Caroline Hannah

From the frontline to the C-Suite, Caroline Hannah leads Youth Villages

When Caroline Hannah took the job with the Youth Villages Intercept, intensive in-home services program in 1995, she saw it as temporary thing. She had her eye on a counseling position at a women’s prison in Middle Tennessee. (Left: Her first ID card.)

Instead her 22-year career at Youth Villages has taken her from a frontline staff member to chief operating officer, overseeing Youth Villages’ work in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oregon.

Along the way, she started the Youth Villages Specialized Crisis Program that evaluates and refers young people experiencing psychiatric emergencies in Tennessee; helped a New York City program begin intensive in-home services, launched Youth Villages Massachusetts and worked to expand effective programs in states across the country as a regional executive director.

Back in 1995, she was one of a handful of young counselors who changed the course of child welfare in Tennessee by providing intensive help to children and families in their own homes.

She remembers all of her first cases.

The mom who was training to be a Burger King manager. “I’d meet her at the restaurant. Sometimes, I’d help her study. You wouldn’t believe the things restaurant managers have to know!” Her son was 14 and had been sexually abused and acted out. He was in residential treatment. Hannah got him home.

There was the boy who turned 18. “Mom kicked him out of the house temporarily. I’d drive an hour and a half from my house to pick him up and get him to school. He had to be there at 7:30 in the morning.”

She helped a teen get home to his family after time in residential treatment. “I used to give him and his little brother money to go out and wash my car while I talked to his mom,” she remembers “He called me two years after he’d completed the program, and he was a bricklayer. Doing great.”

After awhile, Hannah quit waiting on that other job to come through.

“I pretty quickly caught the bug for advocating for these families,” she said. A banker’s daughter, Hannah saw poverty up close for the first time, saw children and families who faced incredible challenges. “I had never experienced anything like that. It’s really about advocating for families, fighting on behalf of people whom everyone else had written off, proving people wrong.”

Youth Villages was one of the first nonprofit organizations to shift its focus toward strengthening and reuniting families — preventing children from ever entering child welfare systems or helping them come home quickly if out-of-home placement was needed.

“We moved early, but now the field is with us,” Hannah said. “The programs that we began in Tennessee – YVIntercept and YVLifeSet proved themselves with better outcomes for children and families and attracted attention from other states, from philanthropists. Other jurisdictions wanted to see if we could get the same results in their areas, and we could.”

“Overall, we’re making progress in child welfare and children’s services,” Hannah said. Tennessee is farther along than most states.” Federal court oversight of the state may end soon. “More families are receiving effective services, although the timing may not be the best. So often, the help doesn’t come until after a child has been taken into foster care.”

When jurisdictions are relatively new to providing intensive in-homes services, Youth Vilages works with them to ensure that programs have the funding and regulatory flexibility to be successful.

Another key is finding young people who will find their passion helping families who others have given up on.

Many things have changed at Youth Villages since Hannah was on the front lines working as a family intervention specialist. Young counselors now receive more training and support and are provided with laptop computers so that they can work in the field more efficiently.

Some things haven’t changed.

“You have to be organized and self-motivated because so much of the work is out of the office,” Hannah said. “But the most important thing is you’ve got to love it; you’ve got to love the families and be willing to fight for them.”

Youth Villages Oregon and Providence partner to enhance ER services in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 6, 2017) – Family intervention specialists from Youth Villages Oregon will evaluate and provide help to children who come to the emergency department with emotional and behavioral problems at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center through a new partnership between the two organizations.

“The partnership will enhance services for children struggling with serious behavioral issues,” said Andrew Grover, executive director of Youth Villages Oregon.

“We have broad expertise in children’s behavioral health and will be helping parents get the crisis stabilized and find solutions,” Grover said. “Our program is designed to help ensure each child receives appropriate, effective help that allows them to return home safely and get connected to long-term support.”

Grover expects the program to evaluate around 500 children and youth in its first year.

