2021 Annual Report

“Thank you, as always, for supporting the Michigan Center for Youth Justice’s work. We are excited to share our 2021 accomplishments in more detail with you in this virtual annual report.”

Vision, Mission & Values


Our Vision is a fair and effective justice system for Michigan’s children, youth, and young adults.


We work to advance equitable youth justice policies and practices that protect young people and help them achieve their full potential.

In 2021, we worked to:


Advocate for the removal of shackling for justice-involved youth


Increase juvenile record confidentiality


Promote the elimination of juvenile court fines and fees


Create a local anti-racist juvenile justice model in Kalamazoo


Continued to offer gender-affirming training and technical support to Wayne county juvenile justice providers

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At MCYJ, We Value:

Community and Connection: Youth deserve to remain connected to their families and communities, even if they become justice system-involved. They should be recognized for their strengths and value, not just for their mistakes.

Effectiveness: We are results-driven and work with integrity. We can be counted on to deliver fair, equitable justice reform for Michigan’s children, youth, and young adults.

Equity: All youth should be treated in a fair and just manner by the youth justice system, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

Inclusion: People who are impacted by a problem should be at the center of our advocacy. We believe in creating a big tent. Nonpartisanship and divergent perspectives create better solutions.

Possibility: Every problem has a solution if we work together, think outside the box, and are willing to try new things.

Restoration: The youth justice system should be restorative and rehabilitative. Kids who get in trouble are still kids.

Advocacy & Engagement

COVID-19 in the Michigan Youth Justice System

In Fall 2020, MCYJ and Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice surveyed juvenile court and facility staff to better understand their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.


On July 28, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted rules limiting the shackling of kids in court. Before the new rules, shackling was used indiscriminately with young people.

Juvenile Record Confidentiality​
Juvenile Record Confidentiality

Although many young people are eventually eligible for sealing the record of their juvenile adjudications, there were significant barriers to completing the process. That changed in 2021

Debt Free Justice
Debt-Free Justice​

The assessment of juvenile court fees creates extreme financial strain for families. MCYJ is working to eliminate the assessment and collection of juvenile court fees and debt across the state.

Kalamazoo Project​

Over the past year, MCYJ partnered with residents and community leaders in Kalamazoo County to develop an anti-racist framework for the Kalamazoo juvenile justice system.

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Events & Education

Training Events intro
Training Events

The following MCYJ training events allowed participants to learn from and problem-solve with local experts specializing in topics ranging from motivational interviewing to telehealth ethics. Continuing Education Units (CEU) were offered to licensed social workers as a part of our ongoing collaboration with the National Association of Social Workers – Michigan (NASW-MI). In addition, MCYJ awarded 15 scholarships to reduce the cost of attendance for selected applicants.

Ethics and Telehealth: Working with Youth
Ethics and Telehealth: Working with Youth
February 3, 2021

Ethical and legal mandates are more than guiding principles; they serve as the foundation for practice. This seminar provided an overview of the code of ethics and laws. It explored the many slippery slopes often present when working with youth, including boundaries and dual roles, social engagement, use of media, and confidentiality. Focused attention was given to the Code of Ethics (2017) changes and the use of telehealth.

Introduction to Collaborative and Restorative Conflict Management with Youth
Introduction to Collaborative and Restorative Conflict Management with Youth
March 25, 2021

Nearly every clinical social worker, regardless of whether they work in a hospital, school, or residential facility, will deal in conflict resolution at various points during their career. A proven technique, restorative conflict management is a critical skill to gain and maintain as a social worker. This training explored a restorative conflict management approach to working with youth.

A Brief Introduction to Motivational Interviewing and the OARS Skills with Youth
A Brief Introduction to Motivational Interviewing and the OARS Skills with Youth
May 25, 2021

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based and client-centered directive communication style that aims to elicit a client’s motivation for change by paying detailed attention to the client's language. Nuanced clinician responses to this language evoke the language of change from clients in an atmosphere of compassion and self-efficacy. Participants were introduced to the basic OARS skills of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries.

