2022 Annual Conference Program Released


CYSA's 50th Annual Conference: Reconnect, Refocus, Reimagine

Friday, October 21, 2022 |  8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. | Hartford Marriott
Conference Program
Featuring Keynote Speaker Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. REGISTRATION, Breakfast, Networking & Exhibitor Visits
9:00 - 9:30 a.m. WELCOME & ANNUAL MEETING
9:30 - 9:45 a.m. AWARDS (Youth Leadership Award, YSB Employee of the Year)
9:45 – 10:30 a.m. KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Mayor Luke Bronin
10:30 – 10:45 a.m. BREAK and Visit Exhibitors
10:45 -12:00 p.m. BREAKOUT SESSION I

• Cultivating Youth Leadership By Giving Them a Seat at the Table
• Exploring the GenderVerse
• Growing Innovative Community Partnerships through Developmental Asset Building
• Racial Equity 201
• Sound Healing for Youth
• Team Up CT

12:00 - 12:55 p.m. LUNCH and Visit Exhibitors
12:55 - 1:10  Laura T. Brown Career Achievement Award
1:10 - 2:25 p.m. BREAKOUT SESSION II

• Are You There?
• CT Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization: what the law says, and implications for youth-serving and prevention organizations.
• FOCUS Autism Spectrum Unplugged
• Teen Legal Rights: A Primer for Practitioners
• Tick-Borne Diseases and Youth Mental Health

2:25 - 2:30 BREAK and Visit Exhibitors

• Adventures With Youth
• Engaging With Survivors
• Introduction to Community Resiliency Model
• The Potential & Practice of Mentoring
• YSB Directors Roundtable

4:00 - 6:00 p.m. Happy Hour and Networking, Vivo Lounge

    Breakout Session II
    Presenters: A panel from Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services: Heather McNeil LMFT, LADC, Director, Adam Stahr LMFT, Brittany Eckert Prevention Program Coordinator and Trish Strecker, LMFT, Certified School-based Therapist, and Old Saybrook High School students.
    • Multi-media, interactive presentation with OSYFS staff and students. This session will highlight student’s discussions of current stressors and challenges related to feelings of (dis)connection between themselves and their schools and community. Exacerbated by many variables beyond anyone's control during and post-pandemic, the students will share how they have been working to bring about change and encourage re-engagement individually and collectively.

    Heather McNeil is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She has served as the Director of Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services since 2010, and is focused on adult-youth relational wellness through the lens of the 40 Developmental Assets.  Heather is an AAMFT-approved supervisor and has been an adjunct faculty member at CCSU since 2013. Her clinical focus is with individuals and families impacted by addiction.
    Adam Stahr is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, full-time clinician at Old Saybrook Youth &  Family Services. He earned his Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Central Connecticut State University, and has been with the agency since 2018, when he began his clinical internship. Adam has spent the last 3 years working as a Mobile Crisis Clinician (211) serving clients in need of acute care. Prior to his journey of becoming a therapist, Adam served in the United States Navy for 10 years as a proud member of the submarine force.
    Brittany Eckert, BS, Human Devt. and Family Studies, is a Prevention Program Coordinator. Her focus at OSYFS is to develop and facilitate quality extra-curricular activities for youth, within the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets. OSYFS Positive Youth Development programming is based on providing creative and fun opportunities for youth to develop healthy relationships with others and the community, enhance leadership qualities and be involved in a large pro-social atmosphere.  Brittany is the coordinator of the Old Saybrook Early Childhood Council (OSECC), and is a certified facilitator of the “Circle of Security” parenting program. Brittany plays an active role in all the OS schools, such as: taking part in wellness days, teaching in the health classes, providing afterschool programs and trips, and facilitating a teen peer prevention group.

