Youth Intervention Hall of Fame

Youth workers and the people who support them do the vital work of guiding the positive development of our youth. In programs as varied as the needs of the youth they serve, youth workers bring heart, passion, and commitment to their work every day. The Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA) recognizes the greatness in all youth workers. To shine a bright light on the value of youth workers and the strong allies who support them, our Youth Intervention Hall of Fame features their amazing work through the Friends of Youth Leadership Award.

You – our members – nominate your top performers for the Friends of Youth Leadership Award. YIPA also chooses one dedicated volunteer for the Outstanding Achievement Award.

The Friends of Youth Leadership Award is your chance to showcase an individual who goes above and beyond to help our youth succeed. Your superstar could be a volunteer, a staff member, a program leader, a director, a philanthropist, an elected person, or even a young person themselves. Nominations are accepted between October 1 and November 15 and the winners are presented their awards at the Annual Meeting of the Association in December. Click “Submit Now” to nominate your superstar. Remember, you must be a current YIPA member to submit a nomination.


We honor the 2016 Friends of Youth Leadership Award winners

Susie Bjorklund

Susie Bjorklund 

If there is one word to describe Susie, LOVE would be it! This is what she has for every teen arriving at Freedom Farm. Susie spends countless hours working with at-risk teens, as well as recruiting just the right volunteers to encourage the students while learning different life lessons.

Susie developed programs for at-risk youth at Freedom Farm where teens partner with the unique attributes of the horse while working on respect, self-confidence, problem solving, leadership, self-advocacy, responsibility and teamwork. They are involved with farm maintenance, homework, working side-by-side with a Veteran on carpentry projects, developing a business, and assisting with horse chores and learning horsemanship skills.

One teen who blossomed from being involved with Freedom Farm is Jess. In the fall of 2015 she arrived very depressed and withdrawn. The programs brought out the caring and responsible person inside who truly wants to help others. She now volunteers at Freedom Farm and just received the 2016 Horse Handler of the Year award at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner! She is an amazing young woman in part because of the LOVE Susie has for her.

Rita Younger

 Rita Younger

Rita exemplifies a true leader in Youth Intervention with a generous and caring heart. She has worked directly with the youth and their families to improve youth’s chances at a successful future for over 17 years. She gets to know them personally and quickly identifies their strengths and then searches for the best mentor for them.

Rita is warm and respectful and the youth feel comfortable with her. After just a few moments in her presence, youth are smiling and feeling like they are important because of her style in drawing out the best in them, complimenting them, and finding common ground. She genuinely cares about the youth and families she works with and the youth in our program truly enjoy talking with Rita.

Rita is an excellent staff person with many leadership skills. She has an excellent communication style and a great balance of warmth with professionalism. She makes others excited to share their ideas and fosters collaboration. Some people may be good at going the extra mile, but she goes an extra 10 miles in everything she does.

Christina McCoy

Christina McCoy 

Christina had her grandparents fooled and they thought she was that perfect kid, but she was not. Fortunately, a school counselor was there for her, believed in Christina and encouraged her to become involved in a local youth program called the Students of Color Study (SOCS) Group. Christina began to volunteer with homework help and tutoring. Then a few short years later, Christina was hired as the SOCS Program Coordinator.

Christina then devoted her career to others. She began her work at HIRED, Inc., served as the Director of Youth Development at the YWCA St. Paul, moved to Minnesota’s Community Action Network, as the Director of Policy, Development and Initiatives as well as the Director of Children and Family Development, and now serves youth at 180 Degrees.

Christina has a positive attitude and an incredible ability to actively listen to others. She has great empathy and can de-escalate any situation with a calm and steady presence. Her inherent wisdom allows her to connect with the girls at Brittany’s Place who have experienced severe trauma from sexual abuse.  She also uses her communication skills to connect with community partners.

