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Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist Announce Appointments to Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee
May 09, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2023
Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist Announce Appointments to Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II today announced appointments to the Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee, which was established by Executive Order 2022-14 following a unanimous recommendation from the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform. The advisory committee is charged with supporting the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) by recommending quality assurance and improvement processes for juvenile residential and detention facilities statewide.
“The Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee will help us better serve young people by guiding our efforts to upgrade facilities and improve processes,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I established the Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform to address long-overdue, complex challenges in our justice system, especially for young Michiganders. Today’s appointees will recommend changes to support young Michiganders and help ensure that one mistake does not catch someone in a cycle of recidivism. Let’s continue working together to lead the nation on justice issues.”
“As Chair of the Task Force, I am pleased to see the establishment of this advisory committee to guide our state as we chart a new path forward for our juvenile justice system,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “By bringing together people with diverse backgrounds from across our state to inform our efforts, we will be better able to support the well-being and futures of young people impacted by the juvenile justice system.”
“I look forward to the valuable insight from this group of dedicated professionals from across our state who bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to the table,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “The department will collaborate with the Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee as we continue our work to provide the most appropriate placement and services for our juvenile justice youth based on the needs of each child. We must continue to improve outcomes for youth who are in juvenile residential and detention facilities.”
“Getting the residential facilities piece of the puzzle right demands both data and input from stakeholders who understand where the system is today and where it needs to be in the future,” said Chief Justice Elizabeth T. Clement. “From recommending standards to considering how to measure progress toward evidence-based outcomes, this committee is ideally suited for the task so that when a residential placement is needed anywhere in Michigan, space is available, the facility is safe, and treatment is effective and appropriate.”
Advisory Committee Members
All members are appointed for a term commencing May 9, 2023 and expiring October 1, 2024.
Hon. Lisa Sullivan, of DeWitt, is a Clinton County Probate and Family Division Judge. Prior to this, she was an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Sullivan is a fellow of the State Bar of Michigan and Executive Board member and former President of the Michigan Probate Judges Association. Sullivan has a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She is appointed to represent a probate court judge who regularly handles juvenile cases.
Hon. Cylenthia Miller, of Detroit, is a presiding judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court family division Juvenile section for the State of Michigan. Prior to this, she was on the bench of the 36th District Court. She is chair of the Foreign Language Review Board and member of the State Bar of Michigan. Miller has a B.A. in Sociology from Wayne State University, and a J.D. from MSU College of Law. She is appointed to represent a circuit court judge who regularly handles juvenile cases.
Rhonda Ihm, of Owosso, is the Family Division Administrator for Juvenile Services at the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Genesee County. Prior to this, she was the Juvenile Services Supervisor at the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Genesee County. Ihm is a Trustee of Michigan Association of Family Court Administrators and board member of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Shiawassee County. Ihm has a B.A. in Psychology from Western Michigan University and an M.A. in Counseling from Oakland University. She is appointed to represent family court administrators.
Lara Nercessian, of Royal Oak, is Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and Lead Prosecuting Attorney for District Courts for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Nercessian is a member of the Armenian Relief Society “Zabel” Chapter. Nercessian has a B.A. in Political Science from Wayne State University and a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. She is appointed to represent prosecutors.
Manda Mitteer-Maki, of Fruitport, is Deputy Chief Public Defender for Allegan and Van Buren County Public Defender’s Office. Previously, she was Director of the Family Division and Holistic the Defense Services at the Muskegon County Public Defender’s Office. Manda Mitteer-Maki is also a member of the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice. Mitteer-Maki has a B.A. in Criminal Justice and an M.S. in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She also holds a J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. She is appointed to represent the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, or its successor organization.
Katharine Louras, of Ann Arbor, is a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the University of Michigan Law School Juvenile Justice Clinic. Prior to this, she was a family defense attorney at the Center for Family Representation in Manhattan. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Emory University, an M.S. in Teaching from Pace University, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is appointed to represent a juvenile defense attorney.
Tersea Branson, of Byron Center, is Chief Inclusion Officer for Kent County Controllers Office. Before this, she was Deputy Administrative Health Officer for Kent County Health Department. Branson is a member of the Governor’s Alliance for Race and Equity and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Branson has a B.S. in Public Health Education from Central Michigan University and a Master of Health Administration from Grand Valley State University. She is appointed to represent county government.
Hon. Kenneth Akini, of Peshawbestown, is Chief Judge of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Prior to this, he served as General Counsel and prosecutor for the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in the Upper Peninsula. Judge Akini has a B.A. in Professional Communication from Siena Heights University and J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law. He is appointed to represent Tribal government.
Jamie Fitak, of Gaylord, is Family Division Supervisor and Juvenile Officer for Otsego County Judicial System. Prior to this, she was the Juvenile Caseworker for Otsego County Judicial System. Fitak has a B.A. in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. Fitak is a member of the Northern Michigan Juvenile Officer’s Association. She is appointed to represent a juvenile justice association.
Gwenda Summers, of Portland, is the Director of Families Forward at Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton Eaton and Ingham Counties, where she is responsible for the direction and administration of services to children with serious emotional disturbance and their families. She has over 25 years of experience in youth mental health, the last 23 of which were at Families Forward. Summers holds a B.S. and M.A. in Counseling from Central Michigan University, and she is a licensed professional counselor. She is appointed to represent a member with expertise in youth mental health.
Kari Klinski, of Royal Oak, is Chief Administrator and License Designee for Spectrum Human Services. Klinski is also Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Spectrum Human Services. Klinski has a B.S. in Social Work from Central Michigan University and an M.A. in Sociology from Eastern Michigan University. She is appointed to represent a member with expertise in residential behavioral health.
Heather Calcaterra, of Clarkston, is the Manager of Oakland County Children's Village. Previously, she was an Adjunct Professor of Human Services at Baker College. Calcaterra has a B.S. in Criminal Justice and an M.A. in Counseling from Wayne State University. She is appointed to represent residential facilities.
James Whalen, of Newberry, is the CEO/Executive Director of Teaching Family Homes of Upper Michigan, where he has worked since 1998. Prior to moving into management, he served as a direct care worker. He is also a U.S. Army Veteran and a member of the Sault Ste Marie Chippewa Indian Tribal Elder Sub-Committee for Unit II. Whalen holds a bachelor's degree in general studies from Central Texas University. He is appointed to represent residential facilities.
Jason Smith, of Ann Arbor, is the Executive Director of Michigan Center for Youth Justice. Prior to this, he was the Director of Policy at Michigan Center for Youth Justice. Smith is also a member of the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice. Smith has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science from Michigan State University and an M.S. in Social Work from the University of Michigan. He is appointed to represent a youth-justice advocate.
Cole Williams, of Grand Rapids, is the Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Delta Project, a nonprofit organization that uses storytelling to amplify the stories of students caught in the cycle of incarceration. Prior to this, he was the Parent Support Partner and Supervisor of The Association for Children’s Mental Health. Williams is a parent of a justice involved youth and serves on the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice and Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform. He is appointed to represent an individual who has lived experience in the juvenile justice system, either as a juvenile or parent.
These appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
The Michigan Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform was composed of leaders from across branches of government, state and local agencies, those working in and impacted by the system, and other stakeholders, and was facilitated by The Council of State Governments Justice Center. To learn more about the recommendations, please visit https://michigancommitteeonjuvenilejustice.com/jj-reform-task-force/.