New leadership transitions announced for Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice

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On Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam announced Andrew Block, the director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), will step down effective April 19 after leading the agency for five years. 

“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.”  

“During Andy’s tenure as director, the men and women of the Department of Juvenile Justice have fully invested themselves into transforming both the agency and our juvenile justice system, and have set the course to continue this progress,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful for his leadership, for the time he spent serving this administration and the Commonwealth, and for the passion and dedication he brought to serving children, families, and communities across Virginia.”

Governor Northam also announced the appointment of Valerie Boykin, who has served as DJJ’s Deputy Director for Community Programs since 2015, as the agency’s new director.

“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.”

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,” Governor Northam continued. “Valerie is 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.”

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.

“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.”

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