About Us

The Youth Restoration Project builds relationships and community, one creative interaction at a time.

YRP is a Rhode-Island based training and consulting group working with organizations to help them build interpersonal cultures where all people feel heard – where young and older, bosses and employees collaborate effectively, trust each other and their community, and have confidence they can handle conflict constructively.

YRP got its start working on school culture, shifting disciplinary systems to a restorative, healing model rather than rely on punishment, coercion, and “zero tolerance”.  YRP has also worked with organizations as diverse as Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, social service agencies, arts groups and small businesses.  Restorative practices are skills and concepts universally applicable to interpersonal relationships at work, home and play.  They nurture cooperative rather than adversarial approaches. to accountability, as the key to creating pleasant, safe and respectful environments.

Lehidy Frias – Program Director

Lehidy is leading the charge at the Restorative Justice RI Center at the Sargent Center. Previously, Lehidy has worked at the Brown Center for Students of Color as a Program Coordinator. Prior, Lehidy was the Restorative Practices Specialist at RYSE, where they partnered with the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s office to implement restorative conferencing with youth who had committed arrestable offenses and minor felonies. Lehidy has worked as a restorative justice facilitator in Central Falls and Providence, RI through the Youth Restoration Project. As the former Dean of Culture for a Denver charter school, Lehidy implemented restorative justice in system-wide procedures, created a peer mediation program, and worked with the school network to implement and facilitate diversity, equity and inclusion professional development. Lehidy holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Public Health from Brown University, has an initial mastery completion certification for Restorative Justice through the Youth Restoration Project, is a certified mediator and holds a Masters degree in Restorative Justice from Vermont Law School. Email Lehidy at [email protected]

Julia Steiny – Director of Policy and Implementation

Julia founded the Youth Restoration Project in 2008, and served as Managing Director since its incorporation. Her first major YRP project began in the Central Falls schools in 2009, under the direction of Superintendent Dr. Frances Gallo.  In the fall of 2014, the National Institute of Justice awarded a large grant to the Central Falls School District, YRP and two research organizations to create, implement and evaluate a Restorative Justice Conferencing system in several RI public schools.  Julia is a certified mediator and Family Group Conference Facilitator; she’s trained at the Suffolk Center for Restorative Justice, at the International Institute for Restorative Practices, and participated in many other trainings and national conferences about RJP.  Julia also served on the Providence School Board, and for 16 years wrote the weekly education column for the Providence Journal.  Off and on over two decades, she’s written for many outlets and agencies, as well as serving as communications consultant for the DataSpark team at the Providence Plan.  She’s currently Vice President of the RI Mental Health Association.  Julia can be reached at [email protected].

Carrie Coren – Marketing Consultant

Carrie is the Creative Director of Carrie Coren Design, a studio specializing in print and digital solutions for marketing needs.  After more than 25 years of working in marketing departments at major corporations (Cox, Comcast, and Hasbro), she’s an expert at asking the right questions to reach a target market successfully.  Carrie loves to learn about her clients’ businesses and motivations, but little did she know that learning about the Youth Restoration Project would be more than educational.  As Carrie learned about restorative principles and skills she found an opportunity for personal growth, becoming a certified practitioner and enjoying the personal pride of feeling heard, using restorative practices in her own family.  Carrie Coren Design is a Rhode Island Certified Women Business Enterprise.  Please check her out at carriecoren.com.

Denise Wolk – Consultant

For more than two decades, Denise Wolk has supported secondary schools and school districts across the country with research, resource development, professional development and leadership coaching.  She’s worked extensively on designing and implementing student advisories, and on improving school climate, culture, and discipline practices.  Denise enjoys working with teams to create and implement strategies for personalizing the learning experience for all students.  She’s a member of the Massachusetts Education Law Task Force, and serves as an advisor to the Massachusetts Safe and Supportive Schools Commission.  Denis sees Restorative Justice as an integral part of a fair and equitable system for all students.  Denise works as a partner with YRP, and as an independent consultant and project editor.  Her email address is [email protected].

Michelle Novello – Consultant

Michelle is a certified life coach who works with individuals and workplaces using her straight, piercingly honest skills.  She’s always looking for that “aha” moment, both in coaching and in her involvement with Restorative Justice Practices.  She teaches non-violence in Rhode Island’s Adult Correctional Institute, where she mastered the craft of circling up with “the guys” – not an easy sell, but ultimately rewarding.  Michelle is the Program Coordinator at Providence Community Library, and the founder and director of RiverzEdge in Woonsocket, RI, an arts organization that provides wrap-around services for local teens.  Riverzedge has grown under her leadership into an organization with a staff of 60, a $500,000 budget and an impressive track record helping senior students onto post-secondary paths.  Michelle’s interest in the injustice of mass incarceration first led her to join YRP’s work on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

And our organizational affiliates:

Sargent Rehabilitation Center – David A. Kane, Esq. – CEO

David is the recently-appointed President and Chief Executive Officer at the Sargent Center in Warwick RI, where he previously served as deputy CEO and Vice President of the Center’s Regional Resource Center. With over three decades of experience working in the legal, business and disability communities advancing opportunities for individuals with disabilities, David oversees the Center’s medical rehabilitation and educational instruction for adults and children with neurological, behavioral and learning disabilities.  He became interested in Restorative Practices for its potential in resolving disputes in special education; currently he’s looking to expand the Center’s services to help schools and organizations create healthier community relationships.  YRP began offering training at Sargent’s Regional Resource Center in 2016, and in 2019 the two organizations formally affiliated, looking forward to developing our collaboration.

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