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The Optimistic Advocate is always on the lookout for inspirational advocacy journeys that lead to success. Be a part of the journey!

Achieving Racial Equity in Massachusetts: The Dynamic Duo Is on a Mission!

January 27, 2021 |

Today, I am joined by Audrey Smolkin and Thula Sibanda. Audrey is the Director of Child and Family Policy at the UMass Medical School. She is responsible for identifying, developing overseeing the management of new programs, research and evidence based policy initiatives all related to children and families. And as part of her job, she is partnering with organizations and individuals from throughout the state to help improve services. Her current focus is on trauma, particularly racial trauma, and the long term negative impacts on the trauma of youth. And then, if that wasn’t enough, we have Thula Sibanda. Thula is with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in Massachusetts. They call it JDAI for short. Thula is the coordinator of this effort. And her focus is for the oversight and implementation of the JDAI initiative in Massachusetts. The Initiative seeks to improve or reimagine a juvenile justice system that is anti racist and developmentally appropriate, and ensures that the right youth is in the right place for the right reasons.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Honors Martin Rafferty’s Inspirational Life Journey

June 8, 2015 |

Martin Rafferty, Executive Director of Youth ERA (formerly Youth MOVE Oregon) is one of a small group of people worldwide being featured at the Launch of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is the Foundation’s newest exhibit. It aims to motivate and inspire people to take action—in their own unique ways—to improve…


About me

Join me as I weave through the complicated world of advocacy. You can expect many insights from 40 years as an advocate, plenty of stories about mistakes, successes, and yep, more mistakes made along the way.