At the Center — Apr-June 2012
NCYL Welcomes New Juvenile Justice Attorney Hannah Benton
NCYL Welcomes New Assistant Administrator Miranda Perry
Frankie Guzman Returns to NCYL as a Soros Justice Fellow
Frankie Guzman, formerly NCYL’s Assistant to the Director, has graduated from UCLA School of Law and will return to NCYL in September as a highly prestigious Soros Justice Fellow. Frankie’s fellowship project will challenge the practice of prosecuting and jailing children in California’s adult criminal justice system and advocate for alternative sentencing and local treatment for youth charged with serious offenses.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Frankie worked at the Greenlining Institute and the National Center for Youth Law before attending law school. As a law student, Frankie served as President of La Raza Law Students Association and Pacific Regional Director of the National Latino Law Students Association. He has clerked at the Prison Law Office, and Public Counsel Law Center. Frankie is a recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice.
There are few people better qualified to do this work. Frankie is himself a product of the juvenile justice system. When he was just 15 years old, he was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 15 years in the California Youth Authority. After serving six years, he was released on parole. After his release, he enrolled in Oxnard College and later transferred to UC Berkeley, where he earned a BA in English. The rest, as they say, is history.
Legal Secretary Ethel Louise (“Lou”) Oden-Brown has won an Award Of Merit from the Legal Assistance Association of California for her “exemplary work in improving access to justice”! The LAAC Awards of Merit are the legal services community’s opportunity to recognize the importance of legal services and to particularly honor a few of the many who have made contributions to the field during the last year.
Lou’s colleagues at NCYL are thrilled and can’t think of anyone more deserving. In 2010, NCYL celebrated 40 years of advocating for poor children, and Lou has been here for 29 of them. She is essential to NCYL’s success. As Director John O’Toole often says, “Lou is the heart and soul of NCYL.”
Lou was honored, along with three other award winners, at a June 7 reception at the Administrative Office of the Courts during the Pathways to Justice Conference in San Francisco. Read Lou’s nomination here.
Deputy Director Patrick Gardner, along with co-counsel in Kate A v. Bonta, won Advocate of the Year from the California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth (CMHACY). Lawyers on the Katie A team were recognized for their “tireless and dedicated legal advocacy” which has “resulted in major systemic changes within mental health and child welfare that will bring to some of California’s most vulnerable children–those in foster care or at risk of removal from their families–intensive home and community based mental health services which will significantly improve the quality of their lives.”
Other members of the Katie A team honored include Kim Lewis of the National Health Law Program; Robert Newman of the Western Center on Law & Poverty; Ira Burnim of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law; Alison Barkroft, formerly at Bazelon and now with the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division; Melinda Bird of Disability Rights, CA, and Mark Rosenbaum of the ACLU of Southern California.
The award was presented on May 18 at the CMHACY’s annual conference at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA.
An implementation plan for the Katie A. settlement agreement is expected from the State in the next few months.
Jade Bradfish has just finished her second year at the University of Washington School of Law. Prior to law school, she was an elementary school teacher with Teach for America, where she developed a passion for helping children in need. Last summer, she worked with Columbia Legal Services in Seattle doing child advocacy. Jade will be working with Senior Attorney Leecia Welch on child welfare issues, focusing on the educational and mental health needs of children in foster care.
Elena Dillard is a second-year law student at the University of Virginia School of Law. She first became interested in pursuing a legal career after studying the famous anti-miscegenation case, Loving v.Virginia, in an African American studies class. Herself the product of an interracial marriage, Elena was motivated to pursue greater understanding of the ways in which the law impacts the social implications of one’s racial identity. After her first semester at law school, Elena spent her January term with NCYL, where she learned about racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system. Returning to NCYL this summer, Elena will be working with Senior Attorneys Patrick Gardner and Michael Harris on juvenile justice and mental health issues. In her free time, Elena plans to explore as much of the Bay Area foodie scene as possible.
Marita Grant is a 2L at Howard University School of Law. Before starting law school, she completed her undergraduate studies at UC Davis with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. After college and before law school Marita worked as a social worker at Cherrydale Health and Rehab Center where she counseled residents and families to obtain the best health care choice. Marita was born in Sierra Leone, and immigrated to the U.S. at age 11. She spent time in foster care and her experiences motivated her to help foster youth and reform the system. At NCYL, she’ll be working on child welfare and education issues concerning foster youth, under the supervision of Erin Liotta.
