The Officers of the Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators (CJJA) govern through the leadership of its executive director and serve as a consultative and advisory body for the direction of the Council’s policies and affairs. The contact information is presented below.
Steve Lafreniere, President
Executive Director, Alabama Department of Youth Services
Steve has extensive experience in providing leadership in the design, implementation and oversight of community based service systems. While employed with the Department of Mental Health he served as the Director of Community Services for the Division of Developmental Disabilities. This position was responsible for supervising the operations of five Regional Community Services Offices across the state, Early Intervention, Autism and Children’s Services within the Division.
He offers skill and experience working on state juvenile justice issues, development of non-residential diversion programs, and in the day to day operation of state institutions for delinquent children. He served for eleven years as Director of Children’s Services for the Department of Mental Health. During that time, he also served on the DYS Board as proxy for ten years for three different commissioners. He is very familiar with the transformative initiatives and direction the department has taken over this time. He also served on the Youth Services Board’s Education Committee and is very familiar with the unique challenges and successes the Youth Services School District has experienced.
Mr. Lafreniere holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Auburn University and a Master’s of Science/Clinical Psychology from Auburn University Montgomery.
Peter Forbes, Vice President
Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
Peter J. Forbes was appointed Commissioner for the Department of Youth Services (DYS) in June 2013. Commissioner Forbes, a 30-year DYS employee, has an extensive history in human services, public administration and adolescent development. Forbes most recently served as the Department’s Deputy Commissioner where he managed field operations as well as ensured quality residential programming, community transition and supervision critical to the effective daily operation of the Department.
Commissioner Forbes’ long-standing commitment with DYS began in 1983 when he was first hired as a direct care worker at a long term Secure Treatment Unit in Boston. Forbes progressed in his professional career with the Department and held numerous direct-care and managerial roles with DYS as a Shift Supervisor, Caseworker, District Manager, Regional Director, and later as Assistant Commissioner of Operations. As the Regional Director in Boston for more than a decade, Forbes established a series of constructive relationships with public agency and community based partners that improved the services and outcomes for DYS youth.
Forbes served as the Department’s Assistant Commissioner of Operations for eight years. In this capacity he supervised field-based operations, and introduced and implemented policy and practices changes including providing oversight to ensure that the DYS residential continuum is safe for both youth and staff. Commissioner Forbes was also instrumental in the design and implementation of a structured community reentry model for DYS youth who are returning to their home communities.
Commissioner Forbes is committed to sustaining efforts that ensure low-risk youth do not penetrate the deep end of the juvenile justice system and youth in custody receive appropriate services where and when they need them.
Forbes holds a Master of Science in Human Services with a concentration in Administration from the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Peter also attended the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University in 2009 to participate in the Certificate program focused on Multi System Integration between the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems.
Chris Blessinger, Treasurer
Deputy Commissioner, Indiana Division of Youth Services
Christine Blessinger serves as the Executive Director for the Division of Youth Services. Chris oversees all areas of the juvenile division to include; operations, case management, programs and re-entry. Chris began her career working for the Department of Correction in 2000 as a Psychiatric Social Service Specialist III at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility. She served as a Program Director 2 and was promoted to Program Director 1 at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility. Chris was then promoted to Program Director/Assistant Director of the Division in 2008 where she was the State Coordinator for Performance Based Standards (PbS) and Community based Standards (CbS). She was also responsible or program implementation, Comprehensive Case Management and re-entry services before being promoted to the Chief Operations Director of the Division in 2014. Chris is a member of the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) and a member of the American Correctional Association (ACA). Chris is also a certified PREA auditor for juvenile facilities. Prior to working in corrections, Chris held positions of Youth Care Worker, Youth Manager and Case Manager at the Henry County Youth Center. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology from Indiana State University.
Valerie Boykin, Secretary
Director, Director, Department of Juvenile Justice, Virginia
was appointed Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice by Gov. Ralph Northam in April 2019. She most recently served as Deputy Director of Community Programs for DJJ, a position she held since May 2015. Ms. Boykin served as Court Service Unit Director for the Fourth Judicial District (Norfolk) from December 2011 until May 2015. She has more than 30 years of experience in juvenile justice and human services. She began her career as a juvenile probation officer in the 22nd Court Service Unit (Franklin County) in 1980. She transferred to Norfolk in 1983 and served as a Probation Officer, Family Counselor and Intake Supervisor before leaving to assume the position of Parole Services Manager for the Department from 1992 to 1998 where she oversaw the first Intensive Aftercare Program demonstration site. She has previously served as the Deputy Director for the Youth Services Administration in Washington, DC where she was in charge of court and community programs. She is an experienced Independent Juvenile Justice Consultant and has provided management consultation, training, and technical assistance in a number of human services and juvenile corrections settings. She has consulted with federal governmental agencies such as OJJDP, BJA, Health and Human Services’ Children and Family Services Bureau, and the National Highway and Transportation Administration. Her consultation includes considerable work with various state and local entities, along with non-profit organizations including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Ms. Boykin completed undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia in 1980 and received a master’s degree in public administration from Old Dominion University in 1989.