Yulise R. Waters, Esq. Director of Dallas Programs, Lone Star Justice Alliance
Hunt Institute, Fellow

Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq. joins the Hunt Institute as a Fellow bringing her industry expertise. Waters is the Director of Dallas Programs for the Lone Star Justice Alliance where she oversees the programmatic, data, and community engagement aspects of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program (SCCIP – pronounced “skip”).  Waters co-founded SCCIP as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Dallas and was responsible for securing one of ten 2016 Community Courts Grant Program grants awarded by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Center for Court Innovation, establishing SCCIP as the first-ever felony community court in Dallas County history and the first-ever alternative to incarceration for young adults in the State of Texas.  SCCIP was also awarded the 2018 National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Equity and Inclusion Award for “excellence and leadership in demonstrating and promoting cultural proficiency in treatment court services.” Prior to her role with the City of Dallas, Waters was partner in Cox Waters, P.L.L.C., a boutique Dallas law firm specializing in family law, collaborative practice and mediation.

Waters holds a B.A. in English and in Spanish (both magna cum laude) and her B.B.A. in Organizational Behavior and Business Policy (magna cum laude) from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.  As a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, SMU’s highest academic scholarship, Waters completed studies at La Fundacíon de José Ortega y Gasset in Madrid, Spain, where she became proficient in speaking Spanish. As a graduating senior, Waters was awarded the SMU Department of English’s Shakespeare Prize for the best paper in all English sections, was named the Senior Woman of the Year by the Cox School of Business, and Senior Woman of the Year of SMU (Campus-wide).  Waters earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the Dedman School of Law at SMU. At Dedman, she served as Vice President of the SMU Black Law Students Association. A member of the Inaugural Emerging Leader Board at Dedman School of Law, which recognizes graduates over the last twenty years who have “a strong record of leadership in the legal profession and a proven commitment to public service,” she holds memberships in the Juvenile Law, Criminal Justice, and Collaborative Law Sections, and the Dallas Bar Association.  Additionally, Waters holds certifications in Texas Risk Assessment System, in Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies, and she has completed additional training at the Caruth Police Leadership Institute.

An advocate for children, young adults, and families, Waters serves as an inaugural board member of POETIC Trauma Therapy Center and Creative Arts Studio, which builds a pipeline out of the juvenile justice system and into intensive aftercare for girls who have been exploited and trafficked.  She serves on the advisory board of the ARK (Adults Relating to Kids) Group, which works to build stronger families, schools, and communities by empowering adults to empower kids. And she serves on the board of Family Gateway which empowers children and families affected by homelessness. Waters has also been selected as a member of Leadership Dallas’ Class of 2020 and is an appointee to the Dallas ISD Racial Equity Office Trustee Appointed Advisory Council.

Waters has been named “One-to-Watch” by SMU Magazine, listed as a “Featured Graduate” of SMU Dedman Law by The Quad Magazine, and she is a recipient of the History Maker Award of the Black Alumni of SMU, their highest honor.  She has been named to the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” of young professionals, to Who’s Who in Black Dallas, and to the City of Dallas’ Wall of Honor for meritorious service to the citizens of Dallas. Waters has also been named a 2019 Millennial-to-Watch and Honorable Mention Award co-recipients of the 2019 Juanita Craft Humanitarian Award in the Community Builder/Catalyst Category.  A 2017 and 2019 Dallas Public Voices Fellow, Waters’ commentary on race, justice, and policing has been featured on nationally-syndicated radio programs, and her published columns in major U.S. city newspapers.  A frequent speaker, Waters addresses civic, collegiate, corporate, church and legal bodies on topics of interest ranging from effective communication models and maximizing potential to alternatives to incarceration and community engagement. A published author, Waters’ most recent offerings, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,” on the adultification of black girls is included in When Kids Ask Hard Questions: Faith-filled Responses for Tough Topics and “God Heals Us” and “Somebody Prayed for Me” are included in Blessed Is She: The Transforming Prayer Journeys of 30 African American Women.