Moving on to new challenges – not retiring, she insists – is Mildred Wurf, public policy director for Girls Incorporated. The dean of Washington representatives for national youth serving organizations, Wurf signed on with the then Girls Clubs of America in 1971. Except for a five-year break, Wurf has held the job ever since, serving under four CEO’s of the New York-based group, which has 70 affiliates and 1,500 sites nationwide. Wurf came to Washington from New York when her late husband, Jerry Wurf, became president of the then-200,000- and now 1.3 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO. The union represents many youth workers in recreation, social services and other public agencies.
Wurf worked to improve federal policy for young women, to support the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, after-school programs, gender equity and other undertakings that benefit girls. She chairs the Washington Support Group of the 40-member National Collaboration for Youth, a part of the National Assembly. Contact: (202) 463-1881, www.girlsinc.org.
At the other end of a Washington career is Philip Lovell, the newly-appointed director of public policy at Kansas City-based Camp Fire Boys and Girls, which serves 650,000 participants annually. He replaces Suzanne Noonan, who has held the solo Camp Fire D.C. post since 1995. Lovell, 22, has a rŽsumŽ that vividly illustrates the growth and diversification of youth work since Wurf’s first day on the job 30 years ago. Then, a gathering of Wurf and another dozen people convened all of the major nonprofit players in national youth advocacy work. Now the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives chamber couldn’t a hold convocation with just one delegate per national youth group.
While Wurf began at Girls Inc. working one day a month, Lovell has been fully immersed in national youth policy since his high school days in Indianapolis, where he was president of the local chapter of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. That led to meeting youth worker Paula Allen, who enlisted Lovell into her anti-crime and youth development organization, Youth As Resources. After enrolling at Georgetown University, Lovell began working at the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), the home of watchdog “McGruff.” Soon Lovell was co-chairing the National Youth Network, a group of 40 teens who advise anyone who will listen. That list during the Clinton administration included the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which helps fund the group through the NCPC. Even before finishing college in May, Lovell was the policy coordinator of the national Youth As Resources, a spin-off of the NCPC. In that capacity Lovell helped craft what is now the Younger Americans Act, which promotes youth policy and would, if passed and fully funded, provide $5 billion to local youth-serving agencies over five years. That’s heady stuff that Wurf could only dream of during her first year in youth work. Contact: (202) 494-5004, www.campfire.org.
In a nice intergenerational link between senior citizens and the youth service field, AARP has named Bill Novelli its new CEO. The former president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids succeeds Horace Deets in running the 34.5 million-member group with 1,900 staff that was once known as the American Association of Retired Persons. The 43-year-old group is consistently rated among D.C.’s most powerful lobbying organizations. Deets, who ran AARP from 1988 until this June, has always been supportive of progressive children and youth causes, co-founding Generations United in 1986, which itself was a co-founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). “We’re thrilled,” Generations United Executive Director Donna Butts says of Novelli’s appointment. “He’s very supportive of Generations United’s work.” Former Corporation for National Service board member John Rother is AARP’s director of legislation and the public policy, and chair of Generations United’s 16-member board.
While AARP, with a budget of $600 million, lends its potent name and token support to youth-related causes, its considerable legislative muscle (which includes 21 registered lobbyists) is exercised elsewhere. For example, AARP is part of the National Steering Committee set up by the CDF to push its Campaign to Leave No Child Behind, along with being a supporter of the Younger Americans Act – but neither are an AARP lobbying priority. Says Novelli, “We’re not actively out beating the bushes on it.” Novelli resists spreading AARP’s clout too thinly, arguing that improving the lot of seniors has “a big ripple effect” on behalf of youth. While at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Novelli signed that group up with the National Assembly and its National Collaboration for Youth, where it now actively participates. Novelli expects AARP will be “enlarging its grandparents efforts” on behalf of those grandparents who are the primary caretakers for an estimated 5.4 million children. It is hoped that Novelli will give more active AARP support for lagging national youth causes (twice as many children are impoverished as seniors), which can sure use some vintage legislative juice. Contact: (202) 434-2277, www.aarp.org.
Retiring in June from the D.C.-based Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) is Michael Usdan, the president since 1981. Promoted to the president’s job at the $4.5 million per year reform-oriented group with a 30-person staff is Betty Hale. She has worked at IEL since 1976. Usdan, a former Connecticut Commissioner of Higher Education and president of the Merril-Palmer Institute in Detroit, will stay on as a senior fellow. Looking back on the evolution of relations between public schools and youth- serving agencies, Usdan is optimistic. There is, he says, “a growing sense of outreach” by traditional education groups spurred by the nation’s changing demographics.
Founded in 1964, IEL has long been involved in promoting community schools and youth services – in fact, it’s one of the few national education groups that even fully understands that there is a vibrant youth service apparatus operating in many neighborhoods to help kids, families and schools be successful. The IEL’s projects include the 140-member Community Schools Coalition directed by Marty Blank, and the Center for Workforce Development directed by Joan Wills, former chair of the National Youth Employment Coalition. Contact: (202) 822-8405, www.iel.org.
Promoted to replace Horn at the Gaithersburg, Md.-based NFI is Roland Warren, who, reports the group’s newsletter, Fatherhood Today, says his work is “not just a job, but a calling.” Warren has already taken over the high-flying NFI, which has 16 staff as well as field offices in Austin and Pittsburgh. Warren, who joined NFI as executive vice president in 2000, was an investment banker in Philadelphia with Goldman, Sachs and Co. In Philadelphia, he served as a board member for Southern Home Services, a large nonprofit child welfare agency, and as a volunteer and abstinence educator for the Urban Family Council. Contact: (301) 948-0599.