CAP

Art: Speaker Biographies - Fall 2011

Below are the biographies for CAP's "Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education, and Juvenile Justice" Fall 2011 speakers. Click on the relevant speaker's name to link to his/her biography.

Elizabeth Bartholet is the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School, where she teaches civil rights and family law, specializing in child welfare, adoption and reproductive technology. Before joining the Harvard Faculty, she was engaged in civil rights and public interest work, first with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and later as founder and director of the Legal Action Center, a non-profit organization in New York City focused on criminal justice and substance abuse issues.

Jessica Budnitz (Lecturer on Law) is CAP's founding Managing Director. Before working at CAP, she founded and directed Juvenile Justice Partners, a child-focused legal clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is an Echoing Green Foundation Fellow, the 2003 recipient of HLS's Gary Bellow Public Service Award, and a 2004 recipient of the YWCA of Cambridge Award for Outstanding Women. Ms. Budnitz is currently a Prelaw Residential Tutor in Leverett House at Harvard College. She is a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School and a 1998 graduate of Duke University.

Mark Edwards is the Executive Director of Opportunity Nation, the next campaign of Be the Change, Inc. Prior to joining Be the Change, Mark was the managing partner of Edwards & Company, Inc., a marketing and communications company focused on elevating educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations. He has also served on several nonprofit boards, including the board of Horizons for Homeless Children for the last 18 years (as board chair for five years), where he played a critical leadership role in growing that organization into the country’s largest nonprofit focused on the needs of homeless children. Mark is a graduate of Harvard College and lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three daughters. Opportunity Nation is a campaign to take back the American Dream by making opportunity matter again in politics and policy. Its goal is to build a national coalition of non-profit organizations, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, leading thinkers, grassroots organizations and others to support a nonpartisan agenda to enhance opportunity and economic mobility in America.

Daniel Heimpel is the director and founder of Fostering Media Connections (FMC). FMC harnesses the power of journalism and media to drive public and political will behind policy and practice that improve the well being of children in foster care. Heimpel has written and produced stories about foster care for Newsweek, the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Seattle Times, the Huffington Post, Current TV and the San Jose Mercury News among many other outlets. This coverage has garnered Heimpel journalism awards from the Children’s Advocacy Institute, The Los Angeles Press Club and the Child Welfare League of America among others. In 2011, he was named the LA Press Club's online “Journalist of the Year” for his work through FMC and other outlets.

 Vanessa Roth has written produced and directed award- winning social issue documentaries and headed up social media reform efforts for over a decade. Roth’s work has earned her dozens of honors including an Academy Award, two Sundance Special Jury Prizes, Cine Golden Eagles, Casey Medals, and a Dupont-Columbia Award. Her films have been catalysts for progressive social change, received the highest accolades in documentary filmmaking, and have been broadcast nationally on PBS, HBO, A&E the Sundance Channel and Discovery, and distributed internationally. Her work is always accompanied by national outreach campaigns to empower youth and other subjects of her films to become active participants in the policies that affect them and to raise awareness and participation among the general public. Used by colleges and universities across the country, her films become tools for training new lawyers, judges, social workers, journalists and filmmakers, and have been seen by congress, the National Governor’s Association, have been featured on Oprah, NPR, as the media centerpiece of the Bill and Melinda Gates Educational Summit, NBC’s Education Nation and at the Youth Presidential Inauguration events in 2009. Some of her films include: "Taken in: The Lives of America’s Foster Children," "Close to Home," "Aging Out," "Schools of the 21st Century," "9/11’s Toxic Dust," "No Tomorrow," "Freeheld," "Third Monday in October," "American Teacher," and the upcoming "Untouchables."

While making independent features, Vanessa is a Thought Partner to the Education work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is producing and directing an 83 part series called "THINK Literacy" for the Harlem Success Charter Network.

Vanessa is also an adjunct professor at NYU’s school of journalism, as well as at the New York Film Academy and leads workshops in universities around the country on ethics in documentary filmmaking and how to use social issue media for progressive policy change. Additionally, she works with dozens of international organizations to create avenues to empower young people and vulnerable families.

