Newsmakers for May 2009

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Pamela Wilcox


Camp Fire USA has a temporary new leader in Pamela Wilcox, who was appointed interim CEO to fill the void left by Jill Pasewalk, who retired in January from the helm of the 99-year-old youth service and after-school organization. (See “An Urge to Care Lit Her Fire,” March.)

Wilcox is founder and former president of SAVé Advisors (Staff &Volunteer Excellence), which consults with nonprofit leaders to increase organizational efficiency and achievement. She has served as executive director of Alpha Phi International and as vice president of education and marketing for Appraisal Institute, where she coordinated nonprofit mergers.

Camp Fire USA serves 750,000 youth annually through 7,000 local programs. Contact: (816) 285-2010,

The New York City-based Vera Institute of Justice has two new directors. Peggy McGarry is the new director of the institute’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections and Annie Salsich now heads the Center on Youth Justice.

McGarry joins the Vera Institute, which operates on a budget of around $20 million, from the JEHT Foundation in New York, where she served as director of criminal justice programs. McGarry and the rest of her colleagues at JEHT, which invested aggressively in juvenile justice reform efforts, were out of jobs after the foundation’s assets were lost by Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff.

Vera promoted Salsich from within; she is the former associate director of the Center on Youth Justice. Before going to Vera, she was a program director of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Connecticut. Contact: (212) 376-3169,

Katherine Eckstein is the new director of public policy at The Children’s Aid Society. Eckstein, a three-year veteran of the New York City-based social services organization, oversees initiatives ranging from pregnancy prevention to early childhood learning. Her previous youth policy experience includes a stint as special assistant to a regional superintendent at the New York City Department of Education.

Katherine Eckstein

The Children’s Aid Society operates more than 45 community centers, 12 Boys & Girls Clubs, and 21 community schools throughout New York City. It has gained national influence in recent years with programs such as the Carrera Adolescent Sexuality and Pregnancy Prevention Program, which has been adopted in 21 states.

The organization is looking for successor to CEO C. Warren Moses, who plans to retire by the end of this year. Contact: (212) 949-4800,

Michael Jones has taken over the reins from Bruce Wolford at Eastern Kentucky University’s Training Resource Center in the College of Justice and Safety, which trains social, human and juvenile justice services professionals and develops educational experiences for at-risk and delinquent youth.

Jones is second in command at another outfit based on the Eastern Kentucky campus: the National Partnership for Juvenile Services. He has been CEO Earl Dunlap’s right hand at the partnership since it was formed in 2004. It was created when four national organizations merged: the Council for Educators of At-Risk and Delinquent Youth, the Juvenile Justice Trainers Association, the National Association for Juvenile Correctional Agencies and the National Juvenile Detention Association. The National Association for Children of Incarcerated Parents was brought into the partnership in 2007. Contact: (859) 622-6259,

A prominent advocate for youth employment training and national service will now address the other end of the age spectrum. Frank Slobig, who co-founded Youth Service America in 1986, is now the intergenerational program manager at Senior Service America (SSA).

Slobig established National and Global Youth Service Day, Youth Service America’s signature annual event. Before that, he helped to develop youth programs funded by the U.S. Department of Labor as a senior staffer from 1971 to 1981.

Slobig will help develop intergenerational programs for the Silver Spring, Md.-based SSA, which helps adults over 55 who wish to re-enter the workforce or get involved in civic engagement projects. The organization is led by Executive Director Tony Sarmiento, who was a youth work manager for Washington, D.C., in a previous life. Contact: (301) 578-8900,

Brett Brown has left the Washington, D.C.-based research organization Child Trends to join Walter R. McDonald and Associates, a consulting firm for human service organizations that is based in Sacramento, Calif., and Rockville, Md.

Brown, who was director for social indicators research at Child Trends, will serve as vice president for child and family studies at McDonald. Contact: (202) 572-6000,, or (916) 239-4020,


Reclaiming Futures, which seeks to help communities rethink how they handle juvenile offenders with substance abuse problems, has brought in Mark Fulop as partnership and development director.

