Newsmakers for May 2010


Vicki Wagner


The executive director of the National Network for Youth, which advocates increased resources to aid homeless and runaway youth, will leave in July after the board decided it had to close one of the organization’s two headquarters.

The board voted in April to close the network’s Seattle office because of financial concerns. Executive Director Vicki Wagner, who lives in Seattle, has traveled between that office and the Washington, D.C., headquarters during her six years leading the network. She decided that she did not want to move to Washington.

“I believe that the time has come for me to be more rooted in the Seattle community,” Wagner said in a letter to members.

In 2004, when Wagner took over the network, which has about 200 member agencies and 300 individual members, it was in financial disarray. Della Hughes, a former executive director, had taken some of the network’s federally funded projects with her to Brandeis University. The next executive director, Brenda Russell, was jettisoned by the board a year into her employment.

In recent years, federal funding has withered. A $400,000 annual grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, of which the network kept $200,000 and distributed $200,000 to members, was not renewed this year.

A grant from the Centers for Disease Control, which now represents almost a third of the network’s budget, is up for renewal next month.

The board has not made plans to search for a new executive director yet, and it is likely that board members in the Washington, D.C., area will assist the network’s three other staff members with day-to-day operations. Those three staffers are Vice President of Programs Kayla Jackson, Project Director Tara James and Public Policy Director Bob Reeg. Contact: (202) 783-7949,

Judy Vredenburgh – former president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America – has been named president and CEO at Girls Inc., a national nonprofit youth organization that provides educational and youth development programs to girls at its nearly 1,000 local sites.

Vredenburgh will begin in her new role on June 1 as she replaces Joyce Roché, who is retiring at the end of May after nearly 10 years at the New York-based organization.

Vredenburgh served as president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America from 1999 to 2009. She is credited with expanding the organization’s reach from 118,000 to 255,000, an expansion that was accompanied by an increase in revenue from $171 million to $290 million. Vredenburgh left BBBSA last summer after 10 years, saying it was time to move home to New York to be with her husband. Contact: (212) 509-2000,

The child protection nonprofit Jacob Wetterling Resource Center merged with the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC) in February. Wetterling retains its staff and St. Paul, Minn., office and is now operating as part of the parent group NCPTC, based out of Winona State University in Winona, Minn. NCPTC’s staff is scattered in four different states across the country.

The Wetterling Center provides such services as speaking at schools about child safety and giving advice to residents when sex offenders move into their neighborhoods. The NCPTC, which has received more than $5 million in federal earmarks since 2003, trains child protection professionals on how to deal with abused children.

NCPTC director Victor Vieth said when Wetterling’s director resigned last fall it was faced with the decision of either to hire a new director or to merge and expand. Due to tough economic times, the decision was made to merge into NCPTC and expand Wetterling’s work on a more national level. Wetterling’s co-founder Patty Wetterling will join NCPTC’s board of directors, along with Wetterling’s former board chairman Dan Monson.

Contact: (507) 457-2890,

The NonProfit Times recently released its first list of “The Best Nonprofits To Work For.” The list includes a mélange of organizations big and small, and some are youth-serving organizations.

Among the national programs on the list: the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, KaBOOM!, National 4-H Council and iMentor.

The regional and state-level organizations on the list include Junior Achievement of Arizona, Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council (Calif.), Children’s Aid Society (N.Y.), and Imua Family Services (Hawaii). The complete list can be viewed at

Another of the youth work organizations to crack the NonProfit Times’ top 50, Memphis-based Youth Villages, has brought on Mary Norman to be development director for its Georgia programs. Norman was at the Arlington, Va.-based Jane Goodall Institute, where she was vice president of development.

Youth Villages operates a range of services including foster care, residential programs and crisis management in Washington, D.C., and 11 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Contact: (901) 251-5000,

The 2010 class of The Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund’s Entrepreneurial Leaders in Public Education program, announced in March, includes youth work executives. The 24 members of the class, along with winners from the previous two years, will attend seminars on leadership and public education in Aspen, Colo.

