Ada County Juvenile Court
Although many people likely view reporting to a probation officer as a punishment, Ada County Juvenile Court Probation Supervisor Leahann Romero said her goal is to instead make those visits about rehabilitation.
It’s an approach that has shown success. By helping juveniles in the criminal court system set and meet goals, Romero is able to help at-risk kids get off probation early, find new directions for their lives, graduate high school and go on to college. Romero said she’s even gotten a letter from a former client who wrote to tell her they’d gone into criminal justice.
“I see a lot of rewarding things,” she said.
Still, she admits that not everyone sees it that way.
“I’ve been doing this for over 17 years, and some people don’t want to see me,” Romero said. “On the other hand, I look at myself as a mentor, where I’m building relationships with kids.”
And Romero said that building those relationships is one of the best parts of her job.
“I like working with kids,” she said. “I like helping them get the services they need so they’re not continually involved in the court system.”
After graduating Boise State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Romero earned a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Arizona State University. She now teaches criminal justice part-time at Boise State and the College of Western Idaho.
Within the Ada County Juvenile Court, Romero is the supervisor of a juvenile court investigation unit of eight people, and she coaches them in working with kids and solving problems.
Romero is also the vice president of DrugFree Idaho, a nonprofit that promotes a drug-free culture in workplaces, schools and communities. One of DrugFree Idaho’s main initiatives is its Natural High Campaign, which helps kids find activities and hobbies they enjoy.
“We really focus on educating the community on substance abuse and trends,” Romero said. “What we talk to the community about is: How can we help kids find their natural high, the things that they’d like to do?”
Rob Stevenson, executive director of DrugFree Idaho, said Romero is the model of a perfect volunteer, always willing to lend her time and talents to help her community.
“Leahann has been an amazing asset to DrugFree Idaho and our mission of substance abuse prevention,” he wrote in a recommendation letter. “I cannot state enough how much I value her volunteer efforts and her guidance as a trusted adviser.”
Renee Cox, planning and project manager for Ada County Juvenile Court Services, said Romero is an exceptional leader who is committed to helping her community.
“She has a passion for helping others,” Cox wrote in a recommendation letter. “She is dedicated to her profession and helping make our community a better place to live.”