Meet the 2019 JDAI Distinguished System Leadership Award Winners

Posted October 25, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Valerie Thompson and Steve Bishop with Clinton Lacey

From left: Valerie Thompson and Casey's Steve Bishop with Clinton Lacey. Fellow awardee Judge Charles Dortch is not pictured.

Lead­ers from New Jer­sey, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and San­ta Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia have earned the 2019 JDAI® Dis­tin­guished Sys­tem Lead­er­ship Award from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion. The award hon­ors a youth jus­tice sys­tem leader who has achieved last­ing juve­nile jus­tice reform in a JDAI site.

Lead­er­ship in JDAI isn’t about your job title. It’s about your prin­ci­ples and the dif­fer­ence you make. It’s about how you do your work and how you treat the peo­ple you are there to serve,” said Tom Woods, a senior asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion, in remarks at the 2019 JDAI Inter-Site Con­fer­ence in Seat­tle. This year’s hon­orees “…have big jobs that they do with their whole heart and their best selves and, in that way, have helped their sites to accom­plish great things for kids, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties,” Woods said.

The hon­orees are:

Judge Charles Dortch, Supe­ri­or Court of New Jersey

Dortch is the pre­sid­ing judge of the fam­i­ly divi­sion in Cam­den Coun­ty, New Jer­sey; co-chair of the state’s JDAI gov­er­nance body, the New Jer­sey Coun­cil on Juve­nile Jus­tice Sys­tem Improve­ment; and a lead­ing force for diver­si­ty at the state bar asso­ci­a­tion, among oth­er roles. Judge Dortch always reminds us that all human beings, and par­tic­u­lar­ly young peo­ple, want a few basic, uni­ver­sal things ― to be treat­ed with dig­ni­ty and respect, to be pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty and to feel safe,” wrote Jen­nifer LeBaron, act­ing exec­u­tive direc­tor of the New Jer­sey Juve­nile Jus­tice Com­mis­sion, in nom­i­nat­ing Dortch, who fre­quent­ly comes down from the bench to speak per­son­al­ly to youth and fam­i­lies. In one such instance, 12 years after appear­ing before Judge Dortch, Car­men Allen remem­bered her expe­ri­ence in his court­room this way: He didn’t see me as a dock­et num­ber, or some poor girl from Camden…he saw me as a girl who need­ed help, who need­ed a chance.”

Dortch’s col­league, the Hon­or­able Chris­tine Orlan­do, accept­ed the award on his behalf.

Clin­ton Lacey, Direc­tor, Dis­trict of Colum­bia Depart­ment of Youth Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Services

Lacey is one of the lead­ing voic­es on jus­tice reform in the coun­try. Lacey speaks with an elo­quence and clar­i­ty when he chal­lenges jus­tice prac­ti­tion­ers to anchor their work in a deep-root­ed love for all young peo­ple, their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties,” says Stephen Bish­op, a senior asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion. Fre­quent­ly, Lacey talks about lead­ing with love,” a term rarely asso­ci­at­ed with either jus­tice sys­tems or those who have bro­ken the law, says Bish­op. Lacey is an inno­va­tor in the field, with prac­tices such as fam­i­ly nav­i­ga­tors and cred­i­ble mes­sen­gers, and has invest­ed in com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions and fund­ed pro­grams and ser­vices that help young peo­ple achieve long-term success.

Valerie Thomp­son, Assis­tant Chief Pro­ba­tion Offi­cer, San­ta Cruz Coun­ty Pro­ba­tion Depart­ment in California

Thomp­son has a strong focus on results, and has said our work won’t be com­plete until we reach our ulti­mate goal of ensur­ing that all youth on pro­ba­tion in the coun­ty are on track for grad­u­a­tion and future suc­cess.” She applies tenac­i­ty, grit and spir­it to get the right things done for kids and com­mu­ni­ties,” says Gail D. Mum­ford, a senior asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion, who also cit­ed Thompson’s stel­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion in the JDAI Applied Lead­er­ship Net­work and com­mit­ment to the learn­ing and growth of every­one” in the net­work. The net­work com­pris­es emerg­ing and sea­soned lead­ers in JDAI sites who apply the dis­ci­pline of Results Count®, the Foundation’s unique approach to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, to accel­er­ate pos­i­tive out­comes for young peo­ple. The Dis­tin­guished Sys­tem Lead­er­ship award hon­ors Thompson’s pur­suit of equi­ty and inno­va­tion, includ­ing her agency’s suc­cess in reduc­ing new place­ments for Lati­no youth in group homes through a cul­tur­al­ly informed effort that deliv­ered ser­vices to youth and fam­i­lies in their home communities.

Read About the Win­ners of the Natal­ie S Bimel Award

Read About the Win­ners of the Glo­ria J. Jenk­ins Award

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