Zahra Hayat earned her undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in her native Pakistan. As part of her course work in Human Rights Law, she undertook a study of Pakistan’s Juvenile Justice system, documenting the conditions of the juvenile ward at one of Pakistan’s largest prisons. She found that all 273 juveniles imprisoned there belonged to economically disadvantaged families, and that only four of them had been convicted. Many had been incarcerated longer than the sentences they would have received if they were convicted. That experience, coupled with a broader interest in law as an academic discipline, motivated Zahra to apply to study Jurisprudence at Oxford, where she was a Rhodes scholar.
While at Oxford, Zahra joined Oxford Pro Bono Publica, a collaborative faculty-student initiative drawing upon participants’ legal expertise to advise human rights groups worldwide. She also spent a summer clerking at two leading London law firms and, as a result, received a number of offers of employment at British firms. She chose instead to seek a career in public interest law, and after a year in Pakistan working on the country’s blasphemy laws, she attended Yale Law School because of its strong clinical program, receiving an LL.M degree.
Zahra’s project at NCYL focuses on serving foster children with unmet mental health needs. Foster children in California have an enforceable right to mental health services under Medicaid, the cooperative federal-state program that funds medical assistance to low-income individuals. However, California falls short of its health care obligations to foster children under the Medicaid Act.
Zahra will focus particularly on the plight of children with serious mental illnesses who are placed in foster homes across county lines. Twenty percent of California’s foster children are in foster care outside their “home” county (defined as the county in which they entered care). The current system in California requires “home” counties to provide mental health services to foster children. Consequently, the county in which the child actually resides will not provide those services. To compound the problem, children who have been moved to another county are typically those with the most serious behavioral and emotional challenges, yet they experience the greatest obstacles in getting mental health care.
NCYL intends to address this problem with public information, public policy work, and litigation. Zahra will play a key role, conducting essential research, and participating in all phases of the advocacy.
Dan DeVries, NCYL’s Director of Development for the past 15 years, has taken a job as Development/Communications Director at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at Hastings College of Law. A former high school teacher who began his Development career writing grants at Stanford Business School, Dan says he is looking forward to returning to academia.
Since 1993, when he joined NCYL, Dan oversaw NCYL’s very successful efforts to secure donations from law firms and individuals. He also headed up NCYL’s efforts to raise money through private foundations and special events, including NCYL’s first ever benefit concert featuring the legendary Bay Area rock band Journey. The concert (and live auction), held at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Oakland, CA, sold out, raising $150,000 in net proceeds for NCYL.
Just a few short years after starting at NCYL, Dan found himself in the unenviable position of having to completely reshape NCYL’s fundraising efforts after it lost more than $800,000 – 60 percent of its budget at the time – when the Newt Gingrich Congress cut all federal funding for national support centers, including NCYL. . But working with Director John O’Toole and NCYL’s Board of Directors, Dan intensified NCYL’s efforts to raise the needed funding from private law firms, individuals, and foundations.
Dan was well-known at NCYL for his twice-yearly “stuffing” parties, where he would treat the staff to pizza in exchange for help stuffing thousands of envelopes for NCYL’s fundraising mailings. The conversation would often turn to golf, “roots” music, and great books – three of Dan’s most avid interests.
“Dan was integrally involved in so many of our successes over the past 15 years. We will miss him and we wish him the best,” said long-time Director O’Toole.
Molly Dunn, who specialized in foster youth education and juvenile justice at NCYL, is also returning to the world of higher education. Molly, who came to NCYL from Stanford University, where she was a Youth Advocacy Fellow in the Youth and Education Law Clinic, will begin work this winter as Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Molly, who joined NCYL in 2007, brought her expertise in education, working to improve the educational outcomes for foster and other at-risk youth. Her work included a comprehensive analysis of alternative schools in California.
Molly consulted NCYL’s juvenile mental health team on education issues and was a vital participant in the Center’s collaborative court in Alameda County. Molly also worked closely with NCYL Senior Attorney Pat Arthur on the Center’s work to reform the juvenile justice system in Arkansas.
Good luck Dan and Molly – we will miss you!
Staff Attorney Bryn Martyna’s women’s Ultimate Frisbee team “Fury” won the World Championships in Vancouver, Canada on August 9, 2008. Bryn and her teammates, who are mostly from the Bay Area, won the U.S. National Championships last year to qualify them to represent the U.S. at Worlds, which are held every four years. They defeated Germany in the quarterfinals and Canada in the semifinals. On the final day of the seven-day tournament, Fury went head-to-head against Japan in the championship match. Bryn scored two goals and helped her team defeat Japan 13-10.
Fifteen countries were represented at the tournament, and Fury defeated 10 of them to earn the championship title, including Australia, Mexico, Italy, and Finland. The final game between the U.S. and Japan was their second tournament match. Earlier in the week, the Japanese defeated the Americans 15-14 – Fury’s only loss of the entire tournament. It was the first World Championship for Fury, which has won five National Championships (1999, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008) and represented the U.S. at three World Championships (2000, 2004 and 2008). Bryn’s team won its fourth consecutive National Championship in Sarasota, Fla. last month.
Bryn started playing Ultimate Frisbee back in College in 1997. She joined Fury in 2002 and was captain for two of the team’s National Championship wins, in 2006 and 2007.