Fostering Identity Development and Resilience in Youth
Fostering Identity Development and Resilience in Youth
June 22, 2021

Participants in this skills-building training explored and identified opportunities to encourage youth identity and resilience. Challenges and opportunities for vulnerable youth — including those who have experienced trauma, foster care or adoption, and those raised by caregivers struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness — were explored.

Best Practices for System Care Services to LGBT+ Youth
Best Practices for System Care Services to LGBT+ Youth
September 30, 2021

This workshop raised awareness and provided examples of clinical tools for supporting LGBT+ youth across various care systems, emphasizing improving outcomes for overall mental wellness for clients/patients. Time was taken to highlight barriers to quality care within youth-serving agencies, major psychosocial stressors, and protective and resilience factors for LGBT+ youth (teens and emerging adults). Recommendations for culturally responsive strategies were offered and discussed.

Engagement: The Foundation for Effective Services
Engagement: The Foundation for Effective Services
November 17, 2021

This training explored methods for engaging youth and families while considering trauma-informed and culturally responsive practices and strategies. Participants learned how to identify the stages of service delivery, describe engagement as a skill for service delivery, and implement methods for engaging with families and youth receiving services from juvenile justice programs.

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Training Events intro
Ethics and Telehealth: Working with Youth
Introduction to Collaborative and Restorative Conflict Management with Youth
A Brief Introduction to Motivational Interviewing and the OARS Skills with Youth
Fostering Identity Development and Resilience in Youth
Best Practices for System Care Services to LGBT+ Youth
Engagement: The Foundation for Effective Services
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Cards and Community

For the second year in a row, MCYJ elected to hold our annual card writing event virtually. The 2021 Cards & Community event took place on December 13th via Zoom, and we welcomed nearly 40 enthusiastic volunteer supporters.

Youth Justice Action Month

MCYJ applauds Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for continuing an annual tradition by declaring October Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM). MCYJ held a panel on the School to Prison pipeline, and a training on Trauma with the U-M School of Social Work.

Project Coordination & Facilitation

Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration (MI-CEMI) serves as a collective impact backbone organization that improves the collaboration, coordination, strategy development, and information-sharing among organizations active in criminal justice reform and abolition. By supporting collaboration across the state, across sectors, across grassroots and grasstops, and across reform and abolition perspectives, MI-CEMI helps members achieve more to end mass incarceration together than they can alone.

MI-CEMI Steering Team members prioritized four campaigns in 2021. Each campaign was coordinated across organizations through a designated workgroup led by at least one member of the Steering Team. Each of the campaigns resulted in forward movement or legislative success.

The campaigns included:

Ban the use of long-term solitary confinement in prisons and secure juvenile facilities. Part of the national Unlock the Box campaign and led by Citizens for Prison (CPR).

Change law enforcement’s racially targeted emergency responses by reinventing the role of police and substantially shrinking their presence in our communities; led by ACLU Michigan.

Ensure more public transparency and accountability by the Michigan Department of Corrections by establishing robust internal and external monitoring systems; led by MI-CURE and American Friends Service Committee.

Reduce the prison population by addressing systemic barriers to release for people serving life and long sentences. The long-term goals are to abolish life without parole, cap sentences at 20 years, and create as many “relief valves” as possible; led by American Friends Service Committee

In July, the coordination and fiduciary oversight of MI-CEMI transitioned to the Michigan League for Public Policy. The partnership between MCYJ and MI-CEMI has established the groundwork and capacity to facilitate collaborative action across Michigan sectors. This transition was a natural next step from our rebranding and refocus.

Advancing Justice for Youth with Diverse SOGIE in Wayne County

We made significant progress toward our Advancing Justice project goals in 2021. We continued to work closely with MDHHS’ Division of Child Welfare Licensing (DCWL) to update licensing rules to support youth with diverse SOGIE better.

