Newsmakers for April 2010

Sandy Bowen


Sandy Bowen, who grew a local outreach effort into a national model to help youth in crisis, will retire as executive director of National Safe Place this summer.

The safe place concept, which entails training firehouses, retail stores and places frequented by youth to help connect troubled youths with assistance, was dreamed up by Larry Woolridge, who ran a Louisville, Ky., shelter for kids.

When the YMCA of Greater Louisville took over the program, Bowen was brought in to oversee it.

The local YMCA had no intention to proliferate Safe Place around the country. But after Bowen and her staff made a presentation on the concept at a 1986 national conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS granted the group $15,000 to start taking Safe Place national. By 2001, a National Safe Place office was opened (still a part of the YMCA of Greater Louisville), and Bowen became its first executive director.

Today, there are more than 17,000 established Safe Places around the country, funneling youth in need of help to more than 150 agencies that serve hundreds of communities. Some Safe Places are recruited by local agencies; many others are established through national partnerships with corporations forged by the National Safe Place office.

Safe Place garnered about $250,000 in federal earmarks during the past decade: $40,000 from the Department of Education in 2003, and $211,000 in 2008 from the Justice Department.

A search firm is fielding candidates to succeed Bowen, who said she “won’t retire completely” from youth work but will not stay on the Safe Place staff. She said the plan is to have someone chosen to succeed her by May. Contact: (502) 635-3660,

Polina Makievsky

Polina Makievsky is the new chief operating officer for the Milwaukee, Wis.-based Alliance for Children and Families, a national trade group for private, nonprofit human service providers. Makievsky was director of programs for one of the Alliance’s Wisconsin member agencies, Waukesha-based La Casa de Esperanza. Her national experience comes from stints at two Washington, D.C., organizations: as director of model programs for the Points of Light Foundation and as a policy analyst for the Family Strengthening Policy Center of the National Human Services Assembly, which is headed by Irv Katz and is home to the National Collaboration for Youth. Contact: (414) 359-1040,

Robert Sawyer is the new senior fellow of the children’s division of the American Humane Association (AHA), a 133-year-old Denver-based organization that advocates on behalf of both children and animals.

Sawyer has previously implemented multiple child welfare and mental health reforms, such as differential response in child protection and family group decision making, in Minnesota. Before that, he focused on community and residential children’s mental health services in Kansas, Michigan and Ohio.

Sawyer will join current fellows Len Dalgleish and Patricia Schene of the organization’s Child Protection Research Center, as well as Michael Doolan of AHA’s Center on Family Group Decision Making. Contact: (720) 873-6771,

The New York-based Structured Employment and Economic Development Corp. (Seedco) has named Barbara Dwyer Gunn its new CEO.

Gunn was senior vice president for operations and government relations of the American Museum of Natural History, also in New York, for nearly 15 years. There she oversaw the museum’s first office of intergovernmental relations and various capital projects, among other duties. She also worked as director of the New York City mayor’s Office of Operations under the four-year term of Mayor Edward Koch, beginning in 1986. Contact: (212) 204-1378,

Newsmakers mentioned in February that former National Council on Crime and Delinquency President Barry Krisberg had joined the University of California-Berkeley’s Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (BCCJ) as a senior fellow, and that he would teach juvenile justice at Cal’s Boalt Hall School of Law.

Joining him on both fronts (as fellow and lecturer) is former BCCJ Director David Onek, who handed off control of the center to Andrea Russi in February. Onek is also hosting “Criminal Justice Conversations,” a series of podcasts on criminal justice that is a shared project of BCCJ and the university’s journalism school. Contact: BCCJ (510) 643-7025,

Deane Calhoun, founder of the Youth Alive! youth activist group based in Oakland, Calif., is retiring after leading the organization for 21 years.