Youth Villages’ specialists are available 24/7 to assess children and families who come to the emergency department at the hospital. After the assessment, specialists can accompany the child and family home from the hospital to assist with safety and supervision planning. The specialist make referrals to appropriate community-based programs and work with the child and family for up to two weeks following hospital discharge to provide continued support and coordinate referrals.

The nonprofit began offering emergency diversion services in 2015, working in hospital emergency departments in Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Madras in Central Oregon.

Youth Villages Oregon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with emotional and behavioral health issues and their families. It is committed to providing the most effective and cost-effective programs and offers intensive in-home services to children and families, emergency department diversion for youth experiencing behavioral health emergencies, a residential treatment home for young adults in transition and YVLifeSet™ services for youth aging out of the state system to help them make a successful transition to independent adulthood. For more information, visit


Youth Villages Oregon opens new office in Salem

Open house set for March 14

SALEM, Ore. (March 6, 2017) – Youth Villages Oregon has opened an office in Salem to provide increased intensive in-home services to children with emotional and behavioral problems and families in Marion, Linn, Benton and Polk counties.

“We’ve had a significant increase in the demand for our Intercept intensive in-home services which strengthen and restore families, allowing children to live successfully at home and avoid foster care,” said Andrew Grover, executive director. Services also stabilize and support families who have adopted children from the child welfare system.

The team of two supervisors and eight specialists will work from the Salem office helping 32 children and families on any given day.

There will be an open house at the office, 565 Union St., N.E., Suite 100, from 1 to 3 p.m. March 14.

“We’ll make our Salem team available to community partners and give an inside look at the services we’re offering to youth and families in the Mid-Valley area,” Grover said.

Following the open house, Youth Villages Oregon will host a happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at The Speakeasy at Archive Coffee & Bar, 102 Liberty St. NE, Suite 102.

Youth Villages Oregon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with emotional and behavioral health issues and their families. It is committed to providing the most effective and cost-efficient programs and offers intensive in-home services to children and families, emergency department diversion for youth experiencing behavioral health emergencies, a residential treatment home for young adults in transition and YVLifeSet™ services for youth aging out of the state system to help them make a successful transition to independent adulthood. For more information, visit


Children in Youth Villages’ mentoring program reach out to seniors

“I understand how hard it is to be away from your family, but someone loves and cares about you,” a Youth Villages child wrote.

When Tangina Sanders, manager of Youth Villages’ Chris Crye Mentoring Program, asked children participating in the program at Youth Villages to write letters to nursing home residents, she didn’t anticipate the reaction the kids would have to the project.

“They really connected. Some of us were in tears when we read the letters,” she said. “Many of the children we help have been abused or neglected or have experienced difficult family problems. They know what it feels like to be separated from the people they love, to be lonely.” Children used crayons and markers to make their letters stand out.

The Memphis Grizzlies Foundation challenged each of its mentoring partners to do a service project as part of Martin Luther King Day. Sanders chose the letter writing activity because the kids could do it in their campus schoolrooms and to help them learn to express their feelings through writing. The letters will be delivered to nursing home residents on Monday.

Youth Villages mentoring program matches children receiving help on its residential campuses with volunteer mentors. Mentors can visit kids on campus and take them for outings in the community — to the movies, a restaurant or to church services.

Mentoring support often makes the most difference for a child, Sanders said.

“Many of our children have been separated from their parents and siblings. They don’t have visitors on campus,” she said. “Having someone from the community volunteer to spend time with them lets them know people really do care about them.”

The program is funded entirely through donations, including the proceeds from the annual Soup Sunday at the FedEx Forum, Jan. 29 and through the Chris Crye Fund. For more information about Soup Sunday or for tickets, click here.

Youth Villages staff share stories from families helped by Holiday Heroes in New England

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, Youth Villages fulfilled the holiday wishes of more than 400 youth in need from approximately 150 families participating in our New England programs, including 60 adolescent girls living at the Youth Villages – Germaine Lawrence Campus.

View a photo gallery featuring event photos, volunteer testimonials and thank-you notes from our children and families.

Several specialists who work with youth and their families, across Youth Villages programs, shared some heartwarming stories about how the gifts from Holiday Heroes made a difference this holiday season.

