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Senator Novelle E. Francis Congratulates Chief of Staff

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Shawna K. Richards
Shawna K. Richards

Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. today congratulated his Chief of Staff, Shawna K. Richards, on her selection to the 2022 Youth Homelessness Fellows Program of the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL). Richards will join a diverse group of legislators and legislative staff in a series of online and in-person sessions focusing on the causes of youth and young adult homelessness and potential policy solutions. Richards, who has served as Chief of Staff to Francis since 2015, and a certified Project Management Professional, was selected through a competitive application process.

Francis encouraged Richards to apply to the program, which aligns both with his longstanding efforts to address the School to Prison pipeline and her own work in education and youth policy. “Ms. Richards’ participation in this program brings added expertise to my legislative and policy initiatives to break the school to prison pipeline,” Senator Francis said. “When I successfully sponsored Bill 34- 0144, now Act 8530, to address school truancy, I did so with the understanding that instability in a young person’s housing can negatively affect their attendance.” 

Francis continued, “In my work as the Chairman of the Committee of Health, Hospitals and Human Services, I have also worked to frame homelessness as a public health crisis and support local entities that serve this vulnerable population. While we are making some headway in serving our homeless residents, we cannot overlook the unique needs and challenges of our homeless youth.” 

“Ms. Richards selection as a 2022 Youth Homelessness Fellow is further evidence of her leadership and expertise in the territory’s public policy space. I look forward to the ways that her insight gained through this program will enhance legislation that serves our most vulnerable residents.” 

As a Fellow, Richards will travel to Denver and Seattle, where she will join her colleagues and faculty in a research driven exploration of child welfare, early childhood and youth homelessness. She will also participate in two webinars. All expenses for the program are covered by the NCSL, which received a grant from the Raikes Foundation.