Board and Staff

Board of Directors:

Eric Sturk, CPA – President
Roy, Noye &; Associates
Hazelette Crosby-Robinson, MSW – Vice President
Retired, Washtenaw County Community Health Board; Returning Citizen
Ronald Simpson-Bey –Treasurer
Vice President, Just Leadership USA; Returning Citizen
John Broad – Secretary
Retired, President, Crime Stoppers of Michigan

Fonsea Bagchi
Youth Board Member
Michelle Rowser
Executive Director, Insight Youth and Family Connections
Melanca Clark
President and CEO, Hudson-Webber Foundation
Linda Edwards-Brown
Retired, Washtenaw County Juvenile Court Administrator
Paul Elam, Ph.D.
Chief Strategy Officer, Michigan Public Health Institute


Jason Smith  Executive Director

Heidi Frankenhauser Deputy Director

Afaf Humayun Communications and Development Associate

Gabrielle French Policy Associate

Husain Haidri Community Outreach and Engagement Manager

In 2021, we welcomed a new staff position and person to our organization — Outreach and Engagement Manager Husain Haidri. Husain is pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at Wayne State University, with the intent to one day attend law school. He is also politically and civically engaged and currently serves as a Canton Township commissioner. Before MCYJ, Husain worked at Voters Not Politicians and the ACLU, while also managing and staffing several political campaigns.

At the end of the year, MCYJ was saddened to say farewell to our Communications and Development Coordinator Afaf Humayun. Afaf’s kind, radiant spirit, effectiveness, and creativity made her an incredible asset to our team. Her presence and contributions will be sorely missed.

Fundraising & Financials



  • Hudson-Webber Foundation
  • Skillman Foundation
  • Ivywood Fund
  • Public Welfare Foundation
  • McGregor Fund
  • Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan
  • Kalamazoo Community Foundation
  • Schusterman Family Fund
  • Michigan Justice Fund
  • Toyota Foundation



  • Ivywood Fund
  • Julie Heath
  • Michelle Rowser
  • John Broad
  • United Way of SE Michigan
  • Jennifer Haines
  • Ann Marston
  • James Sweeton


  • People’s Food Co-op 
  • Robyn Anspach
  • Chelsea Jewell
  • The Blackbaud Giving Fund 
  • Virdell Thomas
  • David Rosen
  • Julie Antonini
  • Danielle Domzalski
  • Amanda Johnson
  • Laura Lamberti
  • Tawana Reece
  • Kate Markel
  • Elizabeth Nelson


  • People’s Food Co-op 
  • Robyn Anspach
  • Elizabeth King
  • McAlvey Merchant Associates
  • Northside Presbyterian Church
  • Jean Loup
  • Suzie Staley
  • St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church
  • Dave Pelon
  • Paul Elam
  • The Benevity Community
    Impact Fund
  • Jillian Myers
  • Paula Henderson
  • Network for Good
  • Lola Amos
  • Ramona Washington
  • Teresa Omeara
  • Malcolm and Hailey Jures
  • Marian Laughlin
  • Woodside Church
  • Megan Gabriel
  • Northwest Unitarian
    Universalist Church
  • Virginia Orabone
  • Mark Creekmore
  • Eric Sturk
  • Peri Stone-Palmquist
  • Jennifer Weber
  • Bob Beebe
  • David Bowbeer
  • Susan Ashmore
  • Peggy Korpela
  • Linda Edwards-Brown
  • Jessica Herrmann
  • Catherine Brown
  • Givinga Foundation Inc.
  • Harvey Somers
  • La Tonya Howard
  • Samantha Burdette
  • Danielle Donelson
  • Bob Higgins
  • Catherine Hayes
  • Darci McConnell
  • Thomas McCurdy
  • Kristen Staley
  • Aaron Suganuma
  • Kristin Vanden Berg
  • Rachel Egherman
  • Peg Kelley
  • Conner Pineda


