JJAB Co-founder/Chair Alan Kirk and JJAB Coordinator Lisa Zuhn at Kirk’s last JJAB Board meeting Wednesday night at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
From left, JJAB Co-founder/Chair Alan Kirk, LAPS Healthy Schools Program Director Kristine Coblentz and JJAB Co-founder/County Councilor Morrie Pongratz chat at Kirk’s last JJAB Board meeting Wednesday night at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos County Municipal Court Judge Alan S. Kirk stepped down Wednesday evening from the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. He co-founded JJAB with Sharon Stover and Morrie Pongratz some 16 years ago and has served as chair ever since.
“For the past 16 years through JJAB, Judge Kirk has put his heart and soul into making our community a safer place for youth,” Stover said. “Under Judge Kirk’s leadership, Los Alamos was recognized as one of the top 100 communities for youth. Judge Kirk should be very proud of the legacy he leaves. JJAB would not have had the success it has without his commitment and dedication to our youth.”
Pongratz recalled serving on the Los Alamos School Board in 2005 when Kirk was serving as judge on the Municipal Court.
“We had been on the state Juvenile Justice Committee and had seen how others had taken an integrated approach to helping youth,” Pongratz said. “Alan was in a unique position having grown up here, served as police chief and judge on the Municipal Court. We worked together with then Police Chief Rich Melton on a joint effort to gain support from the school board and the County Council. Alan really, really did a great job in knowing the needs of our youth … so kudos to him.”
The local JJAB program has evolved and over the years contributed some $3 million in programs and activities to the Los Alamos Public Schools. It also has been recognized as a model for the state of New Mexico.
“The reason JJAB is so important to me is that our local kids were being taken out of town for probation services,” Kirk said during an earlier interview. “By creating JJAB we are able to provide local services for our youth and provide timely resolution and intervention and prevention for our kids … to keep them here and out of the criminal court system.”
Kirk has lived in Los Alamos for 60 years and worked for the County or as an elected official for 40 years. He has a long history of commitment to providing support for local youth and has been deeply involved in the development of youth advocacy programs and projects. He coached boys and girls basketball for 18 years at Los Alamos High School. He developed the local Teen Courts community service program to enhance the courts’ probation program.
Kirk also spent eight years working with other community members in the development of the current Los Alamos Teen Center, which he describes as one of the best teen centers in the state. He participated in the development of Leadership Los Alamos, served on the committee that founded Family Strengths Network and developed the School of Choice at the high school.
JJAB Coordinator Lisa Zuhn spoke about Kirk saying, “I have known Judge Kirk since 2011 and have had the pleasure to work with him as a JJAB coordinator for the past two years. His dedication to JJAB and the youth of Los Alamos has been unprecedented. I admire his ability to collaborate and get conversations started. His leadership has provided me with the opportunities to help our community and is truly appreciated.”
Kirk moved to Los Alamos in 1958 and graduated from Los Alamos High School and Eastern New Mexico University. He holds a bachelor’s degree with a double major in psychology and accounting. Kirk served as police chief in Los Alamos for 10 years prior to his election to the bench. He has been married for 44 years to Pat Kirk, an instructional aide at Pinon Elementary School in White Rock. The couple has two children, Alex and Erin, who each graduated from Los Alamos High School and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Alex is a pro basketball player now playing on a team in Japan and Erin is a State Farm agent in Albuquerque.
JJAB Co-founder/Chair Alan Kirk and JJAB Coordinator Lisa Zuhn, center, and board members and presenters at Kirk’s last JJAB Board meeting Wednesday night at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com