I have been working with a young family with two little boys and in the fall we realized that the family was struggling financially and Mom was going to need to spend some time receiving more intensive mental health treatment. I submitted this family for Holiday Heroes and when I picked up the gifts for the two little boys, I was in shock! Not only did they get nice winter clothes, but they got toys, cars, and a train set. I successfully snuck the gifts into the home and Mom and step-Dad were just blown away. Mom was bursting with gratitude and amazement. She explained that with two young boys the magic of Santa and Christmas is present after Halloween. Without our help, she was afraid that her boys would lose that magic too early. Thank you to everyone that donated to Holiday Heroes and support this family and the many other families we serve! – Shannon Dailey, Masters Level Clinician

For most of the young adults in YVLifeSet the holidays are a difficult time. Many of our young adults struggle to meet basic needs and spend any money they may receive on rent, food or transportation. Holiday Heroes is able to provide a nice winter coat and boots, or kitchen supplies, or just a gift card to their favorite store. For these young people, these items go a long way. I want to thank people that donated gift cards, which might seem like an impersonal gift, but to our young adults it gives them the opportunity to treat themselves at their favorite stores and feel special during holiday season. Thank you for your generous support of the young adults in the YVLifeSet program. – Andrea Anton, YVLifeSet Regional Supervisor

This year we had a family that refused to be supported by Holiday Heroes despite their need for support. The father was able to regain custody of one son who was in a residential facility. He has been working on regaining custody of his other two children after a difficult custody battle. He expressed that there are other families that would need the Holiday Heroes support more than his family. After we received the first round of requests for gifts, we realized we had more items available. We went back to the father and explained that there was still the opportunity for his family to receive the support of Holiday Heroes. He conceded. Holiday Heroes was able to support the three children, who were all home with their father on Christmas day. Thank you to all of the donors that take the time to support these families and provide support. This family benefitted from the clothes and gifts. We are so grateful that they were able to have this opportunity. – Katelyn Leary, Clinical Supervisor

Jennifer H. Jones joins Youth Villages as chief marketing officer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Jennifer Hoffman Jones has been named chief marketing officer at Youth Villages, the Memphis-headquartered private nonprofit organization that helps more than 22,000 emotionally troubled children and their families each year in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

Jones will provide leadership and strategic direction to the business planning and policy, marketing communications and managed care/referral departments at Youth Villages.

“Youth Villages is a special place with a very special mission and legacy of helping children and families, and I’m excited to be a part of the mission,” Jones said. “One of the things that drew me to this great organization was the passion and pride of the team. Their commitment to be a force for families has propelled Youth Villages to become one of the country’s leading nonprofits. I’m proud to be able to bring my corporate branding and marketing experience to the team.”

Jones comes to Youth Villages after 15 years with Hilton Worldwide, where she was senior director of brand marketing – luxury and lifestyle brands, focusing on Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Waldorf Astoria Hotels. Before that, she was director of brand marketing for Hilton’s Embassy Suites.

“We are so pleased to add Jennifer’s expertise to our senior leadership group,” said Patrick W. Lawler, chief executive officer. “Her experience with some of the world’s most well-known hotel brands will be critical as we focus on integrated marketing, brand development and communications strategies to help us bring effective programs and services to more children, families and young people across the country.”

Youth Villages has grown from helping 50 children a year on two Memphis residential campuses in 1986 to touching the lives of thousands of children across the country. It is largest provider of behavioral health services to children in Tennessee and is considered one of the nation’s leading children’s behavioral health organizations. For more information on Youth Villages, go to

Youth Villages names Jenny Bush to national board

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Nov. 18, 2016) – Youth Villages, one of the largest providers of children’s behavioral health services in the country, has named Jenny Bush, president of Cummins Mid-South and Southern Plains, to its national board of directors.

Bush, a native of England who now lives in Germantown, Tenn., has held a series of leadership positions for Cummins around the world. She became involved with Youth Villages after taking the Mid-South position in 2014.