Vanessa received a Masters Degree in Social Work and a minor in Family Law from Columbia University in 1995.  Before founding Big Year Productions she worked at the UCLA Child Center on a study of comprehension monitoring of children who have experienced trauma and are asked to testify in court. She was a child advocate at the Legal Aid Society in the Juvenile Rights Division in NYC, at New York City Public Schools, and at the Rape Treatment Center in Los Angeles. She received a BA in English and Psychology from UCLA in 1992 and attended Emerson College where she studied creative writing from 1988-1990.

Brian Condron is Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at The Home for Little Wanderers, the nation's oldest and one of New England's largest child and family service agencies. He joined The Home in October 2005, bringing with him over two decades of experience managing issues in both the public and private sectors. 

As Director of Advocacy, Policy and Public Affairs, he coordinates The Home’s public policy agenda including the agency’s support of legislation and budget items on Beacon Hill and increasingly on Capitol Hill. He has served as the Massachusetts State Leader for the Child Welfare League of America. 

He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has guest-lectured on the role of government in health and human services at the School of Medicine at Boston University, the Speaker Joseph W. Martin Institute for Law and Society at Stonehill College, the School of Nursing at Northeastern University, Wheelock College, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, and the School of Social Work at Boston College.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is an author and foster mother. Her debut novel, The Language of Flowers,sold in 36 countries and landed instantly on the New York Times bestseller list. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre'von, eighteen; Chela, five; and Miles, three. Tre'von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard. Vanessa Diffenbaugh is also the founder of the Camellia Network. The mission of Camellia Network is to activate networks of citizens in every community to provide the critical support young people need to transition from foster care to adulthood. In The Language of Flowers, Camellia [kuh-meel-yuh] means "My Destiny is in Your Hands." The network’s name emphasizes the belief in the interconnectedness of humanity: a reminder that the destiny of our nation lies in the hands of our youngest citizens.

Amanda B. Rodriguez became the Director of the Massachusetts Task Force on Youth Aging Out of Care in the fall of 2009. As the Director, Ms. Rodriguez provides leadership to the broad-based coalition of roughly 40 public and private organizations that are working together to provide support for youth aging out of care. The coalition’s efforts include research, advocacy and public education. Ms. Rodriguez guided the efforts of the Task Force in preparing legislation that brought Massachusetts into compliance with the federal Fostering Connections Act. Amanda B. Rodriguez received her JD from Boston College Law School and has worked as a Staff Attorney for the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project at Boston College Law School, where she provided representation and advocacy for girls in the juvenile justice system. Her other work experience includes working as a litigation associate at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong and Hutchins, Wheeler & Dittmar. She has also served as an advisor to Citizens For Juvenile Justice.

Karen Kuehn Howell, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor for Emory University School of Medicine’s Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Project. Dr. Howell received her Bachelor’s degree from Emory University, her Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Memphis, was a doctoral intern at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Psychiatry, and a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry. 

Dr. Howell’s role on the Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Project is a multiple one. She is primarily responsible for psychological assessment of infants, children, adolescents and adults prenatally exposed to alcohol, nicotine, and illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Dr. Howell also conducts psychological assessments of substance abusing women participating in the MSACD Project as well. Dr. Howell is responsible for coordinating prevention efforts regarding maternal substance abuse, which include information dissemination, professional and parent education and training, and community-based process participation. Dr. Howell was also a staff psychologist for the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Exposure Clinic at the Marcus Institute, which is the only specialized diagnostic and treatment facility of its kind in the Southeastern United States. She is an invited member of multiple local and statewide coalitions and task forces. 

Dr. Howell has authored and co-authored 2 book chapters regarding maternal substance abuse, 10 journal articles, and has presented at over 100 national and statewide conferences and forums such as this.

