DJJ Commissioner Picks New CFO for Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice DJJ Staff  at:  4/15/2013  


(ATLANTA - GA)  The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is pleased to announce his selection for a top Central Office Leadership Team spot at DJJ. Today Commissioner Avery D. Niles named Sonja R. Allen of Tucker, Georgia as the agency’s new Chief Financial Officer.   

Commissioner Niles welcomed CFO Allen and commended her for the extensive background in Management, Analysis and Budget Coordination she brings to DJJ. Allen has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Tennessee State University and more than twenty years of experience in Accounting, Auditing and Budget fields.

“Sonja Allen’s professional skill set is built on sound management principles, policy coordination, team leadership and problem solving experience covering two decades in several state government agencies,” said Commissioner Avery Niles. 

The Commissioner’s choice for Chief Financial Officer comes to DJJ from the Georgia Department of Public Health.  As Director of Financial Services at DPH in 2011, Sonja Allen assisted that agency’s Chief Financial Officer in the formation of the new Finance Division for Georgia’s new Department of Public Health.  Allen was responsible for analyzing financial information and accounting data to identify trends impacting the agency’s fiscal and cash flow positions along with budget forecasts, projections and analysis.

Prior to her service at DPH, Allen was Budget Director at the Georgia Department of Human Resources – Child Support Services division for three years.  She served four years as Policy Coordinator and Analyst at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB).  She was OPB Budget Officer for the Office of DHR four years before that.  And she served as Senior Budget Analyst for the Fulton County Finance and Budget Office for three years prior to her work for DHR – OPB.  

“I have no doubt that DJJ will benefit from Allen’s previous assignments in key state government financial services posts to help bring about the kind of positive growth and finance systems’ streamlining I envision for DJJ Central Office operations,” said Commissioner Niles.  “With Allen as our new CFO, I expect to see increased financial services productivity and the delivery of more outstanding financial systems results for the Department of Juvenile Justice.”

Commissioner Niles congratulated DJJ’s new CFO and challenged her to help support the department as it achieves its mission to protect and serve the citizens of Georgia while assisting young offenders to become productive and law-abiding citizens. “One Team” – “One Mission”, said Commissioner Niles.                                                                                                                               






     DJJ Welcomes Community Program to Southwest Georgia DJJ Staff  at:  4/11/2013  

DJJ Welcomes Community Program to Southwest Georgia

On April 9th, the Thomas Court Services Office and the local Southwest DJJ family welcomed a new community partner to Bainbridge with the opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for The Empowerment Academy, an organization specializing in providing social services to families and children in rural areas. JPM Kathy Williams, JPPS III Pershawn Benedict, and District Director Laura S. Pike all attended the ceremony and met with Nikki M. Venisee, Executive Director for The Empowerment Academy.

Born out of a need for services for youth in Decatur County and Judge Chip Perry's willingness to support outside community programs, The Empowerment Academy focuses on serving rural areas that have little to no access to quality social services. With the establishment of The Empowerment Academy, youth in the Bainbridge area have another resource that can work with DJJ and local Court Services Offices on their behalf.

For more information on The Empowerment Academy, visit them on the web at





     View from the Swearing-In Ceremony of DJJ Board Members Stephens and Yarbrough DJJ Staff  at:  4/9/2013  


On April 9th, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, with Commissioner Avery D. Niles witnessing, swore in Mr. Fred E. Stephens and Mr. Dick Yarbrough as the newest members of the Board of Juvenile Justice.

Mr. Dick Yarbrough is a retired vice president of BellSouth Corporation. He also served as a Managing Director of Atlanta’s 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. “Dick” Yarbrough is best known as one of the state’s most popular and widely read syndicated newspaper columnists.

He is a University of Georgia graduate and past president of the National Alumni Association. Yarbrough and his wife, Jane, have two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandson. They reside in Atlanta. As DJJ’s newest Board Member, Yarbrough was appointed by Governor Deal to represent Congressional District 11.

Yarbrough said, ‘I know juvenile justice reform has long been a priority for Governor Deal and the Georgia Legislature and I appreciate this opportunity to serve on the Board. I am looking forward to working with Commissioner Avery Niles and DJJ’s 4,000 men and women across the state in their mission to help juvenile offenders become productive citizens. I can think of nothing more important to the future of our state than this effort to rehabilitate these young lives.”

