Newsmakers for November 2007

Print More


A key grant-making staffer at the Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will lead one of the country's leading mentoring programs: the Portland, Ore.-based Friends of the Children (FOTC), which pairs paid, full-time mentors with children for the duration of their education (kindergarten through high school).

Judith Stavisky makes the cross-country move after eight years at RWJF, which is a longtime supporter of FOTC through its $100 million children and families portfolio, for which Stavisky was a senior program officer.

She takes over at a pivotal time in FOTC's history: The organization received about $3 million from the National Institute of Child Health and Development to evaluate the program's success at its chapters in Portland, Boston, New York and King County, Washington. The study will follow youths for five years, starting in 2008, in hopes of proving that having a long-term adult mentor can keep kids performing well academically and staying out of trouble.

Stavisky is the second executive director in as many years for FOTC. After Catherine Milton stepped down in 2006 after four years at the helm, in came Kregg Hanson from Medical Management International, a Portland-based group that operates veterinary hospitals. Hanson is retiring, but will stay in the position until Stavisky takes over in January. Contact: (503) 281-6633,


Having a lecture series named after you usually requires a few prerequisites, such as: 1. Attaining significant stature in your field, and 2. Dying.

Last month, however, former Child Trends president Kristen Anderson Moore got to watch the launch of her own lecture series, even though she's only completed half of those two requirements.

When Moore stepped down as president of Child Trends in 2006 after 14 years at the helm, she said she wanted to devote more time to research - which is her calling (a Ph.D. in social psychology) and which is what brought her to the nonprofit research group in 1982. Moore has stayed at Child Trends as a senior scholar, and the board established the Kristen Anderson Moore Annual Lecture, "to raise an important issue related to children's well-being and to encourage thoughtful public discussion of that issue."

The series kicked off in a conference room at Washington's National Press Club, with Child Trends President Carol Emig introducing her predecessor by noting how unusual it is for someone to have a lecture series named after her "when you're not dead yet."

About 100 people then listened to Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-director of its Center on Children and Families, deliver a talk about "The Intergenerational Balancing Act: Where Children Fit in an Aging Society." Sawhill's main message: The continued growth of the national debt and of entitlement spending programs like Medicare will soon leave no room to fund youth efforts - a warning that researchers and advocates have been sounding for a couple of years.

Sawhill said the federal government should revise its contract with seniors and youth so that it can meet the needs of both groups. Among her ideas: investing more resources in youth but expecting them to save more of their income as adults to pay for their own retirement, and reducing Social Security payments to wealthy seniors.

The lecture transcript is at, under Media.


The D.C.-based Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit group that promotes disease prevention through improved community health systems, has hired two youth work veterans for its work on Capitol Hill. New Director of Policy Development Sherry Kaiman goes to the trust from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where she was a staffer for the subcommittee on children and families. Dara Alpert, the new government relations director, worked for the Senate Armed Services Committee and was once an advocate on health care issues for the Children's Defense Fund. Contact: (202) 223-9870,  


After 11 years under Cathi Dunn MacRae, Voices for Youth Advocates (known as VOYA) will be run by a new editor. Stacy Creel was hired by the magazine's publisher, Scarecrow Press, after Dunn MacRae resigned to pursue freelance opportunities. VOYA reaches about 20,000 youth-serving professionals every other month, with motivational articles and resource and product reviews.

Like Dunn MacRae before her, Creel's pedigree for the job is a career as a librarian. She has worked in the children or young-adult departments of public library systems in Houston, New York, and Tallahassee, Fla., and is an active member of the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association. Contact: (301) 459-3366,


Elizabeth Carey, former executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, is the new chief operating officer for the Alliance for Children and Families. The Milwaukee-based trade organization represents youth- and family-serving organizations, such as private child welfare agencies. Carey takes over for Susan Dreyfus, who left in July to become vice president for strategy at Rogers Behavioral Health Systems. Contact: (414) 359-1040,


Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, attended the grand opening last month of the Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center, a 160,000-square-foot building in Minneapolis that will house several youth-serving organizations. Also on the premises is Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, which will provide a Christian-value-oriented education for low-income families.

The need for both entities is obvious to locals: Fifty percent of Minneapolis youth do not graduate from high school. That figure is significantly higher for the city's African-American, Hispanic and Native American youth.

The center is a project of the Minneapolis-based Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation. Contact: (612) 638-1001,


The national organization that Powell has championed for years - Alexandria, Va.-based America's Promise Alliance - appointed Kathy Spangler to serve as vice president of national action strategies. Spangler moves over from the National Recreation and Park Association in Ashburn, Va., where she was national partnerships director.

