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  • Michigan Center for Youth Justice

Board Member Spotlight: Dave Bartek

This month’s Board Member Spotlight features Dave Bartek, who currently serves as an independent consultant in both the nonprofit and private sectors. This allows him to share his long and deep experience in leadership, employee engagement, strategic development, and business planning, along with team and individual coaching. 

Dave has held multiple and varied leadership positions over the last 25 years, coaching and mentoring on the finer points of leadership style and approach, working one-on-one with individual team members to help them find their voice and strength, or facilitating program management staff to think beyond themselves and achieve their highest potential. His core focus has always been and continues to be on one thing: PEOPLE, always focusing on implementing solutions where individuals and families can be positively impacted.

What first made you interested in joining the board of MCYJ?

I was invited to join by my good friend, Dr. William ‘Chuck’ Jackson, to speak with Jason Smith.  Chuck and I got to know each other through the work that we both did with various nonprofit entities when we were CEOs.  The focus on everything around racial equity and social justice made the idea of working with MCYJ very appealing to me, where I could use my experience in nonprofit work to engage with a board focused on juvenile justice.

When Jason and I spoke, Jason was very interested in my being able to bring my background to help in the work of MCYJ.  Discovering the deep passion and commitment that Jason, and the entire MCYJ staff, have to juvenile justice made it an easy decision to join and contribute whatever I could to help move the work forward.  

What would you like fellow youth justice reform advocates to know about you?

I have always advocated for social justice and equity, whether in the various nonprofit leadership roles I have held over the last 15 years or even during my private sector days. I have always advocated for just treatment and care for individuals, regardless of age, gender, race, and cultural influences, and feel that, in my board role with MCYJ, I can use my experiences and insights to help further move the needle in a positive trajectory, not unlike the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that states "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Taking these words to heart is something that I consider very seriously and with great conviction.  Although I am a white male, with corresponding privileges afforded me that are not afforded to others of color, I have friends and family members, both immediate and extended, who are people of different backgrounds and races that also drive my investment in my time and energy to this work. Having this direct connection has always compelled me to participate and actively engage wherever I can to help bend that arc as Dr. King envisioned.

What are your broad goals for 2024 surrounding juvenile justice reform?

My goal as a participating board member is to help MCYJ focus on those issues and circumstances where the agency can have the most significant impact.  The policy wins of 2023 were monumental in both breadth and scope. I look forward to doing whatever I can, individually and collectively, to help in the broader implementation of those policies and continue advocating for the change to ensure a more humane and just juvenile justice environment.  The MCYJ statement that ‘Kids who get in trouble are still kids’ resonates deeply with me and compels me in the work.

Lastly, a “just for fun” question - what do you like to do in your spare time?

Grandkids, grandkids, grandkids…did I say GRANDKIDS!?!?  I have three between the ages of 2 and 3, and they are an absolute blast…although very tiring for me as well.

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