Joseph Ryan earned an MSW from the University of Michigan and a PhD from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ryan's research and scholarship focuses on the experiences and outcomes of families entangled with the public child welfare system and at least one other social service context. He is particularly interested in (1) public policy and clinical interventions to address the needs of children and families with co-occurring problems (e.g., neglect, delinquency, substance abuse, mental health), (2) how children and families navigate and experience multiple service systems and (3) how such experiences impact critical developmental outcomes. Dr. Ryan is currently the Principal Investigator for two studies that focus on children and families involved with multiple service systems. The first focuses on the etiology and trajectories of juvenile delinquency within the context of foster care, and on understanding how child welfare systems contribute to the overrepresentation of African American and Native American youth in juvenile justice. This is a multi-state study involving California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania and is part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change Research Initiative. The second project focuses on substance abuse in child welfare and is the Illinois Title IV-E (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) Waiver Demonstration. The AODA demonstration is a randomized clinical trial of recovery coaches. Families in the demonstration project are randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions (treatment as usual vs. recovery coach model). The recovery coach model is intended to improve substance abuse treatment outcomes and increase permanency options for children in substance abusing families.

Deborah Daro (Ph.D., Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley), is Senior Research Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Prior to joining Chapin Hall in January 1999, Dr. Daro served as director of the National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research, a program of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, where she contributed to the development of Healthy Families America (HFA), a strategy for developing a universal system of support for all newborns and their parents. Dr. Daro currently serves as co-project director for the national cross-site evaluation of the Supporting Evidence-based Home Visitation Programs to Prevent Child Maltreatment. In this capacity, she has played a lead role in crafting a system for monitoring initial and ongoing program fidelity that assesses implementation progress in a consistent way across all of the national home visitation models being implemented in this initiative. For the past several years, Dr. Daro has assisted a number of state and local entities in developing more integrated systems of early intervention that build on a system of universal as well as targeted home-based interventions. Current and past clients include First 5 Commission in Los Angeles County, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Florida, the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, and Thrive by Five Seattle. Dr. Daro has published and lectured widely; her research is frequently cited in the rationale for child abuse prevention and treatment reforms and investments in home based interventions. In 2004, she received the Anne Cohn Donnelly Child Abuse Prevention Leadership Award. She has served as president of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and as Treasurer and executive council member of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

As Director of the Early Education for All (EEA) Campaign, Amy O'Leary is responsible for managing all advocacy, constituency and awareness building, and policy development to ensure a statewide system of high-quality early education and care for all children from birth to age 14.

The goals of the Campaign include: voluntary, universally accessible, high-quality pre-kindergarten, for every child delivered through a mix of public and private programs; voluntary, universally accessible, high-quality full school-day public kindergarten for every child; and a statewide system to improve the training, education and compensation of the early childhood workforce and building a statewide system of high-quality early education and care for all children beginning at birth. 

Amy joined the EEA team in 2002 as the Early Childhood Field Director and served most recently as the Deputy Director. Prior to joining EEA, Amy worked as a preschool teacher and Program Director at Ellis Memorial and Eldredge House, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2011, Amy was elected to the governing board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She is a member of the Children's Defense Fund Emerging Leader Fellowship and adjunct faculty at Wheelock College in Boston. 

Amy holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Early Education from Skidmore College and a Master in Public Administration degree from Sawyer School of Management at Suffolk University.

Sarita Rogers is the Director of Home Visiting and Associate Director of Programs, MA Children's Trust Fund. Since 1997, she has coordinated the accredited HEALTHY FAMILIES MA home visiting program system and the HFM Implementation Team (HFMIT) that provides program and policy development, contract management, technical assistance and quality assurance to ensure model fidelity and best practices on the program model, as well as training in relevant skills and topics for program staff statewide. In addition, she has oversight of the evaluation project for HEALTHY FAMILIES MA, a randomized trial conducted by Tufts University that will be completed in 2014. She is part of a national network of leaders in the field of home visiting, where HEALTHY FAMILIES MA is looked at as a best practice model in several facets of program implementation.

While she spent several years working with and developing family support models with military families, she is most influenced by her past work as a home visitor in Hawai’i Healthy Start, working with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Her commitment to families across the lifespan has also inspired her to participate on the Board of Overseers for Rogerson Communities and on the Advisory Board of the Ganley Foundation. She is the recipient of the Prevent Child Abuse America Visionary Leader Award (2002) and holds the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in History from Kansas State University and Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In addition, she has a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Boston University Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership.