The alliance also elected four new board members in early October: Stephanie Bell-Rose, managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Neil Bush, CEO of educational software company Ignite! and brother of President Bush; Latasha Kinnard, a student at Washington University; and Edward Rust Jr., CEO of State Farm Insurance Cos. Contact: (703) 535-3840,  


The D.C.-based American Legacy Foundation, started with money from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 state attorneys general and the major tobacco companies, promoted its former associate general counsel, Dave Dobbins, to chief operating officer. The foundation operates programs, provides technical assistance and oversees media campaigns designed to prevent teens from smoking. Contact: (202) 454-5555,  


Kids Voting USA elected Geoff Gonella to chair its board of directors. Gonella is the founder of the D.C.-based Cornerstone Government Affairs. As congressional earmarks are growing difficult to come by (sort of), Gonella is a good friend to have. Cornerstone is a prominent lobbying and consulting firm on Capitol Hill, with a large staff of former congressional appropriations staff members. Kids Voting USA, headed by CEO John Barse, left Widmeyer Communications this year to become a Cornerstone client. Contact: (301) 625-7580,


The New York-based Youth Development Institute (YDI) is moving under the sponsorship of the Tides Center, a move that reflects an organizational shift from a local organization to something broader. The center helps to fiscally manage about 200 progressive projects around the country.

"While our focus remains in New York City, we are involved in a number of efforts in other communities," YDI Director Peter Kleinbard said in a prepared statement. "Demand for our expertise, materials and services continues to grow."

YDI was established in 1991 by Michele Cahill, who moved on to help New York City conceive its Learning to Work Initiative as a program of the Fund for the City of New York. (See "Can Nonprofits Share Power?" April 2007.) Cahill is a vice president at the Carnegie Corp., also in New York. Contact: (646) 943-8820.


The National Safe Place office, operating from its home at the YMCA of Louisville, has received praise in the pages of Youth Today for its branding strategy and recruitment of corporate support. Safe Place shelters - which include youth organizations, residences and even gas stations - provide refuge to youths in immediate crisis. Now the nonprofit is trying to boost its outreach to youth.

Safe Place recently received nearly $200,000 from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration and used it to leverage another $40,000 from its major corporate partners, to set up an effort to train 600 school resource officers to educate youth about Safe Place shelters. Tapped by Executive Director Sandy Bowen to oversee the mission is Susan Harmon, the training director. The organization intends to add another staff member to help. Contact: (888) 290-7233,


The Keeping the Promise to Our Youth Conference run by Children Uniting Nations (CUN) this year got a boost from some celeb presence. Performing at the October conference's gala dinner were singer Chaka Kahn, while speakers included actress Goldie Hawn and renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall.

One of this year's themes was what CUN believes to be a rising rate in juvenile crime around the world. "As the global community's juvenile crime rates grow, we as citizens must take action by providing our neediest children with ... caring relationships they need to succeed in education and life," CUN founder Daphna Edwards Ziman said in a prepared statement. (310) 271-8421,


W.T. Grant Foundation Trustee Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, was awarded the 2007 Doris Graber Award, which annually honors authors of one book in the field of political communication. Jamieson won for her work on Spiral of Cynicism: The Press and the Public Good, which she wrote with fellow Annenberg professor Joseph Cappella.

The New York-based foundation - which focuses on human behavior research with an eye toward improving the lives of disadvantaged youth and young adults - announced a new member of its board of trustees: Andrew Porter, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Contact: (212) 752-0071,


Congressional Democrats - 26 of them anyway - are not happy with President Bush's appointment of Susan Orr as acting head of the Office of Population Affairs, which oversees family planning programs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Orr is a former senior director of marriage and family for the D.C.-based Family Research Council and current associate commissioner in the Children's Bureau at HHS.

The 19 senators and seven House members sent two letters to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, asking the administration to withdraw the appointment in light of Orr's position on birth control.

It's surprising that a woman who served under President Clinton (she was a holdover from the first Bush administration) would draw such ire for an interim appointment. The beef emanates from her opposition to the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in private health insurance plans.

The Democrats have latched onto a comment from her days at the Family Research Council: "Fertility is not a disease," she said in 2001, after Bush attempted to remove contraception coverage from the federal employees' health insurance plan. "It's not a medical necessity that you have it." Contact: (202) 619-0257,  


Mitch Kurman, 86, whose mission in life became lobbying for improved safety at summer camps after his son drowned at one in 1965. Despite lobbying for more than 20 years, Kurman never achieved his primary goal: federal legislation regulating private summer camps. Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and New York, though, have all have passed camp safety laws directly related to Kurman's lobbying.