  • Avern Cohn
  • Mona Davis
  • Keith Harder
  • Edith Kieffer
  • Erika Koeppe
  • John Shea
  • Syndallas Baughman
  • Rebecca Calkins
  • Paul Marsh
  • Jarianna Santos
  • Sue Shink
  • Karrie Armstrong
  • Maxwell Chisholm
  • Ashley Devos
  • Porschelle Haynes
  • Johanna Huss
  • Kirsten Mack
  • Ajaune Thomas
  • Jennie Wilcox
  • Leah Zaas
  • Shannon Carter
  • Sonya Jensen
  • Jasmine Moore
  • Deborah Shaw
  • Myriha Shepard-Burton
  • Kelly Small
  • Angela Smith
  • Vickie Tyler
  • Kerry Vanhouten
  • Tracy Wright
  • Carrie and Gregg Hammerman
  • Morgan Garrett
  • Jennifer Victor
  • Brandy Ellison
  • Vernon Coakley
  • Samantha Rao
  • Olivia Herbert
  • Annabel Garcia
  • Heidi Bechtel
  • Alexa Johnson
  • Ella Cady
  • Ashley Goldon
  • Renecia Hopkins
  • Janice Jones
  • Loraie Grayson
  • Martin Howrylak
  • Heather Janssen
  • Jane Kelley
  • Susan Ashmore
  • Alix Gaither
  • Alex Goodin
  • Laura Gretzinger
  • Diane Winder
  • Liz Hovel
  • Layla Ananda
  • Judith Becker
  • Katrina I. Crawley
  • M.A. De Wys
  • Bonita and Alfred Digennaro
  • Jeannine Gant
  • Amy Harris
  • Chris Hatcher
  • Lynn Marana
  • Ralph Monsma
  • David and Theresa Nestorak
  • Jerrold Shupe
  • Michael Steer
  • Nancy A. Terhar
  • Dalia Vitkus
  • Nadine You
  • Vanisha Neal
  • Bryan L. Hardaway
  • Nancy Spates
  • Rachael Lantrip
  • Mara Koning
  • Emma Hackbarth
  • Ronnie Wiggins
  • La Vonne Gardner
  • Kelly Scheu
  • Jillian Downey
  • Ann Putallaz
  • Naomi Silver
  • Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker
  • Sallie and Hubert Flanders
  • Linda French
  • Hailey Richards
  • Gabrielle Dresner
  • Tami Stanko
  • Amy Bartley
  • Dana Hill-Belton
  • Yune Hie Kim
  • Arnold & Sheila Blakney
  • Husain Haidri
  • Nancy Harter
  • Lamont Rideout
  • Henry Winiarz
  • Courtney Klick
  • Afaf Humayun
  • Suzanne Fischer
  • Francheska Gonzalez
  • Sue Muinch
  • Patricia Butts
  • Megan Chapman
  • Jean Crudden
  • Larry Demps
  • Lashanda Jackson
  • Sarah Shea
  • Patrice Thompson
  • Janice Tinsley
  • Jamie Erdheim
  • Maks Munro
  • Sarah Horgan
  • Stevie Klaark
  • Caphers Philson
  • Denise Schroeder
  • Alvin Tuxedo
  • Elizabeth Zatina

Dear Friends and Supporters,

2021 was a year of forward movement and new opportunities for the Michigan Center for Youth Justice (MCYJ).  We continued our transition into becoming an organization solely focused on youth justice reform. We explored new opportunities to make progress in our goals to divert young people away from court involvement whenever possible. And we worked to ensure that youth who do become justice-involved are protected from harm while receiving the support and resources to thrive.

As did everyone, we continued our work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While we missed connecting directly with our partners and supporters during what would have been in-person meetings, events, and our annual gala, we were still able to accomplish many of our goals for the year.  Despite being limited to primarily remote work and virtual meetings, our team advocated for legislation that addresses the harms of juvenile court debt on youth and families. We also promoted community-based models of justice that are fair, equitable, and trauma-informed. And last summer, I was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to serve as a member of the Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force, which we believe can provide opportunities to transform the juvenile justice system in our state positively.

Lastly, at the tail end of 2021, our organization started a strategic planning process to guide our work over the coming years. We expect that the plan we develop will allow us to expand our capacity to maximize our impact and support our organization as we move to center the voices of justice-involved youth and their families in our work.

