CJCA President's Message

Posted by Fariborz Pakseresht
December 19, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

It is my honor and privilege to have been chosen to serve as CJCA’s President. I want to thank Sharon Harrigfeld for her steady and inspiring leadership over the past two years. I’ve learned much by observing Sharon and how she helped CJCA navigate through some very challenging times, particularly this past year.

Losing Ned who was the founder of CJCA as well as its public face for the past 22 years was both unexpected and traumatic. Sharon’s foresight and advanced planning allowed us to manage this transition and hire Mike Dempsey who will continue Ned’s legacy and serve CJCA and its members with the level of commitment, enthusiasm, and knowledge that Ned desired in his successor.

CJCA’s Mission is to connect us as youth corrections leaders so that we may implement and sustain reform in our systems in order to improve outcomes for youth, families and communities. Everything we do is focused on this mission as well as our stated goals and values. Juvenile justice system reform continues to be a high priority for many jurisdictions and CJCA is well positioned to assist system leaders navigate their way through these changes by continuous learning and improvement. CJCA’s programs such as New Director Training, Leadership Institute, regional and committee meetings, as well as our winter and summer meetings provide ample opportunity for learning, collaboration and networking.

As we continue to see high turnover of juvenile corrections administrators, CJCA will continue to support new directors with training, tools, coaching and learning partnerships to allow them to quickly get their feet on the ground and leverage the knowledge and resources available to them through a powerful network of current and former juvenile justice system leaders.  These opportunities were afforded to me as a new director and with the help of our sponsors we will continue to make them available to every new system administrator.

Today we can use the abundance of data and research available to us to guide us with decision about optimum placement, most effective interventions using a developmental approach, optimum length of stay, and successful transition back to the community. We also have access to tools and analytics that can help us determine the effectiveness of our interventions as well as the return on our investments. The beauty of CJCA is that it provides a forum for us to share our learning and leverage the power of collective thinking to explore new opportunities for innovation and improved outcomes. 

An important opportunity for us in the coming year will be to discover our points of connections with system partners across the continuum of youth development and public safety. System reforms that recognize and utilize our connections present higher probability of sustained change and success in the long run. Our overall goal should be to identify the earliest point of intervention in each part of the continuum and surround the youth with resources to prevent his or her involvement with the deeper part of the system.

I want to take a moment to thank CJCA's Executive Board comprised of Lisa Bjergaard, our Vice President; Cindy McKenzie, our Treasurer; and Terri Williams, our Secretary, for stepping up and assuming these critical leadership roles for CJCA. I also want to thank all board members, our committee directors and regional chairs who are sharing their time, resources and knowledge to help lead CJCA and lead system reform across our jurisdictions. Many thanks to Darlene and Diane who worked tirelessly behind the scene to help us successfully manage the transition over the past few months and for doing so much to keep us all on track and focused on the business of the organization. Last but not least, a big thank you and welcome to Mike Dempsey, our new executive director who also served as CJCA’s 10th President, for taking on this role and continuing CJCA’s leadership role in improving outcomes for justice involved youth by serving the organization he loves.

We have much to accomplish together in the coming year. I am honored to know you and be associated with you during these critical times for CJCA and for our country. We owe it to Ned to continue the work he started 22 years ago to improve outcomes for youth, families and communities. He told us he is handing us the torch and will be cheering us on. Let’s make him proud!