Newsmakers for November 2010


It’s lean times for many national youth work organizations, but the Denver-based American Humane Association is beefing up its child-focused staff. Last month, the 133-year-old organization hired Pat Reynolds-Hubbard to serve as vice president of child welfare programming.

Prior to joining the American Humane Association, she was a permanency consultant for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group. She is the founder of the California Permanency for Youth Project, and her career before Casey included stints as deputy director of child welfare for San Francisco County and executive director of the Black Adoption Placement and Research Center.

She is the third significant hire this year on the child protection side of American Humane (the organization is better known for its other issue, protecting animals). Rob Sawyer, a former county-level child welfare director from Minnesota, became a senior fellow for Humane’s children’s division in March, and John Sciamanna, the former government affairs guru for the Child Welfare League of America joined over the summer.  

American Humane also has a new CEO. Robin Ganzert was hired in September to succeed its leader of six years, Marie Wheatley. Contact: (720) 873-6771,


Lorraine Cole, CEO of the D.C.-based YWCA, announced this year that she would be stepping down after four years, and the board has found her successor for the short term. Gloria Lau took the reins as interim CEO last month.

In the absence of a permanent candidate, hiring Lau is a smart move for the board. She presided over Charles Schwab’s Asia portfolio, and served as senior president for global marketing for Citicorp. She was a loyal volunteer of the YWCA Chinatown in San Francisco, which led to her ascendance through the various levels of YWCA boards: YWCA of San Francisco Marin (president), YWCA of the Pacific Region (president) and most recently the YWCA National Coordinating Council (member). Lau filled in for one year as interim CEO at YWCA Hawaii, where she turned around the finances of a failing affiliate.

Cole, the former CEO of the D.C.-based Black Women’s Health Imperative, replaced former YWCA leader Peggy Sanchez Mills in 2006. Cole has also served as a fellow for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. Contact: (202) 467-0801,


Will Friedman will move up from chief operating officer to replace Ruth Wooden as president of Public Agenda, a nonpartisan New York-based organization that seeks to inform policymakers about public opinion and inform the public about policy implications. The organization was founded in 1975 by its current board chairman, Daniel Yankelovich, and Cyrus Vance, who served as secretary of state for former President Jimmy Carter.

Friedman is a veteran member of the Public Agenda staff, and has been groomed to succeed Wooden for a couple years. He joined the organization in 1994, and three years later started its public engagement department, which eventually became Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement, now headed by Alison Kadlec.

Friedman has been the chief operating officer since 2009, and will succeed Wooden in January. Wooden will remain on staff, however, as a senior counselor to Friedman and the board. Contact: (212) 686-6610,


Brian Ross is in as president of Cincinnati-based KnowledgeWorks, which operates 80 high schools in 22 states. KnowledgeWorks schools focus on connecting students to digital and high-tech learning opportunities, and many have a particular focus on math and science.

Ross spent 13 years with Cincinnati Bell, the last two as chief operating officer. He has served on the board of KnowledgeWorks since 2007, and now will share power  with its founder, Chad Wick. Wick will stay on as chief executive officer.

KnowledgeWorks has about $130 million in assets, according to its fiscal 2009 financial statements. Contact: (513) 929-4777,


Hector Batista is the new executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, which started as a male-only group in 1904 and expanded in 1912.

Batista was formerly at The Way to Work, a workforce development program in New York that focuses on 17- to 24-year-olds. Contact: (212) 686-2042,


The Chronicle of Philanthropy published its 20th iteration of the Philanthropy 400 list in its Oct. 21 edition. The list identifies the 400 nonprofits that brought in the most private support during the past fiscal year.

The 2009 rankings feature wide variations in growth and decline, suggesting an unstable time for nonprofits in which some are righting the ship from 2007 and 2008 losses while other organizations continue to struggle in the still-down economy.

For the biggest groups in youth work, 2009 was more struggle than revival. Six organizations in the top 50 place a heavy focus on serving American youth or young adults: United Way, The Y, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Goodwill Industries, Boy Scouts of America and Pew Charitable Trusts. Of those, only Goodwill (up 12.4 percent) and the Boy Scouts (up 2 percent) posted increases in support (the Girl Scouts, number 163 on the list, were down 19.1 percent).

Of the youth-serving organizations in the top 50, The Y reported the largest decline in 2009. The Chicago-based nonprofit, which this fall began a re-branding campaign, was down 17 percent from 2008.

Further down the list, Teach for America reported an 85.5 percent increase on the year. Strangely, the New York-based behemoth founded by Wendy Kopp also told the Chronicle that it projects a 34 percent dip in private support during 2010.

Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, based in Boys Town, Neb., and led by Executive Director Father Steven Boes, reported a staggering 130.8 percent increase in private support. Can it continue such a sharp climb in support? The organization, which operates programs in 11 states and Washington, D.C., drew some negative headlines in September concerning its use of restraints at its Intensive Residential Treatment Center in Boys Town, but that would be more likely to affect its 2011 draw. Read the Philanthropy 400 at



The Charles S. Mott Foundation (assets: $2.9 billion), based in Flint, Mich., hired three program officers last month of interest to the national youth work field.

Mark Abbott is the new program officer in charge of Mott’s Pathways Out of Poverty, a broad portfolio that includes much of the foundation’s grant making to youth-serving organizations outside of the Flint area.

Abbot goes to Flint from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Election Assistance Commission, where he was director of grant operations. Before that, he spent nine years with the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps. Abbot started as an AmeriCorps program officer, became associate director of the corporation’s Learn and Serve program, and eventually was senior adviser to the chief operating officer.