Phil Winger

Phil Winger 

Phil has worked with Urban Boatbuilders for sixteen years. His guidance, mentorship, humor, and compassion with youth shines through daily. When Phil talks to youth, they listen. He breaks concepts down in ways that they can relate to, ways that they find relevant. Youth respect him and feel safe developing meaningful relationships with him in ways that many of them thought unlikely.

When Urban Boatbuilders went into hibernation, Phil stayed on. His love of boats and youth prevailed through a time when other instructors would have abandoned ship. He has seen needed changes and modified curriculum to best fit the youth. Phil has provided young men with unique opportunities to learn real skills from someone who cares about them. With absolute humility, Phil brings the philosophy of kindness and opportunity to these youth.

In a recent newsletter Phil commented, “It didn’t really matter what we built over the years as long as it engaged and challenged students. Our curriculum has changed, boats have changed — the one constant has been that they are given an opportunity to have an alternative way to learn.”

Thank you to our 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award winner

Lisa Meunier

Lisa Meunier 

Lisa epitomizes what it means to be a volunteer. Not only does she keep helping us, she keeps helping us without us asking her. After the first YIPA FEST, Lisa showed up unannounced to help clean up and pack away our things.

At the second YIPA FEST, without asking, she volunteered to volunteer and spent the day working side by side with us. She kept busy all day making sure things were right for our members. For the third YIPA FEST, she presented us with written notes with many practical tips to make the experience better for our members, most of which have become normal practice.

This year, she volunteered to take over the entire hospitality process. Lisa met with Maggie and me several times throughout the year to help with planning and even did a site visit at our new location. Because of her, we seamlessly managed the flow of people without a hitch at this year’s YIPA FEST. She recruited over 20 volunteers from Wells Fargo and every volunteer enjoyed the experience so much they asked to help again next year. Thank you, Lisa!

Past Friends of Youth Leadership Award Recipients

Class of 2015: Gary Keifenheim, Erich Lutz, Ruby Cortez
Class of 2014: Alec Staffon, Ehyrn Barthelme, Eriann Faris, Shari Barmash
Class of 2013: Julie Hignell, Loralee Marvin, Lisa Crocker, Senator Scott Dibble
Class of 2012: Patty Wetterling, Mandy Meisner, Kate Swenson, Louis Ochoa
Class of 2011: Maria Kustritz, Dean Prince, Steve Smith, Cathy ten Broeke, Akeel King
Class of 2010: Patty Halvorson, Lisa Hoogheem, Paul Weiler, Mayor Scott Lund, Commissioner Gail Dorfman
Class of 2009: Talia Beck, Doug Hovelson, Meredythe Jones Rossi, Krista McFarland, Quintin Jackson, Erin Rasmussen, Mayor R. T. Rybak
Class of 2008: Guadelupe Gadea, Angela Gonzalez, Autumn Nelson, Mayor Bob Nelson, Patsy Boen, Ronald Evans, Jr., Jenny Hong, Girls RAP Program of the YWCA of Minneapolis
Class of 2007: Montrell Donaldson, Chief John Harrington, James Backstrom, Mike Loud, Nick Schuum, Pam Rusten
Class of 2006: Jason Christen, Senator Sam Dallas, The Smith Foundation, Darrell Thompson
Class of 2005: Yusuf Abdullah, Cass County Commissioners, Lynn Haglin, The Ordean Foundation
Class of 2004: Chris Ganzlin, Terry Troy, Real Estate Equities, Inc.
Class of 2003: Marc Ashton, Representative Karen Clark, Mariah Docksteader

Past Outstanding Achievement Award Recipients

2015: Kathy Tingelstad
2014: Tamar Ghidalia
2013: Connie Landecker
2012: Colleen Fritsch
2011: Talia Beck
2010: Peter Geier
2009: Paul Ramsour
2008: Cheryl Meld
2007: Paul Meunier
2006: Cathy Bergh
2005: Paul Weiler
2004: Kelly Peterson
2003: David Wilmes
2002: Steve Commerford
2001: Brian Dahl
2000: Cheryl Jensen
1999: Perry Lofquist