Home News Center Building the Movement in Action: Youth Justice Leadership Institute First In-Person Session Recap

Building the Movement in Action: Youth Justice Leadership Institute First In-Person Session Recap

November 7, 2018
Jenny Peppers


NJJN’s Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI) fellowship is a year-long leadership program for juvenile justice reform advocates. The first in-person training session of the 2018-19 cohort took place this past September in Washington, DC. We talked with Diana Onley-Campbell, our Institute Coordinator, as well as some fellows about their experience.               

This year we had fellows from across the country, including California, Washington, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia to Kentucky and Texas.  The in-person retreat allowed them to meet face-to-face, to give them time and the opportunity to bond as a group.  This year fellows were very open when sharing their background and experience with us, Diana added.

During the retreat, the fellows had a chance to attend a training session with Eva Young, our long-time consultant from La Trenza Global Consulting.  The training helped them develop their experience and skills through the “somatic learning approach”. The training is designed to help them become more aware about their body and mind, allowing them to better respond to things happening around them.  The fellows also had a chance to present and receive suggestions from Diana and other fellows on their Advocacy Project as well as their Leadership Development Plan.

Now let’s hear more from some fellows.

Lenore Wyant, PA

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in the Administration of Justice, I’ve spent a great deal of time in community engagement efforts and in working with youth and families in communities providing upstream prevention to limit system involvement. Joining the Institute, my first impression was AMAZE-BALLS!!  Everyone was so welcoming. I was provided with a number of valuable human and online resources for my project that will focus on developing a bench card on disproportionate minority contact and racial and ethnic disparities for use by Pennsylvania’s juvenile court systems, probation officers and other key stakeholders when making decisions about the diverting or detaining a youth.  I also learned the true value of self-care and how vital that is to creativity.

Give us one word to describe how you feel after the training.



Maria Leon, TX

I grew up on a summer camp outside of Los Angeles that served system-involved children and families.  I became really interested in providing camping experiences to children of incarcerated parents and ended up interning in a maximum security juvenile correctional facility. Most of my work has centered on the role of recreation within juvenile justice facilities. I was really excited to be part of the Institute. The prospect about being in a cohort made up exclusively of people of color seemed like a unique opportunity. There were a number of different activities that contributed to me feeling empowered. The acknowledgement and validation has given me freedom to trust myself and operate out of my strengths as I have formulated and refined my project which involves amplifying youth voice and engaging different groups that do not normally recognize and value the perspective of young people in the juvenile justice system.

Give us one word to describe how you feel after the training.



Latashia Crenshaw, TX

I have been directly involved in juvenile justice work for the past four years.  I have assisted Harris County Juvenile Probation Department in partnering with community agencies and law firms to provide free educational advocacy and legal support to youth and families involved in the justice system.  I have personally and professionally spent time advocating for the change in legislation that would remove barriers that youth encounter as they are transferring out of a long-term justice facility and back into the community. The Institute and first in-person session were life changing.  I quickly realized that the Institute was not a rigorous fellowship that was project-focused, but instead an Institute that focuses on strengths-based leadership development, self-care and reflection, and developing lifelong bonds between fellow cohort members. It also helps me make sure that my project aligns with my leadership strengths, mission, vision, and core values.

Give us one word to describe how you feel after the training.


Arturo Quiros, CA

For the last 10+ Years, I have been using music and writing as tools to create spaces where young people can explore their gifts. Using Poetry and Hip Hop as tools for healing and change, I have dedicated much of my time entering Juvenile Detention Facilities to work with young people and their families that are being affected by the Juvenile Justice System. Joining the Institute, I learned more about prevention and intervention work being done with young people. There is an enormous amount of wisdom and resources within the National Juvenile Justice cohort, Alumni and Network. The in-person session was a gift as powerful souls united to look deep into our stories. Then I was reminded of why I do this work and the importance of my advocacy project. I believe that I have much to offer and would like to continue developing in areas where I can continue to grow.

Give us one word to describe how you feel after the training.


The second in-person session will take place at Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee next April when the fellows will have a chance to dig deeper into their projects while cementing their friendship.

Click here to learn more about the Institute.

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