The 2019 NGCRC 22nd International Gang Specialist

Training Conference (August 5-7, 2019):

A Look at the Presenters

Last Updated: Nov. 20, 2018


James A. Anderson, M.S.

            James A. Anderson is a Deputy State Fire Marshal in Minnesota and a State Fire Inspector. He is a fire science instructor with the Fire and Emergency Education Department at Saint Cloud Technical College. He has participated as an evaluator in numerous state level fire service certification board examinations throughout the State of Minnesota. James has presented and taught at several Minnesota state fire school conferences. James is a second generation firefighter and has been an active member in the fire service since 1993 as both civilian and military (8 years active duty Air Force Firefighter). Along with years of firefighting experience he has obtained both his M.S. and B.A. in Criminal Justice from Saint Cloud State University and an A.A.S. in Fire Science from the Community College of the Air Force, all of which have an emphasis on forensic fire science and arson investigation. James was awarded the Arnold Sibet Award for Outstanding service to the Crystal Fire Department and was awarded the Air Force’s Outstanding Unit Award with Valor while serving as a firefighter during his first deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. Recently James was awarded the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award for the year 2012 for Superior Research.


Dr. Sally-Ann Ashton

            Sally-Ann Ashton is a postgraduate researcher in the International Centre for Investigative Psychology at University of Huddersfield and a Lecturer in Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behavior at Edge Hill University. In 2017 she was a recipient of a Frederic Milton Thrasher Award for superior accomplishments in gang research. Sally-Ann has over 10 years of experience of running training workshops in English prisons. The presentation is co-authored with Dr. Maria Ioannou, a Chartered Forensic Psychologist and Read in Investigative Psychology and Course Director for the Msc in Investigative Psychology at the University of Huddersfield. Maria has been involved in the assessment of intervention programmes for reducing/preventing a range of different forms of criminality.


Det. Sandy Avelar 

            Detective Sandy Avelar has served for over 20 years with the Vancouver Police Department, including tours in Vice and the Organized Crime Section Gang Crime Unit. She has extensive operational experience and serves as a Tactical Advisor for her agency. Sandy has devoted the majority of her career to youth and gang work and sits on the board of directors for the Boys Club Network. She is in graduate school, focusing on girls and gangs. Sandy is the co-founder of “Her Time”, an anti-gang initiative for females.

Dr. Michelle Baker

            Dr. Michelle Baker, has extensive experience in directing programs geared towards reducing recidivism. Dr. Baker has conducted research to assist public schools reintegrate adolescent African American males post incarceration. She is the Executive Director of VETTS (Veterans Empowering Teens Through Support), Inc. A mentoring organization that matches honorably discharged veterans with identified gang associated youth. The VETTS program provides a supportive one-on-one relationship to the youth within their community 24 hours/7 days a week. She is also an Educational Advisor for Naugatuck Valley Community College, preparing high school students for post-secondary education.

William A. Campbell 

            William A. Campbell is the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice Training Academy Branch Manager. With 25 years of working with at-risk/adjudicated teens in numerous settings ranging from acute care psychiatric, private residential treatment and group home & juvenile justice detentions. Originally, a Chicago native, William attended Western Illinois University where he received his Bachelors in Communications. After leaving W.I.U in 1985, served in the US Army and a tour of duty in Kuwait for Desert Storm as a member of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division and was honorably discharged in February 1993. In March of 1993 William began his career working with at-risk/adjudicated adolescents in an acute care psychiatric hospital. In 1998 he began working with Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children. William later joined the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice’s Training Branch in 2007 where he has specialized in gangs / security threat groups. He has assisted and taught new employees during academy training. In early 2009, certified as an expert in Gang Specialist. In 2010, he received the DJJ Professional Development Employee of the Year award. In 2010, he became a Trainer for Trainers at the National Gang Crime Research Center. William currently resides in Elisabethtown, Kentucky and is a member of the Juvenile Justice Alternative to Detention Initiative Committee.

