On March 28, the Oklahoma Policy Institute released its latest report, which focuses on the state’s youth justice system. To celebrate the report’s release, OK Policy held an online panel discussion to look more deeply at issues impacting the state’s youth justice system and the issues raised in the report.
Watch the report release and panel discussion on this page or on our YouTube channel.
- Candice C. Jones, President & CEO, Public Welfare Foundation
- Rachel Holt, Executive Director, Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs
- Shameca Brown, SKB Integrated Health Systems
- Shelley Cadamy, parent of children with lived experience
- Ahniwake Rose, Executive Director, OK Policy
- Carly Putnam, Policy Director, OK Policy
Click on a panelist or read below for their bios.
About the Report
Better Tomorrows: A Landscape Analysis of Oklahoma’s Youth Justice System and Suggested Reforms reviews the historical context for Oklahoma’s youth justice system, examines contemporary processes and actors within the system, and recommends a series of reforms that can help achieve better outcomes for justice-involved children and their families.
OK Policy intends for the Better Tomorrows report and the accompanying panel discussion to deepen conversations about how our youth justice system can better serve the needs of our children, our families, and our communities.
Photos from Report Release
About our Panelists
Candice joined the Public Welfare Foundation in Washington, D.C. as its President and CEO in 2017. Previously, she served as Senior Advisor at Chicago CRED, an organization that focuses on gun violence in Chicago. In that role, she worked on securing greater investments for violence intervention programs as an alternative to the criminal justice system. Prior to her work with Chicago CRED, she served as Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, a cabinet level state agency where she supervised operations, programming, budget matters, and communications. During her tenure, she pushed significant reforms that reduced the number of youth in state custody. She also served as a White House Fellow, managing a portfolio within the U.S. Department of Education that included developing education strategies for correctional institutions and shepherding a plan to reinstate federal Pell grants for youth and adults in custody. Earlier in her career, Candice served as a program officer with the MacArthur Foundation, where she managed a grant portfolio focused on decreasing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and on improving the quality of defense for indigent youth. Candice received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Rachel Canuso Holt is the Executive Director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA), Oklahoma’s juvenile justice agency. Rachel’s career with OJA began in 2016, and she has served the agency as the general counsel and chief operating officer. On March 7, 2020, the Board of Juvenile Affairs appointed Rachel to serve as OJA’s interim executive director. In October 2020, Governor Kevin Stitt nominated her to fill the role of executive director, and the Oklahoma State Senate confirmed the nomination in May 2021. Rachel has also served as an assistant attorney general and an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County’s juvenile division. Rachel was born and raised in Philadelphia and graduated cum laude from George Washington University with a major in criminal justice and a minor in women’s studies. In 2007, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law with recognition for her participation in the interdisciplinary training program in abuse and neglect. Rachel has a passion for juvenile justice and has assisted in drafting legislation and policy to help Oklahoma become a national leader in juvenile justice. In recognition of her work in juvenile justice, Director Holt has been named to the Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators (CJJA) Board of Directors as the South Region Chair and is a member of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network. Rachel and her husband have two children and live in Oklahoma City.
Shameca Brown received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Phoenix. Shameca obtained a Master’s degree in Public Administration – Nonprofit Management from the University of Oklahoma.Shameca is the founder of SKB Integrated Health Systems, Personal Development Coach. Shameca is a compassionate, courageous, and motivating leader who has identified her purpose in serving and supporting others. Shameca is the mother of three amazing children. Although Shameca has faced many challenges as a youth, and she has persevered and pursued her dreams. In doing so, she was able to identify and pursue her purpose. With several years of Mental Health Advocacy experience. She has gained experience with serving multi- demographics youth and families, from childhood to adulthood.Shameca approach to coaching involves identifying emotional barriers. She is passionate about helping break generational barriers and supporting individuals throughout their healing journey. Her style is led by authenticity and transparency.
Shelley Cadamy, Parent of Children with Lived Experience
Shelley Cadamy’s career in economic development spanned 25 years before she joined The Mettise Group as a Partner in 2019. Strategist, consensus builder, problem solver and advocate for no-nonsense effectiveness, Shelley Cadamy has built, turned around, or transformed organizations and programs since 1994. Shelley graduated from many leadership programs across Oklahoma and has received multiple awards for her business and community involvement, including YWCA Tulsa’s Woman of the Year and the Journal Record’s “50 Women Making a Difference.” She is an advocate for foster care, adoption, mental healthcare, racial equity and social justice.
Ahniwake Rose is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute (OK Policy). Rose brings nearly two decades of experience at the intersection of public policy and nonprofit management. She is grounded in forward-thinking policy solutions and seeks to work within communities to assess, develop, and implement comprehensive change based in credible data. Prior to her joining OK Policy, Rose served as the Deputy Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), a national organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities, where she worked with a diverse coalition of civil and human rights organizations to address economic inequality and systemic injustice. Oklahoma-born, Rose serves on several education and youth related boards and is a Rockwood Leadership Institute Leading from the Inside Out Fellow, Class of 2017. She is a mother of two daughters, Waleah and Tahna. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is of Muscogee (Creek) descent.
Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in January 2014. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern. A Kansas City native, Carly graduated from the University of Tulsa in December 2013 with a BA in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. She is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification Program, the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking program, and The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa. She previously served as board president for United Campus Ministry at the University of Tulsa. She is a member of Leadership Tulsa Class 62. At OK Policy, Carly supervises policy staff and conducts health care research.