Anna Johnson was raised in the Midwest and attended undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is interning with NCYL between her first and second year of Policy School at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Anna worked as a teacher in the Oakland and Philadelphia public school systems for six years prior to attending the Goldman School, initially as a Teach for America corps member. Her goals as an educator were to understand how best to serve youth in underfunded areas and to learn which resources are most necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity. Her political areas of interest are health care reform, education reform, and green politics. She hopes to impact changes in health care and education funding and access. Anna aspires to change the ways schools are funded on a local, state, and national level in order to achieve equity in communities across the country. She also hopes to integrate holistic healing into the mainstream medical realm. In her free time, Anna enjoys reading, playing soccer, cooking, yoga, hiking, and the company of good people.
Ji Won Kim is entering her second year at the University of Michigan Law School, where she is a member of the Pro Bono Board and a student attorney for the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project. Prior to law school, Ji Won worked in the field of asset building at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Political Science. At NCYL, she is working with Senior Attorney Patrick Gardner on improving children’s access to mental health services, and with Equal Justice Works Fellow and attorney Kate Walker on reducing commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Jefferson Lin is entering his third year at the University of Washington School of Law. He is an Executive Articles Editor for the Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal and is an active member of the Student Health Law Organization and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. During his second year, Jefferson interned with Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York, and, last summer, he clerked at the law firm Karr Tuttle Campbell in Seattle. Prior to law school, Jefferson spent two years as a HealthCorps Coordinator in the Bronx, educating and mentoring high school students, parents, and teachers about healthy living. Jefferson graduated from Williams College with a major in Political Economy. At NCYL, Jefferson is working with Senior Attorney Rebecca Gudeman on adolescent health issues. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, golfing, and Bikram yoga.
Neha Mehta just completed her first year at Harvard Law School. Prior to law school, Neha taught 6th grade Math and Science in East Oakland, CA as a Teach for America Corps member. She had an amazing experience as a teacher and is thrilled to be back in Oakland at NCYL working on behalf of youth. When she returns to law school, Neha will serve as Membership Chair of Advocates for Education. She is on the Social Committee of the Women’s Law Association, an Article Editor for the Harvard Law and Policy Review, and will be joining the Trial Advocacy Workshop and International Human Rights Clinic. Last year, she participated in the Prison Legal Assistance Project and joined a reading group on the “school-to-prison pipeline” issue. The reading group inspired her to help plan a multidisciplinary conference on the issue, which sparked her interest in juvenile justice. At NCYL, Neha will be working primarily on juvenile justice and mental health issues under the supervision of Staff Attorney Fiza Quraishi.
Ta Lynn Mitchell is entering her sophomore year at American University, where she is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Justice. Ta Lynn is an active participant in the School of Public Policy’s Leadership Program. Through this program, Ta Lynn has orchestrated community projects benefiting the homeless population of greater Washington, D.C. Ta Lynn has interned with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and at the Law Offices of John L. Burris, in Oakland, CA, which sparked her interest in civil rights law and advocacy. She has a passion for helping others and a love for children and hopes to apply both passions to her work at NCYL. Ta Lynn is excited to work with NCYL Communications Director Tracy Schroth this summer. She enjoys all genres of music and looks forward to attending local concerts. She also loves to go on adventures and explore different cultures through travel and dance.
Thera Naiman is entering her junior year at Swarthmore College, where she is majoring in History and minoring in Political Science. During the school year, Thera works at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia as an intake volunteer. She also participates in the Fetter Chamber Music Program. Thera is excited to begin volunteering in the Chester youth courts system in the fall. Last summer, Thera interned at Global Kids, a non-profit organization in New York that uses leadership development programs to educate urban youth about foreign affairs. At NCYL, Thera is working with Communications Director Tracy Schroth. She enjoys playing the violin and running with her very energetic border collie.
Christopher Patalano is entering his second year at Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he has worked with the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Harvard Immigration Project, and Church and State, which works on issues related to the Establishment Clause. Prior to law school, he worked for two years as a seventh- and eighth-grade English and Social Studies teacher in Hartford, Connecticut through Teach for America. Chris graduated from Wesleyan University with a major in the College of Letters, an interdisciplinary program focused on the study of literature, history, and philosophy. At NCYL, Chris is working with Attorneys Jesse Hahnel and Rachel Velcoff Hults to improve educational outcomes for foster children. In his free time, he enjoys playing the guitar and banjo, reading, lemonade, New York Times crossword puzzles, and living on the West Coast for the first time.
