Vera Institute Names Krista Larson Director of Center on Youth Justice

NEW YORK – The Vera Institute of Justice has named Krista Larson as its new director for the Center on Youth Justice(CYJ). Larson, who joined Vera in 2001 and served as the director of its Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT) demonstration project since 2012, brings 20 years of experience in the social work and juvenile justice fields to her new position.
As director, Larson will lead Vera’s efforts to achieve a juvenile justice system that is rooted in the community, more effective, and smaller in scale so that it touches the lives of fewer children. Launched in 2001, CYJ has worked intensively in New York City, New York State, and throughout the country.
“Krista has dedicated her life to improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families, and her work at Vera for the past 13 years has embodied the very best of Vera’s values and aspirations,” Vera President Nicholas Turner said. “I am confident that her leadership and passion for this work will continue CYJ’s strong legacy of achieving safe and positive outcomes for children and their communities.”
CYJ’s efforts touch nearly every aspect of the juvenile justice system, as it aims to reduce the number of young people who become entangled in the system through its Status Offense Reform Center and its research study on stop, question, and frisk policies in New York City. CYJ also helps jurisdictions design and implement alternative-to-incarceration programs and reentry supports for youth returning home from incarceration, and has participated in the redesign of secure care facilities so they foster meaningful change among the youth housed there.
Larson joined APT—a program that has provided home-based substance abuse and mental health treatment to more than 1,500 at-risk and justice system-involved New York City youth—as a therapist for children and their families in 2001 and was named project director in December 2012. When APT transitioned from Vera to The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services in July, Larson joined CYJ as project director and has been its interim director since October.
“The number of children living in locked facilities across the U.S. has dropped from 100,000 in 1995 to 70,000 in 2010, yet too many juvenile justice systems continue to subject youth to inhumane conditions that are unsuitable to their healthy development, and disproportionately subject youth of color to these injustices,” Larson said. “Young people who enter the system do so at a critical moment in their development, and I am excited to lead CYJ’s efforts to ensure that every child has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential.”
Prior to her time at Vera, Larson worked as a social worker and supervisor for the Brooklyn-based St. Joseph Services for Children and Families and as an English as a Second Language instructor in Puerto Rico.
Larson earned a BA in psychology from the University of Richmond and a MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University.