Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq. is the Director of Dallas County Programs for Lone Star Justice Alliance, where she oversees the programmatic, data, and community engagement aspects of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program (SCCIP – pronounced “skip”). Prior to joining LSJA, Waters was an Assistant City Attorney and Community Courts Prosecutor for the City of Dallas where she co-founded SCCIP and secured 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 for SCCIP. 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 assuming 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. With her former law partner, the late Gay G. Cox, she co-authored the ground-breaking article “Penetrating the Walls: Overcoming Barriers to the Proliferation of Collaborative Practice in Underserved Communities” in The Collaborative Review: Journal of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
Waters earned her B.A. in English (magna cum laude) and in Spanish (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 additional studies at La Fundacíon de José Ortega y Gasset in Madrid, Spain, where she gained proficiency 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 and was named the Senior Woman of the Year of the Cox School of Business and Senior Woman of the Year of SMU (Overall). 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 during which time the chapter was named Chapter of the Year by the National 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 State Bar of Texas (and is an appointed member of the Collaborative Law Section Council), the Texas Association of Specialty Courts, the Dallas Bar Association, and the J. L. Turner Legal Association (the Black Bar of Dallas). Additionally, Waters holds certifications in Texas Risk Assessment System and in Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), and she has completed additional training at the Caruth Police Leadership Institute.
An advocate for children, young adults, and families, Waters serves on the board of POETIC Trauma Therapy Center and Creative Arts Studio, which equips youth who have experienced sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation to find their voices, reclaim their narratives and persist forward. Waters 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 through its award-winning training program. Waters also serves on the board of Family Gateway which empowers children and families affected by homelessness. 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 representing “innovation and excellence in their fields”, to Who’s Who in Black Dallas, and to the City of Dallas’ Wall of Honor for meritorious service to the citizens of Dallas. A 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.
She is married to the Reverend Dr. Michael W. Waters, and they are the proud parents of three children: Michael Jeremiah, 12, Hope Yulise, 9, and Liberty Grace, 6.