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NCJFCJ Holds 81st Annual Conference

News / NCJFCJ News / NCJFCJ Holds 81st Annual Conference

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) recently held its 81st Annual Conference. This dynamic conference hosted more than 600 judicial officers and juvenile and family law related professionals from across the country in an informative consortium covering topics such as immigration and special immigrant juvenile status, the opioid epidemic, domestic child sex trafficking, child abuse and neglect, trauma-informed courts, domestic violence, LGBTQ youth and more.

David Katz

Attendees convened to provoke and precipitate discussions about issues facing the juvenile and family court system. Plenary sessions included a keynote address on strategies for judges in a changing society related to generational shifts, community expectations and judicial roles by Lauran Stiller Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership; the men’s role in stopping violence against women by Dr. Jackson Katz (pictured right); and panel of trafficking and exploitation survivors led by Colorado leaders Judge Robert Lung; Jill Brogdon from the Colorado Human Trafficking Council; Mary Landerholm, from Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline; and Sara Nadelman from the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Katie Sullivan

The Hon. Katharine (Katie) Sullivan, Acting Director of the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) (pictured left) also was in attendance and delivered remarks highlighting the 20-year partnership between OVW and the NCJFCJ and the importance of judicial leadership in communities.

“The NCJFCJ is proud to be the leader in providing unique multi-disciplinary opportunities for judges and court professionals to convene and discuss the newest information affecting children and families in our nation’s courts,” said Judge John J. Romero, Jr., NCJFCJ president. “At some point in a person’s life, one will be affected by an issue in juvenile or family court, whether it be directly or through a someone they know. It is important, now more than ever, for judges and court professionals to be educated and informed about the best practices, research and data available.”

The NCJFCJ also offered new educational opportunities to its participants including an experiential excursion to Happy Dog Ranch (pictured below), a local nonprofit therapeutic horse rescue and sanctuary. Led by Dr. Rebecca Bailey, Transitioning Families, and Nina Ekholm Fry, director of equine programs at the University of Denver, judicial participants learned about different tools to alleviate stress; the importance of self-care and healing; and how equine therapy relates to the vulnerable children and families that come before them at the bench. A post-conference workshop was also offered on court and personal security taught by former U.S. Marshal John F. Muffler.

Happy Dog Ranch

The 4th Annual Justice Innovation Awards were also held, recognizing the national Innovator of the Year and Impact of the Year recipients. The UNLV Immigration Clinic at the William S. Boyd School of Law received the Innovator of the Year award for their mission to offer law students real world experience providing pro bono deportation defense and as a community leader in protecting children and families in Nevada. Dr. Rebecca Nathanson, Associate Dean for Experiential Legal Education, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law and Claudia Noriega-Bernstein, Marketing Director, Edward M. Bernstein & Associates were present to accept the award. The Impact of the Year Award was awarded to Judge Donna Schmalberger from Denver Juvenile Court and Judge Katherine Delgado from the Adams County District Court as pioneers for their work in establishing ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) Specialized Courts.

For more information on the NCJFCJ, visit

About the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):

Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, is the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization and focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide. 

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