    Breakout Session III
    Presenter: Rik Huggard, Newington Youth Services
    • Richard Louvre wrote, "Nature is imperfectly perfect, filled with loose parts and possibilities, with mud and dust, nettles and sky, transcendent hands-on moments and skinned knees." This session describes the "Nature Deficit Disorder" that Richard describes in his book, "Last Child in the Woods." We will share some experiences and experientially engage in activities that we use as an integral component of our Youth Services in Newington. Please come and explore the simplicity and challenges of turning on to the outdoors and turning off the technology, even if it's briefly.

    Rik Huggard has been a lover of the outdoors since he can remember.  A lot of childhoodexperiences in the woods and on the waters of Maine's Aroostook County forged his love affair with nature.  At the age of 39, with a loving push from his wife Nikki, he left the commercial printing trade to pursue his passion of working in outdoor adventure and adventure based counseling.  From a ropes course facilitation and adventure education training at Northwest Community College, a year of intensive, immersion at the Outdoor Leadership Program at Greenfield Community College and then undergraduate studies in Ecopsychology at Prescott College in Prescott Arizona, Rik has been fortunate to pursue his passion.  

  • CT ADULT-USE CANNABIS LEGALIZATION: what the law says, and implications for youth-serving and prevention organizations
    Breakout Session II
    PresenterAndrew Lyon, MPH, CPS, McCall Foundation
    • In 2021 Connecticut passed Public Act No. 21-1 which legalized adult-use cannabis within the state. In this session, we will explore the relevant legislation, potential implications on youth and communities, and discuss considerations and next steps forward for youth-serving and prevention organizations.

    Andrew Lyon first came to McCall Center for Behavioral Health in October of 2017 after receiving his Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Connecticut. He has a keen interest in community and population level approaches to addressing the most critical issues facing our communities. Andrew heads the Prevention Services Department which provides educational services, community programs, and environmental based approaches to preventing youth substance use and addiction.

    Breakout Session I
    Presenters: A panel of City of New Britain’s Local Prevention Council, an initiative of NB Recovers, Tyshaunda Wiley, Local Prevention Coordinator; Omar McDew, Youth Advocate; Mallory Deprey, Community Services Program Manager; Representatives of the New Britain Youth Leadership Council
    • Youth are an integral part of the community. They bring innovative ideas, unique experiences, and a fresh perspective on addressing issues in their community. Effective youth prevention strategies are best developed when youth are included to make decisions as leaders. In this workshop participants will learn how to find, engage, and keep youth leaders involved in programming. The City of New Britain’s Local Prevention Council program leaders and Youth Leadership Council representatives will discuss the inception of NB Recovers, how youth were selected to be a part of the initiative, and how we sustain youth involvement. Attendees will receive a toolkit to aid them in the process of cultivating youth leader’s in their individual community.

    Tyshaunda Wiley is the Prevention Coordinator of the New Britain Local Prevention Council (NBLPC). She is responsible for overseeing a Drug Free Communities grant to mobilize community resources, in an effort to prevent and reduce youth substance use. With over 10 years of wide-ranging experience in the public health and science fields, she is adept in substance use prevention, community engagement, outreach 7b education, youth development, and working with diverse communities. Tyshaunda is active in her community currently serving as the Vice President of New Britain Opportunities Industrialization Center Board of Directors, and she is the Grand Directress of Media and Relations for the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World. She received her Master of Public Health at the University of Connecticut Heal Center in 2014. Tyshaunda is committed to using her experience in raising awareness, identifying solutions, and empowering youth to enhance prevention efforts.
    Omar McDew is currently the Youth Advocate for the City of New Britain and also serves as the Head Freshmen Football Coach at New Britain High School, a position he has held for 21 years and counting. He started working with New Britain kids as a camp counselor for the New Britain Parks and Recreation Department in 1989 and held several positions there including: After School Supervisor, Recreation Specialist and Assistant Supervisor. After graduating from Central Connecticut State University, where he played varsity football for 4 years, he got a job as a juvenile caseworker at the New Britain Juvenile Justice Center where he was charged with working with medium and high level juvenile offenders. He became New Britain’s Youth Advocate in 2007. Omar started the Youth Leadership Council in 2019 with the idea of teaching New Britain kids leadership skills and giving them experiences that will propel them into leadership positions later in life. A 1985 graduate of EC Goodwin Tech, Omar continues to reside in New Britain.
    Mallory Deprey holds the title of, Community Services Program Manager, for the City of New Britain, CT. Mallory is responsible for the oversight of all Community Service initiatives which include; the Youth Services Bureau, Housing and homelessness, Persons with Disabilities; Farmers’ Market; NB Recovers task forces. Mallory is an active member of the New Britain community including: former Board of Education member for the Consolidated School District of New Britain; former chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth; active Board of Director for leading non-profit organizations that focus on workforce development, and the young professionals board of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce. She is also a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow, which is a national fellowship program that is geared to policy work regarding afterschool and out of school time programming.  Mallory is a native of New Britain and has been working with the youth and residents through community-based programs for 20 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University majoring in Recreation and Leisure studies with the concentration of community and youth development. Mallory believes that combining the power of grit and resilience, and following your passion can bring greatness to life within any circumstance. In the words of Babe Ruth “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

