Ricky Watson joined NJJN as the new Executive Director on January 2, 2020. As an alum of the Youth Justice Leadership Institute, he is ready to help NJJN move into the next phase of development as an anti-racist organization and one that centers the voices of those most impacted by the injustices of the youth legal system. Ricky earned his Juris Doctor degree from Elon University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Wake Forest University. He began his professional career as an Assistant Public Defender for the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he represented hundreds of indigent adults and juveniles charged with misdemeanors and felonies. Prior to joining NJJN, Ricky was the Regional Manager for the Vera Institute’s Center on Immigration Justice, Unaccompanied Children Program. Before that, he served as the Co-Director of NJJN’s North Carolina member organization, the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, where he advocated for policy changes to disrupt the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
Mental Health America understands that racism undermines mental health. Therefore, we are committed to anti-racism in all that we do. This means that we pledge to work against individual racism, interpersonal racism, and institutional racism in all their forms.