DJJ Organization

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is led by Commissioner Avery D. Niles, who provides organizational leadership and establishes the vision for the agency, which is headquartered in Decatur. DJJ also has 26 Secure Facilities and 96 Community Services Offices throughout the state.

The Executive Management Team is comprised of two Assistant Commissioners, five Special Staff members who report directly to the Commissioner and five Deputy Commissioners who oversee the Division of Community Services, Division of Secure Campuses and Operations and Compliance, Division of Secure Detention, Division of Administrative Services and Division of Support Services. Detailed organizational charts for each division are hyperlinked in the highlighted text below.

DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles

Office of Commissioner - Avery D. Niles, Commissioner

While the Commissioner oversees all of DJJ, this particular organizational chart reflects the executive management team, as well as other direct reports including the Assistant Commissioner/Chief of Staff, a second Assistant Commissioner, the Office of Legal Services, Office of Government Relations, Division of Education and the Office of Financial Services.

Cindy Wang

Office of Legal Services - Cindy Wang

DJJ Legal Services is headed by General Counsel Cindy Wang, who also serves as the Department’s Ethics Officer. The Office of Legal Services handles the legal interests of the agency and works closely with the Attorney General’s Office to represent the Department in state and federal courts. The Office handles youth-related matters in the courts; reviews and drafts contracts, legal documents and amendments to Board Rules; assists with policy development and provides training to staff and other legal professionals. Legal Services is also responsible for responding to requests for public information pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act. General Counsel Wang has been with DJJ for three of her 16 years with the State. 

John Smith

Office of Government Relations - John Smith

John T. Smith is Director of the Office of Government Relations. As director, Smith represents the Department before the Georgia General Assembly and serves as the primary point of contact for state and local government during the legislative session. The Office of Government Relations is responsible for promoting desired outcomes for legislation, appropriations and issues of importance to DJJ’s mission.

Mr. Smith has 12 years of experience in state government and government relations.  Prior to his service at DJJ, he served as a senior staffer for a state-wide office.  He has served as the Director of Government Relations at DJJ since 2013.

Jean Lee

Division of Education - Jean Lee

Jean Lee is Associate Superintendent of Schools for Georgia’s 181st school district. The Georgia Preparatory Academy (GPA) is accredited by AdvancED as the middle school and high school within the DJJ School System. There are 29 GPA campuses across Georgia located in Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDCs), Youth Development Campuses (YDCs) and Education Transition Centers (ETCs). Associate Superintendent Jean Lee is a 15-year educator whose commitment to school improvement has been demonstrated at the local, state, and national levels.

Andrew Laarhoven

Division of Financial Services - Andrew Laarhoven

Andrew Laarhoven is Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Juvenile Justice. The DJJ Office of Financial Services includes the Offices of Federal Programs, Budget, Accounting, and Procurement. Its overall responsibility is to ensure the Department is within state budgetary compliance, adheres to GAAP accounting principles and is compliant with all federal and state laws related to fiscal affairs.

CFO Laarhoven has served as the DJJ Budget Director and started his career as a Policy Analyst in the Public Safety Division of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget (OPB).

 

Chief Audit Executive - William Smith

William Smith is DJJ’s Chief Audit Executive. The department’s Chief Audit Executive is tasked with overseeing the inspection of internal controls of the agency, working with each division to review and provide recommendations for sound financial management. Mr. Smith has been in the internal audit industry for 20 years. 


Joe Vignati

Assistant Commissioner / Chief of Staff - Joe Vignati

DJJ Chief of Staff Joe Vignati is responsible for implementing the Commissioner`s guidance, providing strategic leadership and for the day-to-day operational activities of the Department. Direct reports include three Deputy Commissioners (Secure Detention, Secure Campuses and Administrative Services), the Office of Human Resources, Office of the Ombudsman and Office of Investigations. 

Mr. Vignati has been thoroughly involved in all aspects of Georgia’ juvenile justice system for more than 30 years, serving at-risk youth in a wide variety of roles, both in his career with state government and as a volunteer in community settings.