Thank you, as always, for supporting the Michigan Center for Youth Justice’s work.  We are excited to share our 2021 accomplishments in more detail with you in this virtual annual report.


Jason Smith

Cards and Community

For the second year in a row, MCYJ elected to hold our annual card writing event virtually. The 2021 Cards & Community event took place on December 13th via Zoom, and we welcomed nearly 40 enthusiastic volunteer supporters. With everyone’s help and a little holiday cheer, MCYJ was able to send cards to 320 young people staying in seven different child welfare and juvenile justice residential facilities across Michigan. As has become a tradition for us, in addition to the card-writing, the event featured a game of youth justice trivia, holiday music, and an opportunity for shared gratitude.

Panel Discussion on the
Failures of School Safety

For YJAM 2021 MCYJ focused on raising awareness and sharing educational resources about the school-to-prison pipeline, its impact on youth and families, and changes to improve our young people’s lives and futures. 

School pushout (suspension, expulsion, or another form of removal from school) can significantly impact the outcome of a child’s life. According to the American University School of Education, children who don’t complete their education are more likely to face justice system involvement, have poor health outcomes, and experience poverty.


Reflecting the 2021 focus on the school-to-prison pipeline, MCYJ co-hosted an event with the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan (SAC), which presented author Dr. Charles Bell, who highlighted his book “Suspended: Punishment, Violence and the Failure of School Safety.” The event also featured a panel discussion that included state Sen. Jeff Irwin; MCYJ’s Jason Smith; Peri Stone-Palmquist, SAC’s executive director; and Nick, a father whose daughter was impacted by harsh school discipline.

Dr. Bell presented research, key findings, and personal stories of impacted families in his book.

“School suspensions increase every year,” said Dr. Bell. He noted that reforms took place in Michigan during the 2017-2018 school year to encourage educators and school officials to consider a student’s age, disabilities, and offense severity — as well as restorative alternatives — before issuing any suspensions. According to Dr. Bell, districts and many administrators have “doubled-down” on suspensions instead of reducing them.

Dr. Bell said administrators had told him: “We have been suspending for 30 years. Until the legislature produces a bill that punishes me for suspending children, we will continue to do this.”

After Dr. Bell’s presentation, Stone-Palmquist and Senator Irwin provided an overview of expulsion prevention legislation and a call to action for supporters to encourage the Michigan Legislature to advance this vital school justice reform.

Training Partnership with TIPPS at the University of Michigan

Our second YJAM event was a Trauma-Informed Programs and Practices for Schools (TIPPS) training, presented by Dr. Yatesha Robinson from the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. TIPPS is focused on creating safe, nurturing, and inclusive learning environments for all students. We encourage you to check out the learning resources and training events offered by Dr. Robinson and her team here.

Advancing Justice for Youth with Diverse SOGIE in Wayne County

We made significant progress toward our Advancing Justice project goals in 2021. We continued to work closely with MDHHS’ Division of Child Welfare Licensing (DCWL) to update licensing rules to support youth with diverse SOGIE better. Although the licensing changes were delayed, we look forward to continuing our advocacy efforts to make the rules changes permanent in 2022.

In building relationships within the DCWL, we increased our capacity to advocate for youth in care through additional channels. MCYJ was invited to join several MDHHS workgroups that focused on implementing the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommendations for better oversight of child caring institutions. 

Through partnerships with the Ruth Ellis Center and National Center for Lesbian Rights, we finalized the curriculum for our hybrid SOGIE training module. We expanded the scope of our training to include care management organizations in addition to residential facilities. 

Finally, through listening sessions with relevant stakeholders, we were made aware of the lack of foster care options available for justice-involved youth, especially those with diverse SOGIE. In response, we are working to shed light on this gap and provide recommendations for expanding foster care placements and reducing confinement for justice-involved youth.

During 2022, we look forward to continuing our work on the Advancing Justice project through providing SOGIE train-the-facilitator sessions to partnering CMOs and residential facilities, publishing a report on the foster care gap for justice-involved youth, and advocating for permanent licensing changes for youth with diverse SOGIE.