Calhoun, who officially stepped down on March 26, was a public health worker at San Francisco General Hospital when she started to see the alarming number of young deaths caused by guns. She started Youth Alive! with a group of teens, and the group used her data and teen accounts from the streets of Oakland to help influence local politics. Youth Alive! teens also shared their experiences with President Bill Clinton during his first term in office.

Calhoun said in the Youth Alive! newsletter that she will probably remain with the group as a board member. She will take some time off to go hiking in Europe and then plans to start advocating for increased resources for school dropout prevention.

Calhoun is the sister of Jack Calhoun, the first CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council, which he led until retiring from the organization in 2004.

Mary Vradelis, a consultant and former executive director of California Poets in Schools, was brought in to serve as interim executive director while Youth Alive! recruits candidates to succeed Calhoun. Contact: (510) 594-2588,

The Dublin, Ohio-based Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, built off the wealth of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas and headed by Executive Director Rita Soronen, whose mission is “dramatically increasing the adoptions of children waiting in North America’s foster care systems,” named two new board members. They are: Doug Nichols, co-owner of major country music management company Turner & Nichols & Associates, and an adoptive parent and former foster parent, and Wendy Thomas, the late founder’s daughter and namesake of his restaurant. Wendy Thomas is now a principal of an Ohio franchise group that owns more than 30 Wendy’s locations. Contact: 800-275-3832,

Voices for America’s Children earned itself the kind of high-profile mention every organization dreams of last month during the speech House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave on the floor before the House passed the health care reform bill.

Pelosi singled out Voices and a handful of other groups by name as examples of “more than 350 organizations representing Americans of every age and background, from every part of the country” that supported the reform bill.

The support of those groups sends “a clear message to members of Congress: say ‘Yes’ to health care reform,” Pelosi said to a round of partisan applause.

Voices and its 60 affiliates were active in promoting and supporting health care reform through call-ins, letter-writing and public statements from its CEO Bill Bentley. It was one of a handful of youth advocacy groups that Pelosi met with in the days leading up to the Sunday, March 21, vote.

“We’ve been working with her and the [White House] Domestic Policy Council on health care reform for a long time, said Voices spokeswoman Roberta Heine.

Voices partnered with Every Child Matters and the Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of about 50 child advocacy groups, to place a full-page advertisement in the newspaper Politico the week before the House voted. Contact: (202) 289-0777,

Five new members have been appointed to the board of the nation’s oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization, the Arlington, Va.-based Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). The new members are:

Patricia Schroeder, former Colorado congresswoman and recently retired CEO of the Association of American Publishers.

Raquelle Lynne Myers, an attorney for the National Indian Justice Center. Her experience includes serving on the National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect and the Intertribal Court of California.

Dr. Stephanie McGencey, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families. She previously focused on training, technical assistance and research initiatives at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

Laura K. Lee Dellinger, principal of the fundraising firm Metropolitan Group and an adjunct professor at Portland State University in Oregon.

Howard Shiffman, former CEO of Griffith Centers for Children in Colorado and current CEO of Purchasing Partners of America.

CWLA coalesces hundreds of agencies that serve vulnerable children and families. Operating since 1920, the organization is recognized as a standard-setter for child welfare services. Contact: (703) 554-3609,

After 12 years at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Nicky Goren is leaving to become president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Goren spent more than a year as acting CEO of CNCS after Bush-era CEO David Eisner stepped down in 2008, and it was an active interim tenure, to be sure. President Barack Obama in April 2009 signed the Serve America Act, which will double the number of AmeriCorps members funded through CNCS over the next five years; Goren oversaw the agency as it prepared for the influx of resources and responsibility. Meanwhile, some members of Congress were miffed at the president’s firing of CNCS Inspector General Gerald Walpin in June 2009, and grew frustrated with CNCS after an evaluation released last summer highlighted poor budgeting processes.

