Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program To Build Reformers Into The Youth Justice System

Leadership Development

2018 Cohort Announced

The Tow Youth Justice Institute is proud to announce the 2018 Transforming Youth Justice Leadership Development Cohort members! Their first session begins March 8. Congratulations, and we are excited to have you all in our third cohort!

  • Rebekah Behan, Program Manager Training and Technical Assistance, Governor’s Prevention Partnership
  • Roslyn Campbell, Court Planner II, Judicial Branch-Court Support Services Division
  • Yecenia Casiano, Project Coordinator, Child Health and Development Institute
  • Shirley Conyers, Detective, East Haven Police Department
  • Christopher Friar, Director, DCFIE, Catholic Charities Archdiocese, JJIE Program
  • Amonda Hannah, Deputy Warden, TRUE Unit, Department of Corrections, Cheshire Correctional Institution
  • Shamare Holmes, Reg. Program Coordinator, Today’s Students, Tomorrows Teachers
  • Patricia Jenkins-Simmons, Program Director, Youth Continuum FREE Program
  • Meghan Korn, Juvenile Probation Officer II, Judicial Branch – Court Support Services Division, Training Academy
  • Deanna Krzykowski, Juvenile Justice Team Leader, Waterbury Youth Services
  • Sean Mosley, English Department Chair, Waterbury Public Schools, Crosby High School
  • Jill Ostapchuk, Program Manager, Department of Children and Families
  • Lieutenant Sonia Watson, Hartford Police Department
  • Chanel Wright, Youth Development Specialist, Our Piece of the Pie, Inc.
  • Rachel Cunningham Xavier, Director Youth Services, Council of Churches Greater Bridgeport
2017 Cohort 2
2016 Cohort 1
Program Goals

The goals of the Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program include:

1. To build the capacity of present and future leaders as agents of change, transforming youth justice from a community response paradigm.

2. To advance leadership development skills and knowledge of best practices in reform, organizational and community change, and self-awareness.

3. To be a resource to the organizations, communities, and systems serving youth through a network of dedicated leaders.

Target Audience

Participants in the Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program will form a core group of individuals dedicated to transforming youth justice and developing their personal leadership skills. Participants will be actively involved in youth justice and employed in positions as mid-level managers in:

  • Law Enforcement/Policing
  • State and local government
  • Public and private agencies
  • Non-profit service providers

As well as community members in:

  • Middle and High Schools
  • Policymakers
  • Community leaders
  • Faith leaders
  • Parents
  • Advocates 

Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program runs annually and beginning with a 1½ day intensive Introductory Session in March, and concluding with a final session and recognition event in November. Nine monthly sessions meet on Fridays and are augmented with extra-curricular activities, readings, or events between sessions, and culminate in a Capstone project plan.  The application period will open at the end of the year with instructions provided for individuals and organizations interested in attending.


The curriculum for the Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program focuses on three components in each session:  leadership development skill; youth justice reform; and best practices in core competencies including empirical research, data utilization, collaboration and presentation.  A rich curriculum, developed by our University of New Haven team, is intended to ensure a current and future workforce of youth justice leaders who are committed, competent and passionate about making the system work effectively to support positive change for young people in our communities.  Session topics include CT’s juvenile justice system, adolescent development and trauma, getting results (data and outcomes), advocacy, youth justice initiatives, and family and community engagement.  Cohort leaders explore current youth justice systems operating within the state and identify collaborative leadership opportunities to advance reform efforts.  The program seeks to establish an alumni base of reform leaders to continue best practices across systems and statewide to serve youth and families.

"Change is important. We need to grow and we need to adjust; we want to make progress in the state of CT. This opportunity to develop a new level of leadership to continue juvenile justice reform is what will sustain CT as a national model for youth justice." Rep. Toni Walker, Co-Chair Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee