H. Bud Kelly, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
  • 2013 - Mark Libon, V.P. of Community Based services for Lahey Health Systems
  • 2014 - Donna Coe, Nurse Practitioner at Lynn Community Health Center
  • 2015 - Patrick Foley, Program Director for the Adolescent STARR program 
             - Fred Mathieu, Director of Kids Club program at Washington Street Baptist Church
  • 2016 - Carol Ireland, VIP Team Advisor, Haverhill High School
  • 2017 - Deb A. Morrison, MSW, LICSW, Kevin O'Grady School at North Shore Consortium in Beverly
  • 2018 - Nancy Edman Earls, Director of the Newburyport Learning Enrichment Center (NLEC)
  • 2019 - Eric Cousineau, Social Worker at the Greater Lowell Department of Children and Families

The expo showcases nonprofit organizations and industry vendors that provide unique services and resources to those who serve and care for youth. 


Jane Truesdell Ellis, Attorney


Kathy Moriconi, Co-Founder, YAR

Linda Richards, Department of Mental Health

Planning Committee:

Amy Ackroyd, Children's Friend and Family Services, A Division of JRI

Maria Avila, MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children/Eliot

Nicholas Bound, Department of Youth Services

Linnea Burrill, Department of Children & Families

Jessica Caron, Beth Israel Lahey Health Behavioral Services

Missey Donohoe, Essex Sheriff’s Department (retired)

Michelle Fyrer, Department of Children & Families

Staci Gergely, Lynn Juvenile Court

Lyla Harrod, DanversCARES and Center for Childhood and Youth Studies, Salem State University

Lea Hill, DDS, NE Regional Autism Services

Kimberly Hutchins, Private Practice and Consultation

Monica Leisey, Salem State University

Robert Lewis, Child Welfare Consultant

Mark Libon, Faculty Fellow, Salem State University

Hailey MacDonald, Pathways for Children

Shakira Moreta, Salem State University

Fran Rosenberg, Northshore Education Consortium

Christine Shaw, Merrimack College 

Karen Wilk, Educational Clinical Consultant, (Beverly Public Schools - retired) 

Jacqui Williams, Department of Public Health (retired)


To join the committee, please contact

As a Sponsor of YAR, you will align yourself with thousands of working professionals in northeast Massachusetts. It is an exclusive opportunity to support their important work and reach a wide range of community members. To learn more about our sponsorship packages, please contact Katie Sadowski at or at 978.542.7554.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

As of March 2, 2020


Tower Foundation logo

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation 


Beth Israel Lahey Health

Beth Israel Lahey Health


Essex County Community Foundation ECCF

YAR Endowment Fund of Essex County Community Foundation

Margaret M. Collins Charitable Trust

Youth Villages The force for families

Youth Villages


Justice Resource Institute Inc.  

Mazow McCullough, PC

Plummer Youth Promise

Salem Five Charitable Foundation



Marblehead Bank

Merrimack College

For more general information, please contact or 978.542.2085.

History and Additional Information

The Essex County Community Foundation established the YAR conference in 2000 as a response to the need for increased collaboration and coordination among the many providers of services to at-risk youth in and around Essex County. As of 2015, Salem State has taken over the program and pledges to carry on the YAR mission of trainings and outreach. The conference remains an amazing opportunity to tap the wealth of expertise in Essex County on the topic of youth at risk. It continues to be a one-of-a-kind and most anticipated annual event. 

The annual Youth at Risk (YAR) conference is the region’s only annual all-day conference for professionals who work with at-risk youth. The event will feature over 20 morning workshops and a variety of afternoon breakout sessions, as well as keynote speakers, program exhibitions, and networking opportunities.

The YAR conference is geared toward individuals working with and caring for youth in a variety of settings—family, community, school, religious, healthcare, human service, recreational and legal. Attendees include social workers, psychologists, youth counselors, family therapists, educators, school adjustment counselors, guidance counselors, community and public health workers, program managers, agency and organization CEO's, police officers, juvenile court personnel, lawyers and volunteers.


Sixto Cancel, founder and CEO of Think of Us

Pamela Garramone, MEd, Positive Psychology Speaker and Life Coach


Debby Irving, MBA, Racial Justice Educator and Writer, author of Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

Brian Castellanos, MS, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach, Public Involvement Coordinator


Kenneth V. Hardy, Drexel University, Eikenberg Institute for Relationships

Susan Cooper, LICSW


Chris Herren, Former NBA Player, Addiction Recovery Advocate, The Herren Project

Leonard Campanello, former Chief of Police, Gloucester, MA, Gloucester Angel Program/Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI)


Jeanine K. Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Institute of Lifelong Learning

FatherSpeak, Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts


Accessibility and Accommodations

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