Newsmakers April 2011


Public/Private Ventures – a national research organization that evaluates employment, justice and youth development programs for low-income communities and uses that information to improve effectiveness – has announced its second major round of layoffs in as many years this month.

Staff members at PPV’s three offices – Oakland, Calif., New York and its Philadelphia headquarters – were informed earlier this month of the layoffs. A public statement was issued by President Nadya Shmavonian on the organization’s website.

“With the support of our board of directors, we have made the painful – but necessary – decision to reduce our workforce at all levels across our three offices,” Shmavonian said in the message.

This layoff round reduces by 18 the number of P/PV full-time staff; a round of layoffs in late 2009 included 12 full-time positions. Those two moves, combined with other departures, have lowered the P/PV workforce from 80 full-time staff members in 2007 to a current total of 22.

Shmavonian would not discuss which staff members were let go, but said there were “cuts at all levels, from administrative employees through to the presidential level.”

The organization has received a pledge of general operating support grants from a group of foundations, led by the Flint, Mich.-based Charles S. Mott Foundation, said Shmavonian. Those grants will enable P/PV to restructure without having to merge with another organization, she said.

Contact: (215) 557-4400,


The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, a national provider of training to and research on youth-related courts, has hired Mari Kay Bickett as its executive director. Bickett officially took the helm on April 1, and was introduced at the council’s recent national conference.

Bickett replaces Mary Mentaberry, who was executive director of the Reno, Nev.-based organization for six years.

A Nevada native, Bickett recently retired after 16 years as CEO of the Texas Center for the Judiciary, an organization that provides specialized judicial education and training for trial and appellate judges in Texas.

Prior to her work in Texas, Bickett was the academic director for the National Judicial College, which, like NCJFCJ, is based at the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) campus.

“I believe my career path has led me to the exact place where I’ve always wanted to work,” Bickett said in a statement issued by the council. “NCJFCJ has a depth of highly skilled and extremely dedicated staff.”

Mentaberry joined the council when it moved from Chicago to the UNR campus in 1969. She became its executive director in 2004, and stepped down in September.

Contact: (775) 784-6012,


Susan Siegel has joined Alexandria, Va.-based MENTOR as the vice president of programs. She previously was vice president of research, evaluation and learning management at Communities In Schools (CIS).

At MENTOR, she has responsibility for driving the organization’s accreditation process initiative and positioning the National Mentoring Institute as the mentoring community’s premier research and knowledge center.

Siegel reports to Larry Wright, MENTOR’s CEO since 2009.

Contact: (703) 224-2200,


Darrious Hilmon is the new chief development and marketing officer for Youth Guidance, a major social, academic and youth development service provider in Chicago. Hilmon served as vice president of corporate, foundations and government relations for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana – the largest Girl Scout council in the country.

Contact: (312) 253-4900,


The Milwaukee-based Alliance for Children and Families has given its 2011 Samuel Gerson Nordlinger Child Welfare Leadership Award to Children’s Village CEO Jeremy Kohomban. Kohomban is also a board member of Youth Today’s parent organization, the American Youth Work Center.

The award recognizes one person each year “who makes a significant impact on public opinion and awareness about children’s issues and services” and “makes an impact on the national public policy process that greatly benefits children.”

“During his seven years at The Children’s Village, there is no doubt that Kohomban can be credited with sound fiscal management, superior programming, and instituting long-term strategic planning,” the Alliance said in a statement announcing the award. “But these sound practices only scratch the surface of the impact he has made on The Children’s Village, child welfare and juvenile justice in New York, and other children and family issues in New York and around the country.”

Contact: (414) 359-1040,


The board of directors of the Public Welfare Foundation has chosen Mary McClymont as the foundation’s next president.

“We are delighted that Mary McClymont will lead the Public Welfare Foundation at this time,” said Peter Edelman, board chairman. “We are confident that she has the right mix of experience, talent and vision to sustain and enhance the foundation’s vital work.” 

McClymont has served most recently as executive director of Global Rights, an international human rights organization that works with local activists to promote and protect the rights of vulnerable populations. She previously held a number of executive positions with the Ford Foundation. She started as program officer in 1988 and concluded her tenure in 2000 as senior director of the Peace and Social Justice Program.

McClymont succeeds Deborah Leff, who left Public Welfare last summer after four years as president to work on the Access to Justice project at the U.S. Department of Justice, which is focused on the issue of indigent defense.

Contact: (202) 965-1800,


The Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation has hired Lisa Hamilton to serve as one of its vice presidents. Hamilton oversees public affairs, strategic communications, policy reform and advocacy work. Hamilton was the vice president of public relations for United Parcel Service. UPS founder Jim Casey founded AECF in 1948.

Hamilton will answer to Patrick McCarthy, who replaced Doug Nelson as CEO in February 2010.

Contact: (410) 547-6600,


A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would change the status of about 200 presidential appointments – including several youth-related positions – so they would not require Senate confirmation. The number of Senate-confirmed jobs has quadrupled since the 1960s.

Chief among the youth-related slots that are included in the legislation: administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF).

The bill is an effort to alleviate the backlog of unfilled jobs that has plagued the past  two presidents, partly because of the bottleneck of confirmation hearings. Other reasons for the backlog include the continuing intensity of the vetting process, and the fact that some senators use confirmation holds as bargaining chips.

The downside of the change is that the shift might lower the profile of the agencies or boards attached to those former nominees, make the jobs less attractive to the best potential candidates, and limit the ability of nongovernmental parties to weigh in on the quality of a candidate.

When someone is pursuing a government job, the fact that it requires Senate confirmation “seems like a heady thing,” said Shay Bilchik, who served as administrator for OJJDP during the Clinton administration.

But as a candidate for the job, he said, “you don’t understand what it means to the field and the constituencies, to have that direct oversight and committee in the U.S. Congress, so the field can weigh in in a very powerful way,” regarding who gets that position.

The ACYF job is held by Bryan Samuels. Samuels led Chicago’s child welfare system before becoming a top aide to Education Secretary Arne Duncan when he was CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

The other major youth job – OJJDP administrator – has not been filled, more than 800 days after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. In the early months of the Obama administration, there was a push from juvenile advocates for the president to nominate Vincent Schiraldi, then the director of Washington, D.C.’s juvenile justice system and now the head of New York City probation.

Schiraldi was interviewed, but ultimately the Justice Department decided to recommend someone else for the post: Karen Baynes, a former juvenile judge in Atlanta. But Baynes, who was married on New Year’s Eve 2009, withdrew as a candidate.

In the summer of 2010, it appeared Justice was again set on a candidate: Vicki Spriggs, head of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. But Spriggs feared that with any interim or low-profile leader in place at the Texas agency, it would be crushed in the state’s 2011 and 2012 budget battle. She decided to stay.  


Earlier this month, the White House announced that Jonathan Hatfield, who was nominated to serve as inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service, has withdrawn from the nomination process. Hatfield would have replaced Gerald Walpin, who was fired by the administration in 2009, sparking a firestorm of controversy.

Contact: (202) 606-5000,


Irving Spergel, 86, groundbreaking researcher on youth gangs. Spergel was the George Herbert Jones Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, and is considered one of the leading experts in the nation on youth gangs and gang prevention. His five-point strategy for gang prevention was adopted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 1995 as its official Comprehensive Gang Model.


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