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YTEC Founder Receives Jefferson Award

In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service, a public foundation to establish a Nobel Prize for public and community service. This was the birth of the Jefferson Award, which is awarded quarterly on both a national and local level. Local Jefferson Awards recipients are community members who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.

In February 2008, the Jefferson Award was most deservedly given to Hon. Ina Gyemant, Ret. who founded YTEC over ten years ago and served as Board Chairperson through 2007. Over her years of service Judge Gyemant has also been recognized as the Hastings Alumna of the Year, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Judge of the Year, and the Harvard Citizen of the Year. The Jefferson Award is, however, the first honor she has received specifically for her role with YTEC. “It’s a great honor,” Judge Gyemant says. “Looking at others who have received this award in the past, it feels terrific to be in the same category as people who have devoted their lives to helping others.”

Judge Gyemant began developing YTEC, originally Youth Treatment and Education Court, while serving at the Juvenile Court. She saw that the youth coming before her bench, many of whom had dropped out of high school, sold or used drugs, or came from abusive families, needed more than incarceration to help them get off that track. Says Judge Gyemant, “The integration of academics with treatment and behavioral redirection makes sense to me when working with young people who need help with concentration, socialization, anger management, and moral reasoning.” Through collaboration with different departments at Juvenile Hall and the SFUSD, YTEC was formed and became one of the first organizations of its kind in the nation.

“I’ve stayed with YTEC because of the kids – their resiliency is inspiring and it makes you want to continue to help them,” Judge Gyemant notes. “We read in the newspaper so much about shootings and gangs, and through this award people have the opportunity to learn about youth who were going down that road but aren’t anymore.” Thanks to Judge Gyemant, knowledge of YTEC’s youth and their potentials has increased. CBS 5 in partnership with KCBS Radio saluted Judge Gyemant on air, and the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper ran a story in their Sunday Edition detailing her contribution to the futures of youth in San Francisco.

See the Chronicle story on sfgate.com.