    Breakout Session III
    Presenters: Roberta Senter, LCSW and Kristen Stadalnik. Love146
    • This session is for providers who would like more information about Human Trafficking/Commercial Sexual Exploitation (HT/CSE). We will provide you with an overview of HT/CSE, Risk Factors and Indicators that will help you identify if the youth you work with are at risk and if they may be victims. We will also discuss how to engage survivors of (HT/CSE), and provide a brief overview of our services at Love146.

    Roberta Senter, LCSW, is the Senior Rapid Response and Long Term Services Program Manager for Love146. Roberta has been working at Love146 for six years, starting at the agency as a Survivor Care Social Worker. She has 15+ years of experience working with at-risk youth in various capacities which include: working for the Department of Children and Families, serving as a full time missionary in Mexico and Costa Rica, and volunteering at local non-profits.
    Kristen Stadalnik is the Survivor Care Training and Outreach Specialist for Love146. She attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her degree in Social Work. Prior to joining the Love146 team, Kristen investigated child abuse and neglect for six years. She is extremely passionate about protecting, helping, and supporting vulnerable populations. Kristen’s major driving force is creating a safer world for children. Kristen thrives off of sunshine, laughter, and love, “Be the light.”

    Breakout Session I
    Presenter: Robin P. McHaelen, MSW
    • Young people are coming out earlier and earlier. As they explore their identities, they are nuancing the language around gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. And the language changes all the time. At the same time, there has been almost 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed or passed across the country since the beginning of 2022 - most of which target transgender and non-binary youth. This session will cover emerging identities, the impact of social minority status on LGBTQ+ youth and offer ideas for intervention and programming.

    Robin P. McHaelen, MSW is the founder and former Executive Director of True Colors, Inc.   She has co-authored two books, a book chapter and several articles on LGBTQ+ youth and is a nationally recognized thought leader. She is the recipient of numerous State and National awards. Robin is an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University, teaching intergroup communications and human sexuality.  She was recently appointed by Connecticut’s Governor Lamont to the newly formed Hate Crimes Commission.

    Breakout Session II
    Presenters: A panel from the FOCUS Center for Autism, Moderated by Donna Swanson, MSN, CS, APRN
    • Spend time with the “creatively wired and the socially challenged”. FOCUS Center for Autism and The Fresh Start School are proud to present their panel of experts. They are open and honest about their journey. This presentation will move you. Gain new insights on what is becoming today’s epidemic. • Walk a day in their shoes and experience what their world is like for them • Find out what works & what doesn’t work with this special population • Learn the importance of relationships • Learn what interventions work when they are in crisis • Understand better their sensory issues & the Circle of Anxiety ™