Elected to the bench in 1988, Judge Cindy S. Lederman has served in the Miami-Dade Juvenile Court since 1994, including a decade as the Court’s Presiding Judge. Judge Lederman’s interest in bringing science and research into the courtroom results from her 10 year involvement with the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences. Judge Lederman was a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Family Violence Interventions and Panel on Juvenile Crime, Treatment and Control and has served from 1996 to 2004 on the Board of Children, Youth and Families of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. She served as a President of the National Association of Women Judges, faculty member of the National Judicial College, member of the ABA House of Delegates and member of the Board of Trustees of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Lederman’s recent book is entitled Child-Centered Practices for the Courtroom and Community: A Guide to Working Effectively with Young Children in the Child Welfare System written with Lynne Katz Ed.D. and Joy Osofsky Ph.D. and available from Brookes Publishing Co. Judge Lederman presented an invited address entitled “Science Informed Jurisprudence” at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) in Montreal in March 2011. Judge Lederman graduated with high honors from the University of Florida in 1976 and Departmental Honors in Political Science, and received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami Law School in 1979. She is licensed to practice law in the states of Florida and New York.

Jay Blitzman First Justice-Juvenile Court, Middlesex Division J.D.; Boston College Law School 1974. Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Blitzman was a founder and the first director of the Roxbury Youth Advocacy Project, a community based interdisciplinary public defenders unit. He also co-founded Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ). Presentations include: Theory and Scope of Juvenile Court before National Academy of Sciences National Resource Council (D.C. 1999); keynote at the annual Connecticut Juvenile Court Conference (2004);  presentations at annual DOJ/National Defender Conference and as judicial panelist at national ABA conferences (2008, 2009). Judge Blitzman also testified before the Presidential National Rape Enforcement Act Commission and submitted written testimony to the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. Publications include Children’s Rights and Relationships: A Legal Framework, with Fran Sherman; Ch. 4 in “Juvenile Justice-Advancing Research Policy and Practice”; (Wiley 2011), Gault’s Promise, 9 BARRY L. REV. 67 (Fall, 2007); and Access to Justice In Juvenile Court, 93 MASS. L. REV. 230 (No. 1, 2010), and as Co-Editor of the Mass. Juvenile Court Bench Bar Book (MCLE 2003, 2008, 2011). He teaches Juvenile Courts at Northeastern University School of Law and Community Courts at Boston University School of Law. The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) annually awards the Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award. Jay is also a member of Actor’s Equity and the Screen Actor’s Guild and has been a writer’s consultant on the T.V. programs, The Trials of Rosie O’Neill and Judging Amy.

In May, 2007, Governor Deval L. Patrick announced the appointment of Angelo McClain, Ph.D., LICSW, as Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Judy Ann Bigby chose Dr. McClain due to his established reputation as a results-driven, seasoned child advocate. During his tenure, Commissioner McClain has initiated family involvement in the Department’s senior management meetings; created a critical incident review committee and risk management committee to ensure that lessons learned from previous tragic situations are implemented; and launched a strategic planning process to improve operations and achieve better outcomes through an integrated casework practice model that focuses on ‘Differential Response.’

Dr. McClain started his career as a frontline social worker and supervisor in the Texas child protective system. He has extensive experience in implementing statewide reforms in child welfare and child mental health delivery systems in Massachusetts and New Jersey. He served as: Executive Director of ValueOptions New Jersey. In this role, Dr. McClain was responsible for the centralized administrative and clinical oversight of the state’s $424 million children’s behavioral health delivery system; Vice President for Network Management and Regional Operations at the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, where he was responsible for a provider network serving 450,000 MassHealth members. Other positions include: Senior Supervisor and Director of Training at Roxbury Children’s Services; Supervisor of the Child Sexual Abuse Unit in the Texas Department of Human Resources; Director of Program Management for the Child/Adolescent Division of the Department of Mental ! Health. Dr. McClain earned his Ph.D. in Social Work from Boston College.

Commissioner Tewksbury has served in a variety of human service and criminal justice-related positions throughout her legal career including service as an Assistant Attorney General and an Assistant District Attorney. During her tenure at the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Tewksbury established the office’s nationally recognized priority unit for the prosecution of serious and habitual violent juvenile offenders. 

Ms. Tewksbury served as the Legal Counsel to the Attorney General and then as the General Counsel for a $70 million dollar private provider before becoming the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Public Safety in 2003. She was later appointed as the Commonwealth’s first Undersecretary for Forensic Services overseeing the State Police Crime Lab, the Medical Examiner’s office, the Criminal History Systems Board and the state’s emergency 911 system. 

