In a recent Forbes article, servant leadership was defined as – the art of seeing how something can be achieved, or improved, and rallying people/resources to move toward that better vision; business leaders make better widgets, servant leaders make better people.

During my four years spent with YOF, I have learned about some of the issues that confront our kids as they grow, it’s a complicated world; far more so than the one I grew up in! So much input, so many decisions, and confronted at such a young age with, potentially, lifelong implications. And, what we do to some of the most vulnerable…exploitation and victimization! God never created a “bad” kid, we do that to them!

These children are our future!?! Fortunately, many good people have recognized the very issues that torment children and are hard at work advocating for and protecting our kids, all demonstrating selfless servant leadership! I have spent my entire professional life in leadership roles, and thought I was pretty good at it, however, I am humbled by the people that I have encountered who commit their lives to assisting kids in growing up when things don’t turn out as hoped. The volunteers, mentors, sports coaches, community cops, educators, counselors, etc. I am thankful for all of the servant leaders “pouring” themselves into these “thirsty” kids.

I’m thankful for Ron Hunter…

After a successful life insurance career, Mr. Hunter responded to a personal, and civic, call to assist in improving the outcomes of the juvenile justice system. As the CEO of Youth Opportunity Investments, he realized that only so much could be done for post-adjudicated youth within the law enforcement systems and a nonprofit organization would be required to marshal the energies and resources of a concerned public to begin to resolve these issues. Frequently frustrated by the all to barriers to kids in need of rehabilitation, Ron has often counseled me, “the world is impressed by our example, not by our opinion; let’s change some lives!” I am thankful for Mr. Hunter who has given me the chance to lead a new 501c3 to provide troubled kids with a “second chance at life”.
I am thankful for the YOF Board of Directors…

All corporations, for profit and nonprofit, require a board of directors. The three primary responsibilities of all Boards include strategic direction, compliance and accountability to mission.

Dealing with vulnerable children is always complex work, these individuals have provided unwavering direction and support. I am thankful for The YOF Board

I am thankful for the YOF Advisory Council…

It was suggested that YOF would be well served to focus on resolving the “causes” of child unrest than to spend time addressing the “effects”. With that in mind, we called together experts in YOF’s four areas of focus; mentoring, education, jobs and applied research, and created the Clinical and Scientific Advisory Council.

Established in December 2019, this group has been instrumental in objectifying the issues confronting justice-involved youth. All accomplished professionals, and researchers, in youth related fields, this talented group was the source of a grant application funded by the DOJ for groundbreaking research into the impact of traumatic brain injury on justice-involved youth. With this type of collaborative interaction, I am confident that this group will continue to make positive contributions to juvenile justice reform. I am thankful, and indebted to the YOF Advisory Council!

Great leadership is about service to a worthy cause; I am surrounded by servant leadership who serve vulnerable youth deserving of our attention and assistance.
I am truly thankful for, and indebted to, this extraordinary group of servant leaders.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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