Meet Our Fellows
The Youth Justice Leadership Institute is now in its sixth year, and we’re thrilled to introduce our newest 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.
Bios and Interviews
Joshua Bates | Columbus, OH
Joshua Bates is a program assistant for the Boys & Men of Color Initiative at the Kirwan Institute. Within this capacity, he works in community outreach, research, and project evaluation. His major focus is on engaging with the effects of urban poverty and building strategies to alleviate those effects. Furthermore, he is the Community Engagement Coordinator for I AM My Brother’s Keeper, an advocacy program for young men of color that has materialized out of a partnership between the Columbus Urban League, Franklin County Jobs and Family Services, and The Kirwan Institute.
Advocacy Project Summary – Create a community education campaign and partnership to inform about and address the presence of trauma in the aggregate community.
Sadric Bonner | Greensboro, NC
Sadric Bonner has more than ten years as a professional and volunteer to improve outcomes for children and families. She joined the University of North Carolina–Greensboro in 2014, where she manages, plans, trains, organizes, and directs daily capacity-building services for families with children involved in the juvenile justice behavioral health cross-system collaborative. She also provides facilitation, resource management and support to family partners and state-level personnel on the North Carolina Juvenile Justice Substance Abuse Mental Health Partnership (JJSAMHP). Ms. Bonner also serves as the Executive Director of Great Expectations, a non-profit created to connect, educate and inform families of incarcerated youth. Recently, she was nominated to serve on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC); she also participates on the state’s Re-entry Task Force, Family Engagement Subcommittee, and the Juvenile Justice Behavioral Health Subcommittee. Ms. Bonner has a BS in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration, both from High Point University.
Advocacy Project Summary – Create a state wide, family led youth justice organization.
Ebony Howard | Montgomery, AL
Ebony Howard manages the Southern Poverty Law Center's legal recruitment and retention programs and leads federal civil rights litigation and policy efforts aimed at reforming government systems in Alabama that harm children and other under-served populations involved in the criminal justice system. Previously, she was an associate at a Louisville, KY law firm, where she litigated a variety of cases, including civil rights and labor and employment. As a law student at the Georgetown University Law Center, she represented juveniles before the D.C. Superior Court in delinquency proceedings and represented D.C. public school students in expulsion and suspension hearings in Juvenile Justice Clinic. As an undergraduate at Howard University, Ebony ran a human rights education program for D.C. high school students for Amnesty International’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.
Advocacy Project Summary – Legislative campaign to restrict the number of children charged as adults in Alabama.
Esché Jackson | Los Angeles, CA
Ms. Jackson's participation in the Institute has been postponed until next year.
Candace Johnson | St. Louis MO
Candace Johnson a native of St. Louis, Missouri. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she majored in Criminal Justice and minored in African American Studies. Candace is currently a third year law student at Washington University in St. Louis. Before law school, she worked as a relationship manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. During her second year of law school, Candace strengthened her commitment to juvenile justice reform while working in the Juvenile Law and Justice clinic at her law school. Candace also works as a Marshall Brennan fellow, where she teaches constitutional law to students at a St. Louis City High School.
Advocacy Project Summary – Create an education coalition to prevent detained and incarcerated youth from falling behind in school.
Lee Nave, Jr. | Boston, MA
Lee is the development and program associate at Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ) in Boston, Massachusetts. His work involves leading the organizations online advocacy projects as well as managing numerous areas of fundraising. Before joining CfJJ, Lee was the co-founder and director of development and operations at Student Voice, an all-student organization that advocates for students to have a say in their own educational future. Lee's work with Student Voice led to major partnerships with corporations and foundations such as Microsoft, The Hewlett Foundation, and Dell. He has spoken on panels for Cengage Learning, Dell, NBC Education Nation, and SXSWedu, advocating for student rights. Lee has also guest lectured at numerous universities domestically and abroad. Lee holds two Master’s degrees, one in Public Administration, where he focused on nonprofit management and public policy in relation to advocacy and education policy, and the other in Diplomacy & International Relations from Seton Hall University, with a focus on education policy and the Middle East. He also holds two Bachelor’s Degrees in History and Communications Arts from Ottawa University, with specializations in speech performance and strategic communications.
Advocacy Project Summary – Build a network in Boston to support community diversion.
Joi Owens | Clinton, MS
Joi L. Owens is the managing attorney and legislative liaison for Disability Rights Mississippi. Joi focuses on systemic reform related to people with disabilities in facilities and institutions across the state of Mississippi. Joi advocates for juvenile justice reform, education reform, and criminal justice reform, and represents incarcerated children and adults to address unconstitutional and abusive conditions in jails and juvenile detention centers. Joi also monitors conditions in psychiatric residential treatment facilities. She received her B.A. in Speech Communication from Jackson State University and her law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. Joi is the proud mother to her son, Legend.
Advocacy Project Summary – Develop model comprehensive educational reentry policy for MS detention facilities.
Ricky Watson | Durham, NC
Ricky Watson is a co-director at the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), where he works to ensure equity, fairness, and justice for youth in education, juvenile delinquency, and criminal systems. A native of Greensboro, NC, Ricky graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in political science and earned his J.D. from Elon University School of Law with a concentration in public interest. During law school, Ricky taught legal principles to middle school students and also worked as a prosecutor. After law school, Ricky worked as an assistant public defender in Guilford County, NC, focusing primarily on juvenile delinquency matters as well as civil and involuntary commitment proceedings. In his time working in the justice system, Ricky observed systemic problems that he felt needed to be addressed before real change could be achieved. This led him to join SCSJ, where he is dedicated to making NC a better place for youth by advocating to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to at least 18, increasing opportunities for court alternatives, exposing racial and socioeconomic disparities in school systems, performing community outreach and education, and providing legal advocacy on issues relevant to the needs of young people in the educational and justice systems.
Advocacy Project Summary – Creation of leadership pipeline for young male of color advocates.
Samantha Wiggins | Upper Marlboro, MD
Samantha Wiggins is a youth member of the Maryland’s Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group. She graduated from Temple University in 2012 with a degree in political science and philosophy, and a certificate in political science. She earned her juris doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center. While at Georgetown, she taught students about the law in the Street Law Clinic. In 2014, she became a Delaney Public Policy Scholar. She believes that protecting the rights of children and providing effective avenues for youth voice is the best way to ensure a brighter future for the youth justice field.
Advocacy Project Summary – Creation of youth engagement database to enable a means for system involved youth to report on their experience.
Tiffany V. Williams | New York, NY
As the program coordinator for New York City's Division of Youth and Family Justice, Tiffany V. Williams manages programs which provides court involved youth with the services needed to sustain positive change in their lives. Tiffany's expertise is in program design, implementation and evaluation, particularly for a juvenile justice population. A conscientious leader, she is skilled in volunteer management and innovative staff development. Ms. Williams' commitment to public service is evident in her board positions and the community events she hosts. Tiffany was a Colin Powell Public Service Fellow at City College and is a graduate of the Springfield College School of Human Services.
Advocacy Project Summary – Create a network of service providers in a NY borough to improve the referral system.