Among the winners are Carmita Vaughan, chief strategy officer of the America’s Promise Alliance; Kira Orange Jones, executive director of Teach for America; J.B. Schramm, CEO of College Summit; and Leah Hamilton, program officer for urban education at the Carnegie Foundation of New York. Contact: Aspen (202) 736-5800,


The Battle Creek, Mich.-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation is pulling Daniel Varner away from his job as CEO of the Think Detroit Police Athletic League and into a new role as program officer on the foundation’s education and learning team.

Varner, formerly a public defender, began his new job April 29 and is responsible for education and learning programming that supports vulnerable children, families and communities in the Detroit area. At the Think Detroit Police Athletic League, Varner headed a youth development organization serving 12,000 youth annually; he will now join the group’s board of directors. Contact: (269)968-1611,

Daniel Varner

The New York-based Open Society Institute announced its 2010 Soros Justice Fellows, who will receive stipends of between $45,000 and $109,000 each to carry out justice-related projects during the year. Most of the winners will work with an existing organization on the projects.

Some of the 18 winners will focus their attention on youth:

– Dwayne Betts, a young activist who spent eight years in adult prison for carjacking, will write a book about the ways crime and mass incarceration affect the families of both victims and the incarcerated.

– Alexandra Cox will work with the Brooklyn-based Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives to develop and implement research and protocols for discovering and improving relationships between youth and staff members in juvenile facilities.

– Activist Manuel Criollo will work with Los Angeles-based Labor/Community Strategy Center to challenge policies he believes are disproportionately punitive toward black and Latino youth.

– Laura McCargar, former executive director of Youth Media Rights in New Haven, Conn., will work with Hartford’s Better Way Foundation to expose the ways systems push older students toward a decision to enroll in alternative school or drop out.

– Zachary Norris, field director of the Books Not Bars campaign based in the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, Calif., will help create the Justice for Families Alliance, a support group for families of incarcerated youth that will become a component of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

– Malcolm Young, a past executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project and the Chicago-based John Howard Association, will work with the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago to increase job opportunities for ex-offenders. Contact: (212) 548-0600,


John Gomperts

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is filling in the top slots below its new CEO Patrick Corvington, announcing three key appointments last month: Heather Peeler as chief strategy officer, John Gomperts as director of AmeriCorps and Nicole Gallant as director of Learn and Serve America and strategic education adviser.

Peeler was previously the managing director of Community Wealth Ventures, where she worked on nonprofit services, business development and strategy, and was also executive director of nonprofit Small Press Distribution and managing editor of Foundation News & Commentary.

This is Gomperts’ second run at CNCS; he was former CNCS boss Harris Wofford’s chief of staff. He was most recently the president of Civic Ventures and was previously the head of tutoring and mentoring recruitment of nonprofit Experience Corps.

Gallant brings 17 years of experience in education and community engagement, including serving as program executive at the Atlantic Philanthropies and working as a fellow in the children and youth program at the Hewlett Foundation.

The corporation also brought on Bridgespan Group co-founder Paul Carttar to serve as director of its new Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The fund will aim to use $50 million in federal funds to leverage $200 million worth of public-private ventures aimed at community change and development.

Paul Carttar

Carttar was most recently an executive partner at New Profit Inc., a national venture philanthropy fund. Before that, he was chief operating officer of the Kansas City, Mo.-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which makes grants to support entrepreneurship and education.

One of Carttar’s earlier ventures was the establishment of the Bridgespan Group, an arm of the major consulting firm Bain Co., which works with nonprofit organizations.

Bridgespan, through its partnerships with grant makers interested in youth work, has become a major player in restructuring youth-serving nonprofits. Carttar founded the group in 1999 with Tom Tierney and Jeff Bradach and stayed with Bridgespan until 2003.

