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Youth at Risk


18th Annual YAR Conference will be Held on Friday, June 8

The conference keynotes and expo will be held in a more convenient, indoor location on campus, Salem State's O'Keefe Complex!

Learn more about the event:

Youth at Risk brochure

View 2018 workshop descriptions

View 2018 speaker and presenter bios

Learn more about getting to the O'Keefe Complex

Youth at Risk (YAR) conference is the region’s only annual all-day conference for professionals who work with at-risk youth. The event features 38 breakout sessions, as well as keynote speakers, program exhibitions and networking opportunities. Continuing education credits are awarded in the following: EEC, CAFL, LMFT, LMHC, NASW, NLN. 

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.

Agenda and registration are now available. For more information please contact or 978.542.2085


  • Registration and CEUs

    Registration for the 2018 conference will be $100 per person and will include breakfast, lunch, networking opportunities, CEUs, two keynote speakers and two workshops.
    Register here for the June 8, 2018 YAR conference.

    The following CEUs were awarded in 2017. We hope to offer the same CEUs again in 2018. Please check back for updates: 
    0.5 EEC
    6 CAFL
    5 LMFT
    4.75 LMHC
    5 NASW
    4.8 NLN

  • 2018 Keynote Speakers, Presenters and Agenda

    Morning Keynote: Recognizing Bias - A Journey to Self-Discovery: Debby Irving

    Debby Irving

    Through one woman's journey of self-discovery, recognize the potentially traumatic effect unwitting biases have on all the youth we serve. Debby Irving is a racial justice educator, author and public speaker. A community organizer and classroom teacher for 25 years, Debby grappled with racial injustice without understanding racism as a systematic issue or her own whiteness as an obstacle. In 2009, she began her journey of discovery and is now exploring the impact unknowing prejudice can have on perception, problem solving and creating culturally inclusive communities. Her first book, Waking Up White, tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing.





    Afternoon Keynote: A Story of Resiliency and Strength:
    Brian Castellanos

    Brian Castellanos

    Whether it was losing both his mother and brother to cancer, growing up in an environment plagued by poverty, facing homelessness, or being told by a team of doctors that he was never going to be able to walk again, Brian’s attitude and spirit never wavered and he overcame. It is this courage and resilience that continues to drive his commitment and passion for giving back to others. Brian Castellanos’ story is of hope; one of someone who confronted the odds and battled through many hardships to be where he is today.







    View 2018 YAR Speakers and Presenters

    View 2018 YAR Agenda and Workshops

  • Diruhi Mattian Memorial Award

    Diruhi Award

    Each year, the Youth at Risk (YAR) conference honors a special person who 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 are for the 2018 Diruhi Mattian Memorial Award are closed. The awardee will be recognized at the conference on June 8.


    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
  • Exhibition Hall (Expo)

    The expo showcases nonprofit organizations and industry vendors that provide unique services and resources to those who serve and care for youth. Space is limited. Fill out the YAR 2018 Exhibition Hall application online.

  • Commissioned Brochure Artwork

    2018 YAR artwork
    2018 Artwork by Mauricia Lopez

    Mi nombre es Mauricia Lopez y tengo 18 años. Llegué a los Estados Unidos desde Gautemala y siento que todos los dias sigo acostumbrandome a estar aquí. Ser artista me da alegría y me permite sentirme conectado con mi país de origen y mi historia. El año pasado formé parte de un grupo de arte público y me permitió crear conexiones con otros jovenes de mi pais para mayor causa.  Ahora mi meta mas grande es salir adelante en la vida.

    Esta imagen es una imagen que representa la diversidad de jóvenes que tenemos en el país. Aunque la joven del dibujo es de Guatemala debido a la blusa tradicional de mi región y la jungla de fondo, representa a una gran juventud. Ella está mirando hacia el lado viendo a una flor con una mariposa chupando miel para compartir. Un sueño que tengo en la vida y para la juventud es que salgamos de la oscuridad que nos persigue a través de compartir nuestras fortalezas con los demás y apoyándonos el uno entre otro.

    My name is Mauricia Lopez and I am 18 years old. I came to the United States from Guatemala and every day I feel like I am still getting used to being here. Being an artist gives me joy and allows me to feel connected to my country of origin and my history. Last year I was part of a public art group and it allowed me to create connections with other young people from my country for a greater cause. Now my biggest goal is to get ahead in life.

    This image is an image that represents the diversity of young people we have in the country. Although the girl from the drawing is from Guatemala as noted by the traditional blouse of my region and the jungle in the background, she represents a larger picture of the youth identity. She is looking to the side towards a flower with a butterfly sucking honey to share.  A dream I have in life and for the youth is that we get out of the darkness that is chasing us by sharing our strengths with each other and supporting each other. 


    Youth at Risk poster
    2017 Artwork by Koryssa Chaisson


    2016 YAR Balloon Boy
    2015 Artwork by Victor Landreth


    2015 YAR artwork
    2015 YAR brochure artwork


  • 2018 Youth At Risk Committee

    Jane Truesdell Ellis, Attorney 
    Hailey MacDonald, Pathways for Children
    Jennifer Adams-LeBlanc, Lahey Behavioral Health Services 
    Maria Avila, MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
    Nicholas Bound, Department of Youth Services
    Christine Biscardi, Juvenile Probation Officer, (retired)
    Linnea Burrill, Department of Children & Families
    Claire Crane, Center for Community Schools, Salem State University
    Missey Donohoe, Lahey Health Behavioral Services
    Taylor Dunn, Advancement Events, Salem State University
    Nancy Ebersole, School of Nursing, Salem State University
    Michelle Fyrer, Department of Children & Families
    Staci Gergely, Salem Juvenile Court
    Lyle Harrod, DanversCARES and SSU Center for Childhood and Youth Studies
    Lea Hill, DDS, NE Regional Autism Services
    Jenney Dale Holland, Advancement Events, Salem State University
    Kimberly Hutchins, Psychotherapist & Clinical Consultant
    Robert Lewis, Child Welfare Consultant
    Barbara Richards, Department of Youth Services 
    Linda Richards, Department of Mental Health
    Fran Rosenberg, Northshore Education Consortium
    Christine Shaw, Merrimack College 
    Claire Valentin, Children's Law Center of Massachusetts
    Karen Wilk, Educational Clinical Consultant 
    Jacqui Williams, Department of Public Health, (retired) 

  • Youth At Risk Sponsors

    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 Taylor Dunn at or at 978.542.7560.

    Thank You to Our Sponsors


    Tower Foundation logo

    The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation


    Margaret M. Collins Charitable Trust

    YMCA logo

    Lynch/Van Otterloo YMCA


    Lahey Health logo

    Lahey Health


    Essex County Community Foundation ECCF

    YAR Endowment Fund of Essex County Community Foundation



    Belinda Fund of The Boston Foundation
    Merrimack College
    Salem Five Charitable Foundation

    For more general information, please contact or 978.542.2085.

History and Additional Information


Make a Gift to YAR

Do you like what the Youth at Risk program has provided and continues to offer? If so, help us to continue to provide this conference to the Youth at Risk community and expand into an even bigger, year-round program that supports communities of professionals serving children, youth, and families. Through your donations, we can make this possible! Visit the YAR crowdfunding page to pledge your support.



Accessibility and Accommodations

Salem State University is committed to equal access for students, staff and visitors, and encourages all to participate in its programs and activities. People who anticipate needing accommodations due to a disability, or who have questions about access, may contact disability services at

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