The Neighborhood Advocate

He Empowers Youth with Tools to Turn Their Lives Around, One Session at a Time

David Southall has served in YAP’s behavioral health programming for nearly 2 years 

Roanoke, Va. – Topping the most rewarding experiences of David Southall’s career thus far at Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., were the past eight months when he empowered a program participant battling depression and suicidal thoughts with tools to turn his life around.

“Right now he is not suicidal. We’re stepping down his level of care; so I am seeing him every other week,” Southall said. “He is reaching out to friends, he is dating, and he is able to talk to his mom without feeling anxious. He’s just a complete 180 from where he was.”

Southall is the Assistant Clinical Director of Virginia where he conducts outpatient counseling, in addition to supervising four direct staff members. December 2021 will mark two years of him working with youth and families at YAP.

“I like the people that I work with and most importantly the work that I get to do,” Southall said. “I have a very systemic view. [Outside of YAP] people like to say, ‘this kid is the problem,’ but that’s not the way it works. People aren’t problems for solving. It’s never just a person on an island. You have to work with the entire system that’s around a person to help them.”

YAP is a national nonprofit in 31 states and the District of Columbia that provides community-based alternatives to youth incarceration, out-of-home placements, congregaional treatment and therapy, and neighborhood violence. In Virginia, YAP serves the Twin Counties, New River Valley and Roanoke Valley.

Consistent with YAP’s model of meeting youth and families where they are, Southall works specifically out of Roanoke, but travels to neighboring counties throughout the week to see program participants.

Southall serves as the co-chair for the Roanoke Valley Violence Prevention Council, a standing committee of the Council of Community Services. He participated in October’s “A Walk in Their Shoes,” an event that raised awareness and honored the lives of victims of domestic violence.

He appreciates being able to be flexible, with every work day being different, which he says is encouraged and supported by management.

“David is always ready for a challenge and goes great lengths to ensure that his clients and supervisees get the support and resources that they need,” said Jayna M. Ratliff, the Clinical Director of Virginia. “David is involved in the community and seeks out new and creative ways to engage local partners in working towards YAP’s mission of keeping kids out of alternative placements.”

Additionally, Southall serves as the co-chair for the Roanoke Valley Violence Prevention Council, a standing committee of the Council of Community Services, working together to increase resources available to deal with family violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence and human trafficking. Southall participated in the A Walk in Their Shoes, an event that raised awareness and honored the lives of victims of domestic violence.

Southall, who is from Franklin County, Virginia, first did an internship with YAP while pursuing his master’s degree at Radford University. He received his undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech. He was first hired as a licensed therapist at YAP before being promoted to his current position.

Southall enjoys working for YAP and noted another proud moment where YAP was suggested as the best entity for a recent youth who was on his way to a juvenile detention center before being referred to in-home placement by the court.

“I think (YAP) has a really good perception (in the community). We speak with the work that we do,” Southall said. “We do really good work and we encourage people to do really good work and that makes us a lot more valuable.”

Learn more about YAP at, where you can also apply to join the team.  You can follow YAP on Twitter @YAPInc.

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