Newsmakers for November 2005

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After seven years at the National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC), Executive Director David Brown departs this month to join the ever-expanding dream team at the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS).

Brown is just one of the many national youth policy leaders drawn into the DYRS by new Director Vincent Schiraldi, hired in April to revamp the city’s juvenile justice system and depopulate and replace its pathetic hub, the Oak Hill Youth Center. His staff already includes former Youth Law Center (YLC) attorney Mark Schindler and Mishaela Duran, former public director of the National Network for Youth. Brown will be deputy director.

NYEC seeks to improve the effectiveness of youth employment programs, and has been supported by J.P. Morgan Chase and the Mott, Lumina, Annie E. Casey and Public Welfare foundations, to name a few. Despite being virtually ostracized by the U.S. Department of Labor, NYEC is doing just fine, with a $1.2 million budget and a staff of seven.

Brown’s return to the D.C. juvenile justice system – he was special assistant to the administrator 16 years ago, when it was called the Youth Services Administration – leaves NYEC without two of its top veterans. Brown’s policy and advocacy manager, Seth Turner, left in July to head the policy arm of the Association for Career and Technical Education.

NYEC Deputy Director Mala Thakur is expected to be named acting executive director.

“Making the decision to leave NYEC was the toughest decision of my career,” Brown said in an e-mail. He said “NYEC won’t miss a beat” under the current leadership, while board Chairman Howard Knoll leads the transition process. Contact: NYEC (202) 659-1064,; DYRS (202) 576-8175,

After 14 years in business, the Washington-based Eureka Communities will close its doors at the end of this year. The nonprofit, headed by Steven Vetter, was unable to secure what its board considered to be the bare minimum of support it needed to get through the next year (about $1 million).

Eureka was founded in 1991 by Deborah Szekely. It provides assistance to a surprisingly fragile demographic group: executive directors and CEOs of nonprofit organizations that help children and families in poverty. The nonprofit operates in Boston, Detroit, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

There are certainly plenty of savvy veterans in those jobs around the country. But a recent survey by CompassPoint shows that two-thirds of nonprofit executive directors are in the position for the first time, and one-quarter have been at it for less than two years. Contact: (202) 332-2070,

Janet Whitla, CEO of the Education Development Center, announced that she will retire effective Dec. 1.

EDC promotes, among other things, early child development, work force preparation, community development and learning technologies. Its 850 employees oversee 335 projects in 60 countries.

Whitla, who has been with EDC since 1966, became president in 1981. Since then, the center’s annual revenues have increased from $4.5 million to more than $100 million in 2005. Whitla plans to write and travel, and says she will remain active on nonprofit boards in the Boston area. Contact: (617) 969-7100,

The Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups, which is moving its mailing address to Alexandria, Va., made a few staff changes over the summer. General Secretary Raymie Wayne has left to join the faculty at the St. Joseph College Department of Social Work in West Hartford, Conn. Also, Membership Services Director Stacy Barrentine assumed the new title of program administrator. Contact: (703) 971-6715,

John Riggan, founder and CEO of the philanthropic and nonprofit consulting firm TCC Group (formerly The Conservation Company), plans to step down in January to make way for Richard Mittenthal. Mittenthal is president of TCC and has been there since he left his post as vice president of programs at the New York Community Trust in 1989.

If Riggan ever writes an autobiography, buy it. He began his career with seven years in the Peace Corps in Africa, and later became Philadelphia’s drug and alcohol abuse administrator. He served as a special consultant to the Ford Foundation on low-income and human service issues, before founding TCC in 1981.

TCC’s clients have included many of the nation’s largest foundations and nonprofits, including the Ford and Annie E. Casey foundations, Children’s Defense Fund and the Independent Sector. Contact: (212) 949-0990,

Sherilyn Adams was promoted to executive director of Larkin Street Youth Services, the well-known nonprofit serving homeless youth in San Francisco. It has 115 employees and a $9.5 million budget.

Adams had been on staff at Larkin Street for two years. She takes over for Virginia Price, treasurer of the National Network for Youth board of directors, who departed abruptly after only a year on the job. Contact: (415) 673-0911,

The board of the Puerto Rican Youth Development and Resource Center in Rochester, N.Y., recently fired director Nancy Padilla in a unanimous vote. Padilla, who helped to found the agency 33 years ago, had served as its director since 1995. The board gave no reason for her dismissal.

In a written statement issued afterward, Padilla said, “I am disappointed that the board of directors has decided to take this action. The reasons for it are still unclear, as I have not received any written communication from the board. I am also disappointed that the agency’s vision is being interrupted in this manner.”

