What is the Youth MOVE Peer Center?

Across the country, recovery-oriented services and consumer run organizations, including youth and family- run organizations, are increasingly seen as vital supports within the mental health service array. Youth MOVE National’s Consumer Peer Center was established in July 2020, with grant funding support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. As a youth-run peer organization, YMN honors lived experience and recognizes the value of both traditional and non-traditional supports. We serve peers across the lifespan, their families, and providers of all ages, to grow the youth peer movement across the United States. As one of five funded Centers, we look forward to collaborating with our partners to improve and sustain the implementation of peer and recovery-oriented services and supports.  

Building on Youth MOVE National’s (YMN)  expertise in youth peer support, youth engagement, and positive youth development, the peer center will build the capacity of the current and future peer workforce, consumer-run organizations, including youth and family organizations, mental health service providers, and individuals with lived experience to promote the resilience and recovery of those experiencing mental health challenges. We use multiple, effective tailored technical assistance (TA), coaching, and training approaches to improve implementation and enhance the integration of recovery-oriented services into the traditional mental health service array. 

Our Mission

In line with our mission, “Motivating Others through Voices of Experience”, we have united to use our experiences and skill sets to affect positive change through advocacy, leadership development, consumer engagement in systems change initiatives, by providing training, technical assistance, consultation, youth-adult partnership and leadership trainings, conference and meeting planning and delivery, and distance and onsite peer learning.

Focus Areas

The young adult mental health workforce has many training and professional development needs in order to effectively provide services.

Youth-Run Program Support
Youth Peer Support
Youth Leadership Development
Professional Development & Education
Peer-to-Peer Networking Opportunities

The Youth MOVE Peer Center is pleased to offer:

the peer center Supports

  • Tiered menu of training and assistance to support peer-run organizations, provider organizations, and the mental health system in the successful planning, implementation, and sustainability of recovery services
  • Annual learning community opportunities for distinct cohorts to address prioritized topic areas and audiences
  • Development and dissemination of resources, toolkits, implementation guides, and other relevant materials
  • Responsive individualized training, coaching, and technical assistance to the peer workforce, peer-run organizations, provider agencies, and local and state-level mental health leadership
To learn more about available training and technical assistance opportunities, head over to What We Do

The Youth MOVE Team

Michelle Vance
TA Specialist

Pronouns: She/Her

Michelle’s advocacy work began when she attended a planning meeting where she met project stakeholders interested in hearing what they could do better for young adults. She was a great person to connect to as she has never had a shortage of ideas to create change in the foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health systems. Michelle spent extensive time working on youth voice and youth engagement within Utah’s Systems of Care and Healthy Transitions Initiative. She is a trained Peer Support Specialist who helped develop a Youth MOVE chapter in Utah. Michelle is proud of the work she led in creating intentional spaces for youth to share their experiences directly with those involved in policy and systems change efforts. On the weekends, Michelle is an avid gamer, PS4 and Switch are her favorite past times. She also has two dogs, a hedgehog, and a day gecko, that keep life interesting.

Mark Saint Amour
Principal Investigator

Pronouns: They/Them

Mark Saint Amour (they/them/their) is as a queer and trans, gender non-conforming person of Mexican Indigenous descent. Mark is neurodivergent and a childhood victim/survivor of trauma who deeply believes in listening to youth voices and the power of holistic affirmation. Mark spent over ten years in the national for-profit industry as an upper-level manager/director and business developer opening start-ups and working with established organizations to expand into new territories. Following this, Mark spent another ten years active in the non-profit field, working with organizations through-out Chicago, New York, Vermont, California, and Michigan centering Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) practices and using trauma-informed and intersectionality based frameworks. Currently they serve as the Co-Executive Director of the environmental justice organization Center for Whole Communities and as a core trainer for the Transgender Training Institute. Their leadership style involves a deep commitment to active listening, empowerment, collaboration, and centering empathy, trust, vulnerability, and transparency. Mark has a passion for youth advocacy having worked in a variety of different capacities serving youth and learners between the ages of 12 – 22 from educational settings to houselessness resource centers, and even co-creating an annual Midwest summit for LGBTQIA+ youth which saw 600+ folks a year in its prime.

Cassie Diaz
Operations Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her

Cassie’s journey in advocacy started at a young age largely due to her and her family’s involvement in various systems. As someone with lived experience, she discovered the importance and necessity of uplifting voices (particularly in marginalized groups) in order to impact systemic change. During her undergraduate career, she participated in and led multiple peer support groups ranging from academic mentorship, sexual assault response and support, and youth mental health outreach. Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies, she continued to be a staunch activist for change and reform, particularly with LGBTQI2-S, women’s rights, and racial justice groups through volunteering and organizing efforts. Cassie joins Youth MOVE National as the Operations Coordinator, providing support, leadership, and oversight to operational day-to-day functions to inform and drive YMN’s mission. In her free time, Cassie is a volunteer leader for NARAL Pro-Choice America and can often be found organizing or assisting outreach events. She also loves to cook, reads almost any book she can get her hands on, and spends as much time as possible with her partner, friends, and family.

Lydia Proulx
Director of Youth Programs

Pronouns: They/Them

Lydia’s own lived experience with mental health, school, and youth leadership drives their dedication to authentic youth engagement, advocacy, and education. They’re excited about improving the service delivery model for LGBTQIA2-S youth on a national scale. As the former youth program manager at Youth MOVE Massachusetts and Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), they led the development of youth peer support groups, youth trainings and speaking engagements, and the internship program. In their spare time, Lydia volunteers on a local farm for hunger relief and teaches comprehensive sexual health education to youth and young adults. Plus, they love antiquing on the weekends.

Shayn McDonald
TA Specialist

Pronouns: They/Them

Shayn’s passion for youth advocacy and social change is rooted in their many lived experiences and involvement in systems throughout their lifetime. As a queer young adult and trauma survivor, Shayn is particularly invested in education and advocacy around LGBTQ2-S+ communities, and actively seeks to highlight and address the impact of trauma and systemic oppression with the intention of creating greater change. Their involvement in the mental health system in particular motivates them to continue expanding awareness around the diversity of human experiences, and they believe that every person is deserving of community and self-determined support. Prior to joining Youth MOVE National, Shayn worked as the Youth Advocacy Coordinator for the Zia Young Adult Access Center—a Massachusetts-based, youth-led peer support and resource connection center that educated and advocated around youth advocacy and system change. When not working, Shayn enjoys spending time with their cat and watching notoriously bad horror movies. They also love philosophical conversations and contemplating the nature of the universe.

Te Jay McGrath
TA Specialist

Pronouns: He/Him

Te Jay brings many years of professional and lived experience to the Youth MOVE team. Not only has he directly served and supported many types of young adults, especially those experiencing homelessness, he has worked on policy changes when it comes to LGBTQ+ initiatives, anti-bullying efforts, and public health inequities. Te Jay has been performing all around southern California as his drag persona, Tia Wanna, for over 9 years. Originally from Hawaii, Te Jay is a Korean American who now resides in Los Angeles where he has called home for over a decade.

Victoria Eckert
Associate Director

Pronouns: She/Her

Victoria comes to Youth MOVE National as a Licensed Social Worker in New York State but also with family lived experience. As a young person starting her career, she was lucky to begin working as a Youth Engagement Specialist with Chautauqua County, NY System of Care that not only taught her about the importance of systems change work but led her to fall in love with the acknowledgement and encouragement that people with lived experience should always be heard. Victoria brings her strong background in System of Care implementation, suicide prevention and trauma informed care to the Youth MOVE National team. As Victoria loves to talk and share her passion for this work, you can also find her teaching undergraduate mental health classes at SUNY Fredonia. When Victoria is not working, she loves to spend time with family, garden, go backpacking, or hit up the gym with friends.

Jasmine Boatwright
TA Specialist

Pronouns: She/Her

Jasmine became interested in youth and family voice once she noticed the limited power young adults have in decision-making. She began sharing her and her family’s experiences in the mental health system in order to advocate for youth. Prior to joining Youth MOVE National, her advocacy led her to become the director of Youth MOVE Michigan, supporting Youth MOVE Detroit, and providing technical assistance to local systems of care and tribal youth groups. When she’s off the clock, Jasmine moonlights as a local entertainment promoter and can put together a playlist of good music you haven’t heard before. One of her favorite movies is the Transformers series because Bumblebee reminds her of her first car she named John Shaft.

Tymber Hudson
TA Specialist

Pronouns: They/She

Tymber Hudson is a storyteller, strategist, and multidisciplinary artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tymber is deeply committed to centering, uplifting, and empowering Black LGBTQ+ communities to abolish systems that perpetuate trauma and oppression. Through all of their work, Tymber puts the community at the center of the design of policy and practice that impacts their daily lives. Tymber served as the LGBTQ+ policy associate at the Biden Foundation where they designed and managed a database with more than 500 digital story submissions for “As you Are”: A national storytelling and public education campaign discussing family acceptance and the harms of family rejection. They also provided technical assistance and research support to other national youth-serving organizations working to implement LGBTQ+ inclusion and equity into their programs, policies, and practices. Tymber continues to use their personal experience and knowledge to educate and ignite change for all young people.