Selected in 1993 as a Fellow in the Children and Family Fellowship of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Commissioner Tewksbury was deployed to the Arkansas Department of Juvenile Justice and later to the Maryland Subcabinet on Children, Youth and Families, to work on state level systems reform efforts affecting disadvantaged children and families. 

As a member of the 1992 Juvenile Justice Commission of the Supreme Judicial Court, Ms. Tewksbury co-chaired the CHINS Subcommittee which recommended a repeal of the state’s CHINS law. In 2011, a CHINS reform bill was passed by the Massachusetts state legislature. 

Commissioner Tewksbury is a member of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) which leads statewide efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting parents and strengthening families and an officer in the Council of Juvenile Corrections Administrators, (CJCA) from which she received the Administrator of the year award in 2011. 

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Harvard/Radcliffe College, Commissioner Tewksbury has considerable teaching and speaking experience and has published several legal articles about the rights of individuals with disabilities, elder abuse and domestic violence.

Roland Fryer, Jr is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a former junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows — one of academia’s most prestigious research posts. In January 2008, at the age of 30, he became the youngest African-American to receive tenure from Harvard. He has been awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation, and the inaugural Alphonse Fletcher Award (“Guggenheims for race issues”).

In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities, Fryer served as the Chief Equality Officer at the New York City Department of Education during the 2007–2008 school year. In this role, he developed and implemented several innovative ideas on student motivation and teacher pay-for-performance concepts. He won a Titanium Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival (Breakthrough Idea of the Year in 2008) for the Million Motivation Campaign.

Fryer has published papers on topics such as the racial achievement gap, the causes and consequences of distinctively black names, affirmative action, the impact of the crack cocaine epidemic, historically black colleges and universities, and “acting white.” He is an unapologetic analyst of American inequality who uses theoretical, empirical and experimental tools to squeeze truths from data — wherever that may lead.

Fryer is a 2009 recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest award bestowed by the government on scientists beginning their independent careers. He is also part of the "2009 Time 100," Time Magazine's annual list of the world's most influential people. Fryer's work has been profiled in almost every major US newspaper, Time Magazine, and CNN’s breakthrough documentary "Black in America."

Dai Ellis currently serves as CEO of the Boston-based Excel Academy charter school network, where he is responsible for leading Excel’s expansion. Excel is building a leading network of high-performing charter schools in Boston and eventually beyond.

Before joining Excel, Dai spearheaded the Clinton Foundation’s work on improving the marketplace for HIV/AIDS and malaria drugs, diagnostics and other essential health products. While at CHAI he built an expert in-house technical team of former pharmaceutical industry chemists and sourcing specialists; this team helped CHAI develop proprietary new chemistry and support its partner manufacturers in lowering the price of HIV/AIDS treatment by more than 50%.

Prior to his work at CHAI, Dai worked at McKinsey and Company serving clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He later joined the Center for Global Health and Economic Development at Columbia University under Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. His work at Columbia took him to Rwanda, where he worked as the advisor to the Director of the National AIDS Commission and helped to launch a national HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program. While in Rwanda, he also co-founded Generation Rwanda, a nonprofit organization that provides university scholarships to orphans and other vulnerable youth. Mr. Ellis is a graduate of Yale Law School. 

Thomas Payzant is currently a Professor of Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The focus of Dr. Payzant's work is leadership and systemic reform in urban school districts and schools. He served as Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools from October of 1995 until his retirement in June of 2006. Before coming to Boston, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education with the United States Department of Education. Over the past decade he has led a number of significant systemic reform efforts that have helped narrow the achievement gap and increase student performance on both state and national assessment exams. In addition to his tenure in Boston, Dr. Payzant has served as Superintendent of Schools in San Diego, Oklahoma City, Eugene, Oregon, and Springfield, Pennsylvania. Dr. Payzant's work has been recognized by educators at the regional and national level. In 1998, he was named Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year. He has received honorary degrees from eight colleges and universities. In 2004, he received the Richard R. Green Award for Excellence in Urban Education from the Council on Great City Schools. And Governing Magazine named Dr. Payzant one of eight "Public Officials of the Year” in 2005. Dr. Payzant also received the McGraw Prize for his leadership of the San Diego school system from 1982 through 1993. Throughout his career, Dr. Payzant has not only kept abreast of the professional and research literature, he has contributed to it regularly—a remarkable achievement for the leader of a major urban school system. His essays, book chapters, book prefaces, and book reviews have been directed to both professional educators and policymakers. Dr. Payzant’s new book, Urban School Leadership published by Jossey-Bass (2010), “offers a realistic understanding of what urban school leadership looks like from the inside.” His curriculum vitae lists over 50 publications between 1967 and 2010.

