Virginia Youth Justice Advocate Wins National Award

RISE for Youth Coordinator Valerie Slater Recognized for Tenacious Effort on behalf of Youth

The Youth First Initiative congratulates Valerie Slater, RISE for Youth Campaign Coordinator, recognized tonight as an emerging leader in youth justice reform by the National Juvenile Justice Network.

The Youth Justice Emerging Leader Award honors courageous and passionate youth justice advocates who are committed to raising up the voices of system-involved youth and people of color to mandate that those most affected by the system are at the forefront of the youth justice movement.

“Valerie understands that a truly meaningful juvenile justice transformation can only happen if the voices of young people and communities are put front and center,” said Liz Ryan, Youth First Initiative Executive Director. “That’s why she works tirelessly to get young people and their families a seat at the table. Valerie has helped make a huge impact, and I have no doubt that her advocacy will lead to a better system and a brighter future for youth across Virginia.”

Against all odds, Valerie led a coordinated campaign that successfully advocated against the building of a new youth prison in Chesapeake, Virginia. Through several community forums in Hampton Roads, RISE for Youth helped community members make their voices heard about the proposed youth facility and share their criticisms with the Chesapeake City Council.

Valerie began working with RISE for Youth in 2016 as a juvenile justice attorney and coordinator for the RISE for Youth Coalition. RISE for Youth is a non-partisan campaign in support of community alternatives to youth incarceration in Virginia. Valerie’s work focuses on educating communities and policy makers on the detrimental effects of youth incarceration; advancing efforts to create community-based rehabilitative models as alternatives to incarceration; advocating for the rights of incarcerated youth; and closing youth prisons. Valerie has dedicated her life’s work to advocacy in its many forms to preserve and protect the Commonwealth’s most valuable resource, young people.


Pictured here, from left to right: Sarah Bryer, Executive Director of the National Juvenile Justice Network; Valerie Slater; Jeree Thomas, Policy Director at the Campaign for Youth Justice


Youth First is a national advocacy campaign to end the incarceration of youth by closing youth prisons and investing in community-based alternatives to incarceration and programs for youth.

RISE for Youth is a statewide, nonpartisan campaign coalition whose central goal is to develop a continuum of community- based alternatives to incarceration that will keep juvenile justice system involved youth closer to their homes and support networks while making our communities safer. For more information on RISE for Youth, visit: and follow @RISEforYouth.

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