    Donna Swanson MSN, CS, APRN, has over 45 years of experience in nursing and human services and has a RN from Hartford School of Nursing, a BS in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and a MSN in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Saint Joseph.  She received her APRN certification from Hartford Hospital and is a member of the American Nurses’ Association and certified by that organization as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. As co-founder and executive director of FOCUS Center for Autism and chief administrator for the Fresh Start School, Donna Swanson manages all residential, clinical and educational programs.  She is also the creator and moderator for the FOCUS Autism Spectrum Unplugged Panel, which through its presentations provides hope and inspiration to individuals, families and service providers of the autism community.
    Sharon Cable. After earning a BS in psychology from the University of Connecticut, I bought a health club and taught fitness classes. However, I really wanted to work with children with disabilities. So, I became a teaching assistant in a special education elementary school. In the mid 80’s, I moved to Silicon Valley, which was known as the autism capital of the world! I applied at an agency that had eight different programs for people with disabilities. Over the next seventeen years, I worked in almost every program in nearly every capacity. I took every training class I could find, including those by Tony Atwood and Carol Gray. Michele Garcia-Winner actually worked with my son, who is on the autism spectrum.  After we returned to Connecticut in 2001, I volunteered at FOCUS and LACASA (Litchfield County Autism Spectrum Association). In 2019 I started working at FOCUS as the Coordinator of Support Services, facilitating parent support groups and the Friends of FOCUS, and providing recreational opportunities to adults on the autism spectrum. Currently we are developing Adult Support Services to provide much needed programming to adults on the spectrum.
    Daniel Sitcovsky is a Licensed Clinical Social Work and a graduate from UCONN. He is FOCUS Center for Autism's Director of Autism Services.He has completed his course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction from Copper Beech Institute. Dan started at FOCUS as a social worker intern in 2010 and was hired in 2011. He is our transition program coordinator and has implemented the mindfulness based stress reduction into our program.

    Breakout Session I
    Presenters: A panel from Southington STEPS Coalition: Deputy Chief Bill Palmieri, Southington Police Department; Glenn Laudenslager, President, Charge Ahead Marketing; Kristin Sandler, STEPS Coalition Outreach Coordinator; Megan Albanese, Youth Prevention Coordinator, Town of Southington/STEPS Coalition
    • Grow your community collaborations by engaging all 12 sectors in reducing risk-taking behaviors by building developmental assets. Learn how one coalition brought together law enforcement, schools, and a marketing agency to develop a dynamic school-based prevention curriculum. Objectives:
    1. Understand the developmental asset building model for preventing risk-taking behaviors in youth used by STEPS;
    2. Identify opportunities for new and innovative partnerships in your community;
    3. Create a plan to engage your community sectors in building developmental assets in alignment with your strategic plan;
    4. Identify ways to ensure your plan is culturally relevant and inclusive.

