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Inaugural Winner of the Youth Justice Emerging Leader Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Josh Gordon, (217) 801-2009

gordon@njjn.org

@NJJNetwork

Ohio Activist Wins National Award for Advocating for Youth in Trouble with the Law

Amber Evans Honored as an Emerging Leader in Youth Justice Reform

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2017—Amber Evans, Juvenile Justice Coalition Policy and Community Engagement Director, is being recognized this month as an emerging leader in youth justice reform by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), based in Washington, D.C.

The Youth Justice Emerging Leader Award was created to honor passionate and bold youth justice advocates committed to raising up the voices and experiences of system-involved youth and people of color to ensure that those most directly impacted by injustice are at the forefront of the youth justice movement.

“Amber embodies the vital perseverance required in the youth justice reform movement,” said Sarah Bryer, NJJN president and executive director. “She models leadership for youth and facilitates space for them to share their stories and pursue change.”

Evans has personal connections to the justice system from growing up in a low-income household in Columbus, OH with family members involved in the system. Today, Evans uses her background to relate with the youth for whom she advocates.

She began her work at the Juvenile Justice Coalition (JJC) in October of 2015 and has been critical in leading JJC to a more holistic advocacy approach—bridging the gap between traditional organizing and policy efforts to create an “inside/outside” strategy. Since 2015, Evans has been a key developer of JJC’s Voices of the Unheard (VOU) program, which serves youth who are at-risk of involvement or involved in the juvenile court system. She has organized more than 200 youth in the Columbus area and created three VOU youth chapters throughout the city to identify priority policy issues .

“Amber works everyday to help youth find their own path to power,” said JJC Executive Director Erin Davies. “She continuously puts youths’ voices and needs at the forefront of advocacy discussions.”

Davies credits Evans for pushing JJC to move beyond transactional interactions and story-gathering to more meaningful, family-like relationships where youth feel cared for and empowered to advocate for themselves. Evans continues to be instrumental in bringing youth who are directly impacted by the broken juvenile justice system to policy discussions in order to enable sustainable change.

The award will be given July 18, 2017, at an annual gathering of youth justice advocates from across the country. This year, the conference is being held in Washington, D.C.

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The National Juvenile Justice Network is composed of coalitions, organizations and alumni of the Youth Justice Leadership Institute across 44 states and the District of Columbia, all of whom advocate to shrink our youth justice systems and make what remains fair and effective. For more information, visit www.njjn.org.


Purpose of the Emerging Leader Award

To honor an individual advocate for youth justice who embodies passion, boldness and perseverance, and is committed to raising up the voices, experiences and expertise of system-involved youth and people of color to ensure that those most directly impacted by injustice are at the forefront of the youth justice movement. 
 

Emerging Leaders are... 

... passionate advocates working to empower system-involved youth, people of color, and families of youth who are system-involved as leaders in the youth justice movement. In addition:

  • They are committed to racial justice as a crucial tenet of youth justice system reform. 
  • They represent a directly-impacted community, such as formerly incarcerated or system involved youth, people of color, families of system-involved youth, and/or a person harmed by crime. 
  • As an "emerging" leader, they have been involved in youth justice reform advocacy for no more than 5 years - and may even be youth under the age of 18 themselves. 
Please note: Only NJJN members, partner organizations, and staff are eligible to nominate folks for these awards, though anyone affiliated with a member or partner organization may nominate themselves for an award.

Past winners:
2016
Jeree Thomas of the Legal Aid Justice Center. Learn more.