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About Us

Mission

The New York State Youth Justice Institute strives to build and strengthen the capacity of localities around New York State to adopt evidence-informed youth justice practices. We do so by disseminating information, assisting with implementation and assessing efficacy in existing youth justice programs, and by conducting cutting-edge research to advance the science and practice of evidence-based initiatives.

Vision

We aim to become the premier resource for evidence-based policy and practice nationally and beyond. To that end, we:

  • Serve as an information hub for stakeholders;
  • Cultivate and support practitioners’ commitment to evidence-based practices;
  • Develop a prolific and ever-growing network of research expertise;
  • Foster and sustain synergy among stakeholders;
  • Leverage current public investment to attract external funding that will enable the Institute to grow.
Staff
Giza Lopez, Executive Director of the New York State Youth Justice Institute

Giza Lopes, Ph.D. 
Executive Director
518-442-5598
[email protected]       

Dr. Giza Lopes is the Executive Director of the New York State Youth Justice Institute. 

Giza's scholarly work has investigated, among other topics, the collateral consequences of youth contact with criminal justice system as it relates to employment, education, and interpersonal relationships. Her research into these and other criminal justice issues has appeared in top-ranked academic journals, such as Justice Quarterly and Crime and Delinquency, as well as in multiple edited volumes, encyclopedias, and media outlets. She has also published a book, Dying with Dignity: A Legal Approach to Assisted Death, which traces the origins of the debate surrounding the legalization of "assisted suicide" in the United States and Europe. 

Prior to joining the Institute, Giza was a Senior Research Associate at the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services, where she oversaw the implementation of data infrastructure in Public Defender programs statewide and supported localities by providing training and technical assistance related to that implementation. 

She received her Ph.D. and MA from the School of Criminal Justice, the State University of New York at Albany.

 


Avery Irons, Associate for Technical Assistance for the New York State Youth Justice Institute

Avery Irons
Associate for Technical Assistance
[email protected]

Avery Irons is the Associate for Technical Assistance for the New York State Youth Justice Institute.

Through roles in training, technical assistance, and policy advocacy Avery's career has focused on increasing supports and funding streams for community-based prevention and alternative programs, reducing racial and ethnic disparities, and strengthening protections for vulnerable populations in contact with justice systems.

Before joining the Youth Justice Institute, Avery was a Senior Project Associate at the National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice. She has also previously served as the Training and Coaching Manager for the Los Angeles LGBT Center's RISE Program, the Associate Director of the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York, and the Director of Youth Justice Programs at Children's Defense Fund-New York.

Avery earned a JD from the Columbia University School of Law and a BA in Political Science and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 


Avery Irons, Associate for Technical Assistance for the New York State Youth Justice Institute

Victoria (Tori) A. Knoche, Ph.D
Research Associate
[email protected]

Dr. Victoria (Tori) A. Knoche is a research associate at the New York State Youth Justice Institute. Her research is interdisciplinary and centers around the intersection between criminal justice, psychology, sociology, and social welfare. She is particularly interested in the justice system as it relates to juveniles, including judicial impact on youth and families in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Tori's research has been mentioned on Court TV as well as presented at national and international conferences. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to joining the Institute, Tori was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

 


Avery Irons, Associate for Technical Assistance for the New York State Youth Justice Institute

Jackie Servideo
Youth Specialist
[email protected]

Jackie Servideo is the YJI's Youth Specialist, where she is tasked with creating our inaugural Youth Advisory Board. The Board will be primarily staffed by systems-involved youth in New York.  

Jackie's passion is working with youth and their communities impacted by trauma and poverty. Prior to joining the YJI, she was a kinship adoption recruiter for youth at risk of aging out of foster care, and she was able to find 11 adoptive homes for youth. Jackie volunteers with Urban Grief, which provides education and supports for those affected through local community violence, and she coordinates Care Portal NY which brings needed items to families at risk of foster care intervention.

Jackie earned both undergraduate and Master's degrees in Social Work from the University at Albany in 2017 and 2018.


Alysha Gagnon, YJI Fellow

Alysha Gagnon
YJI Research Fellow
518-442-5643
[email protected]

Alysha Gagnon (she/her/hers) is a Ph.D. student at the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany. Her research interests include program evaluation, longitudinal research, youth justice, and the intersection of child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She received her MA in Criminal Justice at the School of Criminal Justice at UAlbany - SUNY and she graduated summa cum laude from Iona College for her undergraduate work in criminal justice with a minor in philosophy.

 


Sasha Boroda, YJI Instructional Support Assistant

Megan Willows
YJI Research Fellow
[email protected]

Megan Mae Willows (she/her/hers) is a PhD Candidate in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, SUNY. She received her MA in Criminal Justice at UAlbany in 2017 and holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Edinburgh. Before coming to the YJI, she taught upper-level undergraduate courses for criminal justice majors including Gender & Crime and Cross-National Crime. Megan's research interests center on the role of gender in crime, victimization, and criminal justice encounters with an emphasis on intersectional risks for violence. She utilizes both quantitative and qualitative research methods and her recent works have explored the relationship between gender nonconformity and victimization and in understanding local service providers' efforts to address gender-based violence against new immigrants.

