The Youth Commission shall consist of 16 members, appointed by the Board of Selectman, serving two-year terms ending on July 1. Eight members shall be appointed each year. Minors/youth are permitted to be members of the Youth Commission; three to four of the 16 members are to be youth.
Denise Dammer-Qualey, Chair
Denise Qualey, MSW, Managing Director, Clinical and Program Services, began her career with Kids in Crisis in 1982 as a student intern. Since then she has risen through the ranks, holding numerous senior counseling and crisis services position. As Managing Director since 1993, Denise directs all programs and community services efforts and oversees a staff of 50+ counseling and therapeutic staff. Denise, who lives in Ridgefield with her husband and two children, is previous chairperson of the New England Consortium for Families and Youth, a member of the Stamford and Greenwich Child Protection Teams, and the Chair Person of the Ridgefield Youth Commission. She holds a B.A. from Iona College and a Master of
Social Work from Fordham University. Denise has been happy to give back to the Ridgefield community by working on the commission. The young people involved are inspiring.
Monnie Newman, Outside Financial Consultant
Monnie works full time at Fairfield County Bank as a Financial Advisor and Customer Service Specialist. She belongs to the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce networking group, as well as Ridgefield Toastmasters and Temple Shearith Israel. For 3 years, she served on the Yes 2 Youth Committee, which raises funds for the Barn Teen Center, Skate Park, and other youth venues. In her spare time, she enjoys open water swimming, walking, reading and gardening. It is important to Monnie to give back to the Ridgefield community and by joining the Youth Commission she hopes to make a difference in the lives of Ridgefield children and teens.
Jim Yavenditti, Secretary
Jim has lived in Ridgefield since 2011 with his wife and two children. He has worked at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan since 2002 and currently serves as the school’s Director of Studies. His main areas of focus include faculty growth and renewal, academic counseling for grades 8-10, and creating the daily schedules for teachers and students, and organizing the School’s annual calendar. He spends his spare time reading, traveling, and supporting his beloved UNC Tarheel mens’ basketball team. He’s proud to serve on the Youth Commission and give back to his community.
Mark has been an active member of the Ridgefield community since moving here in 1992. He has been a member of the Ridgefield Youth Commission since 2010. Previously, he served as a member of the Ridgefield Economic Development Commission. He is the parent of a son and daughter who attended Ridgefield schools from pre-school though high school. Mark served 12 years on the state’s Martin Luther King Commission and is the founder and organizer of Ridgefield’s annual Martin Luther King Day ceremony. Mark is chairman of Effective Leadership for Ridgefield, a think-tank of local civic leaders who develop collaborative solutions for local issues, former chair of ROUND; Ridgefielders Organized for Understanding of Diversity, and former member of the board of A Better Chance of Ridgefield, an educational opportunities organization for academically gifted minority students.
Audrey Camino-jara, TeenTalk Advisor at East Ridge Middle School
Sara Lewis, TeenTalk Advisor at Scotts Ridge Middle School
Yvonne Lerner, TeenTalk Advisor at Ridgefield High School