In mid-December, we hosted our annual Project Director Fellowship in Washington, D.C. (Click on photo at left to see a larger view of a model of the U.S. Capitol that I spotted at the botanic gardens.) Project Directors from our ten original sites, our first three expansion sites, and all ten of the sites that started this past fall attended. While everyone had gotten acquainted by phone to a certain extent, nothing matches the energy, creativity and momentum of getting together in person to reflect about lessons learned, and create strategy for moving the initiative forward both locally and nationally.
Our agenda included opportunities to: get overviews of each new community joining Reclaiming Futures; compare notes about progress made thus far in sites that begain in 2007; and assess long-term changes that have occurred in the our ten original sites.
Shown at left are Project Directors Robyn Margrabe, St. Clair Co., IL; Paula Wharton, El Paso, TX; Jill West, Corbin, KY; Pamela Talbot, Bristol Co., MA. All four sites joined Reclaiming Futures in fall 2008. (Click on photo to see larger image.)
At right are Susan Richardson, Kate B. Reynolds Foundation; Dachia Davis, Cumberland Co., NC; Courtney Sutphin, "Crossroads" [Surry, Iredell & Yadkin Counties], NC; Claretta Witherspoon, Guilford Co., NC; Mina Cook, Forsyth Co., NC; Donna Thomas, Rowan Co., NC; Billie Guthrie, Orange & Chatham Counties, NC. (Click for larger image.)
Project Directors from sites funded by OJJDP and CSAT: Dennis Reilly, Nassau Co., NY; Sarah Johnson, Greene Co., MO; Christa Myers, Hocking Co., OH.
As always, we launched this new phase of our initiative by talking about shared leadership and the central role it has played in our successes to date. We delved into leadership skills vital to the delivery of Reclaiming Futures, and had some great conversations about how to not only increase our own individual capacities, but brainstormed ways to unleash that leadership capacity among our colleagues and team members at home.
We were also very glad to have guests from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice -- Executive Director Nancy Gannon Hornberger, and Tara Andrews, Deputy Executive Director, Policy and Programs (shown at right; click for larger image).
They discussed progress made with reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA), which was illuminating and gratifying. As you may know, the JJDPA constitutes the primary architecture of our federal juvenile justice policy, and many people have worked tirelessly to finalize it. Though much remains to do, it was good to see that discussion about the role of substance abuse in delinquencey is playing an important part in emerging versions of the reauthorization language. If you're interested in learning more, check out Act 4 Juvenile Justice.
Excellence in communications is another cornerstone of Reclaiming Futures. Why? Because good communications efforts help educate the public, combat stigma and indifference towards these young people and their families, and build support for the changes we are promoting.
Communications experts Patty Farrell and Melissa Moore led our group of directors in some communications training, including how to give brief presentations on the initiative using key messages and a variety of our RF tools, as well as how to conduct oneself when interviewed. Brave Nassau County Project Director Dennis Reilly volunteered to go "on camera" to demonstrate his talents and did a terrific job. (He's pictured at left, with Melissa and Patty.) Thanks for your courage, Dennis: you're ready for prime time!
We also spent time discussing and applying the rapid cycle test model to our current area of focus -- implementing improved screening protocols at the local level. All new sites are engaged in activities specifically building this part of the model.
The talent and enthusiasm in the group is palpable. We look forward to our continuing work together!
Updated: December 31 2008