YouthZone names new executive director, Jami Hayes

Former Riverview School vice principal to succeed longtime director Lori Mueller

Jami Hayes, new YouthZone Executive Director

Jami Hayes, who until recently served as vice principal at Riverview School in Glenwood Springs, has been selected to become the new executive director for the area-wide youth services organization YouthZone.

Hayes will be the first YouthZone director from outside the organization since its founding in the 1970s. She will succeed longtime Executive Director Lori Mueller, who announced her retirement last fall but intends to stay on through this summer to help with the transition.

“I am honored to serve our community through YouthZone as Executive Director,” Hayes said in a Monday press release announcing the hiring move. “My work in the Roaring Fork School District over the last 14 years and in education for the last 20 has provided opportunity to work closely with youth and families as an advocate for equity and social justice.

“I look forward to learning from staff, our board, partners and our community to ensure a smooth transition, keep current initiatives and projects going strong while we explore opportunities for growth to increase our reach and impact.”

YouthZone uses an evidence-based diversion program approach and restorative justice to bring troubled youth full circle to understanding their behavior’s impact on the community around them, according to a description of the organization in the press release and on its website.

“In her leadership role at Riverview, Jami understood that restorative agreements and connection circles in school settings yield a higher impact to resolve issues,” the release states.

At Riverview, Hayes worked with staff to develop non-punitive, “trauma-informed” decisions in student discipline matters, it continued.

Hayes also has a long history of engagement with early literacy development and education trends in advocating for youth and family in academic learning, socio-emotional growth and mental health advocacy.

“The underlying base of Jami’s work addressed equity for the children and families in resolving problems. She is ready to bring that focus to YouthZone,” the release also states.

Hayes announced her departure from Riverview in February, and her last day there was March 19.

“Her contributions are many, and her impact on the lives of our children at Riverview will always be appreciated,” Principal Adam Volek wrote in a Feb. 26 letter to parents and students.

“As a founding member of our crew, Jami helped to design important systems and structures at Riverview,” Volek said of the relatively new school, which opened in fall 2017. “On any given day, you might find Jami sitting on the floor caring for one of our youngest learners, listening intently to their every need … (or) ‘leaning in’ to something important, no matter how challenging.”

Hayes is set to officially begin work with YouthZone on April 12.

YouthZone provides prevention, support, parent education and direct juvenile court-referral services in the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County, from Aspen to Parachute.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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