Newsmakers for December 2004 – January 2005

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Theresa Costello of the Charlotte, N.C.-based ACTION for Child Protection will be director of the National Resource Center on Child Protective Services – one of seven national resource centers on child welfare that are funded by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Administration on Children and Families.

After operating one of the resource centers during the previous funding period with the Child Welfare Institute (CWI), run by Tom Morton, this time around ACTION decided to compete with its former partner for the money.

Morton acknowledged that his CWI staff had had some friction over vision with staff at ACTION and with officials at the Children’s Bureau. Costello has 20 years of service in child welfare and serves as ACTION’s deputy director, providing technical assistance to states and tribal systems. Contact: (704) 845-2121,


National Community Education Association (NCEA) Executive Director Starla Jewell-Kelly is retiring at the end of the year. Taking over the Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit, which represents organizations facilitating community involvement in education, is Stephen Parson. Parson has been a professor of education at Virginia Tech for nearly 30 years.

The transition was not so smooth for another national community education group, the National Center for Community Education (NCCE), a training center based in Flint, Mich. NCCE Executive Director Dan Cady abruptly retired in early November, leaving Facilities Manager and Program Director Kim Yecke as interim director.

He was followed out the door by Associate Director Pat Edwards – who, during a prior stint at the C.S. Mott Foundation, was the program officer for Jewell-Kelly’s NCEA.

NCCE spokesman Kendrick Kemp says no timetable has been set to permanently replace Cady. Edwards’ position may be eliminated altogether. Contact: NCCE (810) 238-0463,; NCEA (703) 359-8973,


In 2002, Kathleen McChesney left a high-ranking administrative post at the FBI to serve as head of the office of child protection at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Her task: Oversee the church’s efforts to transparently investigate, and prevent, sexual abuse of youth by members of the clergy.

McChesney announced last month that she will step down in February. She told reporters that she was leaving because “I have done what I was asked to do.”

Meanwhile, the USCCB elected a new president: former Vice President Bishop William Skylstad, who was not afforded the usual cake walk to the top that was enjoyed by past USCCB veeps, because his Spokane, Wash., diocese was in the process of filing for bankruptcy. Skylstad still managed to pull 52 percent of the vote from a field of 10 candidates.

Skylstad’s diocese is the third to file for bankruptcy in the fallout from the church’s recent sex abuse scandals. Portland, Ore., and Tuscon, Ariz., are the others. Some watchdogs worry that the moves have more to do with secrecy than financial ruin. All of the bankruptcy filings have come in anticipation of lawsuits alleging that the diocese concealed the existence of known child molesters in the priesthood. Contact: (202) 541-3000,


AmeriCorps Alums announced in November that it will merge with the Atlanta-based Hands On Network, a 12-year-old alliance of organizations that specialize in volunteer management and mobilization. The nonprofit network, formerly dubbed CityCares, is run by CEO Michelle Nunn – daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) – who last year declined a Democratic invitation to run for the seat vacated by Georgia’s outgoing U.S. senator, Zell Miller (D).

Hands On will take over leadership of the alumni network, and the Alums will have representation on the Hands On board and an advisory board to be created for Alums. Approximately 330,000 people have served AmeriCorps since it began in 1993, working an estimated 360 million hours.

Managing the new arm of Hands On is Emily Gilliland, a two-time AmeriCorps member. Contact: (404) 979-2900,

The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (N-TEN), based in San Francisco, announced the resignation of Executive Director Ed Batista effective in January. N-TEN provides support to individuals and organizations that help nonprofits implement technology to meet community needs. Contact: (415) 397-9000,   

Adam Hughes departed the D.C.-based Coalition on Human Needs in November. Hughes, a policy associate, took a job a block down policy road (Connecticut Avenue) as a budget policy analyst for OMB Watch.

Hughes leaves the coalition in good hands. Headed by Executive Director Deborah Weinstein, the coalition’s e-mailed “Human Needs Report” is one of the quickest conveyors of budgetary and legislative affairs news in the youth field and other areas of human services. Contact: (202) 223-2532,

Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a well-known Boston nonprofit that serves 4,000 runaway, homeless and at-risk youth annually, announced that Sheila Moore will become its third executive director. The organization was run for 33 years by its co-founder, Sister Barbara Whelan, who was succeeded in 2002 by 27-year staff member Genny Price. Price, however, then moved to California to run another nationally renowned homeless youth service provider, Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. While Price changes coasts, Moore barely changes ZIP codes. She served for seven years as executive director of the Boston-based Casa Myrna Vazquez, which provides prevention and intervention services to victims of domestic abuse. Contact: (617) 423-9575,


Kate Freeborn is the new managing editor of New Moon, a magazine for girls between the ages of 8 and 14 that combines literary works, news writing and art. She comes to the magazine after a tour of duty with Teach for America in Compton, Calif.

She also obtained a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Minnesota.

After 12 years under the direction of founder and publisher Nancy Gruver, the for-profit New Moon has built a readership of 60,000 (half of them paid subscribers), and kept its pages free of advertising with some creative ties to the nonprofit world. The secret to longevity and success? Freeborn says it didn’t take her long to realize how New Moon stays relevant: Let youth take the lead, and try not to get in the way.

An editorial board of 20 girls does first reads on most of the material submitted to New Moon. All board members are over 8, and can serve until they’re 14. “I’m pretty much here to do whatever it is they wish,” Freeborn says.

The board operates with near-autonomy. The only point that ever draws debate between the adult and youth components, according to Freeborn, is the magazine’s rule prohibiting contributions from males.