    Deputy Chief William “Bill” Palmieri has been part of the Southington Police Department for the past 37 years. Deputy Chief Palmieri started his career with the Southington Police Department in March of 1985 as a Patrol Officer and worked up through the ranks being promoted to Deputy Chief in 2016. Deputy Chief Palmieri is a strong advocate of the Full-Service Mission of the Southington Police Department and understands the need for the Police Department to be a major stakeholder in the Community we serve. Today, Deputy Chief Palmieri oversees The Administrative, Operations and Investigative Services Sections of the Police Department.  He also assists Chief Daly with strategic planning, research and development, budgeting, and personnel management and growth. Deputy Chief Palmieri is grateful for the outstanding men and women that make up the Southington Police Department. The combination of hardworking civilian and sworn employees further strengthen the Community Service focus of the Southington Police Department. 
    Glenn Laudenslager founded Charge Ahead Marketing in 2011 with a simple mission: add value and ideas to noble projects in health care and create success. He leads a small, nimble team with strong experience and passion for marketing strategy, tactics, technology, and prevention campaigns. Clients include national mental health initiatives, state mental health and substance use prevention agencies, local prevention councils, health care delivery organizations, and academic medical centers. The Charge Ahead team is a winner of 20+ marketing awards over the last several years, including Aster Awards, dotCOMM Awards, MarCom Awards, Muse Creative Awards, Vega Digital Awards, and Viddy Awards. Glenn has written articles for Chief Marketer, KevinMD, MeetingsNet, and other marketing media. He has spoken at CADCA Annual Forum, PCMA Education Conference, and other events. He holds an MBA from Sacred Heart University and a B.S. in Marketing from Southern Connecticut State University, where he graduated from the SCSU Honors College with departmental honors in marketing.
    Kristin Sandler has been involved in prevention for most of her life. Her first job upon graduation from UCONN was at the former Regional Action Council MCSAAC, where she planned the same leadership forum she attended as a high school student. Kristin returned to her hometown of Clinton in 2009 to coordinate their federal Drug-Free Communities grant and has been involved professionally in prevention ever since. Her work includes securing more than one million dollars in grant funding, cultivating hundreds of student leaders, and spearheading regional and statewide prevention efforts. She has worked for coalitions in Clinton, Madison, and Southington, CT and North Royalton, OH. Kristin served as the President of the CT Association of Prevention Professionals before becoming the group’s Membership and Communications Coordinator.  Her expertise includes coalition communications and social media, managing student leaders, and the Strategic Prevention Framework; the topic of a workshop she presented at the National Prevention Network Conference.
    Megan Albanese is the Youth Prevention Coordinator for the Town of Southington and the STEPS Coalition.  Being able to play an active role in helping the youth in the Town she grew up in is one of Megan’s biggest motivators.  Megan has a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Mental Health, and has worked with adolescents for the past 18+ years.  Megan oversees a small prevention staff and a community coalition made up of over 30 people.  Megan's professional passions include: collaboration, community partnerships, advocating for young people, and helping make prevention a priority in Southington.

    Breakout Session III
    Presenters: Allison Abramson, MPA and Bonnie Daley, LCSW
    • Trauma Resource Institute's Community Resiliency Model (CRM) is a skills-based program with a primary focus of re-setting the natural balance of the nervous system. This workshop will provide an introduction to CRM; including an overview of the impact of trauma and chronic stress on the nervous system and how CRM skills can restore or increase resiliency. Participants will be introduced to the “basic three” skills of CRM and will be invited to engage in practicing these skills during the workshop.

    Allison Abramson, M.P.A. is the Executive Director of Tri-Town Youth Services and a Community Resiliency Model teacher through the Trauma Resource Institute.  Allison brings over 20 years of Nonprofit Management and Fund Development experience to Tri-Town YSB. She is passionate about empowering youth and families and promoting trauma-informed and resiliency-building practices across sectors and in all domains of life, work and school.  A long-time student of yoga and mindfulness, she completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training with Coral Brown in 2020.  
    Bonnie Daley, LCSW is a clinical social worker and a certified Community Resiliency Model teacher through the Trauma Resource Institute. Bonnie is currently the Diversion Coordinator at Middletown Youth Services Bureau. Bonnie’s areas of expertise include youth diversion; therapeutic individual, family, and group support; restorative practices; and trauma-informed, trauma-responsive, and resiliency-focused care. Bonnie is passionate about taking a holistic approach in working with every youth and family and building communities in which everyone can thrive.


    Breakout Session I
    Presenters: SERC Education Consultants Malik Champlain, Nitza Diaz, and Nicole Vitale
    This session will provide participants the opportunity to racialize their voice while building a brave and safe environment to engage in courageous conversations Session 201 is available to anyone who has participated in the 101 session (including staff who attended the SERC session at the 2021 Annual Conference).  Participants will continue to learn about navigating the Courageous Conversations compass, as well as utilize the Courageous Conversations About Race protocol, to deepen their understanding of power and privilege as it relates to working with racially, culturally and linguistically diverse youth. Participants will discuss how power and privilege impact and intersect with the culture and identity of the youth they served to help them understand how to help eliminate disparities in their communities.

