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About Us


The conference trains adults who serve youth to create safe, healthy, caring, and intellectually empowering educational environments that foster the well-being of all children and adolescents. To accomplish this mission, it offers 100+ presentations by nationally and internationally recognized presenters to 1400+ national and international conference participants. In these presentations, participants learn about current research-based educational programs and strategies, which empower young people to overcome social, intellectual, and emotional barriers that may threaten their safety, health, emotional needs, and academic achievement. Participants also gain knowledge of proactive solutions and best practices for meeting the serious challenges faced by youth today such as school violence, poverty, learning difficulties, underachievement, achievement gaps, illiteracy, boredom, apathy, low expectations, misbehavior, dropout, drugs, bullying, gangs, teen pregnancy, sexual harassment, racism, and dysfunctional families. Furthermore, participants gain effective educational tools to build strong caring schools, communities, and families, which can meet the diverse needs of all our young people.

Conference History and Future Vision

In 1990, the NYAR Conference was founded by the College of Education of Georgia Southern University. Past conference speakers have included nationally and internationally recognized educators and youth advocates such as Geoffrey Canada, Ron Clark, Stedman Graham, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Dr. Eric Jensen, Dr. Ruby Payne, Dr. Crystal Kuykendall, Dr. James Comer, Dr. William Glasser, Dr. James Garbarino, Dr. David Hawkins, Dr. Robert Brooks, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jim Brown, TV celebrity Judge Glenda Hatchett, “Peter, Paul, & Mary” folk singer Peter Yarrow, and several National Teachers of the Year. During the past 32 years, the conference has grown from a regional conference of 150 participants to a national conference of approximately 1400 participants from across the globe. 

In 2021, the conference changed the name from National Youth-At-Risk to National Youth Advocacy and Resilience. This change was guided by the youth we serve and has been well received by our long-time conference supporters. In the next five years, the conference plans to expand from 1400 to 1600 national and international participants and to further enhance the quality and diversity of the conference program and presentations. The co-directors envision the conference as a space that provides national leadership, service, and research for the professional development of adults who serve and advocate for youth.

Conference Co-Chairs

woman with blonde hair and bangs in black blouse with blue embellishments

Dr. Alisa Leckie
Associate Professor of Middle Grades and Secondary Education

College of Education
Georgia Southern University

woman with blonde side-parted hair and black blouse

Dr. Taylor Norman
Assistant Professor of Middle Grades and Secondary Education

College of Education
Georgia Southern University

Planning Council

Carol Solomon-Jenkins
Duval County Public Schools
Sandra Wallace Nethels
Effingham BOE
Roenia Deloach
Savannah State University
Dr. Mary Felton
Dougherty County School System
Dionne Woods-Gamble
Emmanuel County Schools
Irma Gibson
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)
Mary Robbins
Screven/Jenkis/Bulloch Counties-Department of Juvenile Justice
Kiersten Morgan
Brantley County School Counselor 
Renee Perry
First District RESA
Dr. Jacqueline Smart
Retired Educator Savannah Chatham School System   
Deborah Clarke, LPC
Retired Educational Administrator
Tammy Davis
Coastal Plains Educational High School
Sandra Wallace Nethels
Effingham BOE
Jackie Ogden
University of Georgia
Cooperative Extension
Dr. Alexandra Reyes
Georgia Southern University
March 3-6, 2024   |   #NYAR24

Last updated: 2/8/2024