The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is honoring Joel and Courtney Bitonio, for their service to justice-involved youth at the NCJFCJ’s National Conference on Juvenile Justice held in Cleveland, Ohio. They will receive the third annual Judith Horgan Award for Exemplary Service on Behalf of Children and Families in the Court System on March 19, 2024.

Joel and Courtney Bitonio have contributed years of generosity and countless hours of service benefiting children and families in the Cleveland area, as well as other areas of the country.   Joel has been a guard for the Cleveland Browns since 2014, when he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft after playing at the University of Nevada, Reno. Joel and Courtney have donated their resources, donations, and time to numerous organizations, including being ambassadors for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, A Kid Again Ohio, the Division of Recreation for the City of Cleveland, and Browns Give Back. 

“We have been part of the Cleveland community for nine years now,” said Joel Bitonio. “Giving back is just something that our parents instilled in us to take care of the people that take care of you. This community has always taken care of me. No matter where you are in life, you can lend a helping hand, be part of the community and give back, and a lot of times, you give back to help somebody, but those interactions fill you up as well.”

Since 2022, the Reno-based NCJFCJ has awarded the Judith Horgan Award for Exemplary Service on Behalf of Children and Families in the Court System. The award is named after Judith Horgan of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and former NCJFCJ Board of Director, for her drive and dedicated service to elevate the voice of children and families in the court system. This award acknowledges and celebrates an individual or individuals in the community where the NCJFCJ convenes for the Annual Conference on Juvenile Justice. The recipient is recognized for championing a shared vision for better outcomes involving children and families. 

“Joel and Courtney are both alumni of the University of Nevada, Reno where the NCJFCJ is affiliated and is a leader in judicial education and research,” said Joey Orduña Hastings, NCJFCJ CEO. “It’s wonderful to be in Cleveland for our National Conference on Juvenile Justice, where Joel plays football for the Cleveland Browns and where he and Courtney have made such a positive impact in the community. Joel and Courtney share our value of compassion and deep commitment to enhancing the lives of children and families across the country.”

“Joel and Courtney have put themselves out there and done terrific work,” said Judy Horgan. “They set an example for kids in the community. It means the world to the children and to us. The Bitonios are not just helping kids; they’re helping the entire community.”

More than 4 million families are impacted by the work of the NCJFCJ every year. For more information about the NCJFCJ, visit the website.

About the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):
Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nevada-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is the nation’s oldest judicial membership and education organization focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the fields of juvenile and family justice, domestic violence, and domestic relations, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide. The NCJFCJ serves an estimated 30,000 juvenile and family court professionals in state and tribal courts throughout the country.

Source: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges


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