Every day, employees of the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention seek to build safer communities by intervening in the lives of at-risk and justice-involved youth. Oct. 22-28 is Juvenile Justice Week in North Carolina, and JJDP is proud to recognize its 2023 Raising the Bar Award recipients. These awards are given to JJDP employees who have gone above and beyond in their duties, creating better outcomes for youth in the Division's care.
FACILITY OPERATIONS - James Stanton
With 20 years of Juvenile Justice experience under his belt, this year’s raising the Bar Award Winner for Facility Operations is Youth Counselor Supervisor James Stanton, of Cumberland Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Stanton is widely respected as one of JJDP’s top training instructors, leading new hire and in-service training for facilities throughout the Division. In his daily duties, Stanton has a special gift for building relationships and rapport with both his fellow staff members and the youth in their care. He actively listens to the juveniles, shows respect, remains consistent, maintains a safe environment and makes sure that the juveniles know he is a person of his word. Thank you, James, for your outstanding contributions to staff training and for the positive influence you have on youth at your facility every day.
COURT SERVICES - Jessica Auer
Exceptionally detailed and always going above to help others, Administrative Specialist Jessica Auer is one of two Raising the Bar Award recipients in the JJDP Court Services section. For both her supervisors and fellow administrative staff in the eastern region, Auer is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to hiring, benefits and all manner of human resources-related topics. Auer was instrumental in developing a regional interview process, which has greatly increased the hiring efficiency of the Court Services section. Her supervisor describes her as “hardworking, dedicated and committed to the success of this area and department.” Thank you, Jessica, for your going above and beyond to keep our Court Services section running smoothly and efficiently.
COURT SERVICES - Lindsay Blystone
For her outstanding engagement with JJDP youth, Special Populations Coordinator Lindsay Blystone is recognized as one of two Raising the Bar Award recipients in the Court Services section. Since joining JJDP six years ago, Blystone has been a rising star in the Division, from her work on the Mental Health Awareness Committee to her leadership in the development of the Youth Engagement Committee, which has provided much-needed programming for youth at C.A. Dillon Juvenile Detention Center amidst serious staffing shortages. These sessions have given youth an opportunity to not only engage in fun activities, but to also open up with staff and one another about the challenges they face. Thank you, Lindsay, for your outstanding care and commitment to serving youth in our facilities.
COMMUNITY PROGRAMS - Denise Briggs
The epitome of a team player, JCPC Implementation Specialist Denise Briggs is this year’s Raising the Bar Award recipient in Community Programs. As a subject matter expert on juvenile crime prevention councils and the programs they fund, Briggs serves as an excellent resource for new consultants as they learn the ins and outs of community programs. She is well versed in policy and procedure, and has been an integral force in the development of several Juvenile Justice initiatives such as the Wake Teen Court Diversion Program and the Restorative Justice Coalition Project. Thank you, Denise, for your outstanding willingness to support both your colleagues and programs that positively impact the lives of youth.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY - Alex Milburn
This year’s Raising the Bar Award recipient for Information Technology is Business Systems Analyst Alex Milburn. Through his own research, Alex has become skilled with Microsoft 365 applications, specifically SharePoint, Power Automate and Forms. At the request of the JJDP Analysis, Research and External Affairs section, Alex automated the juvenile records request utilizing the MS 365 applications in June 2023. These requests are now completed on the JJDP public website. As the Division’s SharePoint admin, he ensures the JJDP SharePoint intranet site is current. In addition to documenting business needs, Alex is in regular contact with JJDP staff assisting with application support. Thank you, Alex, for helping make JJDP’s business processes more efficient through your skillful use of technology.
HEALTH SERVICES - Samuel Haynes
With a true passion for providing professional care to youth in his care, Nurse Samuel Haynes is this Raising the Bar Award Recipient for JJDP Health Services. In his time working at Edgecombe Youth Development Center, Haynes has consistently been a positive influence on the youth he serves, becoming a leader among his peers and building a strong health care culture at his facility. During times of short staffing, he has worked as the sole medical provider at the 44-bed facility, not only covering his regular duties, but also providing engagement activities for juveniles and volunteering to cover extra shifts. Thank you, Samuel, for your outstanding commitment to providing quality health care services to our youth, and for going above and beyond the call of duty for your facility.
CLINICAL SERVICES AND PROGRAMS - Jordan Dropkin
A champion of the restorative justice model at JJDP, Psychological Services Coordinator for Programs Jordan Dropkin is this year’s Raising the Bar Award recipient for Clinical Services and Programs. During his three-year tenure in this position, Dropkin has been integral in the training and implementation of Restorative Justice programming at Edgecombe Youth Development Center. The restorative justice approach focuses on strengthening communities, repairing harm and restoring relationships by emphasizing healing over punishment, inclusion over exclusion and individual accountability. Thank you, Jordan, for your commitment to supporting staff in providing effective programming for youth in juvenile justice facilities.
CENTRAL OFFICE - Diana Kees
With a deep expertise in communications and public relations, this year’s Raising the Bar Award recipient for JJDP Central Office is Deputy Director for Analysis, Research and External Affairs Diana Kees. With gun crimes on the rise in North Carolina, especially among youth, Kees has taken a leading role in spearheading the NC S.A.F.E. (Secure All Firearms Effectively) public awareness campaign. From working with various DPS sections and outside vendors to initiate the campaign, to planning public outreach events across the state, Kees has been instrumental in spreading an important public awareness message that will help prevent firearm-related injuries and deaths. Thank you, Diana, for your outstanding work on this important initiative.