National Center for Youth Law

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About the Staff

Attorneys

John O'TooleJohn O'Toole

Director

John F. O’Toole has served for 30 years as the Director of the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL). Under his leadership, the Center has built a national reputation for its successful advocacy on behalf of tens of thousands of poor children and youth in states throughout the country.

Patrick Gardner
Patrick Gardner

Patrick Gardner

Deputy Director
Senior Staff Attorney

Patrick Gardner, NCYL’s Deputy Director, specializes in children’s mental health law and policy, and its impacts on youth involved with the child welfare, juvenile justice, and special education systems.

William L. Grimm

Senior Attorney

William L. Grimm joined NCYL in 1988 and has been lead counsel for the Center’s class action foster care reform litigation in Arkansas, Utah, Washington, and Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada.  Bill holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland (1972), and earned his law degree from the same university’s school of law in 1975.

Rebecca Gudeman
Rebecca Gudeman

Senior Attorney

Rebecca Gudeman is a senior attorney specializing in adolescent health care. She directs NCYL’s adolescent reproductive health project and oversees the project’s website, www.teenhealthlaw.org.

Jesse Hahnel
Jesse Hahnel

Attorney/Foster Youth Education Initiative Director

Jesse Hahnel is an attorney and Director of NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative, focusing on improving the educational outcomes of foster youth.

Bryn Martyna
Bryn Martyna

Bryn Leland Martyna

Staff Attorney

Bryn Leland Martyna is a staff attorney at NCYL, specializing in child welfare/foster care.  Bryn joined the staff in 2007 after completing a two-year Skadden Fellowship at NCYL focusing on implementation of the Braam v. Washington foster care reform litigation.

Fiza Qurashi
Fiza Qurashi

Staff Attorney

Fiza Quraishi is a Staff Attorney at NCYL, specializing in Juvenile Justice reform. Prior to becoming a staff attorney in 2010, Fiza was an Equal Justice Fellow at NCYL, providing direct representation for foster youth with unmet mental health needs.

Patricia Soung

Patricia Soung

Senior Attorney

Patricia Soung specializes in juvenile justice, with a focus on reducing the over incarceration of youth in the juvenile justice system. Before joining NCYL in June 2010, Patricia was an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University School of Law.

Leecia Welch
Leecia Welch

Senior Attorney

Leecia Welch is a senior attorney at NCYL, specializing in child welfare issues. She is currently lead counsel on David C. v. Huntsman, a class action lawsuit in Utah focused on reforming its foster care system.

Of Counsel

Laura Koch
Laura Koch

Laura Koch

Of Counsel

Laura Koch is a volunteer attorney at NCYL working to ensure foster children receive necessary mental health care. In 2009, she earned her JD from Golden Gate University School of Law (GGU) and was awarded a certificate in environmental law with distinction.

Ned Opton
Ned Opton

Of Counsel

Edward Opton is of counsel to NCYL. He is the first attorney to work long-term with NCYL after retiring from full-time practice.  Since January 2007, he has been working principally with Senior Attorney Bill Grimm on Child Welfare issues.

Kathy Sher

Kathy Sher

Of Counsel

Kathy Sher is a volunteer attorney assisting with NCYL’s legislative work in California.  After graduating from Yale Law School in 1990,  Kathy practiced with then Rosen, Bien & Asaro in San Francisco, working primarily on prisoners’ rights class actions.

Deferred Associates

Sara Madge
Sara Madge

Sara Madge

Of Counsel

Sara Madge joined NCYL in September 2010 as a deferred associate from Ropes & Gray LLP.  While at NCYL, she is working to ensure access to mental health care for foster children and for those in the juvenile justice system.

Erica Turcios
Erica Turcios

Erica Turcios

Deferred Associate

Erica Turcios joined NCYL in October 2010 as a deferred associate from the San Francisco office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.  At NCYL, she is a member of the litigation team for TR v. Dreyfus, a civil rights lawsuit.

Fellows

Administration

Tracy Schroth
Tracy Schroth

Director of Communications

Tracy Schroth has worked in non-profit communications for the past 12 years, managing the communications of both local and national organizations. In her former life, Tracy was an award-winning journalist, working as a daily newspaper reporter on the East Coast, where she covered crime, politics, and the courts.

Nancy Berger
Nancy Berger

Director of Development

Nancy Berger joined NCYL in October 2010. She earned her B.S. from Tulane University in 1993, and has spent more than a decade in fundraising helping non-profit organizations fulfill their visions.

Hayden Lilien
Hayden Lilien

Director of Finance and Administration

Hayden joined NCYL in October 2009. She earned her B.S. in Finance from the University of Florida in 2002, and a joint JD/MBA from Stetson University College of Law in 2005.

Larry Nguyen

Assistant Administrator

Larry Nguyen is NCYL’s Assistant Administrator. He earned his B.S. from UC Berkeley, majoring in Sociology and Environmental Economics & Policy. Prior to joining NCYL, he provided administrative support to the Prevention Institute in Oakland, CA, a non-profit dedicated to violence prevention and addressing health disparities within marginalized communities.

Ethel Oden-Brown
Ethel Oden-Brown

Legal Secretary

Ethel Oden-Brown has worked at NCYL since 1983. Before that time, as a legal secretary, she ran a private law firm with offices in both San Francisco and Oakland.

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