Dominick Cicala

            Dominick Cicala is the Souther regional community outreach coordinator. Mr. Cicala is a 20 year veteran of the unit and is primarily responsible for all southern region community outreach. Mr. Cicala has presented gang awareness/Phoenix curriculum trainings throughout the New Jersey area. Mr. Cicala has worked closely with Cumberland County over the past five years with the implementation of the Phoenix curriculum in the Cumberland County elementary and middle schools.

Rev. Rodney E. Dailey

            Rev. Rodney E. Dailey is the architect of two successful gang prevention, intervention, mediation programs in the city of Boston, MA which operated for 20 years independent of the police department, and was later identified as part of the miracle when there were no murders for two years in Boston – 24 months in a row. Rodney is a published author (Gang Peace to Street Peace, The Untold Story of Research and Applied Proven Methods of Grass Roots Organizations). He believes faith-based initiatives must be applied strategically to the social problem of gang violence, especially when law enforcement is involved. Rodney organized the first march for gang violence in Boston and helped organized the first national gang summit in Kansas City, receiving over 90 awards from local and national organizations and governments. The 43rd President of the United States awarded him and the Gang Peace Program the 1000th Point of Light Presidential Award. The program was later re-awarded by the 44th President of the United States, President Obama. He completed a fellowship at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and another at Northeastern University’s Law institute and is an Otto Snowden fellow. He earned a Bachelors in Human Service Management from the University of Massachusetts Boston and is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal church, the largest black organization in the world, and serves as a ministerial staff member of St. Paul AME in Cambridge, MA. Rev. Rodney is the architect of Prayer Changes Things Ministry that bless blocks weekly in communities of violence, believing God is in control encouraging those who know the power of prayer to pray for peace and longevity of life - for all people.

Duane Deskins

            I was an instructor at Harvard Law School, Northeastern University School of Criminal Justice, and Case Western Reserve University Law School. From 1982 to 2013, I served as an AUSA in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Cleveland, directed over 1,000 criminal investigations and litigated 80 federal criminal trials and numerous federal appeals. From 2013 to 2016, I served as the First Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Chief of the Juvenile Division, and Director of Juvenile Crime Prevention; where I launched created a juvenile gang unit, successfully investigating and prosecuting over 300 gang members. In 2017 to present I served as Cleveland’s first Chief of Prevention, Intervention, and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults leveraging over $1 million to launch a series of initiatives and opportunities for Cleveland.

Anthony L. Franks

            Anthony Franks is the United States Attorney’s Office Reentry Coordinator for the Eastern District of Missouri. In addition to his work in prosecuting federal cases, Anthony also works in four reentry courts. There, he focuses on assisting ex-offenders who have prior gang affiliation, substance abuse or mental health challenges, reenter society from prison and become productive law-abiding citizens. Anthony also assists in coordinating the office’s outreach work with schools, non-profits, and other entities. Anthony is a graduate of the Howard University School of Business (1993) and the Howard University School of Law (1998).

Dr. D. Lee Gilbertson

            D. Lee Gilbertson teaches at Saint Cloud State University. He has studied gangs since 1995 and has presented research papers at numerous national and international conferences. Lee has participated in every iteration of the NGCRC gang school since it began, often bringing undergraduate and graduate students with him. He is a 2002 and 2005 recipient of the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award and is a reviewing editor of the Journal of Gang Research. Lee has collaborated on a professional level with several criminal justice agencies in Minnesota. His background in spatio-temporal analysis includes 15 years of military service as an infantry officer and as a signals intelligence analyst. Before returning to college, Lee worked briefly as a defense contractor instructing all-source intelligence collection asset management on a computer system that greatly utilized mapping techniques.