“In addition to personally volunteering her time, Jenny encouraged her employees to do so, and Cummins Mid-South now has a monthly outing to spend time with our youth,” said Patrick W. Lawler, chief executive officer. “She secured support from the Cummins Foundation for our Food With Class vocational program and has created an apprentice program for young people who age out of foster care and participate in our YVLifeSet program. Jenny is truly an example for others, and I am pleased to have her leadership on our national board of directors.”

Bush said Cummins has a long legacy of supporting organizations in the communities it serves and is delighted to further engage in helping Youth Villages move forward in its mission for children and families. Personally, I have a huge desire to try to help young people who are disadvantaged. Our employees have made meaningful connections with the children and young people being helped by Youth Villages, and I look forward to being a part of the leadership team for this important organization.”

Youth Villages has grown from helping 50 children a year on two Memphis residential campuses in 1986 to touching the lives of more than 22,000 children, families and young people in 12 states and the District of Columbia. It is largest provider of behavioral health services to children in Tennessee. For more information on Youth Villages, go to

James R. Mulroy named general counsel at Youth Villages

MEMPHIS – (Nov. 18, 2016) – James R. Mulroy has been named managing director – general counsel at Youth Villages. He most recently served as managing principal of the Memphis office of Jackson Lewis, P.C.

Mulroy is a director of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and past president of North East Mental Health Center. He is a past board member and past president of the board of West Tennessee Family Solutions, an agency providing housing and supportive services for mentally disabled adults. In addition, he was appointed as an administrative judge for the Tennessee Department of Education.

Mulroy is a graduate of Rhodes College and received his MBA from the Fogelman College of Business at the University of Memphis. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law. He has also received continuing education from the Naval War College, National Defense University, Naval Justice School and Northwestern University. He served six years of active duty as a JAG officer in the United States Navy, where he earned the Navy Achievement Medal and Navy Commendation Medal and served in various capacities in the U.S. and overseas including as a trial observer for the U.S. Embassy in Japan.

He is AV rated by Martindale Hubble and has been peer selected as one of the Top 100 lawyers in Tennessee and one of the Top 50 lawyers in Memphis by Super Lawyers. He was selected to be a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has been repeatedly selected as a leader in the field by Chambers USA and Best Lawyers.

Youth Villages is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families live successfully. Founded in Memphis in 1986, Youth Villages will help more than 22,000 children and families from 20 states and the District of Columbia this year. It is one of the largest private providers of children’s services in Tennessee and has been recognized by Harvard Business School, U.S. News & World Report and the White House as a model for data-driven


Tulsa — a city with small-town warmth — is a great place to begin a Youth Villages career

Youth Villages Oklahoma offers opportunities in new programs in Tulsa and Oklahoma City

Whitney Caldwell grew up in Tulsa, but has lived in various cities throughout the last decade, even South Africa. With a soft spot in her heart for her hometown, Caldwell recently came back to serve as an YVLifeSet specialist for Youth Villages.

“It is a beautiful city that has the warmth of a small town,” she acknowledged. “The thing I love most about this city is the people. Tulsa has the friendliest and kindest people of any city I have ever lived in.”

In her role for two months, Caldwell feels similarly about working for Youth Villages as she does working in Tulsa.

“I would highly recommend them working for this organization,” she said. “I have found the people, training and services provided to our clients to be exceptional.”

Caldwell is one of four recent new hires who will work out of the Tulsa’s office.

A number Youth Villages Oklahoma Assistant Director Jessica Moore wants to see grow as the state expands its programs.

“Our leadership is devoted to helping young professionals set and accomplish their goals in their career and in life,” she explained.

A Tulsa native herself, Moore has worked for Youth Villages for eight years — in Dallas, and Memphis before eventually coming back home to the Sooner State.

Youth Villages came to Oklahoma through public-private partnerships between the state of Oklahoma and private philanthropists, such as Tulsa’s George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Sue Ann Arnall Family Foundation in Oklahoma City. It serves youth through its Intercept and YVLifeSet programs. There are plans to expand the YVLifeSet program – to help more young people who have experienced foster care – with new offices in Enid and Lawton within the next year.