    Malik Champlain, Education Consultant, came to SERC with a variety of experiences in racial equity and social justice initiatives. In his previous role, Malik served as a Peace Officer for the State of Connecticut focusing on Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Effective Practices in Community Supervision. Malik also has experience in the K-12 school system as a Special Education Teacher in Massachusetts and as a behavior technician in Hartford Public Schools. For over a decade, Malik has been working with children, families, and school districts as an inspirational speaker motivating them to live with his motto “Passion, Hunger, and Drive.” He has presented his message on multiple platforms such as NBC, FOX News, and Tedx Speakers in Hartford, CT. Malik has been recognized as one of the Hartford Business Journal’s 40 under 40 and has been acknowledged for his community service efforts with the Martin Luther King Legacy Award by the Norwich, CT NAACP and the Connecticut 100 Men of Color award. Malik resides in the Greater Hartford area with his wife Rosalyn Champlain and three children.
    Nitza M. Diaz, Education Consultant, has served as an education consultant with the State Education Resource Center and the CT Parent Information and Resource Center run by SERC. Through training, coaching, and technical assistance, Nitza provides and designs professional development for educators, families, community organizations, and faith-based leaders. As a Latina/Puerto Rican, parent, and educator, she draws from her own experience to help others understand how systemic racism, poverty, and inequities impact schools and communities.
    Nicole M. Vitale, Education Consultant, SERC, has always been passionate about equity and her work with youth. Soon after starting college, Nicole became a mentor with Children’s Community Programs (CCP) to work with kids who were under the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). She later went on to coordinate the College and Career Readiness Program at CCP to help students gain the skills they need for postsecondary success. Soon afterward, Nicole developed a mentoring program for Klingberg Family Services in New Britain, CT. She was also an afterschool coordinator in Farmington Public Schools and a preschool teacher at the Boys and Girls Club. After graduating from Central Connecticut State University, Nicole began her career at SERC as an Education Services Specialist, where she coordinated events for the Initiative on Diversity in Education and developed a youth leadership program designed to help students develop strong, effective leadership skills in order to make positive changes in their school and community. She then became an education consultant, coordinating the Special Education Youth Advisory Council and facilitating professional learning for students, staff, and family members on cultural responsiveness, equity, leadership, and student voice. Nicole also previously managed the Parent Leadership/Parent Trust Fund Grant that supports parents from across the state to gain and enhance skills needed to advocate on behalf of Connecticut’s children.

    Breakout Session I
    Presenter: Douglas Lampert LPC, AADC
    • This workshop introduces the art of sound healing meditations with modern crystal singing bowls and traditional gongs for youth groups in a variety of settings. Meditation, and various mindful practices, have been studied and demonstrated to provide health benefits. Sound healing is a meditative practice that is simple, a little different and secular. The introduction to sound healing can provide the opportunity for individual participants to explore how a meditative practice, and mindful outlook, could benefit them for daily living and stress management. The workshop is presented by a sound healer, who is a Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselor, certified in addictions. This unique combination of skills provides the participants, not only a relaxed experience, but it also utilizes current best practices in behavioral health to enhance the knowledge and perspective gained by individuals.

    Douglas Lampert, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Sound Healer. He Owns Tus Nua Counseling, LLC and works for Rushford holding a certification in advanced alcohol and drug counseling. His personal practices of mindfulness and meditation follows the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, and Ellen Langer. Doug bridges therapeutic principles, mindful meditation with sound healing to create safe, supportive space for others to experience mind-body-heart connections. Sound healing can use many types of musical instruments to include crystal & Tibetan bowls and gongs. Bowls and gongs have been used for thousands of years and can produce calming sounds and vibrational tones that help the participant focus on the present moment and help foster a meditative state. Doug has been training with master sound healer Ed Cleveland and continues exploring the many elements of sound healing so he can bring a meaningful experience to others.

