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Secretary's Message

August 14, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Last week was a productive and busy time for DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders, as we continued our work in bettering the lives of Florida’s children and families. I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care. 

As a reminder, don’t forget that I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you all do – on and off the clock – to enrich our communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon. 


Christina K. Daly

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Friends, family, co-workers and colleagues of Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell came together in Miami to celebrate her retirement after an impressive 47 years of dedicated service to the state of Florida and the Department. Marie was described as a living legend and priceless. She was called a hero, an all-star, and a one of a kind soul who did things her way. Before the festivities had ended, she was even described as “the founder of Prevention.”

Prevention Chief of Programs and Policy Marcus Smith and Circuit 17 Chief Probation Officer Cassandra Evans served as the MCs for the event. Among those who shared their reflections of Marie included Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, Operations and Training Director Yvonne Woodard and Chief Probation Officers Frank Manning and Elaine Thompson. All of these reflections served as tributes for Marie’s distinguished career with DJJ as she worked to improve the lives of children and families throughout South Florida. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Marie Boswell and Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann

Marie thanked all of her well-wishers for their expression of love and support and asked those in attendance to continue their efforts to improve public safety and improve the lives of youth and families that they serve. Earlier in the day, Marie was recognized by the Circuit 11 Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) Chair Marie Osborne and other CAB members for her years of service and commitment to serving the board and the youth of that community. On behalf of DJJ, I want to wish Marie all of the best in her retirement. 

Congratulations to Lee Payne and Cathelya Burnett for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for June 2018. Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process. Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.


Congratulations to the newest officers from the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center including: Juan Ruiz Dros, Steven Letezia, Jamal Douglas and Michael Johnson. Each of these men (pictured left with Pinellas Major Joseph Seeber) graduated from the Hillsborough Community College Academy on August 3.

Congratulations to Lee Payne and Cathelya Burnett for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for June 2018. Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process. Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer (JDO) II Martina Sims from the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named the facility’s July Employee of the Month. JDO Sims was recognized with a certificate and gift card from Captains John Johnson and Douglas Kane for her hard work and dedication.

Congratulations to Juvenile Probation Officers (JPO) Jayne Campbell and Jessica Pena from Circuit 8 who were named JPOs of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2018. They were recognized by Chief Probation Officer Rebecca Rogers and Assistant Chief Sandi Brannan during the circuit’s recent quarterly meeting. Both JPOs exemplify teamwork and exhibit a high level of care, concern and compassion for the youth and families we serve, as well as for their co-workers and others in the community.


Congratulations to Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Paul Armstrong and Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Nancy Masry from Circuit 16 who were named the Circuit’s Employees of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2018. JPOs Armstrong and Masry were recognized for a job well done in maintaining the circuit’s direct care job tasks while dealing with position vacancies. Each officer was presented with a certificate and a gift card.

Probation Youth Work With Therapy Dogs and Staff Host Back to School Events

I’m pleased to share the success story below that comes to us from a DJJ youth with the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge program in Circuit 17:

“My name is Katherine. I just turned 21 years old. I received my GED this year. I must say it was a long journey for me, but I never gave up. I remember thinking I could never achieve this goal. My first time taking my Social Studies test, I failed, but I never stopped believing in myself. With hard work and dedication, anything is possible. I would cry when I couldn’t understand certain things. My GED instructor, Ms. Claire, worked with me consistently day-by-day to help me achieve my goal. She would call me early in the morning and tell me she’s at the library and it’s time to study!  I remember wanting to stop, but I would push myself to keep going. Set your goal, believe in yourself and set out to do it!  And to do it well, always strive to achieve excellence…you can achieve anything!”

DJJ youth with Eckerd Connects in Circuit 9 received a visit from Daisy and Frankie, two certified therapy dogs accompanied by their humans from Angel Paws. They attended an education session to assist youth practicing close reading skills as they prepare for GED exams and were joined by four students. The students sat near the dogs and took turns reading the first three chapters of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” by CS Lewis. Youth got into the story, and within this single session all of them had begun reading out loud with more confidence. Staff couldn’t resist joining in, and we are looking forward to the next visit from Angel Paws!

Circuit 19 Probation staff in Martin County held their annual back to school event which brought community stakeholders together to distribute information to youth and families about the services they provide. Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Ann Marie Campbell and Reform Specialist Christopher Seagrist spoke about our DJJ initiatives and gave recognition to our providers who are working hard to ensure our youth have the right services at the right time. The youth in attendance received school supplies and recognition from their probation officers for doing well on probation.

Pictured above (from left to right): JPO Roy Stevens, Secretary Specialist Kathy Stover, JPO Danneil Ainsworth, JPOS Ann Marie Campbell, SJPO Allis Richardson, JPO LaSheri Baker, CPO Wydee’a Wilson, and JPO Kenzy Pierre-Louis

Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Tricia Elliot, Probation Officer Ilia Ortiz and Reform Specialist Natalie Montgomery attended the 2018 Summerpalooza event at New Beginnings High School in Lakeland. Our staff members filled over 100 bags, which included DJJ brochures, school supplies and candy for the youth in attendance. Summerpalooza is an interactive family event hosted by the high school where families receive groceries from Feeding Tampa Bay, personal hygiene products donated by community providers, haircuts and hot meals.

Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Meghan Thrasher and Juvenile Probation Officers Amanda Dery and Kimberly Caludio from Circuit 5 participated in the recent Jump Start event hosted by the Central Christian Church in Ocala. The event reached out to over 700 youth and their families in the local community. Our DJJ staff members were joined by representatives from the Ocala Police Department, Ocala Fire and Rescue, the United Way of Marion County and the Marion County School Board. This was a great opportunity for all to get together to discuss the importance of strengthening the family unit and to let families know where and how to get support within the community. The youth in attendance received school supplies while enjoying pony rides, bounce houses, haircuts, face painting and lunch.

Pictured above: JPOS Thrasher (Far Left), JPO Claudio (Far Right), along with Ocala Police Department and Ocala Fire Rescue 

Prevention Staff Attend Family Conference and SAG Meeting

The Circuit 17 Community Faith Network in Broward County recently held their third annual Family Conference at the Mt. Zion AME Church in Oakland Park. DJJ was well represented during the conference and featured four presenters including Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, Chief Probation Officer Cassandra Evans, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisory Winsome Batiste and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell.

Our presenters joined countless other community stakeholders including members of law enforcement, education and ministry who provided the youth in attendance with valuable advice. Advice centered on reacting to police vehicle stops, delinquency prevention programs, human trafficking, gang involvement, negative effects of social media, civil citation, records expunction, mental health issues and surviving active shooters.

Pictured above (from left to right): Yvonne Woodard, Operations and Training Director; Marie Boswell, Delinquency Prevention Specialist, Circuits 11, 15, 16, and 17; Alice Sims; Assistant Secretary, Prevention and Victim Services; Second row (left to right): Eugene Morris, State and Federal Director; Audrey “Pat” McGhee, Delinquency Prevention Specialist, Circuits 6, 10, and 13; Verla Lawson-Grady, Community Engagement Coordinator; and Marcus Smith, Policy Chief at the Family Conference.

The KinderVision Foundation, a DJJ Prevention provider, held their Greatest Save Teen PSA Program awards ceremony at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Greatest Save Teen PSA Program empowers local high school students to create a 30 second personal safety message on dating abuse created by teens, for teens.

Congratulations to Sickles High School in Hillsborough County which was named the Tampa Area winner of the contest. The Sickles High School winning video can be seen at www.TeenPSA.org. The teachers and students who created the video were honored by the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team for their accomplishment. KinderVision Foundation is a recognized charity of Major League Baseball.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) recently held their quarterly meeting in Tampa. The call to order was made by SAG Chairman Dwayne Maddron with our own Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann providing the opening remarks. Deputy Secretary Niermann’s remarks were followed by a presentation by Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims who discussed how the Office of Prevention is impacting and inspiring families.

JDAI Coordinator Minnie Bishop discussed updated to the DRAI. There were also updates on Circuit Advisory Board initiatives, residential re-entry programs and the delinquency bench book. Federal Programs Manager Racquel Piper provided a federal update on compliance monitoring and Title II. The meeting also featured a visit to the Hillsborough County Courthouse to attend a delinquency adjudicatory hearing followed by tours of the Mary Lee House and the Hillsborough County Child Protection and Advocacy Center.

Pictured above (from left to right): SAG Vice Chair Judge Daniel Dawson, SAG Chair Dwayne Maddron, and Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims listen as Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann makes a point at the SAG meeting.

Detention Youth Complete Jobs Course and Attend Boys Court 

Congratulations to the Food Services team at the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was presented with the Cooking with Love Award from the Central Region Detention Office. This award is handed out to the kitchen team with the most appealing youth lunch trays, and their winning tray can be seen below. The Pasco team was presented with a certificate and a box of cupcakes.

Pictured above (from left to right): FSW Marian Topakian, FSW Sonia Rodriguez and FSD James Vanscyoc (Not Pictured FSW Stephanie Shirley)

Things have been busy at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC). First up, seven youth from the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center were the first to graduate from the inaugural class of the HYPE (Helping Young People Excel), which is a twenty-hour job preparedness course led by James Randolph and his team of dedicated teachers. The youth learned in detail what it takes to make it in the real-world job market. HYPE was spearheaded by Captain Bridget Letthand and culminated in a pizza party for the graduates.

Also at Pinellas RJDC, eight of our young men participated in the local Boys Court, where they had an opportunity to listen to guest speakers who emphasized forgiveness to overcoming obstacles. Upon returning to the facility, Sargent Gena Clark was prepared with an activity that showed our youth the value of forgiveness. The game was followed by a sweet treat for all eight of the youth who participated.

Finally, Facility Training Coordinator Freda Isom from Pinellas RJDC held a team building event for all of the juvenile detention officers in training. Ms. Isom coordinated a barbeque lunch of epic proportions and our training detention officers had a great time getting better acquainted, despite the rain.

Captain Reginald Allen from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center implemented a 60-day “Biggest Loser” challenge to encourage staff members at Orange RJDC to get healthy and get competitive. The contest was implemented at a town hall meeting back in July. The weigh-in took place on August 1, with the weigh out scheduled for November 1.

General Services Staff Attends Orlando Supplier Diversity Exchange

Purchasing Director Michele Cook and Purchasing Specialist Christian Wigglesworth from the Bureau of General Services recently attended the Orlando Supplier Diversity Exchange at the University of Central Florida. The Supplier Diversity Exchange, which is organized by the Department of Management Services, serves as a forum for local small businesses to interact with state, county and federal government representatives. The event serves as a way for government procurement representatives to share how small businesses can get involved in procurement opportunities. This event also provides a way for buying representatives to meet face-to-face with woman, veteran and minority-owned businesses in order to increase the diversification of government spending.