The Division of Juvenile Justice recently held a large leadership gathering to exchange ideas and foster innovative thinking.

The Division of Juvenile Justice recently held a large leadership gathering to exchange ideas and foster innovative thinking.

Forum focuses on effective leadership, staff morale, accomplishments

By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer

Top-level executives and management staff at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) recently gathered to exchange ideas, and discuss everything from effective leadership to an award-winning project presented by incarcerated youth.

The second Leadership Forum held at DJJ Headquarters in Elk Grove was hosted by DJJ Director Mike Minor.

“All of us have an opportunity to make things better,” Director Minor said. “We have a chance to share information and reach those that it can help the most.”

All four DJJ facilities were represented with leaders from N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (YCF), O.H. Close YCF, Ventura YCF and Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp.

“As an organization, we need to do more. Take a look at yourself, and let’s make it happen. It has to start with you,” Director Minor explained.

There was spirited debate with the audience and a panel made up of those involved with the Farrell lawsuit, including Nancy Campbell, Special Master overseeing the Farrell Lawsuit, and acting as moderator.

DJJ Director Mike Minor told the gathering, "All of us have an opportunity to make things better."

DJJ Director Mike Minor told the gathering, “All of us have an opportunity to make things better.”

The Farrell Lawsuit was filed against the California Youth Authority (CYA) (now DJJ) in 2004. The Farrell lawsuit is made up of six remedial plans that were developed and are monitored by a set of outside experts. As of October 1, 2014 DJJ had complied with 87 percent of the policy and program changes called for in the six Farrell remedial plans.

Troy Fennel, DJJ Assistant Superintendent of Education, shared the story of Project ECHO, a business presentation developed and videotaped by a group of students from Johanna Boss High School at O.H. Close YCF.

“We are very proud of the hard work and dedication that went into this project. It started in the classroom back in January, and culminated with the competition and the award for most inspirational project and presentation,” Fennel told the crowd.

Fennel said there were 50 teams competing from 16 high schools throughout California in the 11th annual Project ECHO High School Entrepreneur’s Business Plan Competition at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

The group from Johanna Boss H.S. created an app; “Helping Hands, Breaking the Chains.” The idea is to give those who have been incarcerated direction in their lives when they are released from jail, prison, or a youth correctional facility.

At the end of the day, it was agreed DJJ has come a long way over the past several years.

“Our staff is our greatest resource, constantly learning and implementing the can-do attitude. We have been open to constructive criticism, and have grown as a team from that,” said DJJ Deputy Director Tony Lucero. “You should all be proud of how far you’ve come, and how far you can go from here.”