About the Staff
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.
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 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.
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 Leland Martyna
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.