Lisa Goldblatt Grace is the Co-founder and Director of My Life My Choice. Since 2002, MLMC has offered the only comprehensive prevention curriculum aimed at reaching girls most vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation. Further, MLMC offers a unique continuum of services including prevention groups, training, survivor mentoring, and program consultation. Ms. Goldblatt Grace has been working with vulnerable young people in a variety of capacities for over twenty years. Her professional experience includes running a long term shelter for homeless teen parents, developing a diversion program for violent youth offenders, and working in outpatient mental health, health promotion, and residential treatment settings. Ms. Goldblatt Grace has served as a consultant to the Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Trial Court’s “Redesigning the Court’s Response to Prostitution” project and as a primary researcher on the 2007 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of programs serving human trafficking victims. In addition, Ms. Goldblatt Grace has written in a variety of publications regarding commercial sexual exploitation and offered training on the subject nationally. Ms. Goldblatt Grace is Adjunct Faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and holds masters degrees in both social work and public health.

Leora Joseph currently serves as the Chief of the Child Protection Unit in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. In that capacity she reviews over 1,000 cases a year of suspected child abuse and neglect. She is a founding member of the SEEN coalition, an initiative to end human trafficking of teenagers. She has given many lectures about child abuse and child exploitation. She has worked in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office since 1995. A graduate of Barnard College and McGill University Law School, she lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children.

Ann Wilkinson has been a Mentor and Group Facilitator for MLMC since 2006. Ann brings eighteen years of experience as Counselor, Group Facilitator, and Mentor to multi-stressed youth and women. Prior to coming to My Life My Choice, Ann worked in the fields of domestic violence, homelessness, and substance abuse treatment in a variety of leadership roles. Her work experience has included being the Senior Manager at Elizabeth Stone House, and the Director of Women’s Programs at Peace at Home. Ann utilizes her personal experiences in “the Life” to inform the work she does with adolescent girls and adult women, helping them build a life free from exploitation.

Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. He holds tenured faculty appointments in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development and in the Department of Sociology at New York University. He is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS).

He is the author of The Imperatives of Power: Political Change and the Social Basis of Regime Support in Grenada (Peter Lang Publishers, 1997), City Schools and the American Dream (Teachers College Press 2003), Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools (Josey Bass, 2006); The Trouble With Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education (Wiley and Sons, 2008); and Invisible No More: Understanding and Responding to the Disenfranchisement of Latino Males (Routledge 2010). Noguera has also appeared as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets. In 2009 he was appointed by the Governor of New York to serve as a Trustee on the State University of New York (SUNY).

Jeffrey Riley is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Office of Innovation, Partnerships & Development, Boston Public Schools.  Riley has been a teacher, administrator, principal and now Deputy Superintendent over his fifteen year career in education. Riley led Boston’s Edwards Middle School from 2007 to 2009. The school was on the verge of being shut down. But by 2009, due to Riley’s leadership and Expanded Learning Time, a renaissance at the Edwards made it one of the highest performing and most desired middle schools in Boston, dramatically narrowing and even eliminating academic achievement gaps while delivering a far more well-rounded education to its high-poverty student population. This year, he was promoted to Academic Superintendent for Middle and K-8 Schools.

