Best practices for helping young women in crisis
For the past eleven years, The Center for Young Women's Development has been doing innovative work, learning a great deal from our successes as well as our failures. We now have a replicable model and concrete tools to share. We know what works and we can articulate it: Support young women in building and exercising their own power by bringing together the best practices of service provision, youth leadership development, advocacy training, and health and wellness education. READ MORE

"In just two short days, CYWD has helped the youth workers in Chicago really think about how to support young women in their own empowerment."
Yasmin Ahmed,
Girl's Best Friend Foundation
Chicago, IL

We launched the Sisters for Justice National Training Program in June 2004 to provide information and training on how service providers, community-based organizations and juvenile justice agencies can more effectively meet the needs of young women in crisis. Our internal name and "brand" for this program is Through the Eyes of a Sister (TES). We developed TES in response to the consistent requests that we receive for education and training on our model of working with young women coming out of the juvenile justice system and the street economy.

There is little knowledge in the field on how to provide effective support and intervention for young women in the juvenile justice system. Our work in the field has produced a valuable methodology for working with vulnerable young women that others have asked us to share. We believe it is time for low- and no-income young women to be recognized as experts on their own experiences. TES injects the voices of young women into the adult-dominated discourse on juvenile justice.

The topics covered by Through the Eyes of a Sister include, but are not limited to:

  • Gender-specific programming.
  • Girls and the juvenile justice system.
  • Alternatives to incarceration.
  • Girls in the underground street economy.
  • Children of incarcerated parents.
  • Building a youth-directed organization.
  • Developing culturally competent programming.
  • Working and collaborating with government agencies.
  • What works for us: how young women view probation programs, common pitfalls.
  • Disproportionate confinement of youth and young women of color.
  • How adults can be allies to young women in the juvenile justice system.