Learning Beyond the Classroom, the division of Pathways that handles after-school program support, will be headed by program officer Gwynn Hughes. She joined the foundation after six years as executive director of the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership in Boston. Previously, she was chief of project management and policy support for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and before that was chief operating officer of the state’s Office of Child Care Services.  Hughes replaces An-Me Chung, who oversaw the division for the better part of a decade and left to work on digital media and learning for the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Mott added a program assistant for Learning Beyond in April: Megan Russell, who previously managed youth programs for Michigan nonprofit HandsOn Battle Creek.

Also joining Mott is Jennifer Liversedge, who is the assistant to CEO William S. White. Liversedge will also serve as White’s program officer, because the foundation’s Exploratory and Special Initiatives grant making runs through his office.  Contact: (810) 238-5651,


The Austin Community Foundation has announced that its general counsel, MariBen Ramsey, will assume the role of interim CEO as the board searches for a replacement for outgoing leader Ken Gladish, who joined the foundation in 2008. Before that he served as CEO of the Chicago-based YMCA of the USA (now “The Y”) from 2000 to 2006. Contact: (512) 472-4483,



The Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees most of the federal effort to provide service-learning experiences for young people, added three key staff members last month.

Kimberly Allman is the deputy director of intergovernmental affairs. She most recently served as vice president for state government affairs at TechAmerica, the trade association representing the U.S. technology industry, and before that, ran her own government relations consulting firm specializing in entertainment clients.

Jennifer Tahmasebi and Rosa Moreno-Mahoney will serve as deputy directors of AmeriCorps under Director John Gomperts, who came aboard in April. This is a homecoming of sorts of Tahmasebi: She spent the past 11 years with YouthBuild USA, where she climbed the ranks to vice president, but she was a program officer for AmeriCorps from 1996 until 1998.          

Moreno-Mahoney managed an AmeriCorps program run through the Austin, Texas-based OneStar Foundation, and before that served as program officer for the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the state commission for AmeriCorps programs. Contact: (202) 606-5000,


California judge and former prosecutor Kurt Kumli was the only name that had surfaced publicly from the recent round of interviews by the Justice Department of Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention candidates (see “Newsmakers,” October). But it appears that Jane Tewksbury, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, has interviewed for the job too, and is at least as likely as Kumli to get the nomination.

Tewksbury has served as DYS commissioner since 2005, which for a modern state-level juvenile justice director is a lifetime. She was nominated by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and was kept on by current Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

Before that, Tewksbury was a prosecutor (assistant district attorney in Middlesex County), and followed her boss Scott Harshbarger (D) to Boston when he became state attorney general in 1990. Later, she served as chief of staff to Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety Edward Flynn in 2003.

Tewksbury is also plugged into the national juvenile justice landscape. She was a fellow in the Children and Family Fellowship of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 1993, organized Massachusetts’ recent entry in Casey’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, and is the treasurer of the board for the Council of Juvenile Court Administrators (CJCA).

“If Jane is a top candidate for this job, they could do no better,” said Shay Bilchik, who heads Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and served as administrator of OJJDP during much of former President Bill Clinton’s administration. “She believes deeply in a rehabilitative model. With her history as prosecutor, she understands the need to ensure public safety. She knows the issues, knows the science and understands the challenges in the field.”

In Massachusetts, Tewksbury’s reputation appears to be one of a leader who welcomes debate and dialogue from outside DYS. The major function of DYS is to serve juveniles in secure and residential placements, so Tewksbury gets big points from reform-minded advocates for supporting efforts to detain fewer youths before trial and keep more DYS-remanded juveniles in the community.

“I guess [DYS] is supposed to be our enemy in a way, but frankly I don’t have anything bad to say about her or her staff,” said Josh Dohan, director of the Boston-based Youth Advocacy Project, the juvenile defender unit of Massachusetts’ statewide public defense network. “She has been the strongest voice in the state pushing to be careful about who gets committed and to correct the disproportionate minority contact” in the Massachusetts system. Contact: (202) 307-5911,


The Office of Justice Programs, which is led by Laurie Robinson and oversees OJJDP, is responsible for rolling out Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood initiative, which he launched this year around eight pilot sites that will seek to assist youth who have experienced or witnessed violence.

The administration is asking for a $37 million appropriation for Defending Childhood next year, but for now, resources and funding for the project are being cobbled together from all over OJP, which, in addition to OJJDP, controls six other bureaus of the Justice Department. Tapped to coordinate Defending Childhood is OJP’s senior social science analyst Phelan Wyrick, who used to be a program manager on gang prevention programs for OJJDP.

The Defending Childhood pilot projects were awarded to Boston; Portland, Maine; the Chippewa Cree Tribe, in Montana; Grand Forks, N.D.; the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, in Ohio; the Multnomah County Department of Human Services, in Oregon; the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in South Dakota;  and Shelby County, Tenn. Contact: OJP (202) 307-0703,


Michelle Rhee is out as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools after three and a half years on the job. Rhee garnered national adulation for her reforms in Washington; locally, her success was recognized, but somehow never translated to high approval ratings of her or her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Rhee decided to leave shortly after Vincent Gray defeated Fenty in the Democratic primary. Gray and Fenty held a joint press conference to announce that Kaya Henderson, Rhee’s deputy chancellor, would serve as acting chancellor for at least the remainder of the school year. Gray has asked Henderson to keep the rest of the DCPS leadership intact through the year.

Henderson was the lead negotiator for the schools on the new contract with the Washington Teachers Union, which established performance as the main job security factor for teachers. Henderson also worked for Rhee at the New York-based New Teachers Project, which Rhee helped create to supply school systems with professionals who wanted to leave another career for a chance to teach. Contact: DCPS (202) 442-5885,


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