John Tuell and Kari Harp

2020 NJJA Keynote Speakers

John A. Tuell currently serves as the Executive Director for the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice at Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps. The National Resource Center focuses on practice and policy reform through an active commitment to field-based partnerships with state, local and federal agencies dedicated to improving the lives of our nation’s youth.

Mr. Tuell has devoted his entire professional career to practice within and reform on behalf of the juvenile justice and related youth serving systems. Mr. Tuell began his career in the Fairfax County, Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court by working as a probation, intake and residential group care worker and manager from 1979-1996. Mr. Tuell then served in the U.S. Department of Justice (1996-2001) during which time he served as the Deputy Director of the State Relations and Assistance Division in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). He also served as the Director of the newly created Juvenile Justice Division at the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) from 2001-2009. Mr. Tuell then began his affiliation with the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, providing consultation, technical assistance and training in juvenile justice, child welfare and multi-system reform and quality improvement until his appointment to his current position in January 2013.

Mr. Tuell has been an author and contributing author to numerous publications that support the work of the National Resource Center’s Dual Status Youth, Probation System Reform, and Alternative Response initiatives. Mr. Tuell was a member of the Executive Committee providing advisement to the MacArthur Foundation’s decade long Models for Change: System Reform in Juvenile Justice. He also served on the National Academy of Science’s Committee that authored Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform: The Federal Role (2014), which set forth a detailed and prioritized strategic plan that the federal government should use to support a developmental approach to juvenile justice reform.

Mr. Tuell earned his Bachelor of Social Work degree from James Madison University and his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from George Washington University. He is the proud father of two sons, Austin (age 30) and Zachary (age 24) who are both experiencing professional success after enjoying outstanding achievements in high school and collegiate sports (football and lacrosse).

Kari Harp, MS, is the Associate Executive Director for the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice (RFK National Resource Center). Ms. Harp has had the honor of working with the RFK National Resource Center in several roles, supporting its development and growth since its inception. Ms. Harp provides guidance, leadership and consultation to systems, leaders and staff in their goals to improve policies, protocols and practices related to probation reform and dual status youth. Ms. Harp has partnered with the RFK National Resource Center team in the authoring of several written resources including the 2nd Edition of the Probation Systems Review Guidebook. Additionally, she has spearheaded projects such as the development of an innovative trauma-focused graphic and contributed to multiple publications and reports providing recommendations for system improvements focusing equally on areas of need and strength. Ms. Harp seeks to use her knowledge and experience to improve not just the lives of youth within the juvenile justice system, but the dedicated staff and leaders who have focused their careers on serving this population.

Prior to joining the RFK National Resource Center team, Ms. Harp gained extensive experience in system improvement and collaboration while working in the non-profit, youth-serving and government fields. Most recently, she served as the Director of the San Luis Valley Joint Interagency Oversight Group. As Director of this multi-system collaboration, Ms. Harp provided leadership to the inaugural tri-county board in creating a structure for shared decision-making, cost-sharing, and increasing best practices. These best practices included data collection, risk and need screening, family involvement, blended and braided funding, systems of care, and institutionalizing mechanisms to support and protect dual status youth.

Ms. Harp lives in Colorado and earned her B.S. degree in Psychology from Union College and her M.S. degree in Public Policy and Leadership from DePaul University. She comes to this work with a passion to improve the lives of children and youth so that, in the words of Robert F. Kennedy, “every child in this country live(s) as we would want our own children to live.”