About 80 percent of the content is written by teen and adolescent girls, says Freeborn. Contributions come primarily from “the hundreds of girls who write or call us saying they want to write for us.”

The bi-monthly magazine is hardly a lightning rod for controversy, but it isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers. In a feature in the November/December issue, entitled “The Sex Scoop,” 18-year-old Canadian writer Emily Cameron expounds on the realities of crushes, sex and relationships. A section entitled, “What If I Have a Crush on Another Girl?,” begins, “That’s OK.” “We had a lot of people react … poorly to that one,” Freeborn says. “But for every mother that called to cancel after it, I believe there were 10 girls that were appreciative of the information in that article.”

According to Chief Operating Officer Linda Estel, it costs about $85,000 each year to produce and distribute the magazine, not including salaries. The magazine remains staunchly ad-free, so what it doesn’t earn in subscriptions, says Estel, it recoups by publishing and selling other organization’s products through an online store.

Its most prominent client is Dads and Daughters (DADS), run by Joe Kelly. DADS is a nonprofit whose stated mission is to “galvanize fathers and others to transform the pervasive cultural messages that devalue girls and women.” New Moon Publishing produces its newsletter, “Daughters.”

But the lines in the relationship between the nonprofit DADS and the for-profit New Moon Publishing are somewhat blurry. Tax forms show that DADS moved as of fiscal 2003, and it now posts the same Duluth, Minn., mailing address as New Moon. Kelly’s wife was added last year to the DADS staff as executive director. Her name? Nancy Gruver. DADS listed a payment of $86,216 in publishing fees to New Moon last year. Contact: (800) 381-4743,


As Nike guru Phil Knight departs the mammoth shoe company, its foundation will also come under new leadership. Maria Eitel, who previously served as Nike’s head of corporate responsibility, will oversee the foundation’s shift in focus toward disadvantaged girls around the world. Nike contributed $37.3 million to nonprofits in 2004. Contact: (800) 344-6453,


Inca Mohamed, a former Ford Foundation program officer for youth development (best known for her work on youth activism) is the new executive director of the Management Assistance Group. The D.C.-based group helps fellow nonprofit outfits deal with organizational conflict and expansion, assisting in everything from financial management to board development. Contact: (202) 659-1963,


U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige was among the members of President Bush’s cabinet to step down in the weeks following the election. Tapped by the president to serve as the nation’s eighth secretary of that department is Margaret Spellings, architect of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Spellings does not stray from the Bush appointee mold. The two are old friends, and she served as a close adviser when he was governor of Texas. After Bush was elected president, Spellings helped put together NCLB from the White House. Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove, once called Spellings “the most influential woman in Washington that you’ve never heard of.” She replaces Paige after a tenure that became somewhat tense after he referred to the National Education Association (NEA) as a terrorist group.

History may not be kind to Paige in his home state of Texas, where he was once credited with turning around the Houston Independent School District during his stint as superintendent. In February 2003, however, investigations set off by whistleblower Robert Kimball revealed that the district had underreported dropouts by a staggering 2,999 students. Spellings, meanwhile, has received words of support from NEA President Reg Weaver and U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the Education Committee and co-sponsor of NCLB. Bobby Heard, acting CEO of the Dallas-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving, recalls working with her during Bush’s term as governor. “She’s very interested in substance abuse and its prevention,” he notes. Contact: (202) 401-1576,


In New Hampshire’s 3rd Congressional District, they don’t elect Democrats from Sutton to the state house every day. Actually, they don’t elect people from Sutton almost ever. But Ricia McMahon was just too good to pass up. In a Republican stronghold area, the Clinton administration pal used strong local ties to become the first Sutton resident in 54 years to get elected. “I had so many people tell me, ‘You are the first Democrat I have ever voted for!’ That felt pretty good,” jokes McMahon, who says her top priorities will be education and health care for young people.

Not a chip off the old policy wonk block, McMahon’s résumé tells of a career that blended a skill for behind-the-scenes politics with significant contributions to the field of adolescent substance abuse issues.

She has served as the northeast regional director for the federal Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities program. She then headed Bill Clinton’s New Hampshire presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996, and went on to serve as chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, advising both of Clinton’s drug czars, Lee Brown and Barry McCaffrey. She then made her way to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, working with Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and administration Director Melba Chavez. Another youth work veteran elected to the state house is New Mexico state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D), whose seat representing a large part of Albuquerque, a Democratic stronghold, was all but assured after he won the primary.

Ortiz y Pino has worked in child protection and child welfare for 26 years, including stints as head of both the social services division of the New Mexico Human Services Department, and of Albuquerque’s Family and Community Services Department. He says he plans to focus on the three issues that most plague youth in New Mexico: Medicaid, alternative education and early childhood education.


Former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance (D-N.C.) cited poor health when he resigned in June, before the end of his only term. Now he’s been convicted of using the state’s money to create a healthy bottom line for his charitable foundation.

Ballance pleaded guilty last month to channeling $2.3 million in state funds to his John A. Hyman Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit created to help youth and poor people fight drug and alcohol abuse. About $100,000 of those funds went to his law firm, church, mother, daughter and son. He faces a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.


Alexander Bassin, 92, co-founder of the oldest continuing drug treatment program in the United States. Bassin helped create Daytop Lodge in New York City, designed as a residence for drug addicts to be treated while serving probation. It would later become the Daytop Village, and today is made up of more than two dozen centers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.