Before joining Boston Public Schools, Riley was the Academy Director of High Tech Academy at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, a position he has held since 2005. Previously, he served as principal of Tyngsborough Middle School, which became the town's first middle school as it made the transition to a middle grades program. Riley was a Principal Intern and Director of Instruction of the Edwards Middle School from 1998 to 2001. He also served as Assistant Director and Adjustment Counselor for the Phoenix Program at Brockton High School, and was a teacher and team leader at the Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore. Riley holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Pomona College, a Master of Science Degree in Counseling and School Guidance from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master's Degree in Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Richard Weissbourd is currently a lecturer in education at HGSE and at the Kennedy School of Government. His work focuses on vulnerability and resilience in childhood, the achievement gap, moral development, and effective schools and services for children. For several years he worked as a psychologist in community mental health centers as well as on the Annie Casey Foundation’s New Futures Project, an effort to prevent children from dropping out of school. He is a founder of several interventions for at-risk children, including ReadBoston and WriteBoston, city-wide literacy initiatives led by Mayor Menino. With Robert Selman, he founded Project ASPIRE, a social and ethical development intervention in three Boston schools. He is also a founder of a new pilot school the Lee Academy, that begins with children at 3 years old. He has advised on the city, state and federal levels on family policy and school reform and has written for numerous scholarly and popular publications. He is the author of The Vulnerable Child: What Really Hurts America’s Children and What We Can Do About It (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development (Houghton Mifflin, 2009).

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. EJI has recently succeeded in winning a ban on life imprisonment without parole sentences imposed on children convicted of most crimes in the U.S. and has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts. Mr. Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal Of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, the 2010 NAACP Ming Award for Advocacy and the 2009 Gruber Prize for International Justice. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 12 honorary doctorate degrees and is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.

Naoka Carey is a Senior Policy Associate at Citizens for Juvenile Justice and the former coordinator of the Massachusetts Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. She also serves as Litigation Specialist and advisor for the National Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. She is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law, where she represented youth in the juvenile justice system as part of the Juvenile Rights Clinic. Prior to attending law school, she received a Master's Degree in Education from Harvard, focusing on adolescent risk and prevention. She has worked in private practice as a civil litigator and at a number of organizations serving youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, including the Children's Law Center of Washington, D.C. and the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York. She has also worked as a youth organizer and trainer in Seattle and Boston.

Joshua Dohan became a public defender in 1988 and joined the Youth Advocacy Department at its inception, as its first staff attorney in 1992 and assumed the role of Director in 1999. Josh is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, Ghana (1982-84). He is a graduate of Harvard College (1980) and Northeastern University School of Law (1988). He was also the 1998 recipient of the Access to Justice Award from the Massachusetts Bar Association. Josh is on the Board of Directors of Citizens for Juvenile Justice and is President of the Board for the Youth Advocacy Foundation. He is a founding Member of the Equal Justice Partnership, a member of the LeadBoston class of 2001, a member of the Institutional Review Board of both Children's Hospital and Tufts University, and a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Institute on Race and Justice. In 2001, the Youth Advocacy Department became the first Juvenile Defender organization to win the Clara Shortridge Foltz award for outstanding achievement from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

Tim Decker was appointed as the Director of the Missouri Division of Youth Services in January 2007. For the past 24 years he has served in a variety of leadership positions with the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Greater Kansas City Local Investment Commission (LINC), one of Missouri’s innovative public/private community partnerships. 

Tim previously served as a program manager and administrator with the Division of Youth Services from 1984–1993. During this time, he managed community, moderate, and secure care facilities and served as an Assistant Regional Administrator in the Northwest Region. 

Tim worked from 1994-1995 with the Missouri Family & Community Trust statewide system change initiative; and has served as a social worker, therapist, and treatment coordinator with agencies in the private non-profit sector. Tim was previously certified as a national trainer for Families and Schools Together, a model prevention program with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and as a national accreditation reviewer for after school programs. 

Tim earned his degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982 from Park University in Parkville, Missouri and completed the Institute for Education Leadership Education Policy Fellowship Program in 2007. Tim serves as a frequent presenter on topics such as juvenile justice reform, results-based accountability, family and community engagement, and organizational leadership, management, and culture change.

Edward J. Dolan has served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) since 1998. Previously, Mr. Dolan had been the Director of Classification for DYS. Mr. Dolan has an educational background in public management and urban planning.

