DJJ's Towanda Cuthbert: 2015 GEARS Exceptional Administrative Professional Award Winner DJJ Staff  at:  4/24/2015  

2015 GEARS Exceptional Administrative Professional Award Winner

On April 23rd, one of the Department of Juvenile Justice's own, Towanda Cuthbert, was honored with the prestigious GEARS Exceptional Administrative Professional Award. Ms. Cuthbert was presented the award by GEARS Vice President of Business Development Bridget Hardaway at the end of the 2015 GEARS Administrative Professional Conference.

Ms. Cuthbert was recognized for her outstanding customer service and professionalism for the Department of Juvenile Justice and the citizens of the State of Georgia. Nominated for the award by DJJ Assistant Deputy Commissioner Gary Tolar, Towanda Cuthbert represents the true spirit of the agency: a hard working team player who goes above and beyond each and every day to make sure that the goals and mission of DJJ are met and exceeded.

Towanda Cuthbert has been with the Department of Juvenile Justice for over ten years and is a critical part of the Office of Secure Facilities. Working within a division that spends a good portion of time on the road, Ms. Cuthbert is the nerve center for Secure Facilities, making sure that Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Chandler and Assistant Deputy Commissioner Gary Tolar have the resources that they both need to lead in the field. Towanda Cuthbert's hard work and unselfish demeanor helped DJJ resolve a paperwork backlog that threatened the efficiency of the Investigations team. As a result, it is very appropriate that Ms. Cuthbert was recognized for her efforts during the week dedicated to Administrative Professionals around the world.

GEARS, Inc. offers consulting services to federal, state and local governments, foundations and community based organizations to help them improve programming and services to the public. GEARS consideres themselves stewards of the public trust and support their clients as Trusted Advisors in developing technically sound, innovative and cost efficient real world solutions for real world problems.

The GEARS Administrative Professionals Conference, held on April 23, 2015 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, GA, provided an unparalleled and valuable opportunity to celebrate the success of administrative professionals while giving them access to new professional practices, time –saving techniques, services and products. For more information on GEARS, visit them on the web at

Congratulations again to Towanda Cuthbert for her well-deserved recognition!





     DJJ's Rescue 2 Restore at the Paws for the Cause Event DJJ Staff  at:  4/20/2015  

DJJ's Rescue 2 Restore at the Paws for the Cause Event

On April 18th, a team from the Department of Juvenile Justice's Rescue-2-Restore (R2R) canine adoption program joined with other community partners to support DeKalb County’s ‘PAWS for the CAUSE’. The annual DeKalb community education event is organized to help reduce crimes against animals by increasing public awareness about animal cruelty and animal neglect.

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice supported the event with nationally known animal advocate, Chrissy Kaczynski, who runs the new DJJ Rescue-2-Restore program. The R2R Team was on hand to walk DJJ’s celebrity ‘therapy-dogs-in-training’ -- “Georgia O’Teef” and “Fred” – and to speak about the innovative new juvenile justice R2R program. Young dog trainers from the Muscogee Youth Development Campus, Justin Burnley and Cayden Johnson also participated at the DJJ’s program booth.


DJJ’s Rescue-2-Restore program works with local rescue organizations to find and save dogs scheduled to be euthanized and enrolls the animals in special training sessions at the Department of Juvenile Justice instead. The daily training is conducted at select DJJ secure facilities by capable young offenders who are chosen to teach skills to the rescued animals to make them better behaved and more adoptable.


The program benefit for DJJ’s young offenders often results in the discovery of feelings of success, empathy and self-worth they can take with them into the outside world and use to become productive citizens upon release. Kaczynski says, “The kids enrolled in the program tell us they look forward to working with rescue animals because the dogs don’t judge them.”

‘PAWS for the CAUSE’ featured K-9 demonstrations, an on-site veterinarian who administered low-cost immunizations, and participating rescue agencies who had dogs available for adoption.


Special thanks goes out to Anna Johnson who attended with her dog Glaukous, Macon YDC volunteers Clarence and George, and DJJ Deputy Commissioner Sarah Draper for their support of this event.








News and Views story support from District Ten Director Laura Pike

To truly understand a person, the old saying goes, you must first walk a mile in their shoes. For the staff at the Thomas County Court Services Office (Thomas CSO), the old saying has literal meaning as a group with their participation in the annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes charity fundraiser for the Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center of Thomas County.

