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Honoree Headshot

Julita Marche Sanders

Founder & Executive Director
Juvenile Offender Advocate, Inc

Location: Athens, Georgia
Founded: 2019
Industry: Advocacy

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Julita Marche Sanders is a fierce believer in the power of advocacy and second chances. She launched the nonprofit Juvenile Offender Advocate Inc. (JOA) in 2019 in hopes of helping juvenile offenders redirect their lives.

JOA offers case management to assist youth, primarily between the ages of 11 and 17, as they navigate their court proceedings. JOA volunteers also offer long-term case management for participants, including soft-skills training, career readiness instruction and job placement assistance — all with a goal of helping youth and teens avoid paths that lead to recidivism.

In her previous work in alternative educational settings and juvenile court, Sanders frequently saw the same students rotating through both systems. She launched JOA to fill a gap she saw in the court process — no one seemed to be looking out for juvenile offenders.

“Advocating for those without a voice is my passion, especially those who may have fallen through the cracks,” Sanders said.

Giving teens a second chance strikes home for Sanders, since she was once a self-described troubled teen. Sanders shared that she was able to redirect her path only when her high school principal and other school staff advocated for her.

“I have a natural love for populations that are normally overlooked or thrown to the wayside,” Sanders said. “Because I was once in their shoes, I am able to relate and meet them where they are.”

Since launching JOA, Sanders has raised more than $30,000 to further the nonprofit’s work via sponsorships from Georgia Power, Coca-Cola, Goodwill of North Georgia, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and others. Following the program’s success in Athens-Clarke County, Sanders hopes to expand JOA’s reach to surrounding counties in Georgia, with a goal of eventually taking her model to a national level.

“Our vision is to collaborate with every Goodwill and local technical college to offer the same services our original location offers,” she explained. “By year five we hope to have at least 40 graduates from the program. We would like to have all 40 graduates placed in jobs with a zerorecidivism rate.”

Sanders currently runs JOA with very limited additional support. At the same time, she serves as a full-time neighborhood service officer with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, helping facilitate community outreach events, such as the Citizen Police Academy, Shop with a Cop and summer camps.

Sanders holds an associate degree in paralegal studies, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degrees in forensic psychology and school counseling, with a certification in marriage and family therapy. She serves as the Human Relations Commission chair for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government and is a 2021 ATHENA International Award honoree; a graduate of LEAD Athens, class of 2019-2020; a former chair of Envision Athens and an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

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