Members in Action: Mark Henderson

Local 21 is a proud partner with Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson in declaring 2015 the Year of the African American Male. The following is a profile of one of our members who makes a difference in the lives of young African American men. 


City of Oakland Human Services Department staffer and Local 21 member Mark Henderson works at Oakland Unite where he coordinates a multiagency consortium that provides assistance to those coming out of the juvenile justice system.

He has worked with young people for 20 years, first providing direct services to youth and now monitoring contracts and facilitating case management groups. More than two thirds of those receiving services from the consortium are African American and the majority are young men. 

Mark sees himself as a youth advocate — helping youth reach their full potential and overcome barriers along the way. He believes in helping youth and young adults see their own potential and change the course of their lives to become productive citizens.   Mark finds that the multiagency approach to services works best because they meet the youth where they are. The case managers involved often had problems in the past but turned their lives around, making them positive role models for the young people they work with. They help the youth think critically, and provide resources including academic tutoring, employment opportunities, a listening ear, and someone to help them navigate life’s challenges.  

One of Mark’s primary responsibilities at Oakland Unite is to facilitate the case conference group. Various stakeholders — from the Juvenile Justice Center to the Oakland School District, and others — come together to share information and provide wraparound services to young people coming out of the juvenile justice system.   In facilitating the case conference conversations, he helps to equip the case managers with the information they need to provide the most appropriate services. He also monitors the contracts with partner agencies to make sure they are meeting the benchmarks including helping clients transition back into a healthy school environment and meet the terms of their probation successfully. 

The Juvenile Justice Center Wraparound Strategy is a project led by the City of Oakland in conjunction with the Alameda County Probation Department, Oakland School District and Alameda County Mental Health. This program targets the top one quarter of high-risk teenagers to receive services from 7 non-profit service organizations. Of the 900 youth coming out of the system, Mark’s program serves 355. A recent evaluation revealed that 80% of the program participants do not recidivate. Clearly the mark of a successful approach.

Mark also oversees contracts for restorative justice and youth employment projects. When he’s not helping Oakland at work, he’s helping the community in other ways — serving as the Chairperson of the Community Jobs Oversight Commission for the development of the Oakland Army Base. Mark is always interested in finding new ways to serve the community’s young people. You can find out more about Oakland Unite programming by checking out their website .

We are proud to have members like Mark Henderson who are making a difference in the lives of African American men.  If you are working for a program that predominantly helps African American men, tell us your story at