PA Julie Mims, JPPS III Janie Holton, ADA Catherine Smith, JPPS Freddie Robinson, DD Laura S. Pike and JPPS Todd Jones

Lead by JPPS I Freddie Robinson, JPPS II Todd Jones, and District Ten Director Laura Pike, the team from the Thomas CSO raised money and awareness for victims of sexual assault, gender violence, and rape in Southwest Georgia. The Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraiser is unique because male participants wear bright-red high heels and walk an actual mile to support the cause.

The Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center of Thomas County provides forensic interviews of alleged child abuse victims, forensic medical exams (SANE exams), medical advocacy, legal advocacy, community awareness, multi-disciplinary team case reviews, and information and referral. They serve victims of sexual assault regardless of age or gender, child victims of sexual assault, abuse, neglect or deprivation, and children who are witnesses to violent crimes (rape, homicide, kidnapping, etc.). The mission of the Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center is to coordinate a multi-disciplinary response and provide comprehensive services to children in cases of suspected child abuse in a safe and child-friendly setting.

Thanks again goes out to all of the Thomas CSO staff who participated. To learn more about the Treehouse Children's Advocacy Center of Thomas County, visit them on the web at





     Metro RYDC: Girl Scout Presentation DJJ Staff  at:  4/23/2015  


In March, Department of Juvenile Justice Deputy Commissioner Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb made a presentation to the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center (Metro RYDC) Girl Scout Troop on the eve of the biggest event in the Girl Scout world: the annual fundraising cookie sales. Stressing the need for high business and leadership skills in selling all products, Ms. Reynolds-Cobb held a discussion that touched upon topics such as advertising, marketing, and overall promotion. Taking the message presented to heart, the Metro RYDC Troop created posters that could be used to market their cookies outside of the facility walls. The young ladies then were able to sample the cookies and create their own unique sales pitch to Deputy Commissioner Reynolds-Cobb and their peers in the Troop.


Troop Leader Loronda Giddens along with Deidra Blalock and Christina Pollard Durr assisted with the presentations along with the entire Metro RYDC staff.

The Metro RYDC is the pilot location for the Girl Scouts at the Department of Juvenile Justice and the first session was held on August 18, 2014. DJJ staff were trained as facilitators in the Girl Scouts' curriculum in order for the new chapter to be formed.

The Department of Juvenile Justice has three trained Troop Leaders for the Metro RYDC Girl Scouts:

  • Loronda Giddens from Victim Services

  • Sara Gardner from Victim Services

  • Monique Brandenburg from Gang Services

Special thanks to all of the Troop Leaders who helped make this presentation (and the outside cookie sales) possible.





     DJJ Central Office EOM April 2015: Arkeysha McCullough DJJ Staff  at:  4/1/2015  

Congratulations to Arkeysha McCullough -- Selected Central Office Employee of the Month for April 2015!

Ms. McCullough is extremely dedicated to her responsibilities and the overall mission of the DJJ. Arkeysha has been employed by the DJJ for nearly 15 years and has become an integral part of overall operations. She is frequently called upon by the executive leadership for information and always responds quickly, correctly, and professionally. She often puts aside her own duties and personal schedule to assist others in both the Central Office and in the field regardless of their title or needs.

Arkeysha is known as the subject matter expert in many areas and continues to want to learn more about her chosen field. She is currently attending Command College in pursuit of her Master’s Degree. She recently completed a grueling certification course and became a nationally certified intelligence analyst. She works long hours, produces excellent work, and has earned the trust and respect of everyone in the Central Office as well as in the field in both the community and facility settings.

Most importantly, Arkeysha does all of the above with a pleasant attitude, a professional demeanor, and is the epitome of customer service!

Please join the me in commending Ms. McCullough on a job well done.


Avery D. Niles, Commissioner
Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice


DJJ’s Employee of the Month Recognition Program
– How Nominees Are Selected 

Begun in early 2015, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice has instituted an “Employee of the Month” program for Central Office employees. Names of nominees are selected by the DJJ Executive Team from members of their units or divisions and submitted to be recognized as the Central Office Employee of the Month. Included with the nomination is a one page write-up detailing why the staff member should be given consideration to be selected Employee of the Month. 

Then each month, the Nomination Committee makes their selection for the employee to receive public appreciation the following month. The written nomination is reviewed and signed by Commissioner Avery D. Niles and posted for public recognition on the DJJ “News & Views” website. Each nominee selected by the committee will be recognized at a monthly DJJ Board Meeting and entitled to use the Employee of the Month parking space reserved at Central Office.

The DJJ Central Office Employee of the Month award is intended to recognize and support those stand-out DJJ team members who bring additional motivation, determination and vigor to the workplace through their personal ethics, advocacy, positive attitudes and innovative solutions to impact the professional challenges faced by their dedicated colleagues and the troubled youth they serve.







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