Program Director, Center for Human DevelopmentSean Hemingway is striving for balance. He directs the Center for Human Development’s Assessment and Juvenile Justice Support programs at the DYS Westfield Youth Service Center, and has been raising three children with his wife while climbing CHD’s ladder of success and working actively in the community. “It’s a struggle not to be all things to everyone,” he said.
When Hemingway was in college, he was hired as a part-time maintenance man at CHD’s Assessment Program. The job gave birth to his career, and he became passionate about working to improve the lives of young people. He wrote a paper titled A Janitor’s Journey Through the Justice System before graduating from UMass with a degree in mental-health studies and at-risk youth.
Hemingway spent his early years at CHD working with young males, but soon rose to the position of assistant program director of CHD’s Terri Thomas Girls Program. He said it was a “monumental life-learning experience, as they were in a [detention] system developed and designed for boys,” adding that their situation really hit home after his daughter was born.
Fifteen years later, he now directs the program for teenage boys and has come full circle.
“These teens have had very challenging, abusive, and neglectful lives,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to give them tools so they can make better choices. I am working to enact positive change in the young men so when they are released, they don’t reoffend in the same neighborhood situations.”
This juvenile-justice expert and certified instructor in non-violent intervention gives frequent lectures and belongs to several professional groups. To be successful in many arenas involves balance, and Hemingway directs his 53 staff members to do their best for the young people they serve as well as for themselves. “I am passionate about this work, but we need a work/life balance so we don’t burn out,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”
And one that requires stability — for both the staff and the teens they serve — on and off the most difficult playing fields of life.
— Kathleen Mitchell