Lisa Thurau

Executive Director

In 2004, Lisa initiated a training with 180 officers in the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) Transit Police to improve police/youth interactions, to increase officers’ skills in working with youth, and to support officers’ development of innovative approaches to policing large groups of teens in public transit areas. The impacts of her advocacy and training efforts led to an 84% reduction in juvenile arrests by the MBTA Transit Police. She then conducted a training with over 100 officers in the Everett Police Department which led to a 50% reduction in juvenile arrests. Her later assessment and training of 235 officers in the Cambridge Police Department led to 71% decline in juvenile arrests over the next 10 years and supported the reorganization of the way that Department’s officers provide services to youth.

In 2009, Lisa founded Strategies for Youth, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy and training organization dedicated to improving police/youth interactions and reducing disproportionate minority contact. Working with Dr. Jeff Q. Bostic who was then the Director of School Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Lisa built Strategies for Youth from the ground up without formal institutional or foundation support.

Strategies for Youth is now a nationally known organization, now providing its training, outreach programs, and policy reviews in 20 states. Lisa has been consulted by state legislators, state agencies, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on policing’s impacts on youth, as well as policy development, statutory reforms, and recommendations for best practices. Lisa writes and speaks on these topics to a wide array of police, youth-advocates, and legal audiences.

Prior to forming Strategies for Youth, from 1999 to 2008, Lisa served as policy specialist and then as Managing Director of the Juvenile Justice Center of Suffolk Law School. There, Lisa focused on public policy advocacy on behalf of court-involved teens. She monitored juveniles’ civil rights issues regarding police treatment, tracked trends in the Center’s cases, and also monitored and challenged legislation affecting youth in the juvenile justice system.

Lisa is a graduate of Barnard College and holds a Masters degree in Anthropology from Columbia University. She graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in 1991. Before becoming an attorney, Lisa worked as a researcher and advocate for reform and improvement of the public education system in New York City. She also worked as an Associate in the litigation department of Coudert Brothers, an international law firm, focusing on copyright and commercial litigation matters.

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