Senior Director, Residential Services, Austin Children’s Shelter
Aja has more than 10 years of experience working in the areas of crisis intervention, domestic violence, prisoners’ rights and alternative court systems. Before relocating to Austin four years ago, Aja served as a graduate-level extern at the Queens TASC mental health diversion court in New York City and a research assistant at the City University of New York and Yale University. Her five years in New York also included supporting exonerated adults through the Innocence Project, and several years of direct service with youth in the child welfare and legal systems. Through her work with people in the criminal justice system, Aja recognized that childhood histories of abuse and neglect were underlying so many of the stories of those she served.
Her role at Austin Children’s Shelter allows her to be a part of earlier intervention in the lives of young people who have experienced significant trauma. Aja and her team provide 24/7 care through good times and bad, delivering support and opportunities for their healing. A good day for her is when she sees her team of Youth Care Workers and residents connecting and enjoying the mundane — a game of pool, laughing over a silly movie, going for a walk on campus.
Aja has a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a BA in Legal and Women’s Studies from Hampshire College, and she is a Licensed Child Care Administrator.
Aja Recommends Reading: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc