For years, the regional director of Latin American programs for Covenant House, Bruce Harris, has been regarded as a warrior on the front lines against the prostitution of Central American minors. Last month, his career came to a hypocritical end that is likely to cast suspicion on other foreigners working with youth in the area.
Harris, a British citizen who was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his work in Honduras, was fired after he confirmed allegations that he paid for sexual favors from a 19-year-old at a hotel room in Tegucigalpa, the capital. The young man involved had previously been sheltered by Covenant House’s local program. The New York-based organization, with 2,000 staff and a $122 million budget, said it will cooperate with any investigation by Honduran prosecutors.
Harris admitted that “he acted incorrectly,” according to a statement from Covenant House. But he sent a copy of a resignation letter to The Associated Press a day before the story broke, claiming that he was leaving the organization because his “children are growing up and I don’t want to miss the time they have left at home.”
Another Covenant House Bruce – Bruce Ritter, its founder – was also a heralded advocate for youth. Ritter was singled out as an “unsung hero” by President Ronald Reagan in his 1984 State of the Union address. And like Harris, Ritter left amid sexual abuse claims by former child clients of Covenant House. Ritter died in 1999 at the age of 72.
In other Covenant House news, Vincent Gray, executive director of Covenant House in Washington, won an upset victory in the city council Democratic primary in September. Covenant House staffers say that if Gray wins the general election, which is almost certain in the overwhelmingly Democratic city, he will resign his position. Contact: Covenant House (212) 727-4036, www.covenanthouse.org.
Public Allies (PA), the 12-year-old Milwaukee-based organization that has helped match more than 1,350 young, aspiring leaders with nonprofit internships around the country, promoted Claire Thompson, director of continuous learning, to vice president of programs.
About 10 percent of PA’s youth have gone through its Washington affiliate, one the organization’s largest. That will change – perhaps briefly – because the struggle to secure local funding has forced the Washington program to shut its doors. The national board is pursuing a strategic partnership to relaunch a sustainable effort in the capital, where money is scarce for a program that even CEO Paul Schmitz admits is “fairly expensive” and “small in scale.” Contact: (414) 273-0533, www.publicallies.org.
One of PA’s founding members, Allessandra Cauterucci, was named director of operations by Washington-based LISTEN, which trains young leaders in poor, urban communities. Cauterucci was PA’s national director of training, then ran its Washington office. With experience in East Africa and Latin America also under her belt, she brings a lifetime of work in conflict resolution, cross-cultural training and nonprofit management to the 6-year-old organization.
LISTEN has a budget of about $500,000 and a staff of nine. Contact: (202) 544-5520, www.lisn.org.
Steve Edwards resigned in August as vice president for community, children and youth at the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). Spokeswoman Michelle Boykins says Edwards resigned so he could focus on his family, but he will work with NCPC as a consultant.
NCPC, led since June by retired two-star Gen. Alphonso Lenhardt, added more military brass to its staff last month. Donald Cook, a military police officer with the Army for 29 years, will serve as NCPC’s first vice president of operations and support. He’ll oversee core support for the nonprofit’s programming and its well-known McGruff the Crime Dog advertising campaign. Cook has overseen crime prevention and criminal justice issues for three United States forts, as well as all of the Department of Defense dependent schools in Germany. Contact: NCPC (202) 466-6272, www.ncpc.org.
Diann Rust-Tierney, who led the Capital Punishment Project for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for 13 years, has left to become executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Rust-Tierney takes over for Steven Hawkins, who left the coalition last year to serve as a senior program manager at the New York-based JEHT Foundation, a nonprofit advocating criminal and juvenile justice reform. Contact: (202) 543-9577, www.ncadp.org.
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon recently credited the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (assets: $1.6 billion) with adhering to most elements in a set of recommendations made by the state in March, all aimed at keeping the grant making of Missouri’s predominant foundation focused on its hometown. Among the policy changes Kauffman agreed to: reserving 50 percent or more of annual giving for local initiatives, requiring the foundation director to live in Kansas City, and requiring a unanimous board vote to approve moving the foundation out of Kansas City.
Kauffman board Chairman Tony Mayer said that decision required little deliberation. “Since it never crossed anybody’s mind that this [moving] was something we’d ever do, it seemed to make enormous sense to clarify that in the bylaws,” Mayer told the Kansas City Business Journal. Contact: Kauffman (816) 932-1000, www.emkf.org.
Judith Rodin, former president of the University of Pennsylvania, will succeed Gordon Conway as president of the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation (assets: $3 billion). Conway, who ran Rockefeller for 6 1/2 years, will retire at the end of this year. Rockefeller focuses on expanding opportunities for the poor through health, education, housing and employment initiatives. Contact: (212) 869-8500, www.rockfound.org.
Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, education program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., was hired by San Francisco’s James Irvine Foundation (assets: $1.4 billion) as senior program officer for youth. The California-only grant maker also hired Kenji Treanor to be its program associate for youth. Contact: (415) 777-2244, www.irvine.org.
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust (assets: $424 million) hired Jeffrey Glebocki as a program officer. Glebocki comes to the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based foundation from Cleveland, where he served as a senior program officer for the George Gund Foundation for eight years. Contact: (480) 948-5853, www.pipertrust.org.
The Chicago-based Joyce Foundation (assets: $650 million) hired former U.S. Department of Education senior staffer John Luczak to be its new program officer for education. Luczak served as assistant to the deputy secretary of education before becoming director of policy for the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century. Contact: (312) 782-2464, www.joycefdn.org.
Eugene Hillsman joined the Flint, Mich.-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (assets: $2.3 billion) as program assistant for its Pathways out of Poverty team. He will handle the Improving Community Education portfolio. Contact: (810) 238-5651, www.mott.org.
A few months and three hurricanes ago, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was defending his troubled children and families director, Jerry Regier, whose top aides resigned in July after accepting inappropriate gifts. (Regier was accused of similar activity.) “He hasn’t done anything that would justify firing him,” Bush told the news media in late July. “He has made a mistake of allowing people around him to do things that were fireable offenses, and lacked common sense.”
But not even Bush’s backing could save Regier, who resigned in late August, apologizing for the appearance of impropriety but swearing his innocence to the end.
“I apologized for the appearance, but I have never accepted something of benefit from a contractor,” Regier told The Oklahoman. “I am totally comfortable with who I am, and my integrity is intact.”
Regier, who served as associate commissioner for the U.S. Administration of Children, Youth and Families under President Ronald Reagan and headed the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for President George H.W. Bush, had already endured his share of negative publicity. He was criticized during his stint as cabinet secretary in Oklahoma for a $398,894 contract awarded by the state Office of Juvenile Affairs (which he oversaw) to Mary Myrick, a consultant working at the time on a marriage initiative for then-Gov. Frank Keating (R).
For the legions of aspiring policy wonks dreaming of one day becoming the head of Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), the lesson here appears to be: Don’t. Regier took over two years ago for Kathleen Kearney when it was discovered that a 5-year-old foster child named Rilya Wilson had been missing for 15 months, unbeknownst to DCF. (She still hasn’t been found.)
Kearney became the sacrificial lamb, and Regier was assigned the task of overhauling a system that badly needed updating.
Indications are that the agency might be moving in the right direction. During Regier’s brief tenure, the backlog of cases declined from 32,000 to 175. Since 2000, the average number of clients per caseworker dropped from 21.7 to 14, and the state has increased DCF funding 32 percent.
Next up to run DCF (at least in the interim) is Lucy Hadi, a 33-year social service veteran who, like Regier, comes with some baggage. As a regional administrator for the state’s Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in 1987, she was investigated for scheduling meetings at a hotel her husband managed. In 1993, she resigned (by request) during a crackdown on welfare errors and possible improper purchases by the department.
Hadi told the Florida Times-Union that in all cases she “was found to have made my decisions in the best interests of the state.” Contact: DCF (850) 488-5091, www.state.fl.us/cf_web.
Steve Roling, who was brought in by Gov. Bob Holden (D) to lead the Missouri Department of Social Services, announced that he will step down as director on Oct. 15.
Holden’s days are numbered anyway: He recently lost his own party’s gubernatorial primary to the state auditor, Claire McCaskill. Holden had established a first-of-its-kind youth cabinet, which paired two elected youth delegates to shadow the heads of each of his agencies.
Roling had served as vice president of Kauffman Foundation, but was passed over for the CEO post in favor of the controversial Carl Schramm. He took a buyout offered to all foundation employees in September 2003. He was effectively replaced by Paul Carttar, founder of the Boston nonprofit consulting group Bridgespan. Carttar, who served as chief operating officer, left months later.
Where was House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) during the Republican convention in New York City last month? Usually the GOP’s most vocal attacker of the left, DeLay was conspicuously absent from the Madison Square Garden lineup, speaking only to the Texas delegates.
DeLay had proposed a series of charitable events to raise money for Celebrations for Children, a nonprofit established in September 2003 that DeLay adviser Craig Richardson says planned to give 75 percent of its contributions to children’s charities.
But when campaign finance watchdog groups screamed bloody murder, DeLay backed off and spent the week toiling in the shadows. He did make one youth-related stop, announcing a $225,000 earmark for the Harlem RBI program, a sports and youth development partnership with Major League Baseball.
Lionel Tate, the 17-year-old from Florida who was released from an adult prison after a judge threw out his life sentence for killing a playmate five years ago, has been charged with a probation violation. Tate, who is under house arrest until next year, was found walking outside at 2:20 a.m. one weekend. Officials say he was carrying a knife, lied to mask his identity and was in the company of an 18-year-old friend with past arrests for theft and cocaine possession.
Every youth agency welcomes help from its local government, but things appear to have gone too far in Salt Lake County, Utah. The county mayor, Nancy Workman (R), was charged last month with misusing $17,000 in public funds, a felony. Prosecutors allege that Workman directed a county employee to serve as a bookkeeper for the South Valley Boys and Girls Club. The employee was assisting the chief financial officer of the nonprofit, who happens to be Workman’s daughter, Aisza Workman. While it’s not unheard of for a county government to donate employees to a local nonprofit, such a move usually requires approval at a public hearing.
Rich Scofield, 56, recognized leader in the field of school-age care. Scofield founded School-Age Notes, the pioneer for national resources on after-school programming since 1980. In 1987 he helped establish the National School-Age Care Alliance, now the National AfterSchool Association, which has led the campaign for formal accreditation of such programs.
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