After more than 10 years with Reclaiming Futures, I have decided to step down as national program director, in order to concentrate on teaching and research in my role as a faculty member at the School of Social Work at Portland State University. I will continue to serve as national director until my successor begins work.
The search for a new national director will begin soon, and our plan is to have a new leader in place at our next leadership institute in May 2011. We are forming a search committee of four to six people who are close to the project to advise us about the selection process. A job announcement is forthcoming soon.
This decision is not an easy one, but it represents a natural and important evolution of my own need to grow as well as the changing nature of Reclaiming Futures. We are entering a period of important transition in which Reclaiming Futures moves from a demonstration project created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to a free-standing national resource center with multiple sources of support.
The Reclaiming Futures national office has full funding through December 2013, so my successor will take over a stable organization and can focus on attracting more partners and investors. Our emerging business plan will lay out a road map to accomplish these goals and also makes this a perfect time to transition to a new leader with new skills and ideas.
Let me assure you that although my role will change in 2011, I won’t be going away, just changing how I contribute to Reclaiming Futures. After I step down as national director, I will continue to spend about 10 percent of my time as a senior advisor with Reclaiming Futures. My responsibilities will include overseeing the initiative’s webinar series, assisting with outreach and promotion as needed, helping to document the evolving Reclaiming Futures model as it specifically relates to juvenile drug court, cultivating research partners and a research agenda, and writing and editing a special journal about Reclaiming Futures.
I am so proud of all we’ve accomplished together to date. It has been among the great honors and adventures of my life to get to know and work with so many fine professionals across the country who are dedicated to the lives of teens in the justice system who have drug and alcohol problems.
Because thousands of young people and their families still need better services all over our country, I look forward to helping them in a new capacity -- and seeing how Reclaiming Futures continues to develop and grow.
Laura Burney Nissen, M.S.W., Ph.D. specializes in innovating dynamic community and cross-agency partnerships. She has led the Reclaiming Futures initiative through conceptualization, demonstration and dissemination. As national program director, Laura has written extensively about the lessons of the initiative, and is a regular speaker at national meetings on juvenile justice reform. Laura has worked with state and federal agencies to encourage system-wide recognition and use of strength-based methods for youth. She is an associate professor at Portland State University’s School of Social Work. Her research focuses on qualitative research methods, system reform issues, and communication tools for social change.
Updated: June 07 2010