Whitney Richey Rubenstein is entering her second year at Berkeley Law. Upon graduating from Bates College in 2005, Whitney taught in the New York City public school system and later obtained her Masters of Social Work from Columbia University in 2008. She has spent several years working within the field of child welfare. Most recently, she worked as a social worker at the Center for Family Representation, Inc. in New York City, working with attorneys to represent parents in abuse and neglect proceedings in Family Court. Since beginning law school, Whitney has served as a volunteer for the Community Legal Outreach Clinic associated with the East Bay Community Law Center, where she advises clients on public benefit matters and provides them with legal and social service referrals. Whitney is also a Submissions Editor for the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law. At NCYL, Whitney is working with Senior Attorney Bill Grimm on child welfare issues. Whitney is looking forward to spending her first California summer with family and friends enjoying the beautiful weather and taking advantage of outdoor activities.
Andria Seo is a third-year student at NYU School of Law. Throughout law school, she has focused on developing experience in the field of children’s rights. Last summer, she interned at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, where she assisted domestic violence victims in the family law unit. During her second year, she participated in NYU’s Children’s Rights Clinic, working on special education issues. Andria has also interned at The Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice, representing children in the child welfare system. Andria is working with Senior Attorney Michael Harris on juvenile justice issues.
NCYL’s Summer Seminar Series
Thera Naiman is a summer intern at NCYL, working with Communications Director Tracy Schroth.
Summer Seminar Series
Thursday, June 14 (12-1pm)
Advice on Pursuing a Career in Public Interest Law
John O’Toole, Director, National Center for Youth Law
John has been a poverty lawyer and child advocate for his entire career. Come hear his words of advice for the next generation of public interest lawyers and learn what to do in law school to get the job of your dreams!
Thursday, June 21 (12-1pm)
Public Interest Post-Graduate Fellowships
Diane Chin, Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law, Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School
Brian Blalock, former Skadden Fellow, Youth Projects Director, Bay Area Legal Aid
Kate Walker, Equal Justice Works Fellow, National Center for Youth Law
Have your questions about preparing for the fellowship process answered by the former Director of Equal Justice Works/West and hear reflections on the experience of two recent fellows.
Thursday, June 28 (12-1pm)
Psychotropic Medications and Foster Children
Bill Grimm, Senior Attorney, National Center for Youth Law
Edward Opton, Of Counsel, National Center for Youth Law
The issue of the overmedication of foster children has recently gained traction on the national scene, but it is a problem that NCYL’s clients have long confronted. Come learn more about the history of this problematic practice and about how NCYL is using recent interest in the issue as an opportunity to promote what is best for each foster child and youth.
Thursday, July 5 (12-1pm)
Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: Adolescent Access to Health Care
Rebecca Gudeman, Senior Attorney, National Center for Youth Law
Access to health care is critical for youth who are considering or involved in risk taking behavior. While ideally parents and youth work together to access health services, minors in every state have the right to access certain health care confidentially. Come learn more about what minor consent laws say, the social science research behind these laws, the tension between minor consent and other laws, and what it is like for medical providers and other professionals to implement these laws.
Thursday, July 12 (12-1pm)
Katie A. v. Bontá: Mental Health Reform in California
Patrick Gardner, Deputy Director, National Center for Youth Law
Each day, thousands of California’s foster children are needlessly confined in institutions because they cannot get the mental health services they are entitled to under federal law. Learn how the Katie A. lawsuit is changing all that. Receive an overview of a class action lawsuit that has spanned ten years and learn what this lawsuit now means for children’s mental health in California.
Thursday, July 19 (12-1pm)
Racial Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System
Michael Harris, Senior Attorney, National Center for Youth Law
Fiza Quraishi, Staff Attorney, National Center for Youth Law
Learn more about NCYL’s efforts to address racial disparities in the juvenile justice system nationwide. This talk will place a particular emphasis on how race affects youth who are pushed out of schools and into the juvenile justice system.
Thursday, July 26 (12-1pm)
Clerkships: Insights for Aspiring Public Interest Attorneys
Angela Chan, Staff Attorney, Asian Law Caucus, and former Law Clerk for the Hon. Napoleon A. Jones of the Southern District of California
Madeline Howard, Staff Attorney, Bay Area Legal Aid, and former Legal Research Attorney for the San Francisco Superior Court
Elisabeth Voigt, Senior Staff Attorney, Public Counsel, and former Law Clerk for the Hon. Richard A. Paez of the Ninth Circuit
Come hear inside tips on how to obtain a clerkship and learn how the clerking experience can be useful for a career in public interest law.