A senior associate focusing on juvenile justice reform at the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation has been named director of the foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group.
Nate Balis will become director of the JJSG on July 1, succeeding Bart Lubow, who announced his retirement earlier this year, Casey announced Wednesday.
Balis has served in the senior associate job since 2007 and most recently has led JJSG efforts to expand Casey’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative to help improve local juvenile justice systems while safely reducing incarceration and other out-of-home placements.
JDAI, the nation’s most widely replicated juvenile reform effort, is now operating at more than 250 sites in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Balis led efforts in Alabama and New York City designed to safely reduce incarceration and expand community-based alternatives.
Casey said in a news release that the number of youth in residential placement in New York City had declined by more than a third since the foundation began working with city leaders in 2010. In Alabama, Casey said, commitments to state confinement dropped by more than 50 percent since Casey began working with the state in 2007.
“Nate is a leader with the vision, energy and skills to work with foundation staff, advocates and decision-makers to accelerate positive reforms in the juvenile justice system,” Patrick McCarthy, Casey’s president and CEO, said in the news release.
“His strengths in site management, data analysis, initiative design and commitment to race equity will be tremendous assets in leader the foundation’s juvenile justice work in the years ahead.”
Balis said he would strive to help juvenile justice systems view children in their custody as distinctly different from adults, make better decisions about juveniles in trouble and include families and communities in solutions.
“We know children reach their full potential and have the best chance at success if they grow up in families, not institutions,” Balis said in the news release.
He noted juvenile crime has hit a 40-year low and pointed to research into the role of adolescent development in juvenile delinquency.
“We are at an opportune moment for juvenile justice systems across the nation to invest in what leads to the best outcomes for youth and community safety,” Balis said.
Before joining Casey, Balis had worked at the District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. There, he helped managed the District’s participation in JDAI, instituted a system to track performance measures and recommended ways to implement juvenile justice reforms.
Balis had also served as a District of Columbia Government Capital City Fellow and in that role developed recommendations to help child welfare, juvenile justice and public school systems prevent child deaths.
He began his career as a research associate developing and analyzing surveys on social policy for non-profits, corporations and the public sector.
Balis has long been interested in helping systems make decisions to reduce disproportionate confinement of young people of color.
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