King County Deputy Executive Rhonda Berry, a former Tukwila city administrator, will lead county efforts in partnership with the community to reach the goal of zero youth detention.
In his State of the County address in March, County Executive Dow Constantine announced the creation of a Road Map to Community Safety and Effective Alternatives to Detention. Constantine on Tuesday named Berry to the new role. To ensure the work incorporates science and evidence-based approaches with a lens on the impact of trauma on youth, Berry will lead a multi-agency team in support of the Road Map from a new position at Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Berry will work with the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee, judges, prosecutors, school officials and other organizations to reduce the number of youth in detention as well as racial disparities in the justice system, according to a county media release.
“Rhonda is an effective leader able to bring people together,” Constantine said. “Her extensive experience working with all county and partner agencies that impact youth, her reputation for inclusion and effectiveness, and her established commitment to equity and social justice, will give us the best chance to make the vision of zero youth detention a reality. Her passion for youth and families led her to propose this challenge, and I’m certain she will be relentless in pursuit of our goal of helping young people overcome the pitfalls of youth and the burden of history.”
For 19 years, Berry worked at the city of Tukwila, including five years as city administrator with responsibility for eight department directors, 315 full-time employees, and a general operating budget of $45 million. Prior to her career with Tukwila, she spent nearly 12 years as a systems engineer for the IBM Corporation.
“There is no greater task than ensuring all our young people have the opportunity to fulfill their potential,” Berry said. “I look forward to hearing from people whose lives have been touched by the justice system and their advocates, as well as those striving to create a safer, more equitable community. Together, we will make great strides towards the goal of zero youth detention.”
“Getting to Zero Youth Detention will be a community effort, and I’m excited that Rhonda Berry will be joining us to bring a prevention-based public health perspective to reach this goal,” said Patty Hayes, director for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
“I look forward to Rhonda’s leadership as we continue to work upstream on prevention and positive development strategies in Best Starts for Kids, so that, ultimately, there is no longer a need for deep end crisis systems such as juvenile detention,” said Adrienne Quinn, director of the Department of Community and Human Services.