The board issued a statement saying it had dismissed Padilla after “several open and frank discussions” with her.
Padilla’s list of accomplishments during her 10-year tenure includes a budget increase from $300,000 to more than $1.3 million, more youth access to computer technology, health prevention and education programs, HIV testing and youth leadership development. Contact: (585) 325-3570,


Patty Wetterling, a children’s issues activist who formed the Jacob Wetterling Foundation after the abduction of her son in 1989, announced that she will run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota in 2006. Wetterling, secretary of the board of directors for The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, has lobbied for legislation to prevent abductions and rallied for Minnesota’s 1992 sex offender registration law. Her campaign for Senate emphasizes the return of troops from Iraq by

Thanksgiving 2006 and “long-term solutions” for health care, education, environmental protection and Social Security.
Wetterling would fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Dayton (D), who cut his teeth as a youth worker 30 years ago at the Boston-based Project Place, which serves homeless youth and adults. Dayton announced in February that he would not seek re-election.

Wetterling, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, is a veteran secondary school math teacher and a mother of four (including Jacob, who remains missing). She made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, losing to Republican Mark Kennedy, who is competing with her again for the Senate seat. Contact: (651) 228-7200,

We missed a couple of federal nominations over the summer. Harvard University’s Bertha Madras was tapped to be deputy director in charge of demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), under Drug Czar John Walters. Madras will oversee a swath of initiatives ranging from the Access to Recovery program to student drug testing. Madras is a professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, and has written extensively about the effects of cocaine and other drugs on the brain. Contact: ONDCP (202) 395-6618,

At the Department of Education, Beto Gonzalez is the new deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education. Gonzalez’s scope includes the office’s programs for technical education and community colleges; the latter saw a sharp increase in proposed funding in President George W. Bush’s 2006 budget request. Contact: Education Department, (202) 401-1576,

Byron Garret has been appointed national program leader for youth development at the Department of Agriculture’s National 4-H Headquarters, where he will work under Youth Development Director Cathann Kress. His priorities will be to improve the agency’s ability to engage youth in substantive planning discussions and to help develop 4-H’s science and healthy lifestyles programs.
Garrett served for two years with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) in a number of capacities. Beginning in January, he was her liaison to the White House on faith and community initiatives. Before that, he was director of the Division for Community and Youth Development at the state’s Office for Children, Youth and Families. Before entering the public policy realm, Garrett founded and led two charter schools in Arizona. Contact: (202) 720-5253,

Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services (CYS) in Pennsylvania obtained a court order last month to take a baby into custody less than 48 hours after the boy was born. The reason: DaiShin WolfHawk, the boy’s father, is a registered sex offender who spent about 10 years in prison after being convicted of rape and sodomy in 1983.
The hospital refused to release the baby to the CYS.

Agency officials say the father poses a serious danger to the child. WolfHawk’s conviction was the result of a case involving two teenage girls. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, on the other hand, doesn’t agree. “If we create an environment in which someone convicted of a sexual offense effectively cannot live in society in a normal way, what we’re doing is forcing them out,” the center’s CEO, Ernie Allen, told ABC News. “We may even be increasing the likelihood of their re-offense.” Contact: CYS, (570) 628-1050,


Public Welfare Foundation Executive Director Larry Kressley announced that he will leave next October. Kressley has led the D.C.-based social justice grant maker, which focuses much of its resources on organizations that don’t receive government assistance, for 15 years.

The board of directors plans have a new executive director in place by the end of 2006. Kressley has been at the foundation (assets: $413 million) since 1982, when he was hired as a program officer. Contact: (202) 965-1800,

The San Francisco-based Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund (assets: $544 million) named Stewart Wakeling to be its new senior program officer for the Strengthening Families program, which the fund says focuses on “helping parents and families advance economically and preparing children to succeed in school.”

Wakeling can take some credit for a few noteworthy successes in his time as executive director of the Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin, Calif. He oversaw the establishment of a county collaboration to operate family resource centers in the area, and forged “Operation Peacekeeper,” an anti-gang and anti-gun partnership between local law enforcement and social service agencies. Contact: (415) 856-1400,

Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, a professor of education at Harvard University and board chairwoman for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, was named to the board of directors at The Atlantic Philanthropies (assets: $3.8 million). Contact: (212) 916-7300,


Former Illinois adoption and foster care boss Bamani Obadele is under investigation by the FBI after a significant sum of child welfare funds turned up in a bank account for which he was the sole controller. Obadele, a community activist and minister on the South Side of Chicago, received more than $60,000 in funds from state contractors, according to an inspector general’s report. The Chicago Sun-Times obtained records showing the figure to be closer to $220,000.

Obadele, 33, says he arranged deals between agency contractors and businesses he was involved with, and conceded to local reporters that the behavior may have been unethical.

“If at the end of the day I did something wrong, I’ll have to be held accountable for that,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “This is not some scheme. It’s me selling products to the state. Lesson learned.”


Urie Bronfenbrenner, 88, a much-heralded psychologist whose expertise in child development helped spawn the federal Head Start program in 1965. Bronfenbrenner was widely considered to be among the world’s top thinkers on child-rearing.

Chauncey Alexander, 89, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers from 1969 until 1982. Alexander, a major supporter of progressive causes, helped establish state-based chapters of the association and led its legislative advocacy.

Stefan Presser, 52, former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. Presser’s victories included settling the 1999 “Baby Neal” case, which forced the city of Philadelphia to make major improvements in its child welfare system.