Kristopher B.E. Hansgen

            Kristopher B.E.Hansgen is a graduate student at Saint Cloud State University in the Master of Science criminal justice program. He is an NGCRC certified gang specialist (2012) and has previously assisted teaching the Spatio-Temporal Gang Analysis classes at the NGCRC “Gang College”. His background includes a B.A. degree from Saint Cloud State University, where he double-majored in Criminal Justice and Psychology and minored in Forensic Science. Kris wrote two final academic research papers. He is employed in the Public Safety Department at Saint Cloud State University as a Patrol Operations Officer and Dispatch Officer. Kris has studied crime analysis and crime mapping since 2010, and is a member of the International Association of Crime Analysts.

Dr. Janice Joseph

            Janice Joseph, Ph.D. is a professor of the Criminal Justice Program at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She is the Editor for Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. She earned her Ph.D. degree from York University in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of the book: Black Youths, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice; and she co-edited the book With Justice for All: Minorities and Women in Criminal Justice; and she has published numerous articles on delinquency, gangs, violence against women, and minorities and crime. She has earned a Frederic Thrasher Award for her research on gangs and has successfully completed several gang specialist training programs at the National Gang Crime Research Center.

Edwin Lee

            Edwin Lee is the director of New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission Juvenile Parole and Transitional Services. Edwin Lee, Jr. Was appointed as Director of Juvenile Parole & Transitional Services in April 2013. In this position, he oversees the JJC’s juvenile parole efforts and community reentry services throughout the state. Director Lee has been an integral part in the development of aftercare planning for the gang involved residents of the JJC. Mr. Lee is a graduate of the College of New Jersey, majoring in Law and Justice with a minor in sociology.

Dr. Barry S. McCrary

            Dr. McCrary is currently an associate professor at Western Illinois University (WIU) teaching in the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. Prior to WIU he worked for Juvenile Court and in the field of juvenile justice in Pittsburgh, PA, for over twenty years. Dr. McCrary worked as a program supervisor, where he was responsible for counseling, designing, implementing and monitoring a progressive treatment program. Other responsibilities include supervision of the probation officers, probation counselors, and drug and alcohol counselors. His responsibilities also include parent training, life skill training, and research in the area of criminal behavior. He is also the founder of Maleness to Manhood Inc, a non profit, faith based organization. The purpose of this organization is to improve the educational and social developmental needs of inner-city youth by promoting the importance of an education and designing, implementing and developing progressive programming for urban youth, particularly African American males.

Felix Mickens

            Felix Mickens is the Deputy Executive Director of Operations for the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission. Mr. Mickens is directly responsible for the daily operations within the secure care facilities within the JJC. He is also responsible for management of the JJC gang management unit. Mr. Mickens is a graduate of Rutgers University, majoring in Administration of Justice and minoring in sociology.

Allen Mitchell

            Allen Mitchell is the coordinator for the NJ JJC Gang Management Unit. He is responsible for the day to day coordination of the GMU. Mr. Michell is a 20 year veteran of the JJC. He holds a Administration of Justice from Rutgers with a minor in sociology. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

Robert Mulvaney, M.A.

            Robert Mulvaney has an extensive background in the Criminal Justice field including positions as a correctional officer, prison counselor, parole officer and STG specialist. In addition he has taught numerous Criminal Justice courses as an adjunct faculty member. He has been a member/coordinator of various research and prevention organizations and has conducted Gang/STG related training at various levels of local, state and federal government. He has also written articles for professional correctional organizations as well as the Journal of Gang Research.

Todd D. Negola, Psy.D.

            Todd D. Negola is a clinical/forensic psychologist who has worked with the National Gang Crime Research Center for over 10 years. He also serves as the Vice President of the Pennsylvania Gang Investigator’s Association. He has been studying and researching gangs and criminal mindedness for almost 20 years. He has worked with and studied juvenile and adult criminal populations, in and out of prison, both at the state and federal levels. He conducts training and consults with federal, state and local law enforcement as well as public and private educational institutions, community programs and mental health personnel. He has published research in the Journal of Gang Research, Addiction and Research, The Journal and co-authored a chapter in the book, Treating the Juvenile Offender. He has multiple television appearances, participated in nationally syndicated and local radio programs and has consulted in gang documentaries. Lastly, he is a recipient of the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award for Superior Research and Exemplary Scholarship in the Psychology of Gangs and is a Reviewing Editor for the National Gang Crime Research Center’s Journal of Gang Research.

