Youth In Mind

Inspiring youth engagement and leadership development within mental health systems

Original Visionaries of Youth In Mind

Nicole Demedenko Lehman, MSW, Former Executive Director

Nicole Demedenko Lehman, was the first Executive Director. Nicole is a former Orange County Foster Youth who grew up in kinship care with her four younger siblings under her grandmother’s care.Nicole began a career in advocacy at age 20 with the California Youth Connection, advocating for legislative change for foster youth, and the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project, training social workers and community members to work with transition aged foster youth. After being accepted into the Guardian Scholar’s Scholarship for former foster youth, Nicole became a Peer Mentor with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation and eventually the coordinator for the project.Once working as a professional in the field, Nicole began to work in the field of youth mental health advocacy as co-founder of Youth in Mind in 2006, was the first elected Steering Committee President, and is now the Executive Director. In 2009 Nicole graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California with a concentration in Community Organizing, Planning and Administration.


Jamie Lee Evans, MSW, Lead Youth Engagement Training Consultant

Jamie Lee Evans is a co-founder of Youth In Mind and a strong believer that with empowerment, education and support, all youth make powerful and important contributions to the well being of all society. In addition to Youth In Mind, Jamie has been involved in the start up of several cutting edge positive youth development programs including the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project and the Humboldt County Transition Age Youth Collaboration.Jamie’s work style is collaborative and she incorporates the concept of Big Love into all that she does.Originally from Los Angeles, Jamie is a former foster youth, a mental health consumer and a professional consultant to non profit organizations. She lives in Oakland, California, and when she is not working with fantastic young people she is studying and practicing the art of Muay Thai (kickboxing), riding her bike and thinking about expansive wellness for all.


Torhon Barnes, MSW

Torhon Barnes is one of the Youth in Mind’s original steering committee members. Although not directly impacted by the mental health system, Torhon feels that he was not given the appropriate mental health services as a former ward of the state. He has also seen how the system has been detrimental to many family members and friends who are consumers and is advocating for youth voice and representation in respect to their mental health and treatment.


Denise Gil-Perez, MSW

Denise Gil-Perez is passionate about working with youth who have mental health challenges and those that have been in foster care. She is originally from Miami, FL and graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from Florida International University in May 2007. She has been an intern at Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project and California Youth Connection.


Matt Lord

Matt Lord, was on the board of directors for Youth In Mind because he is frustrated by the lack of education, and wellness development in and around mental health services. Matt has devoted his life to finding ways to help everyone suffering from mental illness to have access to non-restricted solutions. A core part of Matt’s recovery has been the hope he gained through interacting with other youth who have experienced the same difficult and dynamic suffering as he, and alleviated it. Along with peer to peer services and the recovery model, Matt is an advocate for holistic practices- especially those that help bring people joy, empowerment, and into the present moment e.g. exercise, meditation/mindfulness, appreciation, yoga, and quantum physics.


Victoria Schraeder, MSW

Victoria Schraeder, MSW was on the board of directors for Youth In Mind. In her youth Victoria had both first and second hand knowledge of the mental health systems successes and failures. Since that time Victoria has been working or involved in both the mental health and the foster care systems. She has been employed with a group home, a law office for the dependency courts, and has founded a Youth Empowerment Camp for foster youth. Victoria is also passionate about suicide prevention and interned at San Francisco Suicide Prevention her second year in the San Francisco State University School of Social Work. She graduated with her MSW in May 2009.


Alexxa Goodenough
Molly Schulze
Ariel Souza
George Del Rio
Danielle Thompson
Countless unnamed members who worked to make YIM possible




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