July | August 2018

Staff Spotlight: OJJDP Senior Policy Advisor Sanzanna Dean
OJJDP Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Sanzanna Dean Dr. Sanzanna Dean, OJJDP Senior Policy Advisor.

OJJDP Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Sanzanna Dean is dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families. She has 20 years of experience in the expansion, management, and evaluation of youth programs in both the nonprofit and government sectors. Dr. Dean has led and been a member of several multidisciplinary teams on workforce development, child welfare, and juvenile justice, including three Governor-appointed boards in Arizona and Texas.

As a Senior Policy Advisor for OJJDP, Dr. Dean guides and helps develop initiatives that support the implementation of effective strategies to address core issues impacting the juvenile justice system.

She is most passionate about creating opportunities for youth to envision a path to success and pursue their dreams. Shortly after joining OJJDP, Dr. Dean participated in a Department of Justice working group on addressing barriers to reentry. The working group coordinated federal programs and initiatives for people transitioning back to their communities following placement in a juvenile justice facility. As co-chair of the working group’s subcommittee on juvenile reentry, Dr. Dean led a strategic planning process to identify priorities and key deliverables for the group. Through this process, the concept was born for OJJDP’s Reentry Starts Here: A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections and Treatment Programs. The guide was released in July.


Reentry Starts  Here: A Guide for Youth in Long-Term Juvenile Corrections and Treatment  Programs“We started out listing the barriers to reentry and what resources youth need to be successful,” Dr. Dean said. “We often take for granted how difficult it can be to make those transitions, especially in the absence of concrete action steps and a caring adult to help direct the process.”


Most toolkits are for practitioners, but this guide is geared specifically toward youth. The working group set out to develop a resource that provides useful information and also creates a space for dialogue between youth and individuals guiding the reentry process. One of the guide’s primary goals is to provide action steps a youth can take to be successful once back in his or her community. The guide also creates a base of knowledge that empowers young people, enabling them to advocate for themselves.

“This guide is telling youth, ‘Despite your past mistakes, you can do this. Here is your opportunity to move forward,’” Dr. Dean said. “We are proud to have created something that will hopefully encourage youth to be active participants in shaping their future and reaching their goals.”