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 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 has lived in Ridgefield since 2011 with his wife and two young children. He has worked at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan since 2012 and currently serves as the school’s Director of Studies. His main areas of focus include academic counseling for grades 8-10 and creating both daily schedules for teachers and students and 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. 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 and Mark joined the Youth Commission to help give other kids the support that his own kids enjoyed. 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.
Ashley is the Teen Talk Counselor at Ridgefield High School, and a new member of the Ridgefield community. Originally from the Boston area, Ashley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who specializes in child, adolescent, and family therapy, with specific training in trauma and developmental disabilities. Ashley enjoys spending time getting to know the children and families that she works with, helping them to identify and utilize their strengths and natural resources in order to be their best selves. Previously, Ashley worked for three years as a Child and Family and Crisis (211) counselor at the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, in Stamford. While there, she carried an eclectic workload which included: conducting developmental evaluations and assessments for children under the age of 5; group, parent and family, and individual therapy for children and adolescents; collaborating with community programs; and conducting suicide and high-risk behavior assessments and interventions. Ashley completed a dual degree program in May, 2013, simultaneously obtaining her Master’s Degree in Child Development Psychology from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from NYU. She has found that her unique educational experiences have allowed her to be able to take a full biopsychosocial perspective with all of the children and families that she works with, and to be flexible in order to respond adaptively and creatively to crisis situations.