Membership

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.

Our Mission Statement

The Ridgefield Youth Commission shall serve as an advocate for the youth of Ridgefield to ensure community development of youth services. The Commission shall promote public awareness and understanding of local youth issues and needs. The goal of the Commission shall be to foster positive youth development throughout the community to enrich the lives of the youth and their families in the town of Ridgefield.

Meetings

The Youth Commission is a public meeting, which meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 7:00pm at the Barn Teen Center (in the parking lot at Veterans Park). Meetings are not held in July or August, and other monthly meetings are subject to change. Check our website for schedule changes.

Commission Members

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Denise Dammer-Qualey

Chairperson

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.

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Mary Dougherty

Secretary

Mary is the Director and Licensee for B.I.G. Connecticut and has two children .. a sophomore in college and a junior in high school. 

 

The reason she joined the commission was primarily to find ways to connect the youth with the public and each other in constructive, innovative ways. 

 

She loves the beautiful landscape, vibrant town center and interesting, kind hearted people in Ridgefield. Mary feels fortunate to have raised her kids here. 

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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.

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Jim Yavenditti

Member

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.

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Michael Lordi

Member

Mike and his wife recently returned to Ridgefield after spending four years in NYC. Mike’s two children graduated from Ridgefield High School. He was a member of Farmingville PTA, East Ridge PTA, and the Council of PTAs.  Mike was also the treasurer of READ (Education PAC – Ridgefield).  He is happy to be back in Ridgefield and looks forward to advocating for the youth in town

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Audrey Camino-jara

TeenTalk Advisor

Audrey earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Western Connecticut State University and a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University. She has experience working with diverse people and varying age groups in the field. Currently, Audrey works for Kids In Crisis and is the TeenTalk Counselor at East Ridge Middle School. 

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Yvonne Lerner

TeenTalk Advisor

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Sara Lewis

TeenTalk Advisor

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Rian Malhotra

Youth Advisor

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Mike Stamatis

Youth Advisor

As a longtime resident of Ridgefield Mike feels an obligation to give back to the community that has served him so well, and is truly his home. Mike is a senior at RHS, and holds an active role in student government, investment club, newspaper club, and operations down at Tiger Hollow. For him, joining the Youth Commission was a natural extension of his values in community service, and he is truly an honore to be involved. 

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Mark Robinson

Member

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.

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Diana Martsen

Website Manager

Diana is a Senior at Ridgefield High School and has lived in Ridgefield her whole life. She participates in FCCLA and was the Head Counselor at the Day Camp at the local Ridgefield Recreation Center. In her free time she does a lot of babysitting, and enjoys various outdoor activities like golf, snowboarding, waterskiing and kayaking.

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Andrew Knispel

Member

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Julia Knispel

Member

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Anshuman Suryawanshi

Member

Ansh (Anshuman) is a senior at Ridgefield High School and has lived in Ridgefield for 9 years. He is very involved in Student Government, having served for 3 years as class president before being elected Student Body President his senior year. Ansh is also a No Place for Hate Ambassador, a member of the Unity Club, and has played varsity volleyball throughout high school. He joined this Commission to help provide a voice to the youth of Ridgefield, and has strong hopes for the future!

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Skylar Kleinman

Member

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Charlotte Bowler

Member

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