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2020 NJJN Award Winners

December 4, 2020

Each year, NJJN honors exceptional advocates for their contributions to the field of youth justice reform. Whether through tenacious advocacy, legislative reform, journalism, or a lifetime's worth of dedicated work, each award seeks to spotlight those who expose and remediate the harm that the youth justice system inflicts upon youth. 

Please join us in congratulating this year’s awardees:

Gold Background, white lettering: Young Justice Leader Award Jorren Biggs

Jorren Biggs is a sophomore Pogue Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill from Durham, NC double majoring in African American Studies and Political Science. Since 2018, Jorren has served as a consultant with NJJN, sitting on the Forum Planning and Membership Advisory Committees. From 2017 to 2019 he served on the Youth Steering Committee for the Youth Justice Project of North Carolina, working to address equity issues in local school districts, and helping to create a community event that guided the groups work to remove SROs from Durham Public Schools.

Jordan receives the 2020 Young Justice Leader Award for his dedication to the work of NJJN and commitment to fighting for the dignity and humanity of youth of color.

Gold Background with white lettering that reads Beth Arnovits Gutsy Advocate for Youth Award Mary King

Mary King joined the Michigan Center for Youth Justice (MCYJ) as Executive Director on January 1, 2016. She began working with people in prison as an intern at Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility in the early 80’s. In 1988 she created the Women’s Program at Option’s Center, for women with a felony conviction, and went on to become the first Coordinator for the Children’s Visitation Program, which brought children from all over Michigan for structured visits with their incarcerated mothers. This was also Mary’s first experience working with MCYJ and the indomitable Beth Arnovits, who Mary still refers to as “her favorite boss.” In 2006, Mary began working as Community Coordinator for the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI) in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties, where for eight years she engaged key stakeholders in a unified effort to provide evidence-based services for returning citizens.

Mary receives the 2020 Beth Arnovits Gutsy Advocate for Youth Award for being a voice of strength, consistency and leadership on behalf of youth justice transformation in the state of Michigan.

Gold background with white lettering that reads Emerging Leader Award Cheyenne Blackburn

Cheyenne Blackburn is the Campaign Director with Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC). At FFLIC Cheyenne advocates for juvenile justice policy that centers the experiences and leadership of Louisiana’s most vulnerable youth. Before joining FFLIC Cheyenne was a Senior Outreach Paralegal in the Children’s Rights Practice Group of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), where she passionately advocated on behalf of youth and families in Louisiana schools, facilities, and communities for over five years.  While an undergraduate student, Cheyenne volunteered as an intake assistant with Loyola University’s Workplace Justice Project and worked as a student assistant with the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, where she worked diligently on behalf of indigent clients on civil and criminal issues. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University of New Orleans in Criminal Justice. 

Cheyenne receives the 2020 Emerging Leader Award for her deep commitment to centering youth voices and creating lasting, meaningful change for youth justice.

Gold background with white lettering that reads Diana Onley-Campbell Movement Builder Award

Diana Onley-Campbell is the Founding Coordinator of NJJN's Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI). Under her direction, YJLI grew into a highly esteemed leadership development program that centers and elevates leaders of color in the youth justice movement.

For 10 years, YJLI Fellows benefited from Diana's lifetime of experience as an activist and several decades of advocacy experience. In 1979 she was a founding member of Spiderworts, the first all women anti-nuke direct action group in the United States. She spent many years within the Battered Women’s Movement as a Child Advocate (at My Sister’s Place, a DC shelter for battered women and their children) and then as Program Executive for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Her experiences range from street activism to academic collaborations (as Assistant Director at The Union Institute’s Center for Women) to systems advocacy (through her appointment to the Mayor’s Commission on Violence Against Women) to direct service provision. She has held community based leadership positions on the governing boards of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) and the African American Women’s Resource Center (AAWRC); the advisory board of Lesbian Services of Whitman-Walker Clinic in DC; and as the President of the Board of Empower DC, an advocacy and membership organization for the city's poor people from 2010 to 2016. She was previously Program Director at the Gaea Foundation and the Executive Director of the National Organizers Alliance, a national membership organization for community based organizers. Diana has her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with honors, from The Union Institute and University.

Diana receives the Inaugural Diana Onley-Campbell Movement Builder Award for her dedication to developing leaders of color and centering the voices of those most impacted in the fight for transformational youth justice.

Help us congratulate our 2020 NJJN Award winners as we gather to watch our awards video. Audience members will have a chance to offer congratulations over Zoom. We will also hear a special announcement about NJJN's holiday give-back initiative.

NJJN Awards Video Watch Party & Virtual Reception
Friday, December 18th
4:00 PM ET
Bring a beverage & snacks!

Register: https://bit.ly/2020NJJNAwards

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