NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF YOUTH COURTS TRAINING SPECIALISTS
The following individuals have over 140 years of collective experience in the development, running, and expansion of youth court programs and state associations. Each person has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to youth courts as an effective means of diverting young offenders from our justice system. They believe that these courts, through their early intervention with our youth, prevent many young people from making poor life choices, and effectively assist in the reintegration of young offenders who have violated the law.
The list of training specialists is offered to members of the Association as a source of good information, founded on years of experience, for the creation, management, and expansion of local, regional and state programs. Each of the speakers is available at no personal charge for their services. They may be reached by email and telephone conference call to assist in all manner of issues related to youth courts. Arrangements also may be made to cover their cost of personal appearance at a program site.
The training specialists may be contacted directly by members of the National Association of Youth Courts.
Lisa Albert-Konecky has been active in the youth court movement for over 20 years. She began in 1996 with the Mat-Su Youth Court, located in the Mat-Su Borough of Alaska.
The Mat-Su Youth Court, which operates under the umbrella of local law enforcement, is a three judge tribunal model that handles misdemeanor offenses. Students act as attorneys, judges, bailiffs and clerks. Adult attorneys and judges assist the program as legal advisors. The adults also provide classroom instruction on the law and on-going training to the student attorneys. The program is offered to students in the 8th – 12th grades. Students may receive high school credit for participation in the program.
Lisa is a past president of the United Youth Courts of Alaska, the state association for these courts. She has traveled throughout Alaska, attending annual youth court conferences and visiting local programs. She has actively mentored new programs and has assisted in the training of staff and student participants.
Lisa is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Youth Courts and assisted in the national peer/teen/youth court effort that resulted in the formation of the National Association.
Judge Couzens has been active in the youth court movement for over 27 years. He led the formation of the Placer County Peer Court in early 1990. The program has been acknowledged for its exemplary services to California youth by the office of the California Attorney General and the California Legislature. A unique aspect of Peer Court was an education component that served all of the high schools in Placer County with speakers and materials on the law and youth.
Judge Couzens also led the formation of the California Association of Youth Courts which serves all youth courts in California. Each year it sponsors a “Youth Court Summit” which is designed to facilitate the exchange of best practices between youth and adult advisors. He has served as the association’s first president and remains on the board of directors.
Judge Couzens was a founding member of the National Association of Youth Courts, has served as its president, and currently is a member of its board of directors.
During his 40 years on the bench, Judge Couzens served for 10 years as a juvenile court judge, presiding over delinquency and dependency matters. He has taught California judges on the intricate workings of the juvenile law.
Drawing on his experience as a lawyer and judge, Judge Couzens can be particularly helpful in the crafting of the legal documentation for the formation of youth court programs. He also may be able to assist in the engagement of the local judiciary in the youth court movement.
Areas of expertise: Court procedures; role of the judge; developing operational partners, including a memorandum of understanding; monitoring student performance of jury verdict; creation of adult and juvenile training programs; and development of a state association.
Karen Green has been actively involved with youth courts for over 27 years. She began as the coordinator of Placer County Peer Court, California. The program, primarily supported by the Placer County Superior Court, provided youth court services at two locations in the county, and provided an education component to 15 high schools. Her responsibilities included all aspects of program management: conducting in-take for students referred to the program, setting up court sessions, monitoring school-based aspects of the program, and supervising students who went through the court.
Karen was a founding member of the California Association of Youth Courts and the National Association of Youth Courts. She has continuously served on the board of directors of each association. She has served as a past president of the National Association of Youth Courts. She is currently the treasurer for both associations.
Karen has an extensive and diverse background in community action projects: Placer County Tobacco Coalition; GATEWAY, a Placer County committee helping pregnant and parenting teens; Auburn Children’s Psychology Services Board; Youth Violence Prevention Symposium Planning Committee; Restorative Justice Steering Committee; Placer County Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Task Force; and Placer Dispute Resolution Services Board Member. As a member of the W. K. Kellogg Consortium, Karen was a Western States representative to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s five-year program ($5.1 million dollars) to facilitate volunteerism in the United States.
She co-authored the manual “Volunteers Who Serve on Boards, Councils, and Committees.” She has served as the counselor on the Placer County School Attendance Mediation teams. Karen has served as an advisor to the Placer County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission. Her experience with the juvenile justice system was recognized when she was placed on the California Attorney General’s Youth Council on Violence Prevention (1997-1998). She was a member of the California Judicial Council Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee.
A graduate of the University of California, Davis, with a Master’s Degree in Psychology and School Counseling, Karen established her own business, CONNECTIONS, School Counseling College and Career Advising following her years as a public high school counselor.
Areas of expertise: Management of a youth court program; development of relationships with courts, schools and community-based non-profit programs.
- Kathleen “Katie” Self became the Executive Director of the first Teen Court in Florida in 1989. With no experience in legal or social work, Katie was called on by the Junior League of Sarasota, Inc., due to her volunteer experience working with youth related organizations in her community, to generate interest in and coordinate support for the new and innovative concept of peer justice. This effort required developing support among area judges, law enforcement agencies, school boards, county and city commissions, and community leaders. Accepting the position for six months, she quickly committed herself to the cause of helping area youth and families. The promise of six months assistance turned into 27 years before she retired in 2016. Katie currently serves as an advocate and consultant, fostering juvenile delinquency prevention, and intervention and diversion for early offending youth.
- Managed Teen Court of Sarasota, Inc., a non-profit organization, by spearheading the agency’s growth from 60 delinquency referrals to an annual caseload of 500+ at-risk youth;
- Developed training materials & coordinated training of more than 200 student volunteers annually;
- Increased the agency’s annual budget from $5,000 to $400,000;
- 1990-1996- assisted 57 other Florida counties in the implementation of the youth justice concept;
- Co-founded the Florida Association of Teen Courts, Inc.; served as first president for eight years.
- Co-authored statewide legislation, F.S.S. 938.19, to provide dedicated revenue to fund Florida’s teen courts. The legislation provides more than $5,000,000 annually to Florida’s teen courts;
- 2002- Spearheaded the development of Camp X-RAYD-Examine Reality About Your Decisions, a partnership with local law enforcement agencies to provide intervention services for youth involved with illegal substances;
- 2002- Became a member of a task force funded by the U.S. Dept of Justice/OJJDP to develop the National Association of Youth Courts;
- 2007- Elected first president of the National Association of Youth Courts, Inc.
Presentations/Faculty: National Assoc. of School Resource Officers, National Crime Prevention Council, National Youth Court Conferences, Florida Dept. of Juvenile Justice “Best Practices” conference, NY State Division of Criminal Justice Youth Court Conference, Open World Leadership Program-Russian Delegation, National Training Institute-Teaching Youth About the Law, ABA Youth Court Guidebook Advisory Commission, National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges, South Carolina Bar Assoc. Youth Summit.
- Sarasota County Bar Association Distinguished Service Lay Person of the Year Award
- Sarasota County Honorary Sheriff, making her only the second woman to receive that honor
- 2005- Girl’s Inc., “She Knows Where She’s Going” as a positive role model for girls
- 2005- “Katie Self Day”- by Sarasota City and County Commission
- 2011- Medal of Honor (Lay Person) by the Florida Bar Foundation for her leadership in youth justice advocacy work across the State of Florida and the United States
- 2016- In recognition of her service to Florida’s children and families, Congressman Vern Buchanan sponsored a U.S. flag flown over the nation’s capital on June 30, 2016.
Area of Expertise: Community based management; non-profit development; diversifying and sustaining funding; diversifying and sustaining referrals.