We believe it’s time for low- and no-income young women to be recognized as experts on their own experiences. Through the Eyes of a Sister (TES) injects the voices of young women into the adult-dominated discourse on juvenile justice.
The Center for Young Women's Development offers the following training services:
The Center's Miracle
This is an interactive, two-hour training for service providers outlining our organizational model using our guiding principles as a framework. This training also presents and walks through our effective curricula Lift Us Up, Don't Lock Us Up and Beyond Survival.
Through My Eyes
This training ranges in length from two to eight hours. It is ideal for service providers who want to learn about successful strategies for programs focused on young women.
Know Justice
We offer a one-day class in California based on the content of our Know Justice handbook. This training is instructed by our staff and young women who have been incarcerated and now provide courtroom outreach to young women in the juvenile justice system. The training expands on the information in the handbook and is targeted both to a general audience and to trainers.
Speakers Bureau
Our dynamic speakers include Executive Director Marlene Sanchez and other amazing young women from our trained team of speakers.
All of our publications have either an educational or technical assistance purpose and are distributed throughout California and nationwide. Through TES, we continue to edit these publications (Know Justice, The Hook Ups, and Not Without our Babies Survival Guide) so that they are relevant to a national audience and clearly articulate CYWD’s lessons learned.
We welcome the opportunity to provide speakers, training and technical assistance to organizations and government agencies around the country that focus on at-risk young women. We believe that it is time for low- and no-income young women to be recognized as experts on their own experience. For more information on our training services, contact Ophelia Williams ().
Training Request Form
Marlene Sanchez
Marlene Sanchez
Executive Director
Marlene Sanchez was born and raised in the Mission district of San Francisco. Marlene came to CYWD at age 15 looking for employment and a way out of the juvenile justice system. She was hired as a community health outreach worker and provided HIV/STD education and harm reduction supplies, and love to hundreds of young women who lived and worked in the underground street economies of San Francisco. Marlene has a passion for working with young women and girls who are involved in the juvenile justice system because of her personal experiences. In 1999, Marlene Sanchez was sworn in by the Superior Court of San Francisco as the first "youth" appointed to the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commission, where she served for five years. She is currently the co-chair of the Community Justice Network for Youth, a national organization of community-based programs that serve youth of color in the juvenile justice system. Marlene provides training to organizations around the county looking to understand and adopt our vision, programs, and methodology.
Lateefah Simon
Lateefah Simon
Former Executive Director
After 11 years with the Center for Young Women's Development and eight years as its executive director, Lateefah Simon transitioned from the organization in February 2005. During her tenure with CYWD, Lateefah was central in the development of CYWD’s dynamic methodologies and programs that are uniquely aimed at providing peer based transformative economic and cultural development opportunities for young women returning home from jail and prison. A successful fundraiser, Lateefah attracted millions of dollars from, city government, and from local and national foundations over the years to support to CYWD’s groundbreaking initiatives. A gifted and highly sought after speaker, Lateefah has keynoted at over 75 national conferences around the country and aboard. Lateefah employs her immense knowledge from her years as a street based youth development practitioner, community organizer, and non-profit executive to move and inspire communities to proactively engage low-income young people in social change work. She has received awards from the Leadership for A Changing World Program of the Ford Foundation, the National Council for Research on Women, the National Organization for Women, Oprah Magazine, the prestigious Macarthur Fellowship (2003), and most recently was given the honor of “Women of the Year 2005” by the California State Assembly of California. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Women's Foundation of California and the Advocacy Institute based in Washington DC. Now a full time student, she has recently been commissioned to develop and mange re-entry programs for youth and adults for the District Attorney Kamala Harris’s office in San Francisco. Lateefah now lives Emeryville California with her 9-year-old daughter Aminah.
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Former Sisters Rising Coordinator
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers was born in Cincinnati Ohio, raised in Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco to attend University. She graduated in 2004 from the University of San Francisco with a B. A. in Politics, Peace and Justice Studies and Philosophy. Hired at the Center in mid-2004 she is committed to work for social justice and sees clearly that the injustices faced by poor folks and folks of color are caused by the intersections of oppressions felt through race, sex, and class. After her work with CYWD, Melanie plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Critical Race Theory.
Krea Gomez
Krea Gomez
Former Program Director
Krea Gomez has been working in the non-profit sector since 1993 when she was one of the first young women ever in the employment-training program at CYWD. This eventually led her to Homeless Prenatal, where she worked for six years. This spring Krea came back to CYWD as the new program director where she brings years of experience in direct service and valuable resources to the young women she works with. Krea has spent the last ten years advocating for homeless young women, queer young women, and young women in the criminal and juvenile justice systems so that they can take an active role in the circumstances they face.
Within the past year, we have provided training to the following individuals and organizations:
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, Youth Activism Conference
  • James Bell, Executive Director, W. Haywood Burns Institute
  • California Workforce Association, All Youth One System Conference
  • Gina Castro, Executive Director, Girls Justice Initiative
  • Emily Dreblow, Program Director, The Violence Is Preventable Girls Project, Huckleberry Youth Services
  • Luis Fraga, Political Science Professor, Stanford University
  • Greater Milwaukee Foundation
  • Hastings Women’s Law Journal
  • Kamala Harris, District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco
  • Janet Jakobsen, Director, The Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Jerry D. Marx Ph.D., M. S.W., Associate Professor Chair, Department of Social Work, University of New Hampshire
  • Mary J. Meehan Ph.D., President, Alveerno College, Milwaukee Wisconsin
  • National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD)
  • Molly Oberweister, Dads Make a Difference, 2005 MN Conference on Adolescent Females
  • Charles J. Ogletree, Law Professor, Harvard Black Law Students’ Association, Harvard University
  • Cristobal Oliveras, Public Health Professor, University of California at Berkeley
  • Julie Posadas, San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department Girls Services
  • Michael J. Rohan, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, Cook County, Illinois
  • San Francisco State University Public Research Institute
  • Andrea Shorter, President, San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women
  • William Siffermann, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, San Francisco, California
  • State of Utah Juvenile Courts, Conference on Troubled Youth
  • University of California at San Francisco, Young Women’s Health Conference
Know Justice Handbook
Resource book designed to provide youth and their families much needed information about their legal rights and how to navigate through the juvenile justice system. .
My LIfe Chose Me
A 50-page manual and advocacy tool for young mothers fighting the Child Welfare and Criminal Justice System. This book was written entirely by young women with the help of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Legal Services for Children and The Girls Justice Initiative. .
"Just Listen" Poetry CD
An audio compilation featuring spoken word pieces from various young women at CYWD expressing experiences, thoughts and observations about their lives. .
"Sisters Rise" DVD
A collaborative video ethnography which documents the thoughts and reflections of the young women in the Sisters Rising job training, political awareness, and wellness program at CYWD.
To purchase copies of any CYWD publications, contact Ophelia Williams ().
The Center for Young Women's Development
832 Folsom Street, Suite #700
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone 415.703.8800
Fax 415.703.8818
legal | privacy | © 2005 CYWD All Rights Reserved