Suffolk native named DJJ director
Published 10:49 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019
Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday announced that Suffolk native Valerie Boykin will serve as the Department of Juvenile Justice’s new director.
Andrew Block, the governor announced, will step down effective April 19 after leading the agency for five years. Boykin has served as the agency’s deputy director for community programs since 2015.
In appointing Boykin to lead the agency, Northam underscored her central role in leading the community side of the department’s transformation. Her accomplishments include building a statewide system of evidence-based services and transforming probation practices so that low-risk youth are successfully diverted out of the juvenile justice system.
“As our Department of Juvenile Justice moves to serve more youth in their communities, there is no better person to replace Andy than Valerie Boykin,” Northam continued. “Valerie is the right leader to take the helm at DJJ and will provide the continuity and consistency needed to carry on the transformation that began under Andy’s leadership.”
“I am incredibly proud of the work that DJJ has done that began under Gov. (Terry) McAuliffe and continued under Governor Northam,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Under Andy’s leadership and with our partners in the legislature, his team has transformed its system quickly, effectively and comprehensively.”
“I have been very fortunate to serve in both the McAuliffe and Northam administrations, which have made the well-being of all children a priority,” Block said. “But most of all, I want to thank the amazing men and women of DJJ. They have some of the hardest jobs in state government, and yet every day I see them bringing their hearts, talents and passions to the work of helping children and families get their lives back on track.”
“The agency is lucky to have Valerie in this role, as she has been a key leader in our transformation,” Block added. “She knows our people, knows this work, and cares passionately about the children and families we serve. She will do an amazing job as our new director.”
Boykin, who was born and raised in Suffolk, earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public administration from Old Dominion University. She first joined DJJ in 1980 as a probation officer and has devoted 25 years of her professional career to the department serving in various capacities. She most recently served as the Court Service Unit director for the Fourth Judicial District from 2011 until she assumed the role of Deputy Director of Community Programs in 2015.
“When I started my career as a probation officer in Rocky Mount, Virginia, in 1980, I would never have imagined that one day I could become the director,” Boykin said. “I am so grateful for this opportunity, and fully prepared to continue the great work of our transformation. We have made a lot of progress toward ensuring the right youth get the right interventions and services at the right time, but we are not done yet.”
Based on the results of a system-wide assessment by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in 2015 DJJ embarked on a comprehensive transformation of the state’s juvenile justice system, safely reducing the number of youth placed in state custody, dramatically reforming correctional practices to focus on more rigorous treatment and education, and closing two juvenile correctional centers, reinvesting the savings into building out a statewide continuum of community-based services and supports.