“Today we are serving 135 kids, families and young people,” Moore acknowledged. “We are still ramping up programs in OKC and YVLifeSet in Tulsa, but we will ultimately have 64 young people at any given time in both YVLifeSet programs, 40 families at any given time in Intercept in both programs, and then 32 young people in Enid and Lawton.”

Tulsa is known for its young professional scene and was named the No. 10 best place to start a career, according to in 2015.

Youth Villages Oklahoma also took top honors in the organization’s Great Place to Work survey last year, chosen as the top Youth Villages’ location, something Moore attributes to their dedication to serving kids, their families and young people.

“Good people that share our philosophy are drawn to the idea and, then, ultimately, to our ability to carry that idea out in practice,” she added. “Our standards are high, which creates better outcomes for kids and families. We offer support, training, and a healthy, fun place to work in a very tough but rewarding job.”

A University of Oklahoma alumna with a degree in social work, Caldwell said she was captured by the spirit of Youth Villages when she visited the website and throughout her interview process.

“I loved the passion, commitment to children and families and the excellence that embodies this organization,” she recalled. “I felt instantly connected to the vision and mission, and had no doubt that I wanted to work here.”

Caldwell also appreciates the support she’s received from the staff to thrive in her position.

“I have been blown away by the training process, the leadership of supervisors/directors and how new hires are really set up for success.”

Jacqueline Salisbury, family intervention specialist from McAlester, Oklahoma, began working in Tulsa in September. Much like Caldwell, she agreed Tulsa has a hospitable charm.

And she too wanted to be part of Youth Villages because of all it can offer the community and for its level of involvement with the families.

Moore said for young professionals interested in helping to move the needle in the state would be interested in a career in Oklahoma.“I love that we can make a difference,” she concluded. “I love that our model works here in Tulsa and OKC just like it does everywhere else, and that we have the opportunity to help the state get more kids home with their families and help more kids who are aging out of the foster care system.”


Transforming the system: Youth Villages employee receives national activist award

Mary Lee uses her experience, legal degree to focus on helping the 23,000 young people who age out of foster care every year without family support.

Mary Lee on the Champions of Change in Foster Care panel at the White House in 2015.

By Christina Morgan

Mary Lee may have recently received the 2016 Activist Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children, but her work to impact the foster care system at both a state and national level is 20 years in the making.

The NACAC honored Lee, assistant director of strategic partnerships at Youth Villages, during its annual conference on Aug. 6. The event recognized special individuals, groups and organizations that have devoted their time to promoting adoption and improving child welfare.

“The activist awards honor individuals whose work has had a significant positive impact on children and families in their community or region,” said NACAC Executive Director Mary Boo.

Lee, a graduate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, has aided

the passage and implementation of legislation, such as the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act and the Fostering Connections to Success Act.

“I’ve been working in child welfare since I was 15,” Lee acknowledged. “That’s when I got involved in advocacy and learned that my experience could help transitioning youth.”

Lee went into foster care when she was around 12 years old, and by 15 she had already begun to champion for a better system by sitting on youth boards, educating legislators and leading case manager and foster parent/adoptive parent trainings.

“I feel so incredibly thankful for having the childhood experience I did; even though it was challenging and difficult in the moment, I have a purpose in my life,” she said. “My works allows me to help others and have the impact I dreamed of as a child.”

Despite her early legislative dealings, Lee, at one point, planned to become a doctor, getting drawn toward social work well into her time at Austin Peay University.

“It was my third year of college when I changed to social work,” she recalled. “Because of the legislative work and advocacy, I knew I could use my personal experience to benefit others.”

After undergrad, Lee chose to pursue law after spending a semester at Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy.

“There I got to see the interworking of government relations and how to use data to drive a goal forward,” she explained. “It made me realize I could make an impact on a macro level that would lead to system reform instead of working with individual children and families.”

Lee launched her Youth Villages career while she was still in law school in 2006, beginning as a summer intern that led to a part-time position in the human resources department. She has since filled various roles and was one of three people to establish the YV Scholars program, which helps young adults in the YVLifeSet program with their educational goals.

