The Annie E. Casey Foundation has selected 12 young people from across the country as members of its 2019–21 Juvenile Justice Youth Advisory Council.
Since launching in 2015, the council and its members have contributed to some of the toughest discussions in the juvenile justice field. Participants leverage their own experiences — such as involvement in probation, detention, residential placement, incarceration or aftercare — to develop recommendations that strengthen the Casey Foundation’s work.
“The partnership between the Foundation and the council is most successful when we create an authentic space for young people to bring their whole selves into the experience, making their development as much a priority as our interest in enhancing our work,” says Zainab Farhat, a program associate with Casey's Juvenile Justice Strategy Group. “The 2019–21 cohort is energetic and ambitious and will collectively take Casey’s national reform work to new levels.”
As emerging leaders in justice reform, the council members will receive guidance and professional development to support their career goals. They will also speak at forums, serve on state advisory groups and join advocacy campaigns — all while completing a group project of their choosing that advances the youth justice field.
“The council has helped me grow personally and professionally,” says Dan Ayotte, a second-term council member. “Being part of the council has connected me with people that have a lot of experience with areas I am highly passionate about, such as starting my own youth organization and motivational speaking group.”
The new members — all between the ages of 19 and 25 — are interested in a range of reform areas, including:
- increasing the use of diversion;
- building resources within communities to offer more young people positive role models and opportunities; and
- prosecuting fewer young people as adults.
Ayotte is one of three members serving a second term, which helps brings continuity to the council. In addition — and in a novel effort to broaden the group’s reach — two members are also representing the local youth councils in their home jurisdictions.
The members of the 2019–21 Youth Advisory Council are:
Utica, New York
New York, New York
Amiyah Davis (representing Youth Action Michigan)
Miracle Teo, representing the Santa Clara County Youth Advisory Council
Morgan Hill, California