About Us

Founded in 1980, the Annual Conference of Agencies and Organizations Serving Promising (formerly Troubled) Youth has always been, as the name indicates, an interagency and multidisciplinary meeting of professionals from education, the juvenile court, human services, juvenile justice, and public/private treatment resources who all deal with children and youth, at-risk and under-resourced, who are experiencing educational, legal, behavioral, and/or mental health challenges. The goal of the conference has always been to provide cutting-edge training and networking opportunities for professionals, primarily direct-service providers who work daily with youth. Average annual conference attendance is 750 attendees.

Promising Youth Conference is funded primarily by registration fees; staffed by volunteers (the Conference Organizing Committee); and managed under the fiscal umbrella of Shelter Kids, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Conference Organizing Committee keeps the conference registration fee as low as possible to ensure that professionals working with youth will have the opportunity of attending and benefiting from this high-quality training experience.

New Conference Name

For 37 years the shorthand name of our annual conference was “Troubled Youth Conference.”  During 2016 the Utah Juvenile Justice Working Group, comprised of Utah leaders in the Utah Legislature, juvenile justice, human services, mental health, the juvenile court, community services, victim services, law enforcement, and education, recommended many innovative, research-based changes to judicial, administrative, therapeutic, educational, legal and custodial approaches to serving Utah’s youth and their communities. To support the spirit and substance of those recommendations and positive national initiatives to improve the services provided to all youth, the new shorthand name of this conference will be “Promising Youth Conference” and the official name, “The Annual Conference of Agencies and Organizations Serving Promising Youth.” 

Naming matters; labeling matters; branding matters.  Our words have the power to move the world, for better or worse. In all communications, utterances and circumstances, our goal is to create hope for all Utah youth, a hopefulness that all youth will achieve their potential and contribute positively to the future of our communities and their world. 

2018 Conference Organizing Committee

Amanda Alkema, Department of Human Services

Carolyn Andersen, Community Member

Carol Anderson, Utah State Board of Education

Pat Berckman, Community Member

Corby Eason, Utah State Board of Education

Fati Faatau, Vocational Rehabilitation

Dave Fowers, Private Therapist

Fulvia Franco, Jordan School District

Abby Gottsegen, Jordan School District

Stacy Gibson, Division of Child and Family Services

Lori Giovannoni, Division of Child and Family Services

Mary Gully, Salt Lake Division of Youth Services

Sharon Hall, Granite School District

Gini Highfield, Second District Juvenile Court

Nicki Hopwood, Private Therapist

Catherine Johnson, Wasatch Mental Health

Steven Kaelin, Utah State Board of Education

Abe Kimball, North Sanpete School District

Verne Larsen, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Marv Luddington, Davis School District

Pat Moore, Division of Juvenile Justice Services

Cuong Nguyen, Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice

Daniel Ontiveros, UNI Behavioral Health Clinic

Paul Putnam, Division of Juvenile Justice Services

Debbie Rocha, Community Member

Bonnie Shaw, Private Consultant

Nic Shellabarger, Utah State Board of Education

Adam Sherlock, Spy Hop Productions, Inc.

Pam Vickrey, Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys

Ruth Wilson, Department of Human Services

For general information queries, contact: 
Bonnie at bcleos@comcast.net

For scholarship or registration questions, contact: 
Pat at PromisingYouthConference@hotmail.com

We do not solicit conference presentation proposals. 


Snowbird is approximately 45 minutes from Salt Lake City in one of our nearby canyons.

It is a beautiful setting any time of the year, where several feet of snow can still be on the ground during our May conference. Note: The base elevation of the Snowbird resort is 7,760 feet.

For more information visit