Steve Nelson, J.D., Ph.D.

            Steve Nelson is an Assistant United States Attorney and currently serves as the Anti-Gang Coordinator for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. Steve has been prosecuting (at both the federal and state levels) adult and juvenile gang members in Utah for over 13 years. In 2008, Steve was named the Utah Gang Investigators Association Gang Prosecutor of the year; in 2012, Steve was awarded the 2012 Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Award for Superior Performance as a Litigative Team for his work on a gang-related federal RICO trial. Steve earned his J.D. (2002) and Ph.D. (2010) from the University of Utah. He also serves as an Associate Instructor of Political Science at the University of Utah, and has taught over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students in his teaching career. 

Michael G. Nerheim

            Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim has extensive experience working in all criminal divisions of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. As a former assistant state’s attorney and now as the Lake County State’s Attorney, his experience includes areas of complex litigation, criminal defense and municipal law. Michael G. Nerheim demonstrates strong leadership and business experience, and is heavily involved in the Lake County community.


John O’Rourke

            John O’Rourke is the Chief of the Gangs, Firearms and Narcotics Bureau in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and has extensive experience in prosecuting homicides and violent crimes relating to street gangs. He has worked in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for over 17 years. Prior to that he worked in the New York County District Attorney’s Office where he worked in the Trial Division handling a range of cases including homicides and Asian Gang Prosecutions. He is a graduate of Albany Law School and the State University of New York at Oneonta.

Det. Anisha Parhar

            Detective Anisha Parhar is in her ninth year with the Vancouver Police Department. Anisha is currently working within the Organized Crime Section Gang Crime Unit and is actively involved in anti-gang initiatives. Prior to policing, Anisha worked for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, within the Covert Intelligence Section. Within the covert intelligence position, Anisha was exposed to multi-million dollar organized crime files that reached national, cross border and international levels. She has since focused her career on Organized Crime and Intelligence. Anisha is the co-founder of “Her Time”, an anti-gang initiative for females.

Jean L. Prisco

            Jean L. Prisco is the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Gangs, Firearms and Narcotics Bureau of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, who has extensive experience in prosecuting violent crimes relating to street gang. She has worked in the Westchester County District Attorney’s office for over 15 years. Prior to that, she worked as a litigation associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in New York City and is a graduate of St. John’s Law School and the University of Albany.

Sgt. Stephen Roche

            I am a 26 year veteran of the Worcester Police Department with a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Curry College. I have presented at the following: 2006 U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Neighborhood Seminar, Boston; 2006 Panelist U.S. Dept. Of Justice Gang Survey; 2011 Massachusetts Education Opportunity Association; 2013 U.S. Attorney’s Conference on Gang Violence, Marlboro, MA.                                                       

Christopher Ryan

            As the top gun and gang prosecutor in New York City from 2010 to 2018, Chris supervised an elite unit of experienced prosecutors, investigative analysts and police detectives responsible for the dismantling of sophisticated criminal enterprises, including gun traffickers, major narcotics organizations, and criminal street gangs. In 2010, he developed a new methodology designed to reduce over-incarceration and improve the safety and quality of life in and around public housing in NYC. Now adopted by the NYPD, the DA’s offices of NYC, and numerous police departments and prosecutor’s offices across the country, this program was designed to reduce gun violence by identifying, targeting and prosecuting the most significant criminal offenders, leading to dramatic reductions in homicides and non-fatal shootings. This methodology resulted in carefully targeted, large-scale, long-term, multi-defendant prosecutions under New York State’s conspiracy statutes against violence neighborhood-based street crews, which became the NYPD’s “Operation Crew Cut”. The program has been recognized by the last three New York City Police Commissioners as the key to the historic reduction in homicides and violent crime.

