The Applied Leadership Network: A Model for Building Leadership Skills in JDAI Sites

Posted September 29, 2015, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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Before Casey con­vened the first ses­sion of its 2014 – 15 Applied Lead­er­ship Net­work (ALN) class, Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive (JDAI) efforts in Maine and New York State were tread­ing water. 

Both states launched their JDAI work in 2011. But in each state, the first three years of effort yield­ed mod­est progress. Today, they are much invigorated.

When we first start­ed, we were kind of stuck, trapped in our data,” said Galan Williamson, a region­al direc­tor of the Maine Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions who also heads the local JDAI col­lab­o­ra­tive and co-chairs the state’s juve­nile jus­tice exec­u­tive team. We were meet­ing for the sake of meeting.”

We weren’t get­ting enough trac­tion on the ground, or chang­ing prac­tice,” added Williamson’s ALN part­ner, Eri­ca King, a jus­tice pol­i­cy asso­ciate at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Maine.

New York State JDAI Coor­di­na­tor John John­son and Ononda­ga Coun­ty (Syra­cuse) Juve­nile Ser­vices Direc­tor Jim Czar­ni­ak describe a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion in New York in mid-2014.

Over the course of one year, Williamson, King, John­son and Czar­ni­ak attend­ed five mul­ti-day ALN lead­er­ship devel­op­ment sem­i­nars, as did two-per­son teams from four oth­er JDAI juris­dic­tions (Cal­casieu Parish, Louisiana; New Mex­i­co; Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia; and South Dakota).

Dur­ing the sem­i­nars, par­tic­i­pants received in-depth instruc­tion in a results-based lead­er­ship mod­el craft­ed over many years by the Casey Foun­da­tion. The sem­i­nars aim to boost par­tic­i­pants’ capac­i­ty to mobi­lize sys­tem reform efforts and then accom­plish strate­gi­cal­ly select­ed goals. ALN par­tic­i­pants hone their skills in ana­lyz­ing data and in exam­in­ing and devel­op­ing strate­gies to effec­tive­ly address racial and eth­nic disparities.

The heart of the cur­ricu­lum lies in pro­vid­ing par­tic­i­pants the oppor­tu­ni­ty to apply the lessons here and now. Our goal is not sim­ply to cre­ate trans­for­ma­tive lead­ers,” said Bar­bara Squires, direc­tor of lead­er­ship devel­op­ment at the Foun­da­tion. We want to achieve tan­gi­ble results.”

Each team iden­ti­fies a spe­cif­ic reform goal for their juris­dic­tion, and spends their year in ALN work­ing with col­leagues in their home juris­dic­tions to devise and imple­ment action plans and to mon­i­tor progress on their select­ed issue. 

In Maine, Williamson and King focused on inte­grat­ing JDAI with two oth­er statewide juve­nile jus­tice projects to form a sin­gle statewide juve­nile jus­tice exec­u­tive team, and then on mobi­liz­ing and sup­port­ing local juve­nile jus­tice reform teams.

Before ALN there wasn’t the urgency, enthu­si­asm or results-based pur­pose that I see in the sys­tem now,” said King.

In addi­tion to help­ing par­tic­i­pants advance JDAI in their juris­dic­tions, the ALN seeks to strength­en the cadre of skilled and moti­vat­ed reform­ers in the juve­nile jus­tice field.

We focus the lead­er­ship sem­i­nars on mid­dle man­agers and high­er-lev­el admin­is­tra­tors,” said Gail D. Mum­ford, a senior asso­ciate in Casey’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group who has co-man­aged ALN with Squires since its incep­tion in 2008. We rec­og­nized that these are the peo­ple who are like­ly to sur­vive polit­i­cal tran­si­tions, stay with their orga­ni­za­tions and ded­i­cate their entire careers to this work. Strength­en­ing that lev­el of lead­er­ship real­ly makes a difference.”

Many par­tic­i­pants describe the ALN expe­ri­ence as ben­e­fi­cial, even piv­otal, both for their careers and for their work on deten­tion reform. More than half the mem­bers of the three pre­vi­ous ALN class­es have advanced to more respon­si­ble posi­tions in juve­nile jus­tice or in relat­ed fields. Jane Seigel and Tashi Teuschler, who paired up on an Indi­ana team dur­ing the 2012 – 13 ALN cycle, cred­it ALN for the suc­cess of their cam­paign to secure $6 mil­lion in annu­al state fund­ing to sup­port and sus­tain JDAI replication.

It was because of our involve­ment in ALN that we came back fired up and were able to fire up oth­ers in the state,” said Seigel, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Indi­ana Judi­cial Cen­ter. The ALN process real­ly helped us clar­i­fy our path,” added Teuschler, who was Indiana’s DMC coor­di­na­tor in 2012 and now serves as the JDAI Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Spe­cial­ist at the Judi­cial Center.

John­son and Czar­ni­ak also made sig­nif­i­cant progress on their project in New York State, which aimed to mag­ni­fy the impact of a new $8 mil­lion per year state grant pro­gram to help coun­ties fund alter­na­tives to incarceration. 

Before ALN, Czar­ni­ak said, It was Here’s the mon­ey, go spend it.’ There wasn’t any focus on, What is the prob­lem you’re try­ing to address, and did you move the needle?’ ”

Under a new process Czar­ni­ak and John­son devised dur­ing ALN, the state began pro­vid­ing coun­ties with detailed data snap­shots and encour­ag­ing them to assess their sys­tems and devel­op focused plans. Mean­while, New York’s six pilot JDAI coun­ties — and espe­cial­ly Ononda­ga Coun­ty (Syra­cuse), where Czar­ni­ak heads the local juve­nile jus­tice agency — under­took plan­ning exer­cis­es to begin tar­get­ing their grant pro­pos­als more carefully.

Czar­ni­ak called his expe­ri­ence in ALN trans­for­ma­tion­al.” He com­ment­ed, I’ve got­ten more done in the year since ALN than in the six years before, and I refer to my ALN binder weekly.”

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