very motivating

[Your trainer] is an astonishingly professional educator. [She] makes me want to keep doing this for years to come.


Training Participant, Chisholm, MN

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Our Team

We are a small group of professionals bringing together a diverse set of academic and career experiences and competencies towards a common goal: safe and healthy youth. Read about us below. If you would like to be in touch with one of us, we encourage you to Contact Us.

1. Program Developers

Dr. Leona L. Eggert, PhD, RN, FAAN: Dr. Leona Eggert co-developed Reconnecting Youth: A Peer Group Approach to Building Life Skills (RY) and Coping and Support Training (CAST) with Ms. Liela Nicholas. During her years as a member of the faculty at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle, WA, Leona received extensive funding from NIDA, NIMH, and the U.S. Department of Education to test RY (Reconnecting Youth) and CAST (Coping And Support Training: A Road Map for Teen Groups). Leona’s work experience includes child/adolescent psychosocial nursing, and she is a certified health educator and school nurse. Leona is the author of Anger Management for Youth: Stemming Aggression and Violence, and the principle author of the RY and CAST curricula, as well as The Youth Suicide Prevention Plan for Washington State. She has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters about her work with at-risk youth. Leona is a University of Washington Professor Emeritus and is co-owner and President of Reconnecting Youth Inc. Leona’s work exemplifies a life dedicated to helping at-risk youth, their families, and their communities.

Liela J. Nicholas, BSc, MEd: Ms. Nicholas is the co-developer of the RY and the CAST curricula. Liela worked as a high school counselor for more than 25 years with adolescents, their parents, and teachers. Her success with at-risk youth and their parents is reflected in the many publications that she has co-authored with Dr. Leona Eggert. Liela has presented nationally and internationally on topics related to the Reconnecting Youth (RY) Program and for many years was the Lead Trainer for the RY program.

2. Director of Programs and Training

Beth E. McNamara, MSW: Ms. McNamara is the Director of Programs and Training for Reconnecting Youth Inc. and Lead RY and CAST Trainer. She worked with the Reconnecting Youth Prevention Research Program at the University of Washington for over eight years as an interventionist, program coordinator, and clinical supervisor. Beth has trained nationally and internationally for Reconnecting Youth Inc. since 2002 and is available to our clients for consultation on program implementation and evaluation. Beth enjoys leading comprehensive, exhilarating, and unforgettable trainings in RY and CAST.

3. Trainers

Reconnecting Youth Inc. has trainers in Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Maine and New York. All of our trainers are available to train nationally and internationally. Our trainers receive extensive preparation by our program developers and our lead trainers and spend years advancing their skills. Testimonials reflect the ability of our trainers to impart large amounts of useful information in an engaging and memorable way.

James Hauser, MAT
Stephanie Fitzgerald, CPP
Nicole Franklin-Jones, MA
Charlonda Thrower, LCSW
Ellen Pariser, MEd in Special Education
Kari Wilson, MFTI, PPS, NCC
Selena Rockwell, BA
Mary Bork, RN, BSN

4. Owner

Adam Valencia, MSE: Mr. Valencia is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the RY Company and has over 20 years working in the area of school-based prevention. Mr. Valencia has worked extensively implementing the RY & CAST Curricula throughout school districts, community-based organizations, and child welfare services. He served as a coordinator for Reconnecting Youth for 15 years for Tulare County Office of Education and has promoted the company on a national level with the U.S. Department of Education and SAMHSA.