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15 Years of Service

Laura Riel and her son, Owen Laura Riel and her son, Owen

As she reflects on the end of her 14-year career at Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington, Laura Riel looks back at nearly a decade and a half of accomplishments and work still to be done. The young people she worked with appreciate her for her honesty and clarity. Her colleagues admire how Laura made policies and programs that were reflective of youth needs and how she always took time to understand a young person’s perspective to help them find their own answers.

This August, Laura Riel resigned from her role as Youth and Young Adult Services Director to spend more time with her young son. She leaves a strong department of collaborative staff and programs that support youth in transition from foster care or homelessness in identifying and achieving what they want for themselves.

Laura says her team at Catholic “worked really well within systems constraints while still advocating for youth and systems change.” Laura has welcomed the changes to that system catalyzed by the advent of Trauma Informed Care. This perspective backs up the work her team does. “We are innovative and supportive of youth creating their own plan. Going at a youth’s pace… We do a lot of experiential learning… taking youth and young adults with high levels of need, who usually don’t have the opportunity to be out in the community” and exposing them to “safe environments and typical teen experiences,” like working in a coffee stand, taking driver’s education classes, or attending Mockingbird’s Youth Advocacy Day.

Mockingbird is going to dearly miss working with Laura. As she transitions, she is enjoying her extra time to spend with her son and is using her free time to carefully figure out what she wants to do next. Laura’s career embodies what it means to pay it forward and we anticipate that Laura will continue to pay it forward on behalf of young people on whatever path she decides!