Newmakers for May 2006

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Sid Johnson isn’t your average nonprofit executive. The former head of the Chicago-based Prevent Child Abuse America, who served as Sen. Walter Mondale’s youth policy adviser, took last year off to ride his motorcycle across the country. Afterward, he says he figured, “I wanted to maybe be an AmeriCorps volunteer.”

But a stop in Eugene, Ore., prevented Johnson from becoming history’s most overqualified AmeriCorps worker. He visited the Relief Nursery, one of the most innovative child abuse prevention agencies in the country, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An evaluation of its highly regarded substance abuse recovery program found that 92 percent of the parent participants were clean and sober after a year, compared with 20 percent of general population users who have attempted to quit.

“I was extremely impressed,” Johnson says. “Not just with their comprehensive approach, but that the board of directors were business leaders. The nursery has real deep community support.” The nursery’s bylaws carry a rule that 25 percent of the budget ($6 million last year) must be nongovernment funding.

When the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration selected Relief Nursery as one of eight programs to fund for national replication last year, Johnson accepted the board’s invitation to spearhead that effort. He works part-time promoting two replication models: the entire nursery, and implementation of the substance abuse recovery model at existing nurseries. Contact: (541) 343-9706,


Attorney Penelope Spain will serve as Sarah Bryer’s program and policy associate at the National Juvenile Justice Network, a 26-state advocacy umbrella operating within the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ). Spain is the founder of Mentoring Today, which connects graduate students and professionals as mentors with residents of Washington, D.C.’s juvenile detention center.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently awarded a $400,000 grant to the network, a collaboration that was cultivated early on by Tom McKenna and the Center for Research on Youth and Social Policy. CJJ is headed by Acting Executive Director Nancy Gannon Hornberger, who took over after David Doi’s departure in January. Contact: (202) 467-0864,


Retired U.S. Army Col. Robert Gordon III has been hired by Boston-based City Year as senior vice president for civic leadership. Gordon most recently served as director of American politics at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. Contact: (617) 927-2500,


The Washington-based National Youth Employment Coalition plans to have a new executive director by no later than Aug. 31 and possibly as early as July 1, according to board Chairman Howard Knoll. The nonprofit, which focuses on work force development and youth development, has been without permanent leadership since David Brown left in November for the Washington Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

Some board members support hiring Acting Director Mala Thakur, who had been Brown’s deputy. “The Board applauds Mala for her leadership during this period,” Knoll wrote to members in an April update. “She will be strongly urged to apply for the permanent Executive Director’s position.” Contact: (202) 659-1064,


The Providence, R.I.-based Campus Compact, a 20-year-old coalition of nearly 1,000 college and university presidents dedicated to promoting the civic purposes of higher education, bids adieu to its executive director of 10 years, Elizabeth Hollander. Board Chairman Mark Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will oversee a nine-member search committee for Hollander’s replacement. Contact: (401) 867-3950,


Lorraine Howerton joined the Atlanta-based Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) in late March as senior vice president of government relations.

Howerton has gigantic shoes to fill. Robbie Callaway headed BGCA’s government relations for 23 years before leaving in October for Technology Investors Inc., where he serves as CEO. All he did during his tenure at BGCA was secure nearly $1 billion in federal funding. About $85 million of it comes annually from a Department of Justice authorization that he shepherded through Congress.

Calloway’s deputy, Steve Salem, followed his boss out the door to become executive director of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation in Baltimore.

Howerton’s résumé is strong on lobbying and lean on youth work. She has worked in lobbying and government relations for the transportation, defense and energy industries, and served as chief of staff for the late U.S. Rep. Lawrence Coughlin (R-Penn.), who was on the all-important House Appropriations Committee. Contact: BGCA (404) 487-5700,; Office of Government Relations (301) 251-6676.


Richelle Friedman is in as director of public policy for the Washington-based Coalition on Human Needs, headed by Debbie Weinstein. Friedman comes to the coalition, a small but informative policy- and budget-analyzing nonprofit, from the Children’s Defense Fund, where she was a senior program associate with the family income and jobs division. Contact: (202) 223-2532,


Child welfare expert Ruth White joins the board of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, led by Executive Director Richard Wexler. White is director of housing and community development policy for Catholic Charities USA and has served as director of housing and homelessness for the Child Welfare League of America. Contact: (703) 212-2006,


Kevin Campana is the new executive director of the St. Paul, Minn.-based National Association of School Resource Officers. Campana was recently the dean of students and the executive director of the Centers for Law and Leadership at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. The nonprofit association is made up of school officers, security and personnel who work to protect students and staff. Contact: (888) 316-2776,


Elizabeth McDonald is the new director of research and evaluation for the New York-based National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). McDonald was previously vice president of evaluation and research at Safe Horizon, a New York City nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence, rape and child abuse.

