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July 25, 2016 40 Under Forty 2016

Justin Carbonella

Justin Carbonella Justin Carbonella
Justin Carbonella with the flag from his grandfather Paul Blancato's funeral service, which his mother gave to him. Blancato was a marine stationed in Pearl Harbor in 1941 and served as the family patriarch. Carbonella proudly displays the flag in his office in Middletown.
Carbonella wearing jeans with Middletown High student Steven Benavides.

Age: 37

Company: City of Middletown

Title: Youth Services Director

Town where I live: Middletown

Town where I work: Middletown

College: UConn (Bachelor's and Master's)


What do you do and what are your goals in your current job? I lead the city of Middletown's Youth Services Bureau, which serves as a central coordinating hub for youth and family work, specifically around juvenile justice, behavioral health and youth development. My goal is to maximize collective impact to help all our young people thrive.

What are your goals for your community involvement? As we encourage people in our community, adults and youth alike, to become more engaged in Middletown, it's important that I always practice what I preach and that my involvement always looks to bring the voice of our youth to the table.

What's your biggest passion? My biggest passion is problem solving. I love the challenge of taking apart large system complexities or the logistics of day-to-day issues and finding creative solutions that move people and communities forward.

What are your future aspirations? To continue to push this department to be one of the most progressive in the state for as long as my passion and energy will allow. My hope is that my post-youth services career can focus on public speaking and consultation as I enjoy motivating and building the capacities of others.

If you had one wish to brighten Hartford's economic future what would it be? That the pathway to building a brighter future in Hartford is done through investing in its youngest citizens and that the return creates strong, healthy leaders who stay in the community and are integral components in sustaining a thriving economic and social culture.

List four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty:

  1. Leader in juvenile-justice reform. Developed one of the most progressive diversion systems in the state of Connecticut centered around reimaging the Middletown Juvenile Review Board process as a restorative one that promotes victim voice and empowers young people to repair relationships after harm is caused.
  2. Named the director of Youth Services at age 26 and built the department.
  3. Work combatting online bullying was featured in Emily Bazelon's book “Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying” and the The Atlantic, helping eliminate a ring of bullying pages from Facebook and major changes in the way the site reviewed harassment/bullying claims.
  4. Developed programs in Middletown to give teenagers unique access to city decision makers.

Time Tested:

What personal possession in your life has withstood the test of time? A photo of me on my second day of life, which my mother brought to the hospital the day after my son was born this past April.

What hobby did you develop at a young age that you still enjoy today? A love of baseball

Twenty years ago, what did you envision as your future profession? Working in politics

Who do you consider your mentor? Willard McRae, an iconic community leader who passed away this winter

See the complete list of Forty Under 40 Winners for 2016! 

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