CfJJ's 2017 Leadership Celebration

November 16, 2017
5:00 - 7:30 p.m.
BenJAMIN Franklin Institute

CfJJ’s annual Leadership Celebration brings together system leaders, advocates, service providers, parents, youth, and community members from across Massachusetts to celebrate and advance our work to make the juvenile justice system fair, effective, and developmentally appropriate.



Corporate and organizational sponsors provide critical support for the Leadership Celebration and for CfJJ's work to transform the Massachusetts juvenile justice system.  To find out how your organization can help support our efforts to make Massachusetts state systems work better for kids, please check out the details on Sponsorship here.

2017 Keynote Speaker

Xavier McElrath-Bey


Xavier McElrath-Bey is the Senior Advisor and National Advocate of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY). He is also a co-founder of the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (ICAN), an initiative of CFSY which seeks to amplify the voices and stories of leaders who were formerly incarcerated as youth—to help change the narrative and humanize the justice system for all children.    

When Xavier was thirteen years old his 19th arrest and 7th conviction resulted in a 25 year sentence in prison for his involvement in a gang related first degree murder. After 13 years in prison he came out with a remorseful heart, a bachelor degree in Social Science from Roosevelt University, and a mission to advocate for poor, disadvantaged and at-risk youth.

While volunteering as a youth boxing coach at a YMCA on the northwest side of Chicago, Xavier got his first big break in employment as a Starbucks barista. While working part-time, he pursued a Master of Arts from Roosevelt University’s Counseling and Human Services Program. He graduated in 2006.  Prior to his current position with CFSY Xavier also worked as an outreach worker for Ceasefire, as a street intervention specialist for Catholic Charities, as the Juvenile Justice Diversion Program Coordinator for Alternatives Inc., and as a Clinical Research Interviewer for Northwestern University’s Juvenile Project—a longitudinal study in which he assessed the mental health needs and outcomes of over 800 formerly incarcerated youth.

Much of Xavier’s advocacy efforts have been highlighted by various media sources and news outlets, such as New York Times, Chicago Tribune, PBS NewsHour, The Steve Wilkos Show, Huffington Post, MPR, Al Jazeera America, Undisclosed Podcast, and many others. He also delivered a powerful TEDx Talk at Northwestern University, titled “No Child is Born Bad”, in which he shared about his childhood experiences of abuse, neglect, incarceration, and the unique capacity for change that exists within every child—demonstrating that children should never be defined by their worse act.

2017 Youth Development Honoree

More Than Words

More Than Words (MTW) is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.  MTW believes that when system-involved youth are challenged with authentic and increasing responsibilities in a business setting, and are given high expectations and a culture of support, they can and will address personal barriers to success, create concrete action plans for their lives, and become contributing members of society.  After starting as an online bookselling training program for youth in child welfare custody in 2004, MTW opened its vibrant bookstore on Moody St in Waltham in 2005, added its Starbucks coffee bar in 2008, and expanded to the South End of Boston in 2011.