Joining McDonald at NFTE is new National Program Director Daniel Rabuzzi. He was the CEO of the New York-based Leader to Leader Institute, formerly known as the Peter F. Drucker Foundation, which provides social sector leaders with training and resources. Contact: (212) 232-3333,


YouthBuild USA Vice President John Bell reports on a story that reminds us of the sweet fruits of youth work. The nonprofit serves as a fiscal agent for the tiny Rwanda Youth Healing Center. It provides a safe place for youth in the city of Ruhango to discuss the trauma that lingers from the genocide of more than 10 years ago.

During the Christmas holidays, Bell solicited donations for the center from colleagues around the country, including leaders at the Youthbuild program in Bemidji, Minn., a small town populated mostly by Native American families. They shared Bell’s solicitation e-mail with youth in the program and showed them the film “Hotel Rwanda.”

Last month, Bell received a check and a letter from Bemidji youth Tyler Acosta: “We raised $142 by selling cookies and other fundraisers for the youth in Rwanda. We saw the movie and that just wasn’t right. We hope our donations will help those youth, as they are a lot less fortunate than we are. We have our Youthbuild and we hope this helps them have something, someone, someplace to go.”

Now if Congress would just donate a little more dough to Youthbuild programs. … Contact: (617) 741-1217,


The New York-based Surdna Foundation (assets: $820 million) announced that it has begun a period of transition, marked by the planned retirement of Executive Director Edward Skloot in June 2007. Under Skloot’s 17-year watch, Surdna’s endowment has grown from $292 million to more than $830 million. The foundation says a search for his successor will begin in the summer of 2006. Contact: (212) 557-0010,


Stephen Peeps announced his resignation as CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health in Palo Alto, Calif. The foundation funds efforts to promote and protect the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral health of children.

Peeps was the foundation’s first employee when it began in 1997, and has overseen an endowment that increased from $65 million then to $95 million today. He plans to remain in philanthropy but has not accepted any job yet. Foundation Vice President James Mitchell will serve as acting director. Contact: (650) 736-2881,


New York-based William T. Grant Foundation (assets: $250 million) announced this year’s crop of William T. Grant Scholars: five intellectuals who will receive $300,000 over five years for research in youth development.

The winners and their projects: Valerie Leiter, Simmons College in Boston, “Transition to Adulthood Among Youth with Disabilities”; Emily Ozer, University of California-Berkeley, “Adolescents as Resources in School-Based Prevention”; Devah Pager, Princeton University, “Barriers in the Pathway to Adulthood: The Role of Discrimination in the Lives of Young Disadvantaged Men”; Laura Romo, University of California-Santa Barbara, “Designing Contextually Relevant Workshops to Enhance Latina Mother-Daughter Communication About Sexual Topics”; Kevin Roy, University of Maryland, “Intergenerational Influences on Men’s Transitions to Adulthood.” Contact: (212) 752-0071,


A day after new White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten announced plans to shake things up, Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Director James Towey resigned, leaving to become president of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.
Towey took over in 2002 for the office’s first director, John DiIulio, when he left for University of Pennsylvania’s political science department. Contact: (202) 456-6708,


Michael Ambrose, a veteran administrator in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, retired last month. He most recently served as deputy associate commissioner of the Child Care Bureau, but during his tenure he held leadership positions in every bureau of ACF, as well as serving in the Office of Child Support Enforcement. His career highlight was helping Romania reform its child welfare system. Contact: ACF (202) 401-9215,


Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a fiscally conservative think tank with an intense hatred of all things pork, released its “2006 Congressional Pig Book Summary.” Among the notably inane youth earmarks, according CAGW:
* $250,000 for Girls Inc. of Alabama. “With a fund balance of more than $14 million in 2004, Girls Inc. is strong enough not to need a federal handout, but smart and bold enough to ask for and accept one,” CAGW writes.
* $100,000 for New York’s Adirondack Golden Goal complex, for soccer. “What a kick in the grass for taxpayers.”
* $100,000 for the Richard Steel Boxing Club in Henderson, Nev. “The first rule of Boxing Club is not to earmark money for Boxing Club.” Contact: (202) 467-5300,


In Chicago, convicted sex offender Floyd Durr pleaded guilty to the 1998 rape and murder of 11-year-old Ryan Harris, a crime that drew national attention after two young boys, ages 7 and 8, were interviewed without an attorney and charged with the girl’s murder. The boys became the youngest murder defendants in U.S. history. Durr, who is already serving a prison term of 125 years, received an additional 30 years for the crime.


Duane Ragan, 81, former branch chief of the Children’s Bureau in the U.S. Administration for Children, Youth and Families, under the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Ragan played a leading role in advocating child car seat legislation, and in the early 1990s served as acting director of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Program in the Department of Justice.