Fulop was director of education and outreach programs for the Multnomah County (Oregon) Environmental Health Services division. His previous experience includes stints directing three resource dissemination entities: the National Mentoring Center (operated by the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory), the National Service Resource Center and the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California.

Reclaiming Futures – which operates out of the Regional Research Institute for Human Services in the School of Social Work at Portland State University – began with a $21 million commitment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to develop 10 pilot sites. A total of 15 replication sites are planned, 13 of which are now in operation, with joint funding from RWJF, the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Fulop’s main responsibility will be bringing in new partnerships to help expand the project and help move toward sustainability. He will report to National Program Director Laura Nissen and Deputy Director Jim Carlton. Contact: (503) 725-8911,

The William T. Grant Foundation has selected its newest class of William T. Grant Scholars. The New York City-based youth research foundation will provide each social scientist with $350,000 over five years to conduct research projects on youth issues. The prestigious Scholars program is designed to identify and support outstanding early-career researchers who study youth-related subjects.

Guanglei Hong, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, will research causal inference methods for studying instruction effects on students with limited English language skills.

Derek Kreager, a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University, will study how peer networks influence sexual development and behaviors in adolescents.

Candice Odgers, a professor at the University of California/Irvine’s School of Social Ecology, will research the health impacts of early adolescent substance exposure.

Craig Schwalbe, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, will study social processes in juvenile probation.

The foundation has also awarded six large grants to research teams who are studying the ways social environments and after-school programs have an impact on youth development:

• A team of Penn State professors received $1.5 million to partner with the LEGACY Together Project to implement a cooperative behavior game in 72 Pennsylvania elementary schools. The game is aimed at curbing disruptive behavior and substance abuse.

• Another Penn State team will use a $499,079 grant to research how workplace support and intervention for parents affect the well-being of children and families.

• A team led by University of Texas sociology professor Robert Crosnoe received $286,737 to study which childhood factors – family, school or activities – have the greatest impact on youth decisions to attend college or enter the workforce.

• Researchers from the University of Michigan, Cornell University and Harvard Medical School received $422,482 to study how students influence one another’s mental health behaviors in college. The project will sample 9,500 students at three large universities.

• University of Pennsylvania professor Kathy Edin will head a project in Baltimore that evaluates how neighborhoods and housing mobility affect low-income youth. The $460,938 grant will be used to conduct interviews with 200 low-income Baltimore youth.

• Lawrence Palinkas, a professor at the University of Southern California, will use a $180,179 grant to study the effectiveness of a federally funded trial foster care program in California.

Contact: (212) 752-0071,

Peter Berliner, who spent the past eight years at the Seattle-based Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is now the managing director for the PRI Makers Network. Berliner was once executive director of the Children’s Alliance, Washington state’s affiliate with Voices for America’s Children, and before that managed local youth-serving programs in Seattle.

PRI Makers Network, which is also based in Seattle, provides a forum for grant makers who use program-related investments as a significant part of their annual spending. Contact: (206) 443-8430,


To the surprise of none, Jane Oates is President Barack Obama’s choice to serve as assistant secretary for employment and training at the U.S. Labor Department.

The department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) manages the YouthBuild program, the Multiple Education Pathways Initiative, and all youth programs funded through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

Oates, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, received high marks from youth work observers. She holds a powerful position within Gov. Jon Corzine’s cabinet and has strong ties to Washington. From 1997 to 2006, Oates was Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy’s senior adviser for a host of youth-related areas: higher education, workforce development, national service, vocational education, education and educational research.

“I think she would be exceptional,” said Larry Brown, president of WAVE Inc., a national organization that serves dropouts and youth at risk of dropping out. “She knows business, she knows the issues.”

In working with Oates on several issues, Brown was most impressed with her forthrightness in a job where many try to finesse direct answers. “If she could do something for us, she said she would and then did it,” Brown said. “If she couldn’t, she was straightforward about why.”