It looked as if Goren would go back to serving as chief of staff at CNCS early in Obama’s tenure, when he nominated Nike Foundation Vice President Maria Eitel to be CEO of the corporation, but Eitel withdrew from consideration last May. Obama’s second nominee, Patrick Corvington, was confirmed by the Senate in February. Contact: (202) 606-5000,

Kate Sylvester joined the staff of national youth advocacy group First Focus last month, and will serve as vice president of military families for the D.C.-based organization. Sylvester, who grew up in a military family and is a former journalist, was the director of DC Action for Children, the Washington affiliate of Voices for America’s Children. She is also the founder of the Social Policy Action Network, which worked with federal and state policymakers to promote effective policies for low-income families before closing its doors in January 2005.

First Focus is led by President Bruce Lesley. Contact: (202) 657-0670,


Chris DeCardy, who was already vice president of communications for the Los Altos, Calif.-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation (assets: $5.6 billion), will also serve as its vice president of programs, overseeing all of Packard’s grant making.

He joined Packard as communications director in 2002. The foundation, which is led by CEO Carol Larson, has a Children, Families and Communities portfolio that funds pre-school, after-school and children’s health insurance projects. It also makes grants to nonprofits to improve organizational effectiveness. That portfolio is managed by Director Lois Salisbury. Contact: (650) 948-7658,

Mark Constantine

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund (assets: $229 million) named Mark Constantine vice president of strategy, policy and learning in March. Constantine has been a senior fellow at the Jacksonville, Fla.-based grant maker for four years. He is also an independent consultant whose clients include such philanthropic luminaries as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Lilly Endowment and the Foundation for the Mid-South. As a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Constantine was involved in developing and researching the National Study on Youth and Religion.

The DuPont Fund makes grants to the 300 organizations that received a financial gift from its namesake between 1960 and 1964. The list includes the Child Welfare League of America, Girls Scouts of the USA, Girls and Boys Town, and a number of local youth-serving organizations. Contact: (904) 353-0890,


Edna Primrose, a longtime youth worker and Job Corps administrator, has been named national director of the $1.7 billion Job Corps program, one of the largest programs operated by the Department of Labor.

“It was a great pick,” said one union leader who runs a Job Corps training program. “I don’t know of anyone that has the well-rounded background in Job Corps that Edna possesses. She has worked on Job Corps centers and knows our clients. She is smart, personable and a good administrator. I am so happy the government got it right this time.”

Her appointment was also welcomed by the National Job Corps Association, led by President LaVera Leonard.

Primrose, who became corporate executive director of policy development at Job Corps in 2007, entered the workforce development world in 1984, when she was hired by the International Union of Operating Engineers. She has worked directly with Job Corps students and staff since 1997. She served as national director of the union’s Job Corps training program from 1997 to 2000.

Primrose joined the national Job Corps office in 2000 as head of the Division of Program Support and Accountability. Since 2003, she has worked as a Job Corps center deputy director and director for four years, before being promoted to head policy development in 2007.

Job Corps is the nation’s largest education and training program for disadvantaged youth. Created in 1964 as part of the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty, it runs on approximately $1.7 billion a year, serving as many as 100,000 youth (ages 16 through 24) annually, and 42,000 at any given time. The dormitory-based program runs 123 centers around the country.

The Labor Department has a plan to transfer the program from the secretary of labor’s office to its Employment and Training Administration, where Primrose would answer to Jane Oates, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training. Contact: (202) 693-3000,

President Barack Obama has nominated David Mineta to be deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Mineta would replace Bush appointee Bertha Madras. Mineta is the deputy director of San Francisco-based Asian American Recovery Services, which provides substance abuse prevention and treatment in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties. He will serve under Obama drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, who was the chief of police in Seattle from 2001 until he joined the administration last year.

Mineta is probably well-prepared for federal politics by talks at the dinner table. His father is Norman Mineta (D), George W. Bush’s first secretary of transportation and a California congressman from 1975 to 1995, long enough that the airport is San Jose is named after him. Contact: (202) 395-6618,


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