His considerable experience as a city planner included developing strategies in the areas of housing, economic development, social services and infrastructure support. As a court planner in the Office of the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court in the early days of court reform, Dolan played an integral role in managing operations across seven trial court departments. During his tenure at the Massachusetts Parole Board, he served five years as its Director of Research and an additional five years as the Board's Executive Director.
Mr. Dolan also managed two areas of the state for the Department of Mental Health's Division of Forensic Mental Health. He was responsible for supervising mental health clinicians as well as overseeing contracted forensic services in district, juvenile and superior court clinics. As a consultant, Mr. Dolan has worked in various states and jurisdictions lending his expertise on juvenile justice, parole and adult correctional issues.

A seasoned civic, community and nonprofit leader, Robert Lewis, Jr. has served as Vice President for Program at the Boston Foundation since the fall of 2007. In that role, Robert directs the distribution of some $16 million in discretionary grants through a competitive process and oversees more than 22 staff members who work collaboratively to support nonprofit organizations and programs that serve the people of Greater Boston. In 2009, Robert oversaw the transformation of the Foundation’s grant making program. The new grant making framework, called “Thriving People/Vibrant Places,” seeks to have a profound impact on important areas of community life—including dramatic improvements in education and health attainment; safe and vibrant neighborhoods; robust arts and cultural opportunities; and a regional economy that enables everyone to thrive. 

Robert also is the chief architect of StreetSafe Boston, a Boston Foundation initiative with the mission of dramatically reducing gun violence in the city by working directly with known offenders in the neighborhoods most affected by street-level violence. Another Boston Foundation initiative created by Robert is CHAMPS Boston, which promotes youth development through sports by training coaches, providing donated sports equipment and uniforms, refurbishing fields and investing in youth sports programs throughout the city. Known as a bridge-builder between Boston’s diverse business, civic and public sectors, Robert has deep experience with grassroots, community-based organizations throughout Greater Boston, particularly as a former Director of Community Initiatives for the Boston Housing Authority, the founder and first Director of the Streetworkers Program for the Boston Community Centers under Mayor Ray Flynn, and Youth Program Manager with Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA). 

Robert has been honored locally, regionally and nationally for his leadership in addressing urban issues, including a South End Baseball League scoreboard named in his honor in 2001. In March of 2011, a special fund was established by community, civic and business leaders at the Boston Foundation to honor Robert’s leadership and commitment to building a socially just and responsible community. He also is featured in three books: 10 Who Mentor: Inspiring Insights from Creative Legends by Denise Korn; People Who Dare by Katherine Martin; and Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World by Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania and Mark R. Kramer.

Marcus Merritt is Lead Streetworker with Boston Foundation's StreetSafe Boston. Marcus grew up in the Cathedral Housing Development in Boston’s South End. His work in the community is inspired by the change he seeks in the young people he works with every day. His decision to work with proven at-risk youth stems from his own experiences growing up in public housing.  He was part of the problem that started in the 90’s, which included violent destructive ways. Marcus comes from a broken home with a mother who struggled with drug abuse, making things worse. This first hand understanding allows him to be more focused with youth activities today.

Marcus attended Mississippi Valley State University from 1999-2001. Prior to StreetSafe, Marcus worked in the construction business and Hazmat/Asbestos Removal. 

When he’s not working on the streets of Boston, he enjoys being with family and watching his own children grow up.  He also coaches for Pop Warner Football and Youth AAU Basketball.  He is constantly encouraging youths to strive for excellence.

Cecely A. Reardon is the Attorney In Charge of the Roxbury Office of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) Youth Advocacy Department. Ms. Reardon joined the Committee’s Brockton Superior Court Office in the fall of 1997, after receiving her J.D. and a master's degree in social work from Boston College. Ms. Reardon began her work at the Youth Advocacy Department (then Youth Advocacy Project) in the fall of 2000, where she represents juveniles in delinquency and youthful offender matters in the Suffolk County Juvenile Courts. Ms. Reardon currently serves as the vice chair of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee and was the 2006-2010 Massachusetts delegate to the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice where she co-chaired the Annual Report Subcommittee. In 2007, she was the recipient of the Boston Bar Association's John Brooks award for outstanding public service. Ms. Reardon has taught at numerous state and local training programs as well as national juvenile justice conferences.

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Last modified: December 19, 2014

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