If ETA were to expand the Multiple Education Pathways Initiative – a $3.5 million investment, with seven sites focusing on reconnecting dropout youths – Oates’ background in education would make her a natural fit to oversee the program.

“We really need an integrator in both education and labor,” said Stephanie Powers, who oversees the National Fund for Workforce Solutions for the Council on Foundations. “Education and training has to go hand in glove. We’ve got to build a more seamless system.”

Contact: (877) 872-5627,

Obama nominated Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to be his drug czar, a position that was filled for almost all of George W. Bush’s presidency by John Walters. The president has also tapped researcher A. Thomas McLellan to serve as Kerlikowske’s deputy at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

After serving as a military police officer in the 1970s, Kerlikowske worked as an undercover narcotics officer in Florida. He also spent two years with President Bill Clinton as deputy director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing.

The nomination appears to sit well with treatment-minded advocates. Kerlikowske has been a strong proponent of drug courts and community policing in Seattle, as was reported in a Washington Post profile.

He has quietly opposed decriminalization of marijuana, but de-emphasized the priority of arrests for marijuana possession in King County. Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to implement a syringe exchange program.

McLellan is a prominent voice in addiction studies and is the creator of the Addiction Severity Index. He served most recently as the head of the Treatment Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

Walter’s priorities at ONDCP included the advancement of mandatory drug testing for secondary schools, but not much else in the youth field.

At ONDCP, Kerlikowske will inherit a staff of about 100 and a budget of approximately $440 million. Two of its larger operations, by their 2009 appropriations, are the Drug-Free Communities program ($90 million) and the often-debated media campaign ($70 million). Contact: (202) 395-6645,

Josh DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has a counterpart at the Department of Education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that Peter Groff will be his director for the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center.

Groff comes to Washington, D.C., from Denver, where he was the Colorado Senate president and serves as executive director for the Center for New Policy and Politics, which he founded in 1997. Groff’s wife, Regina, is pastor of the Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Denver.

If the website for Groff’s new office is any indication, he will be breathing life into a flat-lined operation. The Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center site has not been updated since March 2007. Contact: (202) 219-1741,

Obama has tapped Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation. Hurley joined MADD in 2005 after serving as vice president of the National Safety Council, where he oversaw the council’s air bag and seat belt safety campaign.

Chuck Hurley

He was awarded the 2004 J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Hurley was on the MADD board of directors from 1993 to 1998 and played a large role in pushing the National 21 Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 through Congress. Contact: NHTSA (888) 327-4236,; MADD (800) 438-6233,

Obama nominated Tom Perez in March to be assistant attorney general for civil rights. The office is of major importance to the juvenile justice field because of its role in litigation against facilities or systems that do not provide appropriate conditions for young offenders. Since 1998, more than 15 civil rights division cases involving juvenile facilities have gone to settlement or court decision.

Like Attorney General Eric Holder, Perez is a veteran of the Clinton administration. He served as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights under Janet Reno when she was attorney general, then moved to the Department of Health and Human Services to head its office of civil rights during Clinton’s final two years in office. Most recently, Perez was the

Mark Fulop

secretary of labor, licensing and regulation for the state of Maryland. Contact: (202) 514-4609,

North Carolina has a new juvenile justice boss. Linda Hayes, an attorney with Hayes, Williams, Turner & Daughtry, has been appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue (D) as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Hayes has served for the past 14 years as chairwoman of the Governor’s Crime Commission, which is responsible for doling out the state’s criminal justice grants and its allotment of federal juvenile justice block grants..

Hayes hired Robin Jenkins, chairman of the state’s state advisory group and former chairman of the D.C.-based Coalition for Juvenile Justice, to be her chief operating officer. Jenkins was executive director of Cumberland County (N.C.) CommuniCare, a nonprofit that provides and supports prevention and intervention services for at-risk youth. Contact. (919) 733-3388,