Home News Center New Jersey Advocate Wins 2019 Betsy Arnovits Gutsy Advocate For Youth Award

New Jersey Advocate Wins 2019 Betsy Arnovits Gutsy Advocate For Youth Award

July 15, 2019


July 15, 2019  
Courtney McSwain 

New Jersey Advocate Wins National Award for Decades of Supporting Incarcerated Youth and Their Families 

(Washington, D.C.)—The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) has selected Kathy Wright, Executive Director of the New Jersey Parent’s Caucus, as its winner of the 2019 Betsy Arnovits Gutsy Advocate For Youth Award.   

Each year, NJJN honors someone who shows a deep commitment to transforming the youth justice system by pushing for the fair treatment of youth in trouble with the law, promoting race equity, and using advocacy to promote youth justice prevention, community-based alternatives and coalition building. In choosing Mrs. Wright for the Gutsy Advocate Award, NJJN recognizes her decades-long history of fighting for the rights of youth and families involved with the justice, mental health and child welfare systems.  

“Kathy has been a steadfast leader in New Jersey and one of the important voices bringing the specific needs of youth and families impacted by the justice system into focus for our community of advocates,” says Sarah Bryer, NJJN’s Executive Director. “With her leadership and example, we’ve learned a great deal about centering youth justice reform around the needs and voices of those impacted by the system.”   

Mrs. Wright began her advocacy in 1990 when a group of parents formed the New Jersey Parents' Caucus (NJPC) as a way to ensure the State appropriately served their children with special needs. Nearly 30 years later, Mrs. Wright continues to lead a movement that places the needs of youth and families first. She established the New Jersey Youth Justice Initiative and the New Jersey Youth Caucus - the first youth-driven peer support group of incarcerated youth. Additionally, she created NJPC's Parents' Empowerment Academy, which educates and trains families to work with government agencies and systems serving their children with emotional and behavioral challenges. In 2014, she participated in NJJN's Youth Justice Leadership Institute, a leadership enrichment program geared towards elevating the capacity of advocates of color addressing youth justice reform.  

The Young Justice Emerging Leader Award will be presented to Mrs. Peña during NJJN's 2019 Forum on Tuesday, July 23rd  


The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) leads a movement of state-based organizations and individuals all of whom seek to shrink our youth justice systems and transform the remainder into systems that treat youth and families with dignity and humanity.  NJJN works to align all of its efforts with anti-racist principles with the understanding that structural racism is the defining factor of justice systems. NJJN comprises 53 member organizations in 43 states and the District of Columbia and fifty plus alumni of our Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  NJJN is the only membership organization of state-based, youth justice advocacy groups, and individuals that addresses the full spectrum of youth justice reform issues.  

Learn more at www.njjn.org  


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