“I think working at Youth Villages has been a natural fit for me,” she noted. “They’re aligned with the same values as I have in helping others. They not only focus on good services, but also system transformation, which I’m passionate about.”

Among her many accomplishments, Lee is particularly proud of the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act, which was nicknamed after her.

When a forever family chose to adopt Lee at the age of 17, her adoption worker explained that with college nearing she may want to wait until she was 18 to be adopted to keep from being a financial burden on her adoptive parents.

“I was so frustrated that they would tell a child to choose between a forever family and an education, because both of those are fundamental to be a successful adult,” she said.

Lee shared her story at a Capitol Hill briefing, where a legislative staff member heard it and took it back to their senator who drafted and introduced legislation as an amendment to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 that would ensure Lee’s experience did not happen to another child.

“I got the phone call that it had been signed into law by the president,” Lee remembered. “I immediately called my parents and thanked them not just for changing my life, but for changing the lives of so many other foster youth.”


SPEED Round: North Carolina creates leadership course

Top from left to right: Lisa Vuchak, Brittany Williams, Jennifer Deaton, Tiana Sherrod and Diedre Herring. Bottom left to right: Christen Walker and Kelly FreemanNot pictured: Elizabeth Dory and Emma Summers

As an organization that prides itself on professionally developing its employees, Youth Villages recently promoted nine North Carolina counselors.

Moving into leadership roles, these candidates first completed a 13-week program known as SPEED.Designed and delivered by Program Management Consultants Troy Ciocchetti and Charity Houghton, SPEED stands for Supervisor Preparation, Education, Exploration and Development.The course gave participants exposure with all facets of the supervisory role and prepared them to take the leadership challenge.

North Carolina Executive Director Paul Enderson and State Director Annie Smith approached Houghton, 19 years with Youth Villages, and Ciocchetti, a 10-year employee, requesting a program to help fast track those showing potential and interest in taking on leadership roles in the state.

“North Carolina has had some really amazing growth opportunities that expanded programs, which added new leadership positions to be filled,” Houghton said. “They needed a program that would get people ready to take on the new roles.”

Houghton and Ciocchetti worked with state leadership staff to ensure the curriculum matched the expectations and competencies of their supervisor positions.Throughout the 13 weeks, participants engaged in weekly phone calls, and completed pre-and-post-call assignments. They also participated in two face-to-face trainings, and worked with their supervisors during their individual development meetings to apply what they’ve learned in a real-time setting.

They often took on supervisory tasks, such as leading group supervision or completing supervisor tracking reports. Lastly, they completed a program project, which was to solve an issue prevalent statewide, and then presented it to the North Carolina leadership team.

Brittany Williams, Greensboro MST clinical supervisor, described the SPEED program as eye-opening and helpful.“I was able to learn a lot about the behind the scenes processes that take place that counselors don’t see,” she recalled. “It made me appreciate the leadership staff, more particularly the supervisor role, as the supervisor serves as the middle man between our front line staff and the rest of the leadership staff.”

After SPEED, Williams was determined to immediately utilize the topics she learned within the course, which moved her ahead of the learning curve once she transitioned into her new role.“I began using the tools, such as the supervisor tracker and assisting my then supervisor with preparation for group and consult, or even developing my own counselor development plan to get in the habit of writing them.”

She added how grateful she was to have access to courses, such as SPEED.“I love the fact that Youth Villages is continuously offering trainings that will help us grow,” she said. “Once I had the green light to sign up for those classes, I didn’t hesitate to jump at that opportunity.”

Consequently, SPEED helped Williams prepare for her supervisor interview.“My confidence was through the roof because of all the knowledge I had consumed about the supervisor role,” she acknowledged. “I also felt that my feedback to interview questions was more thorough and accurate, and I could attest that through that experience in the SPEED program, I wholeheartedly felt like the best candidate at that time.