    Breakout Session I
    Presenters: CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Linda Blozie and Miguel Rios
    • TeamUp CT is a program to empower student athletes to become leaders and as a platform to reduce sexual and dating violence and abuse through the use of two evidence-based/best practice sports related programs, Coaching Boys into Men and Coaching Girls Into Leaders.These programs are designed to increase 1) leadership and respect for themselves and others, 2) social emotional intelligence, 3) awareness of dating violence and healthy relationships, and 4) confidence in teens to prevent and/or confront abusive behavior among their peers. Through this workshop, participants will learn about the guiding principles of TeamUp and how to implement Coaching Boys Into Men and Coaching Girls To Leaders in your community.

    Linda Blozie is the Director of Training and Prevention for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Linda oversees CCADV’s Training Institute and the implementation of Connecticut’s Plan for the Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence. Linda has trained nationally on such topics as intersection of domestic violence and substance abuse, domestic violence fatality review, the risks and benefits of technology for victims/survivors of domestic violence, and implementing TeamUp CT. 
    Miguel Rios is the Coordinator of TeamUp CT for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Miguel works with school systems throughout Connecticut to implement both Coaching Boys Into Men and Coaching Girls To Leaders. Miguel has extensive experience working as a coach and with high-risk youth in small group settings.

  • TEEN LEGAL RIGHTS: A Primer for Practitioners
    Breakout Session II
    Presenter: Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW, Director of Operations & Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project, Center for Children's Advocacy
    • This workshop will provide information about the legal rights of youth, including minors and young adults. Participants will learn about legal rights in the areas of students experiencing homelessness, healthcare, benefits, guardianship, emancipation, and access to housing. Participants will also discuss advocacy steps to enforce these legal rights.

    Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW, Director of Operations & Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project, Center for Children's Advocacy.  Stacey’s work focuses on advocating for youth who are experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness. She supervises CCA attorneys, case managers and paralegals who work with youth throughout the state, and oversees two of CCA’s innovative outreach methods: the Center’s Mobile Legal Office, and CCA’s Teen Legal Action Clinic at Bridgeport’s Harding High School. Stacey and her team work to remove barriers that prevent youth from completing school, and address civil legal issues that are obstacles to long term independence and success.

    Breakout Session II
    Presenters: Christopher Montes, MA, FDC Erica Bromley, MSW, Tara Barron, parent, Alison Murphy, parent.
    • There has been a well-documented surge in the tick population in the Northeast and other northern areas that typically have had fewer or no ticks at all. As an example, Connecticut had only a few species of ticks until a few years ago. Now, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, there are 16 known species present in the state. And, while not all ticks bite humans, several species (at least five) do bite and can transmit many diseases. Some of the diseases transmitted can not only cause physical symptoms, but also neuro-psychiatric and behavioral symptoms. For many reasons, children are often at higher risk for tick bites and possible zoonotic infection. In some cases, infections are acute and can be treated when symptoms arise. In other cases, infection is more subtle, and progresses slowly…often looking like other maladies like ADHD, depression, anxiety, OCD, and even schizophrenia. Therefore, it is important for mental health service providers to be aware of the possibility of tick-borne diseases as the cause for behaviors that were the impetus for referral.

