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Secretary's Messages


  • On Monday, I was honored to join Governor Rick Scott at the PACE Center for Girls in West Palm Beach as he announced the funding of $89.4 million dollars from the “Keep Florida Working,” Budget aimed towards prevention programs under DJJ.
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  • Last week was a busy one for our human trafficking initiatives and staff. Human Trafficking Director, Bethany Brimer Gilot, spent last week in South Florida conducting site visits and meeting with various stakeholders involved in the anti-trafficking efforts in Florida.
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  • It is my great pleasure to recognize SJPO Linda McCray as our DJJ Employee of the Month! Circuit 1 SJPO McCray with the Pensacola Probation Office has worked with troubled and delinquent youth for more than sixteen years, serving as a Senior Juvenile Probation Officer with the Department for the last seven years.
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  • Last Monday, I attended a county-wide meeting for Circuit 18 probation staff in Sanford. Probation staff members were thoroughly engaged during the discussion which covered circuit and county specific issues.
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  • On Wednesday, I was in Orlando for meetings with probation reform specialists, school transition specialists from county school districts and chief probation officers. During these meetings, I shared my vision for the future and the reforms that we are consistently striving to implement in the lives of the youth that we serve.
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  • On Saturday, I was honored to attend the Living Stones International (LSI) Annual Family Fun Day event at the Walker Ford Community Center in Tallahassee. Since its inception in 2007, LSI has been a committed member of our DJJ Faith Network.
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  • DJJ Provider AMIkids Inc. was named the overall winner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2015 Nonprofit of the Year award during a ceremony on June 11th at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. AMIkids also received a $10,000 donation from SunTrust as the overall award winner.
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  • On Friday, I joined together with the Commissioner of K-12 Schools Hershel Lyons from the Florida Department of Education as we honored Cheryl Smith with the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award during a ceremony at the Orange County Schools Alternative Education Main Campus in Orlando.
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  • Forty-seven DJJ team members from all statewide program areas attended the 30th Annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community last week at the Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel in Tampa Bay.
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  • Last Thursday, it was with a heavy heart that I shared with DJJ staff the sudden loss of DJJ Deputy Secretary Julia Strange. Julia’s 28 year career with the Department was one of exemplary service and epitomized the very passion and advocacy the staff of DJJ strive to achieve every day.
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  • Last week, I attended the Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court (FCC) Meeting in Orlando. The FCC is a steering committee of the Florida State Court System whose work has guided courts around the state as they endeavor to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of family court operations.
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  • Last week, I was honored to attend my first meeting as a member of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network in Washington D.C. The Juvenile Justice Leadership Network (JJLN), which is part of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR), was created to support juvenile justice and probation leaders at the state and local level who are engaged in significant reform efforts in their jurisdictions.
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  • Last Thursday, I was honored to speak at the “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” Day event on the 22nd Floor of the Florida Capitol. DJJ is proud to partner up with the Department of Economic Opportunity for this wonderful event designed to teach our children about careers with the state of Florida.
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  • Tuesday was DJJ Youth Success Day at the Capitol and it was my honor and privilege to announce our 2015 Youth Ambassadors during a ceremony on the steps of Florida’s Historic Capitol.
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  • On Wednesday morning, I was honored to join Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Goodwill Big Bend President and CEO Fred Shelfer at the Goodwill Prosperity Center to launch the month of April as Florida Volunteer Month.
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  • Last Thursday, I was honored to speak with the current class of Gubernatorial Fellows at the Capitol. The current class, Class X, will be leaving next month, and I was excited to speak to them about their future plans and how the Fellows program will help them to become future leaders in their state.
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  • Last week, we rolled out the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) in Circuit 2. On Thursday, approximately 40 staff members from DJJ’s Office of Probation and Community Intervention, the Circuit 2 North (West) Regional Residential Services Office, the Bureau of Research and Data, the Bureau of Contract Management, and the Office of Staff Development gathered together for a meeting to learn about JJSIP and its implementation.
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  • I am honored to recognize Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Karin Popkowski as our DJJ Employee of the Month! JPOS Popkowski has been with the Department for almost nine years and in that time has developed a passion for working with at-risk girls in her community.
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