The Youth Restoration Project of Rhode Island – Current Staff

Julia Steiny – Managing Director

Julia founded the Youth Restoration Project in 2008, developing partnerships with Rhode Island schools and social-service agencies to teach and implement Restorative Practices. Besides designing our training programs and consulting in several school districts, she’s Project Director for a National Institute of Justice grant to the district of Central Falls, managing a staff of full-time Restorative Conferencing Facilitators in several RI middle and high schools. She served for four years on the Providence School Board, and for 16 years wrote a weekly column on education for the Providence Journal.

Julia has certificates from Suffolk University’s Center for Restorative Justice, Bradley Hospital’s Trauma Training, and others. She’s a licensed trainer for the International Institute for Restorative Practices, a certified mediator, and has attended and presented at a number of international conferences. She’s also been a consultant and project manager for the RI Department of Education’s informational websites, working with DataSpark, The Providence Plan and the National Center on Public Education.

Trinice Holden – Implementation Supervisor

Trinice works with school administration to set up implementation teams, which direct the redesign of the school’s disciplinary procedures on a restorative model. She also oversees the staff work and is responsible for staff support, deployment, evaluation and morale.

As a young adult, Trinice made her way to Rhode Island after growing up in Georgia.  For the last five years she’s worked with international students, and her involvement with their very different backgrounds and communities contributes to her work with us in Restorative Practices.  Trinice is fearless about trying new things while still getting her giant to-do list accomplished.  Her two sons breathe as much energy into her days as she does into ours.

Our National Institute of Justice Safety in Schools Grant

In the Fall 2014, the NIJ awarded a major grant to the Central Falls School District along with YRP, the Urban Institute (a research group) and DataSpark (a local data group), to study the effects of Restorative Conferencing in five RI public schools.  Where conventional discipline systems emphasize punishment and tend to promote recidivism, the goal of conferencing is to get to the roots of misbehavior, find appropriate ways to make restitution and reintegrate offenders into the community.  Hired in partnership with Family Service of RI, our NIJ staff also supports the schools’ personnel in working to implement Restorative Practices and improve the overall school climate.

Sheyla Gabriel – Conference Facilitator

Sheyla is one of our expert translators, fluent in Spanish.  Her sunny disposition and her ability to engage in active listening connects her with the students.  She’s ready and willing to assist her coworkers with her tech-savvy knowledge and calm patience.  As Sheyla continues to grow in her role as Facilitator, she enriches the team with her dedication to her community and school.  She adores her two dogs.

Narda Gomez – Conference Facilitator

Narda is an excellent restorative practitioner who aspires to work in law enforcement, as a School Resource Officer.  Her fluency in Spanish, her wit, and her years of experience both in social service and as a security guard make her unstoppable. To refresh, Narda enjoys spending time with her daughter and gracing the world with her sharp sense of humor.

Claudia Decesare – Conference Facilitator

With over 20 years of teaching experience/ and community partnerships, Claudia’s passion for helping others lets her dig deep to get to the root of any issue, making her one of the strongest facilitators in our conferencing program.  During her free time, Claudia enjoys spending time with her family and occasional walks with her husband.

Karen Blazer – Conference Facilitator

Karen is an open-minded, culturally-oriented person with experience traveling in Bali, Thailand and Israel, and teaching English in Taiwan.  She’s been immersed in the field of Restorative Justice, working for six years at the Montpelier Community Justice Center in Vermont.  Karen’s smile and accessibility allows her to connect with the students she serves as Restorative Conference Facilitator.  Her expertise is a great asset to the team.

Joel Polanco – Conference Facilitator

Joel is dedicated, resourceful and committed to social, academic and athletic growth within the spectrum of Restorative Practices.  He has a wide range of experience in creating and implementing athletic programs in high schools, working to promote the success of our youth, building and fostering relationships with families and school communities.  Joel is a bilingual talented individual who brings warmth, humor and diversity of experience to the conferencing team.

Gilda Johnson – Conference Facilitator

The mother of four, Gilda brings an amazing range of experience to the field of Restorative Justice.  Rooted in psychology, divinity, community health, research and technology, she’s also a world traveller.  Originally from the Cape Verde Islands, Gilda has compassion for people and a passion for learning.  She’s multilingual and makes muti-tasking look easy, bringing patience and determination to our crew.

Our Training Program

YRP sponsors several training series each year for teachers, school staff members, social workers and others interested in gaining experience in Restorative Practices.  Participants attend five 2½ to 3-hour sessions over the course of several weeks to earn a Certificate of Initial Mastery.  A shorter course is also available for a Basic Tools Certificate.  Click here for information on our current training program.

Victor Ramos – Director of Training

Victor received extensive training in Restorative Practices in his prior position as a Conference Facilitator for YRP’s National Institute of Justice grant. He works closely with Julia to refine our training materials and strategies.  His new expertise builds on 15 years as a specialist in community engagement, during which he worked with passion to resolve conflicts, cultivate relationships and bridge communication gaps among youth and parents, businesses and law-enforcement agencies. Victor’s made presentations to national conferences for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the National Tobacco Control Initiative for the RI Department of Health. He also has an extensive background in media development.