Adult Mentors Current and Past

Damion Grasso, PhD 

Damion works at the UConn Health Center as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. Damion’s past experience as a foster parent, as well as his work as a clinician and researcher in the area of foster care and childhood adversity, helped to form the vision for the Youth Excellence Project. After obtaining some foundation support, Damion initiated the project in January of 2014. Damion is devoted to promoting resilience in youth who have overcome significant life challenges and finds that this program provides an outlet for this work. Damion lives with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, Shianne and Sierra, both toddlers. Damion is an regular runner and very active in outdoor activities. He also dabbles in visual art and has led or been involved in several youth mural projects in the past.

Ryan MacDonough, LCSW

Having earned a degree in clinical social work from UConn, Ryan currently serves as a clinical supervisor at InterCommunity, Inc., a community health organization providing mental health, addiction, and primary care services to individuals, families, and communities. Ryan is very active in the community and has interests that include camping, hiking, golf – anything that has to do with spending time in the outdoors. Ryan is a natural ‘people person’ and he quickly earns the respect and admiration from others he comes in contact with. Ryan lives with his wife, Amy, and his three young children, Olivia, Madeline, and Zachary.

Jim Carlson, PhD

Jim has been a technology education teacher at Guilford High School for six years now. He is also in the finishing stages of earning his doctoral degree in integrative STEM education at Virginia Tech. Jim has recently finished a sixth year in administration with the goal of soon becoming a high school principal. He is committed to excellence and the success of this program. Jim’s experiences stem from his work with youth in the Boy Scouts, the VT STEM Outreach Program, and as a counselor at a residential boys facility in Virginia. Jim enjoys the outdoors and has interests that include golf, flying small aircrafts, and boating. Jim lives with his wife, Lisa, and their 3-year-old son, Gavin.

Victoria Scranton

Victoria works as a clinical researcher at the UConn Health Center in the  Department of Psychiatry.  Victoria is dedicated to helping kids achieve their full potential, having been a foster parent, baseball and soccer coach, and an assistant Boy Scout den leader.  With over two decades of volunteer work for various organizations, the Youth Excellence Project is a perfect fit as it blends many of her interests, from working with kids to camping, hiking, and kayaking.  Victoria lives with her teenage son Logan.

Norwood Coleman, LCSW

Norwood is a licensed clinical social worker and has done extensive work with youth and families exposed to community and family violence in Greater Wilmington Delaware. He currently is a clinical supervisor of the Child Development-Community Policing Program at Delaware Guidance Services. Norwood is trained to provide trauma-focused interventions and has a natural gift working with people who have endured significant life challenges. Norwood is also a professional musician and regularly performs at shows with his viola. He also teaches the viola. He is extremely active in the community and has been involved in numerous volunteer efforts aimed at helping underserved populations. Besides playing music Norwood likes to travel and engage in cultural exchanges, which has brought him to places that include South America and soon to Cuba.