Meet Our Fellows
The Youth Justice Leadership Institute is now entering its second year, and we’re pleased to announce the second cohort of fellows. They come from all over the country and are working on an exciting array of issues in juvenile justice reform. We know they’re set to accomplish great things for youth in trouble with the law—please join us in welcoming them.
Helen Gándara | Scottsdale, AZ
Helen Gándara serves as Assistant Chief for the City of Scottsdale’s Public Safety Police and Fire Department Division, where she leads the Administrative Services Bureau. She has 25 years of public administration in local government and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Proposed advocacy project: complete a community youth profile of the City of Scottsdale through the analysis of data, mapping of the juvenile justice system, and alternatives for youth.
Rashad Hawkins | Baltimore, MD
Rashad Hawkins is the youth organizer for the Just Kids Partnership. Rashad organizes grassroots support and builds public awareness about issues and stories of real youth who are charged as adults. Rashad created the youth steering committee for the Just Kids Partnership, named the Core Alliance of Youth Leaders (CAYL). He is also one of the youth leaders and main organizers of the Alliance to Stop the Youth Jail.
Proposed advocacy project: train and organize families, youth charged as adults, and others to share their stories and lead a legislative campaign to end the practice of charging youth as adults and holding them in adult jail pretrial.
Tanesha Ingram | New York, NY
Tanesha Ingram is the Youth and Community Coordinator at the Correctional Association of New York (CA). She oversees the Juvenile Justice Project’s (JJP) Safe Passages youth leadership program, which engages system-involved youth in advocacy around issues in the juvenile justice system that Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer youth encounter.
Proposed advocacy project: create a youth coalition within the Correctional Association of New York to insert youth voices into the organization’s advocacy efforts.
Teresa King | Silver Spring, MD
As a Training & TA Family Resource Specialist for the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, Teresa King advocates for families navigating through the juvenile justice system. Her present role as a child and family advocate is an outgrowth of her efforts to find critical systems supports and resources for her own son.
Proposed advocacy project: write and prepare to publish a white paper on how Mental Health First Aid Training for those who work with youth can reduce the stigma of mental health within the juvenile justice system.
Delores Moody | Brooklyn, NY
Delores Moody is Project Director of Youth Development at the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), an alternative to detention and incarceration program that works in conjunction with Brooklyn Family Court. Moody began as a CCA intern, but her compassion, work ethic and natural ability to empower and comfort youth led her to full-time employment at CCA as a case manager and subsequently, to her current position.
Proposed advocacy project: develop a report with recommendations to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws for youth based on a review of laws in other states; consultation with legislators; and suggestions and insights gleaned from focus groups with young people, families, and service providers about the collateral consequences of mandatory sentencing.
Jody Owens | Jackson, MS
Jody E. Owens, II directs the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office. His work has brought to light horrific and unconstitutional conditions forced upon children and youth in many for-profit and public juvenile detention facilities in Mississippi. Previously, Jody worked as an attorney at a nationally-recognized law firm in Jackson, MS. and served as a Special Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office of Hinds County, MS. He is a graduate of Jackson State University and Howard University School of Law.
Proposed advocacy project: work to pass a bill in the Mississippi legislature that would allow individuals who are under the age of 18 when they are convicted of certain felonies to apply for expungement of their criminal records so they are not barred from education, trade skills, housing, or other public benefits.
Carmen Perez | New York, NY
Carmen Perez is the Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice, an inter-generational, inter-cultural social justice, civil rights organization rooted in history, spirituality and nonviolent direct action. Her record of accomplishments spans a decade of public service in the areas of national and international organizing, youth development, leadership enhancement, education and training, gender-specific program development for young women, policy advocacy, and she is most knowledgeable in the areas of juvenile and adult systems, and probation.
Proposed advocacy project: fostering leadership among detained youth and strengthening ties with organized labor.
Madelyn Roman-Scott | Harrisburg, PA
Madelyn Roman-Scott is the External Youth Advocate Project Manager at the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania. She previously worked in child welfare as a case manager for the state of New Jersey. Madelyn has worked to ensure that youth within the juvenile justice system have a voice and assisted in many positive changes—from helping youth in facilities organize regular student council meetings to helping secure aftercare resources.
Proposed advocacy project: complete a family guide for the Pennsylvania state juvenile justice system and train staff on how to engage families of youth in the system.
Rodolfo “Rudy” Soto | Portland, OR
Rudy Soto is a Youth Engagement Specialist for the National Indian Child Welfare Association, where he works to preserve and protect American Indian children and families. Prior to relocating to Oregon, he did stints in juvenile detention centers throughout Idaho, due to gang involvement. In Portland, Rudy changed his life; in 2010 he ran for city council at the age of 24, finishing high in the polls. His campaign and the help of a prominent American Indian professor helped him to earn a scholarship to spend a semester in the nation's capitol as part of George Washington University's Native American Political Leadership Program. Throughout, Rudy has continued to serve in the Oregon Army National Guard.
Proposed advocacy project: To increase awareness throughout Oregon about the over-incarceration of youth and under-investment in prevention, and to highlight the disproportionate number of American Indian youth inmates.
Erika Stallworth | Michigan City, IN
Erika Stallworth is currently the executive director of the LaPorte County Juvenile Services Center (JSC). Prior to taking this position in 2009, Ms. Stallworth served as Assistant Director, Counseling Supervisor, Caseworker, and Youth Specialist Worker; all within the JSC. Erika holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Spelman College, a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Proposed advocacy project: launch a coalition, The Children’s Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana (CPLI), dedicated to advocating for systemic changes in public policy related to the unmet legal needs of children.