Assistant Commissioner - Sean Hamilton

Assistant Commissioner Sean Hamilton is responsible for implementing the Commissioner's guidance and providing strategic direction for the two Divisions under his supervision. Direct reports include the Division of Community Services, the Division of Support Services, the Office of Chaplaincy Services, the Office of Communications, the Office of Planning and Preparedness and the Office of Special Operations.

Assistant Commissioner Hamilton has nearly 30 years of experience working with delinquent youth, and abused and neglected children and their families. AC Hamilton is a member of the American Correctional Association (ACA) where he serves as Chair of the Equal Rights Committee and has been a member of ACA’s Restorative Justice and Victims Committee. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Southern University in New Orleans.

Catina Martin-Fenner
Division of Community Services - Catina Martin-Fenner, Deputy Commissioner

Catina Martin-Fenner is Deputy Commissioner over the Division of Community Services. The Division of Community Services staff provides intake, case management, probation, supervision, and detention planning, aftercare supervision and Re-entry services. In some areas county staff provides intake and probation or shared services with the Department. Intake is the decision-making juncture where a youth is either diverted from or formally processed into, the juvenile justice system.  

Catina Martin-Fenner has 20-plus years' experience working with at-risk youth in many professional capacities, ranging from Juvenile Probation Officer to Deputy Commissioner, within the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The Division of Community Services has 4 Regions which are comprised of 11 Districts with 96 Community Services Offices throughout the state. The division also includes the Office of Reentry Services.

Division of Secure Campuses -- Sherry Shoats, Deputy Commissioner

Sherry Shoats is Deputy Commissioner at the Division of Secure Campuses, responsible for the daily management of all seven of Georgia’s Youth Development Campuses (YDCs) and Special Operations. All YDCs provide secure care, supervision and treatment services to youth who have been committed to the custody of DJJ for long-term programs.  

Deputy Commissioner Shoats has been providing professional secure care services for at-risk youth at the Department of Juvenile Justice for nearly 15 years.

The Division is responsible for the daily management of seven Youth Development Campuses (YDCs).

Division of Secure Detention – Pamela Johnson, Deputy Commissioner

Pamela Johnson is Deputy Commissioner over the Division of Secure Detention where she is responsible for the daily management of all 19 Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDCs) in the DJJ system.  RYDC’s provide temporary, secure care and supervision to youth who have been charged with offenses or who have been adjudicated delinquent and are awaiting placement. Youth who have been committed to the custody of DJJ are sometimes placed in an RYDC while awaiting treatment in a community program or a long-term facility. 

DC Pamela Johnson has served with dedication to Georgia’s Juvenile Justice system during the past 20 years, working in professional roles throughout the Agency. DC Johnson also serves as current President of the Georgia Juvenile Services Association (GJSA) and delegate member of the American Correctional Association (ACA).  

Margaret Cawood
Division of Support Services – Margaret Cawood, Deputy Commissioner

Margaret Cawood is Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Support Services (DSS). This Division is responsible for the Office of Behavioral Health Services (OBHS), the Office of Classification and Transportation Services (OCATS), and the Office of Nutrition, and medical and dental services. DSS regionals provide consultation and oversight of PBIS program and recreation activities. These services are provided on a daily basis to youth in DJJ care in all 26 secure facilities where the Division has been expanding its agency role as a result of Georgia's Juvenile Justice Reform.

Deputy Commissioner Cawood has more than 30 years of experience in community mental health services, residential programing and the youth development field. Eighteen of those years have been with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb
Division of Administrative Services - Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb, Deputy Commissioner

Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb is Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Administrative Services. Administrative Services encompasses the Office of Contracts, Office of Grants and Building Services, Office of Technology and Information Services, Office of Assets and Property Management, Office of Real Estate Management and Strategic Planning, Office of Continuous Improvement, Office of Engineering and the DJJ Criminal History Unit. DC Reynolds-Cobb has 25 years of state experience including time worked at the Criminal Justice Council overseeing the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program.