 


Sasha Boroda, YJI Instructional Support Assistant

Tawnee Crews
YJI Research Fellow
[email protected]

Tawnee Crews (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University at Albany. Tawnee received her master's degree in Sociology from San Diego State University in 2019. Her research focuses broadly on the intersections of crime, family, and race. She is particularly interested in studying the effects of parental incarceration throughout the life course and more recently, has developed an interest in investigating youth legal cynicism. Prior to her role at the YJI, Tawnee served as a TA and teaching fellow for courses in the Department of Sociology and the School of Criminal Justice. She also played a central role in the development of a remote voter registration workshop for individuals incarcerated at the Albany County Jail in 2020.

 


Josh Baldwin

Josh Baldwin
Instructional Support Assistant
Political Science

Josh Baldwin (he/him/his) recently graduated from the University of Albany, SUNY with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2022. Josh started at the Youth Justice Institute in January of 2022 as a Scholar and is now applying to PhD programs in Political Science for the year of 2023. His research interests are in American politics, constitutional law, judicial politics in the US and internationally but has developed interest for legislation research in the youth justice field and related topics through his tenure at the YJI.

 


 

YJI Scholars: Current Cohort

Interested in joining the YJI Team as a Scholar in our internship program? Please fill out this Google Form and send your Resume and Writing Sample to [email protected]. If you have any questions, please review our FAQs or email us at [email protected].

 

Erin Gardner, PhD Student

 

 

 

Alexis McQuade
BA Student
Department of Sociology/School of Criminal Justice

 

 

Erin Gardner, PhD Student

 

 

Amanda Scarlata
BA Student
Department of Sociology/Department of Psychology

 

 

 

Anabelle Lopez

 

 

 

Anabelle Lopez
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Psychology

 

 

Erin Gardner, PhD Student

 

 

Brianna Caetano
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity


 

Erin Gardner, PhD Student

 

Erin Gardner
Ph.D. Student
School of Social Welfare




 

Justis Manchur

 

 

Justis Manchur
MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Jenny Mudd, MS Student

 

 

Kyla Zybczynski
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Psychology

 

 

 

Jenny Mudd, MS Student

 

 

Lauren Russell
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Psychology

 

 

Mohammed Ibrahim, MS Student

 

 

 

Mohammed Ibrahim
MS Student
Urban and Regional Planning

 

Jenny Mudd, MS Student

 

 

 

Sierra Siedsma
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Psychology

 

 

Tierney Nash, BA Honors Student

 

 

Tierney Nash
MPA Student
Public Administration



 

Zhuoning Wu

 

 

Zhuoning Wu
MA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Psychology

 

 

YJI Scholars: Past Cohorts

 

Alexis Schnyer

 

 

Alexis Schnyer
BA Student
Department of Psychology/School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Briana Williams

 

 

Briana Williams
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Caitlin Nolan

 

 

Caitlin Nolan
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Casey Pav

 

 

Casey Pav
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Connor Reohr, Student

 

 

Connor Reohr
MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Emily

 

 

Emily Wilson
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Gianna Fiorello, MS Student

 

 

Gianna Fiorello 
MA Graduate
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Gianna Fiorello, MS Student

 

 

Holly Yauchler
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Psychology

 

 

 

Jacob

 

 

Jacob Nielson
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Jeewon

 

 

Jee Won Ryu
BA/MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Jenny Mudd, MS Student

 

 

Jenny Mudd
MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Justine Dicio

 

 

Justine Dicio 
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Kalpita Dapkekar, MS Student

 

 

Kalpita Dapkekar
MS Student
Data Science

 

 

 

Lara

 

 

Lara Thomas
BA/MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Liza

 

 

Lisa Mendoza
MBA Student
School of Business

 

 

 

Meghna

 

 

Meghna Tetambe
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Morgan Thomas, BA Student

 

 

Morgan Thomas
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/Department of Sociology

 

 

 

Nick

 

 

Nick O'Rourke
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Nyasha

 

 

Nyasha Biggs
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Paul

 

 

Paul White
BA/MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Samahria

 

 

Samahria Alpern
Urban Studies
Brown University

 

 

 

Mohammed Ibrahim, MS Student

 

 

Sara Regensburger
MA Student
Department of Anthropology

 

 

 

Mohammed Ibrahim, MS Student

 

 

 

Sasha Boroda
BA/MA Graduate
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

Shaniah Roseborough, BA/MA Student

 

 

 

Shaniah Roseborough
BA/MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

Shelby Peck, MS Student

 

 

Shelby Peck
BA Graduate
Southern Methodist University

 

 

 

Sofia Bank Student

 

 

Sofia Bank
BA Student
School of Criminal Justice/College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity

 

 

 

Nikhil

 

 

Sri Nikhil Surapaneni
MS Student
Data Science

 

 

 

Morgan Thomas, BA Student

 

 

Sujaya Balachandran
MA Student
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

Sydney Bryans, BA Student

 

 

Sydney Bryans
BA Student
Department of Psychology

 

 

 

Taylor Oathout, BA Student

 

 

Taylor Oathout
MA Student 
School of Criminal Justice

 

 

 

 

Affiliated Faculty
Alan

 

 

Alan Lizotte - In Memoriam
Distinguished Professor
School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany

 

 

 

Megan

 

Megan Kurlychek
Professor of Sociology, Criminology, and Public Policy
Associate Director of Criminal Justice Research Center
Pennsylvania State University

 

 

 

 

Internship Opportunities

Interested in joining the YJI Team as a Scholar in our internship program? Please fill out this Google Form and send your Resume and Writing Sample to [email protected]. If you have any questions, please review our FAQs or email us at [email protected].