National Center for Youth Law

At the Center

5 Questions with NCYL Alumni Sara Craig-Scheckman, Board President, Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation

 

What did you do at NCYL?  I was a Summer Law Clerk on the Flores Case with Jim Morales during the summer of 1994

What is your favorite memory from your time at NCYL? I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my three months at NCYL. In addition to conducting rigorous legal research, I was honored as a bilingual person to accompany Jim Morales on trips to youth facilities throughout the Bay Area. These visits were eye opening to me and, to be honest, what I most appreciated about them was the time I got to spend with Jim–we’d drive to and from the sites in his truck and I learned so much from him. He’d share the stories behind past and present cases and his passion for the work inspired me to become an even stronger advocate myself.

I had wanted to work with Jim and NCYL since the summer prior, which I spent at the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law working with founders Peter Schey and Carlos Holguin on the rights of immigrant youth. NCYL was the epicenter of the Flores Case, so it was a particularly remarkable time to be able to contribute in a small way to that landmark settlement.

Why is NCYL’s work important today? NCYL has exceeded the vision I had for the organization in 1994. The philosophy and values, of being inclusive and equitable while focusing on youth access and listening to diverse community voices, have remained consistent. NCYL has evolved beyond this in many multi-faceted, dynamic ways; it has long recognized the importance of connecting litigation and policy to achieve system change and in recent years has expanded strategies even beyond that. The humility of NCYL is an incredibly important piece of its success. Then and now, staff really listen to, learn from, involve and empower people on the ground in local communities, including youth and families, in shaping solutions and shifts in systems.

How did your time at NCYL influence your path? For me, it confirmed that working in civil rights advocacy with and on behalf of youth, families, and communities was my calling. While I had strong commitment to advocacy and had done much direct service work in prior roles, this clerkship was a critical opportunity to work on the biggest class action case in my career up to that point. Working at NCYL was instrumental for my career.

How have you stayed involved with NCYL? Since the day I left, I pledged to give what I could to NCYL as a donor each year. I was raised in a family where being of service was instilled in me and I benefited from my time at NCYL in my own professional development, so this was a way of giving back. I continue my support because NCYL’s work is so deeply connected to local communities in a holistic, inclusive way. NCYL is truly able to assess community needs collectively with its partners, and has the power and expertise to create systems change.