Gregory E. Scarbro

            Mr. Scarbro has been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for thirty-five years, serving in a program management capacity for a majority of that time. He currently serves as the Unit Chief for the FBI, Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS), Biometric Services Section (BSS), Customer Support Unit. He is responsible for all customer service outreach associated with the various FBI BSS person-centric services. He formally served as the Unit Chief for the FBI, Uniform Crime Reporting Program and as Program Manager for the development of the FBI CJIS Division advisory policy process.

Dr. Douglas Semark

            Douglas L. Semark, a nonprofit leader with four decades of experience, including 17 years as Executive Director of the Gang Alternatives Program (GAP) in Los Angeles. Semi-retired, he now serves as Executive to the Board and Chief Learning Officer. He provides gang and violence prevention professional development for K-12 school counselors; serves in various advisory capacities; works with various agencies in the areas of violence reduction and community rebuilding, including Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles and the UCLA/Rand Prevention Research Center. He is currently the Director of the Gangfree Life Academy®.

Eric Dean Spruth

            Eric Dean Spruth is a trained artist, graduating from the school of the Art Institute of Chicago with an undergraduate degree in fine art with a minor in psychology and philosophy, and a Master’s degree in art therapy. He has served as a professor at the Adler School of Professional Psychology Art Therapy program. An expressive art therapist with the Cook County Bureau of Health & Mental Health Services/Cermak Health at the Cook County Jail. A victim advocate at the Cook County’s Victim Witness Program. Spruth has a private practice in Chicago as well as the founder of Sacred Transformations. His efforts have been featured and recognized by many forms of media.


Dr. Philip J. Swift

            Dr. Philip J. Swift is a recognized gang expert and national lecturer. Dr. Swift served as the Director of Security and the Commander of the Gang/Intelligence Unit and the K-9 Unit for the Denver Sheriff’s Department in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Swift also serves as an adjunct instructor at the Denver Sheriff’s Department Training Academy where he teaches Contraband Interdiction and Active Shooter Response as well as a wide variety of other courses as needed. Dr. Swift is a published author and holds a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology. Dr. Swift is regularly sought out by law enforcement agencies, gang intervention/prevention groups, and community organizations to lecture about gang culture, police culture, gang intervention, jail culture, and jail based criminal activity/investigations. Dr. Swift is currently the City Marshall in Fort Worth, TX.


Veronica Williams

            Hailing from Houston Texas, a mother of two, and grandmother of 5, Veronica Williams worked as a chemical plant process operator from 1977 to 2001. After re-creating herself in the employment arena as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in 2003, Veronica enrolled in college at age fifty. Earning her Bachelor’s of Science degree with a concentration in Human Services from Springfield College, Houston Campus, in December 2010. Veronica began taking Master’s courses with a concentration in Organizational Management and Leadership of Human Services in January of 2011 and was conferred her Master of Science degree in December 2016. She moved to Huntsville, Texas to take a position as the Supervisor of the Gang Renouncement and Dissociation (G.R.A.D.) Process at the O.B. Ellis Unit on December 6, 2012. Ms. Williams has been awarded twice by Springfield College, first for her Bachelor’s Project entitled “Homeless in Houston: The Work of the Bread of Life Ministry” in 2010 and the newly created subject matter being presented entitled “Creating a Staff Facilitated Peer Support for In-Prison Gang Renouncement Candidates” in 2017. Please welcome her as a true change agent for the betterment of society for all people.

Stewart M. Young, JD

            Stewart M. Young is an Assistant United States Attorney and currently serves as Senior Litigation Counsel for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. He previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. He earned his J.D. from Stanford University, clerked for judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Federal District Court for the District of Utah, and was a full-time faculty member at the University of Wyoming College of Law.