    Christopher Montes, MA, FDC is a former YSB director, former CYSA Board Member, and former CYSA Vice President.  He has a great deal of personal experience with tick-born diseases (having acquired at least four) as well as advocacy and support for patients, particularly youth. He has served on multiple Lyme disease information panels and helped to create the nation's first state law mandating long term antibiotic insurance coverage for Lyme disease.  In his professional field, Chris has counseled hundreds of youth, many of whom were initially diagnosed with mental health disorders, only to find that the real cause of the disorders was tick-born bacteria.  He will co-present a PowerPoint regarding the prevelance of tick-borne diseases and the possible clinical presentations in children and adolescents. 
    Erica Bromley, MSW is a former YSB director, former CYSA board member, and is now the CYSA Juvenile Justice consultant.  She was diagnosed with at least one tick-born disease and has battled it for more than two years. She has learned a great deal about tick-borne diseases from her experience. Erica will discuss the symptoms of her own tick-borne illness(es), as well as some of the presentations of tick-borne illnesses in children and adolescents.
    Tarra Baron is the parent of Tyler, an adolescent teen in Farmington.  Tyler was diagnosed with PANDAS/PANS.  His symptoms started in third grade and have become far worse in the last year and a half.  After a thorough intake, a tick-borne disease was suspected.  Tyler saw a physician well versed in tick-borne diseases and was diagnosed with a Bartonella infection.  Bartonellosis is also known as cat scratch disease, and there are many subspecies that can cause a host of symptoms, including OCD, personality changes such as anger and rage, and has even been linked to schizophrenia-like behavior.  Tyler's main neuropsychiatric symptom is OCD.  Tarra Baron will discuss Tyler's story as well her struggles with the medical establishment to get Tyler properly diagnosed and treated.
    Alison Murphy is the mother of Troy, a senior at Farmington High School.  When Troy was in 5th grade he became extremely ill. Troy had round the clock, excruciating abdminal pain, behavior changes, was unable to stand or sit up, and became selectively mute. Troy was misdiagnosed by several doctors and after several hospital stays was referred to pediatrician in New Haven who found that Troy had five tick-borne diseases.  After three years of oral and intravenous antibiotics, a feeding tube, a hospital bed needing to be placed in the family's livingroom, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in  treatment, Troy became well enough to begin attending school on a part time basis.  His story is documented in the book ""Lyme - The First Epidemic of Climate Change"" by author Mary Beth Pfiefer.  Aliso Murphy will discuss Troy's story and her journey of getting him back to health after almost losing his life.

    Breakout Session III
    Presenter:Ryan Matthews, Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters
    • Have you ever wondered how to expand mentoring opportunities for youth in your community, but found yourself being unsure about where, how, or even if to get started?  In this session, Ryan Matthews, Vice President of Programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut, will share some of the latest research on youth mentoring, dive into the best practices for program practitioners, share insights from over a decade of experience administering youth mentoring programs, and explore ways for attendees to deepen partnership and collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

    Ryan Matthews serves as the Vice President of Programs with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut and the Executive Director of The Susie Foundation. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut, Ryan is charged with leading Connecticut’s largest one-to-one youth mentoring program, which serves over 1,000 children each year across the state with a program budget of just over $1.6M. During Ryan’s tenure, Nutmeg has grown its overall program service capacity by over 20%, seamlessly pivoted to a virtual, curriculum-based program design in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and received national recognition from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for outstanding service delivery. Additionally, Ryan has contributed to statewide youth advocacy and capacity building efforts, having been appointed by Governor Malloy to the Governor’s Youth and Urban Violence Commission and the Connecticut State Legislature’s Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee’s Diversion Workgroup. Ryan concurrently serves with The Susie Foundation, an organization which he founded following his mother’s death to support families struggling with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Ryan is charged with leading this grassroots non-profit that has raised more than $850,000 to support families living with ALS in throughout New England, while also administering the agency’s Flex Grant Program, which is aimed at offsetting the financial burdens of diagnosis and serves more than 75 families each year.  Ryan was named to the Hartford Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list in 2016 and was inducted into the Woodland High School Hall of Fame in 2017. He has also been named a Hometown Hero by the Hartford Courant and a Myra Kraft Community MVP by the New England Patriots. Ryan graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut in 2009 with a BA in History and Political and received his MPA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Connecticut in 2016.

    Breakout Session III
    Moderated by Cephus Nolen, Jr, LCSW, Director East Hartford Youth Services
    • Seasoned YSB directors will be available to meet with you one-on-one to discuss your YSB needs and challenges.  This is an invaluable opportunity for brainstorming and problem solving from the experts!

    Cephus Nolen Jr., LCSW is a 1982 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. He has been the Director of the Town of East Hartford’s Youth Services department since 2001, and is responsible for organizing and directing the varied activities of this comprehensive Youth Services department. Mr. Nolen is the Board Chair of Amplify Inc., a regional behavioral Health organization, and a Board member of the CT Youth Services Association.





Restorative Justice Trainings
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