National Center for Youth Law

At the Center

NCYL Announces Hiring of New Executive Director




June 5, 2015 

John O’Toole (510) 835-8098

NCYL Announces Hiring of New Executive Director

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is pleased to announce the hiring of Jesse Hahnel as its new Executive Director. Hahnel succeeds John O’Toole who is retiring after 34 years at the helm. NCYL, founded in 1970, has been at forefront of advocacy for low-income children for five decades. Hahnel is the Founder and Director of FosterEd, a NCYL initiative to improve the educational outcomes of students in foster care.

Hahnel, a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford Law School, has been an attorney at NCYL for nearly seven years, where he first worked as a law student. Several years ago he founded FosterEd, an innovative, award winning, multi-state initiative of NCYL that improves educational outcomes of foster children. Hahnel was a recipient of the prestigious Mind Trust and Skadden fellowships.

“Jesse has the vision, skills, and most importantly, the passion to advance NCYL’s mission of serving children in need,” said Board President Peter Edelman, a nationally recognized expert on child poverty and law professor at Georgetown. Hahnel was selected after a nationwide search that produced many highly qualified candidates. “Jesse stood out especially for his extraordinary accomplishments on behalf of children in foster care. He is exactly the right person to lead NCYL going forward,” said Edelman.

Hahnel succeeds John O’Toole who has served as NCYL’s Director for 33 years. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead this storied organization and enormously grateful to work with the outstanding advocates who work here” said Hahnel. “We will work tirelessly to transform the country’s juvenile justice systems, improve our child welfare systems, and ensure that disadvantaged children and youth receive the assistance, health care and opportunities they need.”

“Jesse will do a great job,” said O’Toole. “He’s brilliant, energetic, and genuinely committed to improving the lives of poor children. NCYL is in good hands.”

Hahnel is expected to begin assuming his new role in August. O’Toole has agreed to stay on for a brief period of transition before retirement.