CUCS’s Academy for Justice-Informed Practice is a dynamic program that provides behavioral health and legal trainings from content matter experts in the field, with the goal of bridging the knowledge gap between the two communities. The Academy is funded through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in partnership with the New York State Office of Mental Health. This June, the Academy was thrilled to name James Holmes as its new Program Director.
“We are super excited to have James come on board,” says Jennifer Gholston, Director of the CUCS Institute. “He brings so much information from all the work that he has done here at CUCS that I think he is going to be a great fit.”
Holmes has been with CUCS since 2008. He began as a social worker, before moving on to become a Clinical Coordinator for the Prince George, and then Program Director of The Hegeman upon its opening. Since 2016, he has been the Program Manager for CUCS’s Crisis Intervention Training Program, which provides training to the NYPD on how to effectively work with people experiencing mental health conditions.
“I am excited for a lot of things,” says Holmes. “I am really excited to get to know the curriculum and the different classes that we offer. I am also excited to get to know the faculty that deliver them, because it is a really diverse group of people in terms of their professional experience, so it is a nice experience to get to work with all of them.”
There are also some compelling new initiatives on the horizon for the Academy that Holmes is looking forward to implementing. This year, they are focusing on revising trainings to include perspective on racial equity and racial justice—an especially important topic to cover in the context of the criminal justice system. They are also restructuring their legal trainings to include shorter modules that go more in-depth on the topics covered. This will ensure that participants can choose which topics they want to focus on and be able to take a deeper dive. In addition, Holmes and his team are working to build new elective courses for the upcoming year. They are currently developing courses on medication-assisted treatment as well as the crisis response system in the city.
One takeaway from previous roles that Holmes wants to bring to his new position is the effectiveness of finding relevancy. “I’ve found that you get through to your audience a lot better if you make the content relevant to them and make their job or task safer, easier, or more productive,” he says. “Also, if you can find something that they’re already doing well and build on that.”
All of us at CUCS are delighted to welcome Holmes to his new position and cannot wait to see where he takes the Academy.