“Paul’s track record of growing nonprofits, experience across sectors and leadership on social innovation is exactly what we need to move the SIF [Social Innovation Fund] forward,” interim CNCS Board Chairman Stephen Goldsmith said in a prepared statement.

The White House has an Office of Social Innovation, led by former executive Sonal Shah, which is part of the president’s Domestic Policy Council. That office has a “strong interest in the success of the SIF,” said CNCS spokeswoman Ashley Etienne, but the corporation will be in charge of awarding its innovation fund grants. Contact: (202) 606-5000,

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has established two pet projects of sorts at the Justice Department, and both pertain heavily to youth.

One is the department’s work on children who have been exposed to violence. The project has some money behind it: $5 million for 2010 that will be divvied up for research, public campaigns, demonstration programs and evaluation of those demonstrations. Overseeing this for Holder will be Deputy Associate Attorney General Karol Mason, a former Atlanta lawyer who joined the Obama administration last spring.

A venture without grant-making power (at least for 2010) is the Access to Justice Initiative, which was born out of the Justice Department’s conference on indigent defense in February. Holder brought in Harvard Law School professor Larry Tribe to head the project. Assisting Tribe is Senior Counsel Daniel Olmos, a California lawyer, and Tribe expects to add another half-dozen staff members to the initiative in the near future.

Tribe and his staff will have to rely on the power of convening for the most part. The idea is to meet with judges, prosecutors and defenders to determine ways to get meaningful legal representation to more juveniles and adults who cannot afford to pay for it. Tribe is set to address the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges at its conference in July. Contact: (202) 514-2000,

The Obama administration may not appoint new directors for the bureaus that oversee child welfare and homeless youth at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the federal agency that oversees most of the spending on disadvantaged youth in the Department of Health and Human Services.

An internal evaluation of ACF’s organizational structure, which was not announced publicly by the administration, could lead officials to change the structure and responsibilities of political appointee positions under ACF’s Senate-confirmed leadership.

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) and the Children’s Bureau have been without permanent leadership since the last years of the George W. Bush administration. FYSB, recently funded at around $350 million, funds programs that serve homeless and runaway youth, children of prisoners and victims of domestic violence. The Children’s Bureau, with a budget of more than $7 billion, is responsible for distributing federal child welfare funds and evaluating state child welfare systems.

“No decision has been made,” said ACF spokesman Kenneth Wolfe, when asked if the agency might forgo a political appointee for FYSB. “They are considering how best to structure the office via an organizational assessment.”

ACF’s organizational chart is daunting in its complexity. It is led by Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Carmen Nazario; one of the Senate-confirmed appointees who reports to her, Bryan Samuels, serves as commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF).

FYSB is overseen by Acting Associate Commissioner Debbie Powell, and the Children’s Bureau is led by Acting Associate Commissioner Joe Bock. Contact: (202) 401-9215,

President Barack Obama tabbed Harvard professor Donald M. Berwick as the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a branch within the Health and Human Services Department that will be responsible for the implementation of the recently passed health care legislation.

Berwick is also a pediatrician and president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass. Though he has never headed a large bureaucracy – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has more than 4,000 employees – he has a long history of pushing for doctors and hospitals to provide better care at a lower cost.

Pending Senate confirmation, Berwick’s new role will require him to oversee the expansion of Medicaid to 16 million new people by 2020. This position has been filled only on an acting basis since Mark B. McClellan resigned in 2006. Contact: (202) 690-6145,

Tom McLellan, who was confirmed in August to serve as deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced that he would resign in a few months after helping drug czar Gil Kerlikowske implement new drug policy strategies on the heels of health care reform.

“There’s no deep dark secret here – I’m just ill-suited to government work,” McLellan told Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly.

McLellan was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and founder and executive director of the Treatment Research Institute, a not-for-profit research and evaluation institute in Philadelphia. Contact: (800) 666–3332,



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