NCYL Salutes John F. O’Toole
August 21, 2015 NCYL held a farewell dinner at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Temple for retiring Director John O’Toole. More than 250 Center friends, past and present colleagues enjoyed the stories, food, and entertainment.
Michelle François Traiman Named Director of FosterEd
Michelle François Traiman is the new Director of NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (Foster Ed). Traiman brings more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors, as well as substantial expertise in child welfare and education. Most recently, she served as the Associate Director of Child Welfare with the Stuart Foundation, where she led a major initiative to improve education outcomes for foster youth across California. Her life’s work has been focused on helping young people realize the vastness of their potential and supporting systems change efforts that put the needs of youth at the center of policies and practices. Michelle’s life and work experience span a broad spectrum: as an artist, stage director, fundraiser, community activist, strategic planner and program director – all the while as a passionate advocate for young people and families. Her superpower is finding out what is uniquely awesome about people. Michelle lives in San Francisco with her amazing husband, Cliff and step-son Theo. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in Minnesota.
FosterEd: New Mexico Welcomes a New Team Member
Amy Dunlap joins the team to help launch a new FosterEd pilot program in Lea County, New Mexico, on the state’s border with Texas. Amy is a Licensed Masters Social Worker with many years of experience working in the child welfare and mental health systems. As Chief Education Liaison, she will not only carry a caseload of foster and probation-supervised youth, but she will also support the operations of FosterEd: New Mexico. She started on October 15th.
Kawena Cole and Yesenia Collier Join NCYL’s FosterEd Team in Los Angeles
Kawena Cole is a Foster Youth Education Liaison for the National Center for Youth Law’s Initiative FosterEd. Prior to joining the FosterEd team, Kawena worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as a Children’s Social Worker (CSW) for nearly 7 years. During the last 2 1/2 years with DCFS, Kawena worked in the Foster Youth Education Program. She provided services to youth in high school, creating individualized education case plans and providing advocacy for the youth to access services to ensure positive education outcomes. Kawena has also spent time as a substitute teacher while transitioning from her work as a CSW. Kawena has earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology, and hopes to use her education and experience working with foster youth to ensure the educational needs of foster youth are being met on the local level, as well as, to make change on a larger scale.
Yesenia Collier is an Education Liaison with FosterEd: Los Angeles, where she brings her passion for working with vulnerable communities to influence systems-level change and improve the education outcomes of foster children and youth. Yesenia received both her BA in American Literature and Culture, with a minor in Education Studies, and her MSW with a concentration in School Social Work from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a graduate student, she provided clinical case management to families identified as at-risk for child abuse and neglect in the San Fernando Valley, and most recently interned at Family Service of Santa Monica, where she provided school-based mental health services to children and youth (K-12) in public schools. Prior to graduate school, Yesenia worked at CASA of Los Angeles as a Volunteer Services and Outreach Coordinator, ensuring that foster children were paired with a Court Appointed Special Advocate, giving foster children a voice in the court and community.
Raúl Arroyo-Mendoza provides policy advocacy and direct legal services to LGBTQ youth engaging in survival sex. He received a B.A. in International Relations and Philosophy from Tufts University and a J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Before law school, Raúl worked for 4 years at the Advancement Project, a national, legal policy organization in Washington, D.C devoted to racial justice. During law school, he interned at East Bay Community Law Center, where he successfully argued an expulsion appeal before the Alameda County Board of Education. The victory was significant because the Hayward Unified School District had routinely expelled English Language Learner students without due process. Raúl also interned at NCYL, where he worked on impact litigation to reduce racial disparities in the use of exclusionary school discipline and research on implicit bias in the juvenile justice system. He was also part of a legal team that investigated the U.S. government’s inhumane treatment of undocumented youth and their mothers in immigration detention centers along the U.S-Mexico border. Raúl returned to NCYL after he was awarded Pride Law Fund’s 2015-2016 Tom Steel Fellowship.
Atasi Uppal joined NCYL in April as a FosterEd-Juvenile Justice Attorney, leading projects in three states aimed at improving the education outcomes of probation-involved youth. Her work is collaborative, combining systems reform initiatives from NCYL’s FosterEd and Juvenile Justice teams. Atasi received her B.S. and her J.D. from the University of Michigan. At Michigan Law, Atasi was a student attorney in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and an Executive Editor for the Michigan Journal of Race & Law. During law school, she clerked at legal services organizations focused on child welfare, special education and juvenile justice. Prior to joining NCYL, Atasi worked at the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts, where she litigated child welfare and status offense cases on behalf of indigent children and parents.
Nora Landis-Shack is the Web Editor for NCYL’s Pregnant Youth  and Teen Health Law  websites, where she will organize, optimize, and create content for teens regarding their health and associated rights. She also works part-time at San Francisco Court Appointed Special Advocates as a Development Assistant. A born and bred New Yorker, she briefly tested the waters in the startup marketing world there before moving into nonprofit work. Now, she’ll be applying her tech skills to improving NCYL’s online presence. Nora earned her B.S. in Psychology, with a concentration in Peace and Justice studies, from Haverford College.
A New Addition to the Family
Rachel Velcoff Hults‘ baby, Mark Durant Hults, a whopping 8 lbs, 4 oz. and 20 inches long, was born on July 1.
Kate Got Married!
After meeting at Pomona College in 2007, David Brown and Kate Walker, now Kate Walker Brown, were married at Des Moines Art Center in Des Moines, Iowa on September 6, 2015.
Nathan Kamps-Hughes Receives UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Center for Health Leadership’s “Leading from where you are”  Award
NCYL’s Policy Researcher, Nathan Kamps-Hughes was recognized for his efforts to impact change and serve as a leader during his summer internship at NCYL. His work helped further the goals of NCYL’s PsychMeds Action Team.
Annual Child Advocates Picnic
This summer NCYL joined the Youth Law Center, Legal Services for Children, and East Bay Children’s Law Office for a day of food, sun, and networking.