”SPEED participant Jennifer Deaton, of Charlotte, recently moved from an MST role into her current position as YVLifeSet placement specialist and assessor.“The experience I had in the SPEED program, not only helped me learn about the supervisor role and responsibilities, but allowed me to gain skills in developing my leadership,” she said. “During the program weeks, it was refreshing to share and be challenged by like-minded peers each week that made me want to not only be ready for the next level but get better in my current position.”


Germaine Lawrence teacher named Special Needs Art Educator of the Year

Peter Flister brings passion and dedication to his work on our Arlington, Massachusetts campus

The Massachusetts Art Education Association named Peter G. Flister, teacher of visual arts at Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus in Arlington, as recipient of the Special Needs Art Educator of the Year Award for 2017.

“Your passion and dedication to the arts and creative learning make a powerful impact on our community. Thank you for the great work you do in the field and to your contribution to teaching and learning in Massachusetts,” Liz Reiser, MAEA awards chair, said in a statement.

Flister, who lives in Gloucester, will receive the award at the Annual MAEA Conference during November.

Flister has taught art in both traditional classrooms and studios as well as alternative schools, such as Youth Village-Germaine Lawrence Campus where students come from culturally diverse backgrounds and face mental health and behavioral trauma-based challenges.

He began at Youth Village-Germaine Lawrence Campus in 2014. In addition to teaching art, he has been a leader among the faculty including guiding the staff through the creation of student assessment tool called “Finding Your Voice.”

In 2015, his coworkers nominated him and he received the Youth Villages Massachusetts Commitment to Excellence Award based on his work in support of program initiatives.

Prior to joining the faculty of the Germaine Lawrence School, Flister served as the visual arts teacher for the Northshore Education Consortium, Academy Lower School and Assessment Program of Peabody, Mass. He also co-founded and acted as director of the ArcWorks initiative of the Northeast Arc of Danvers, Mass., and served on the founding committee and the advisory board of the Peabody Cultural Collaborative.

He mentors art education majors at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.

Flister received a master’s of education in arts and learning in 2011 from Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., and a bachelor’s in educational arts in 1982 from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.

He is a member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, the National Arts Education Association and the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society. He has displayed his artwork at numerous exhibits in the Boston area.

More about Youth Villages

Youth Villages New England provides services in Massachusetts from offices in Arlington, Lawrence, Plymouth, Springfield, Woburn and Worcester. It offers residential programs for girls on its Germaine Lawrence Campus in Arlington, Mass. The organization also helps families through its office in Manchester, N.H.

Youth Villages’ Evidentiary Family Restoration® approach involves intensive work with the child and family, a focus on measuring outcomes, keeping children in the community whenever safely possible and providing unprecedented accountability to families and funders.


Flexibility and desire to make a difference drive YVLifeSet’s Amber Price

Amber Price meets with a YVLifeSet participant in her apartment in Memphis.

A YVLifeSet specialist dedicated to helping young adults aging out of foster care succeed as independent adults, Amber Price knows to expect the unexpected.

Many mornings, she rushes out of the house before the sun has lifted its head above the horizon in order to beat the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles and help a young adult get a driver license. Other mornings, she has time to gingerly sip her coffee and enjoy breakfast with her husband, Jutin, and Django, their cat, knowing she will miss their evening meal together to meet a young adult instead who works past dinner time. Then there are the days when her carefully planned-out schedule derails by unforeseen circumstances – a teen who needs medical attention, a youth’s family who had an accident, a young adult losing a job or a family argument that results in a young person’s sudden homelessness.

“It’s about being flexible,” she says.

Flexibility and the desire to make a difference in the lives of others may be the most important traits YVLifeSet specialists bring to the table.

“It’s not a nine-to-five kind of job,” Amber says.

On average, Amber works with eight youth at a time. Most of them are between the ages of 17 and 22, and have spent time in foster care or are in the process of aging out. Some youth she’s helped never were in foster care but have complex family issues and lack all family support as they try to set foot into the adult world of work and independence.

From 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Amber’s youth can continue to call Youth Villages for help. On-call services pick up the phone during that time, allowing Amber to get rest and recharge.