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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights OJJDP funding for fiscal year 2021, participation by OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon and OJJDP grantees at the National Mentoring Summit, and tips for effective Child Abduction Response Teams.
Message From the Acting Administrator
Add alt tag to Acting Administrator’s headshot: OJJDP Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones

Staff Spotlight: Program Manager Lou Ann Holland

Photo of OJJDP Program Manager Lou Ann Holland
Program Manager Lou Ann Holland oversaw the National AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program for 7 years. AMBER is an acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.

The AMBER Alert early warning system relies on a huge network to find and recover missing children—from law enforcement, state transportation agencies, and broadcasters to private citizens who recognize an abductor’s car or the face of a missing child.

The system also relies on OJJDP funding to train AMBER partners and encourage public participation. OJJDP’s Lou Ann Holland oversaw that funding for 7 years as Program Manager for the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance program in the Special Victims and Violent Offenders Division. An unassuming professional who avoids the spotlight, Lou Ann is a staunch advocate of the program and the vulnerable children and desperate families it serves.

“Lou Ann has dedicated her entire career to assisting in protecting children,” said Jeffrey Gersh, Deputy Associate Administrator in the Division. “Her tireless work on behalf of this country’s youth has undeniably made a difference in the lives of countless children.” 

The AMBER Alert system, which marked its 26th anniversary in January, notifies the public when a child has been abducted. Law enforcement informs broadcasters and state transportation officials about the abduction, triggering voluntary alerts on radio, television, highway signs, cell phones, Internet search engines, and other electronic means.

AMBER Alerts began in the United States in 1996 after the murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted while riding her bicycle in Arlington, TX. Broadcasters in Dallas-Fort Worth collaborated with police to develop the first system; similar programs now exist across the 50 states and in 33 other countries. Between 1996 and November 24, 2021, AMBER Alerts directly contributed to the recovery of 1,085 missing children.

More than 1,300 AMBER Alerts have been issued since September 2014, when Lou Ann assumed the task she calls “one of the honors of my career.” Since then, more than 95 percent of children reported missing were recovered within 72 hours, she noted; for two quarters in 2021, that rate was 100 percent.

“I only wish we could have a successful recovery with each alert.”

—Lou Ann Holland, OJJDP Program Manager

Lou Ann credits the program’s effectiveness to “AMBER Alert coordinators, clearinghouse managers, Child Abduction Response Team members, and other dedicated professionals and volunteers.” OJJDP is focused on expanding AMBER Alert in Indian country, in response to the 2018 Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act. Lou Ann also pointed to recent “significant advancements” in the AMBER Alert Secondary Distribution program, coordinated by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Lou Ann’s professional commitment to youth began in West Virginia, where she practiced law for nearly 10 years. As a Legal Aid Staff Attorney, she handled spousal abuse and contested custody cases, and served as guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children when parental rights were terminated. Later, in private practice, she specialized in family law, municipal law, and criminal defense. 

A move to Annapolis, MD, coincided with a career change. One of Lou Ann’s positions in Maryland included serving as the Victim Services Program Manager in the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. She spent 3 years there administering several grant programs, including Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization, Family Violence Services Prevention, and the Violence Against Women Act program.

Lou Ann joined OJJDP in 2004 and began managing the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program in 2014. Her current portfolio “is almost exclusively related to missing and exploited children,” she said. Lou Ann manages OJJDP’s funding to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program, and oversees training programs for juvenile and child abuse prosecutors and for regional children’s advocacy center programs.

“I’m incredibly inspired by the work performed by my grantees,” Lou Ann said. “It is vitally important that our funded programs provide the best possible services for child victims.”

Date Created: February 2, 2022