Governor Deal appointed Mr. Fred E. Stephens of Cleveland, Georgia to represent the Board’s Ninth Congressional District. Stephens currently serves as an Assistant Chief of Police of Field Operations for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

Chief Stephens will represent the Board District previously occupied by former Board Chairman Avery Niles before he was named DJJ Commissioner. Chief Stephens is a former GBI agent. He retired from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 2012 after more than 31 years of service.

Chief Stephens earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Newberry College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbus State University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Command College, and the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange. He and his wife, Laura, have two children and reside in White County, Georgia.

Chief Stephens said “I’m thankful for this appointment as a new Board Member. I view it as a great opportunity to contribute to my community in whatever small ways I can.” Stephens said he values the youth of our communities and the chance to rehabilitate those young people who have gone astray, using access to education as a foundation for their freedom. DJJ is the state’s 181st school district and has dual accreditation with the State of Georgia.

DJJ Board members are appointed by the Governor to serve in an advisory capacity to the Department of Juvenile Justice, providing leadership and guidance to the Commissioner. The Board is made up of 15 members representing each Congressional District in the state to help improve Georgia’s juvenile justice system.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles expressed the appreciation of the agency and the Board for the Governor’s latest appointments to DJJ. “We admire the professionalism and dedication to public service these new Board Members will bring to this task,” said Commissioner Niles. “They will make excellent assets to the Board and we wish them all the best as they face the many challenges that will come with Georgia’s juvenile justice reforms.”





     Sumter YDC: Pinwheels for Prevention Garden Photos DJJ Staff  at:  4/9/2013  


On April 8th, employees of Sumter YDC partnered with the State of Georgia Children’s Cabinet by participating in the Pinwheels for Prevention program to show support of stopping child abuse and neglect in the state. Sumter YDC employees wore blue for solidarity and created a pinwheel garden to promote safety for local families in the community.

For more information on the Pinwheels for Prevention program, visit the State of Georgia Children's Cabinet at

Sumter YDC employees Patricia Hill, Kimberly Woods, Clifton Clark and Debbie Harry

Pinwheel Garden at Sumter YDC

Dr. Ron Koon (Chief of Psychological Services), Latreesa Perryman (Social Services Coordinator), Corey Butler (Region Administrator), John Izzo (Regional Behavioral Services Program Coordinator), Delbert Montgomery (Director), Dr. Christine Doyle and (Behavioral Health Services Director)








     Photos from the NABCJ Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony DJJ Staff  at:  4/8/2013  


On April 5th, Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles was presented with the coveted Law Enforcement Award by the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ) Georgia Chapter.

Nominated for the Law Enforcement Award by a local NABCJ member, Commissioner Niles was selected for this honor due to his twenty-seven year history of distinguished law enforcement service, criminal justice experience, and proven leadership ability. Entering law enforcement at age twenty as a patrolman with the Hall County Sheriff's Office, Commissioner Niles' commitment to law enforcement and the community that he serves has never waivered.

Among the many dignitaries and speakers were:

Sheila Richardson, Retired Deputy Assistant Director of Industries, Education, and Vocational Training for the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia

Danny T. Stone, President of the Georgia Chapter of NABCJ

Brenda Murrell, Retired Deputy Commissioner of Facility Operations for the Georgia Department of Corrections

Dr. Carlton E. Brown, President of Clark Atlanta University

Dr. Sandra Taylor, Chair of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department for Clark Atlanta University

In addition to Commissioner Niles, the NABCJ also presented their Community Service Award to Robinette E. Pryor, Recruiting Production Sergeant Major for the Georgia Army National Guard and the Humanitarian Award to Evangelist Al P. Saunders, Founder and Executive Director of The Feed Center Outreach Ministries. The NABCJ also awarded the Robert L. Matthews Scholarship Award and the Law Enforcement Scholarship Award at this year's banquet.

Founded in 1974, the NABCJ is a multi-ethnic, non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is dedicated to improving the criminal justice system.

For more information on the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, visit them on the web at

The entire leadership team and staff at the Department of Juvenile Justice would like to congratulate Commissioner Niles on this most deserving recognition.





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