Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has appointed a former Annie E. Casey Foundation youth partnership consultant, Quwanisha Hines Roman, to the state’s nine-member Board of Juvenile Justice.
Roman — who, as a teenager, experienced juvenile detention — will serve a four-year term on the board, which oversees the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice and, among other responsibilities, issues regulations governing the department’s operations.
“I want to be part of the positive path that Virginia is following now,” says Roman, an ardent champion of prevention, diversion and community-based alternatives to detention. “The system can be compassionate and creative and, as importantly, treat its young people like regular adolescents, not criminals.”
Roman consulted with the Casey Foundation while she was attending law school. She passed the bar exam in 2016 and now works for a legal services firm in Richmond, Virginia.
“Quwanisha will strengthen the Board with her thoughtfulness about juvenile justice reform, bright young legal mind and lived experience,” said Nate Balis, the director of the Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group. He worked with Roman during her tenure on Casey’s Youth Advisory Council.
As a Casey Youth Advisory Council member, Roman worked to launch a student government in Virginia’s two juvenile correction centers: Bon Air and the now-closed Beaumont. In this role, she listened to young people’s ideas and concerns and helped shape their recommendations to the department.
“Quwanisha, through the experiences of her youth — as well as the work she has done with Casey — brings a critically valuable perspective to the work,” says Andy Block, director of Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice. “We are so lucky to have her on our board.”
Roman’s work with Casey also exposed her to reform-oriented juvenile justice initiatives across the country and connected her to organizations like the Youth Transition Funders Group, a national network of funders that supports the well-being and economic success of vulnerable youth. With the Youth Transition Funders Group, Roman visited the Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, which provides job training and free social services to men and women who were previously incarcerated or involved with a gang.
Directly witnessing the nonprofit’s success was inspiring, she says. “My goal is to advocate for interventions that work and to be open to learning more about what other jurisdictions are doing.”
Read about Virginia’s juvenile justice transformation
Read Nate Balis’ opinion piece in the Virginian-Pilot