Christopher Shorter,’04, named Chief of Staff for the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services


Christopher Shorter, MPA ’04, was named Chief of Staff for the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) in Washington D.C. Prior to his promotion, he was the special assistant to the chief administrative officer within the Department.

DYRS is the District’s cabinet level juvenile justice agency. It administers detention, commitment and aftercare services for youth held under its care in its facilities or residing in the Washington, D.C. community.

As the Chief of Staff, Shorter provides senior-level coordination for planning, organizing and developing vital policies and procedures to resolve issues and challenges that impact the successful accomplishment of the Department’s strategic plans. His office also oversees public affairs, internal investigations, professional development and community relations.

He started with the agency in 2008 as the special assistant to the chief administrative officer.  In this position, he managed the agency’s historic move from Oak Hill Youth Center to the New Beginnings Youth Development Center, a state-of-the art secure facility for District youth. This move fulfilled the widely shared goal of Mayor Adrian Fenty's 2004 legislation to close Oak Hill and usher in a new era of how youth are treated in the District's juvenile justice system.

He expressed enthusiasm about agency’s progress over the past five years “I’m truly excited to be in a position to contribute to the agency’s success in this way. I’m working with a phenomenal team of executive staff and manager’s at DYRS. The reform efforts of the DC juvenile justice system are well documented and have had sustained positive impacts on the youth and families we serve in the District.”

Shorter grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Upon finishing his undergraduate degree, Shorter returned to Detroit to work with the Mayor’s office for a year.

“While in Detroit, I came to understand in a real and practical sense the challenges involved with managing a city. I learned firsthand the difficulty faced by public manager’s in evaluating competing interests with limited resources and how to make decisions regarding a city’s forward progress,” Shorter said.

From Detroit, Shorter came to Pittsburgh to earn a master’s degree from GSPIA in public administration with a concentration in urban and regional affairs.

“GSPIA was a fantastic program for me,” Shorter said. “In fact, it was through an alumni weekend during my final semester at GSPIA that I met Ernesto Butcher (MPIA ’71), Chief Operating Officer of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority. Mr. Butcher told me about the Port Authority’s Management Associate Program. I applied, was accepted, and spent three years working for the New York-New Jersey Port Authority.”

Looking back on his experiences at GSPIA, Shorter encourages students to seek advice from professors and to build relationships with them.

“I remember that Professor Sabina Deitrick specifically encouraged me to meet Ernesto Butcher at in alumni weekend event,” Shorter said. “We have a phenomenal faculty at GSPIA that knows a lot about the practical side of managing governments and nonprofits. GSPIA professors also have contacts in the field. I owe it to GSPIA professors that the connection was made for my first position upon graduation.”

Shorter also mentioned the plethora of news stories about the challenges that graduates are facing to find a job in the current economic environment.

“I would say that’s not the case in government,” Shorter said. “This is a time when local and federal agencies are looking for talented young people to help organizations and agencies do more with less. Times are difficult, but for young people in our sector, times aren’t as bleak as reports would suggest. Students should work hard to make sure they identify those opportunities and make connections.”

Christopher Shorter, Chief of Staff for the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, can be reached via e-mail at




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