Sam Abed, Esquire, comes to Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) with exceptional knowledge and experience in managing a juvenile justice agency.
Sam Abed served as Deputy Director of Operations at the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, with direct supervision over the juvenile justice operations, including the supervision of 6 juvenile correctional facilities and 32 court service units statewide.
As Chair of the juvenile focus area committee and member of the interagency leadership team, he oversaw the development of the agency's re-entry strategic plan. As Chief Deputy Director he supervised an agency budget of over $200 million and the development of a faith based mentoring program for incarcerated youth.
Prior to his time as the Deputy Director of Operations, Mr. Abed served as Assistant Commonwealth Attorney for the Office of the Sussex County Commonwealth's Attorney as well as the Office of the City of Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney. He also served as Commissioner for the Virginia Commission for National and Community Service.
Abed received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and completed an internship at the American University in Cairo, Arabic Language Institute. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond School of Law. He is a resident of Baltimore City.
Wallis Norman serves as the Deputy Secretary for Operations. He is responsible for directing the operations of seven community detention centers, six residential treatment facilities, and oversees the coordination of somatic health care, substance abuse, mental health, behavioral health, dietary, educational, security, recreational and rehabilitation services, Foster Grandparent Program, and the transportation department.
In addition to his service in the United States Navy, Norman has spent more than 22 years working in state juvenile justice agencies in Georgia and in Maryland and has an extensive amount of experience overseeing juvenile facilities. Norman joined the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services in May 2006 as an Assistant Facility Administrator and then was promoted over the years to Superintendent, Director of Detention, and most recently Executive Director for Residential Services. In all of Norman’s experiences, he ensured that the safety and welfare of youth was maintained, appropriate services were provided, and operations were in compliance with laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements and State and Departmental policies and procedures.
Visit the Operations Division page for more information.
Lynette Holmes is the Deputy Secretary for Support Services which includes Human Resources, Information Technology, Capital Planning & Budget, Research & Evaluation, Budget & Accounting, Training, and General Services.
Holmes spent more than 20 years working for state government as both a senior research analyst for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and a senior economist for the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. Holmes brings to her position extensive knowledge of juvenile justice reform, having worked with internal and external stakeholders, juvenile justice experts, and respected researchers at the state and national level, including the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She has developed innovative strategies based on relevant evidence-based research and implemented successful reform initiatives, programs, and procedures.
Visit the Support Division page for more information.
Betsy Fox Tolentino serves as the Assistant Secretary of Community Operations, a newly-created executive position which will function as a Deputy Secretary, and will oversee Pre-Adjudication Services, Community Supervision, Equity and Inclusion, and the Resource Office.
A graduate of Southern Oregon University and Widener University School of Law, Tolentino's career has focused extensively on criminal and juvenile justice advocacy, and policy development. Tolentino's experience includes representing and advocating for criminal defendants and children in Maryland's foster care and juvenile justice systems before trial courts, the Maryland General Assembly, and other executives, stakeholders and public policymakers. In her current role, Betsy manages the Department of Juvenile Services' Office of Pre-Adjudication Services and Reform which contains the statewide intake, community detention, and reform and equity operations of six Department of Juvenile Services regions and 33 field offices across Maryland. Prior to her current role, Betsy was the Director of Legislation and Policy where she managed the Department's intergovernmental relations, and assisted program staff in developing and monitoring programs to meet policy objectives consistent with Maryland law and national best practices.
Jay Cleary serves as the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). In this capacity, he works directly with the Secretary of DJS to implement initiatives, reforms and policies that are designed to improve the lives of youth in Maryland and move the agency forward. Mr.Cleary supports and advises the Secretary on the functions of the agency.
Cleary joined DJS in 2009 to serve as the agency's Director of Communications and was promoted to Chief of Staff in 2012. He earned his Political Science degree from Villanova University in 1998 and graduated cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2002.
James A. Johnston is the Director of Legislation and Policy for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. In that role, he serves as part of the DJS executive leadership team and manages the Department's governmental relations, as well as assisting staff in meeting policy objectives consistent with state and federal law.
He joined DJS in 2019 after a 15-year career as an attorney with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. During that time, Mr. Johnston worked in courtrooms throughout the state directly representing youth and adults in trial, disposition, post-conviction, and appellate proceedings. His efforts included a focus on youth charged as adults, and he played a key role in negotiating a 2013 agreement to help remove youth from the Baltimore City Detention Center. He holds a bachelor's degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Eric Solomon serves as the Director of Communications and the official spokesperson for the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). Solomon develops and oversees all internal and external communications strategies, responds to the media, Public Information Act requests, crisis situations, and regularly coordinates messaging with the Governor’s Office and oversees the Special Projects and Website team. Solomon has spoken at many conferences about the importance of media relations in the juvenile justice field and in 2013, he was instrumental in receiving Best in Maryland honors from the Public Relations Society of America for DJS-TV.
Solomon has more than 26 years of Communications experience and has worked for DJS for more than three years. Prior to his experience with the State, he worked for a national non-profit to keep youth under the age of 18 years old out of the adult criminal justice system. He was the recipient of two Golden Thinker Awards from the North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS), for 282 and 191 placements of juvenile justice TV stories. Solomon is a graduate from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ.
Robin Brady-Slifer monitors all DJS-operated facilities and DJS-licensed programs both in-state and out-of-state as well as DJS's internal operations. The Office of the Inspector General is charged with investigating all incidents that occur in any program with DJS youth. The Inspector General directly supervises the Office of Internal Auditing, Office of Quality Assurance, Investigative Unit, Gang Intelligence and the Office of Child Advocacy.
Monique Cheatham is the Executive Assistant to Secretary Sam Abed. In this capacity, she provides executive-level support and performs all administrative tasks for the daily operation of the Office of the Secretary.
Cheatham has over 17 years administrative experience, and 27 years of service with the Maryland State Government. She began her tenure with the Department of Juvenile Services in 2013.
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