Over 15 years ago, West Des Moines Police Chief Jack O’Donnell invited Claudia to take the lead in creating a community initiative that would reduce youth crime. Claudia engaged a cross section of our community leaders and citizens. What emerged was a Restorative Justice initiative that holds youth accountable and mobilizes a community of support to help them get on track and become positive citizens. Since the inception of the Youth Justice Initiative, YJI has been an organic, evolutionary experience!
YJI has won numerous awards and recognitions over the years including the prestigious Webber Seavey Award—a recognition from the international Chiefs of Police, and the Iowa Community Involvement in Education award.
What Claudia is most proud of are the frequent words of the youth who participate in the Initiative as they look around a Circle of everyday citizens who have come together on their behalf. Frequently these youth say, “I never knew so many people cared.”