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At the Center — Oct-Dec 2008

NCYL Welcomes New Attorney Christiana Geffen Macfarlane

Christiana Geffen Macfarlane

Christiana Geffen Macfarlane

Christiana Geffen Macfarlane has joined NCYL part-time to work with Senior Attorney Rebecca Gudeman on adolescent health projects. Specifically, Christiana will help develop policies to increase youth’s access to health care and improve cooperation among agencies that serve high-risk children, including children in foster care and the juvenile justice system.

Christiana attended Boston University School of Law and in 2008 earned a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley, Christiana worked with Mary Kreger, a senior research associate at the UC San Francisco Institute for Health Policy Studies on a project studying asthma in California school children. Christiana’s previous career in health care law includes work as a contract attorney for the California Medical Association; a Legislative Consultant for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; and as a Compliance Leader for The Permanente Medical Group in Oakland. Her work at Kaiser included adolescent consent and privacy in health care, a focus of NCYL’s work.

Christiana is admitted to the Bar in California, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. She received her undergraduate degree in biology from Brown University. Outside of work, she sings (as does her husband) with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.


Allison Crapo Awarded Abascal Fellowship

Allison Crapo has been awarded the Ralph Santiago Abascal Fellowship from the University of California Hastings College of Law. Allison, who graduated from U.C. Hastings law school in 2007, was awarded the fellowship to work with youth who have unmet mental health problems and are involved in the juvenile justice system.

Allison will focus on the existing juvenile mental health courts in Santa Clara and Alameda counties to determine how civil advocates can improve youths’ ability to remain safely at home, succeed in school, and avoid future delinquency. She will provide direct representation to youth and recruit other civil advocates to help provide services. In an effort to expand the population of youth served, Allison will explore the potential of creating new mental health courts in the Bay Area.

Juvenile mental health courts are collaborative in nature, bringing together mental health providers, probation officers, civil advocates, defense attorneys, district attorneys, and judges. This team seeks to divert youth from detention and connect them with mental health services and community supports. Civil advocates, as members of the team, offer unique services: they help youth and families access health care, educational programs, vocational services, and other government benefits. The goal is to help detained youth successfully transition back home and to adulthood.

The Abascal fellowship is awarded for work that involves legal advocacy and policy change in areas affecting people denied access to the legal system. The fellowship committee considers both an applicant’s commitment to public interest law and to the community in which he or she will be working. The candidate’s relevant skills and experience are also considered.

Allison Crapo graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. By becoming a lawyer, Allison intends to devote her career to public interest law by working to improve the well-being and opportunities of youth with mental health problems. In proposing this project, she argues that detaining youth in the juvenile justice system because of their behavior from unmet mental health problems is an issue of social justice, especially given the lack of mental health services available for youth.

The Abascal Fellowship is funded by U.C. Hastings alumni, students, and friends, in honor of the late Ralph Santiago Abascal, a legendary public interest lawyer who devoted his career to anti-poverty law and environmental justice. As an attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance, Abascal worked on more than 200 major cases, representing farm workers, disabled people, immigrants, students, and welfare recipients. After graduating from U.C. Hastings law school in 1968, Abascal returned as a professor to teach one of the first environmental justice classes and to serve on the board of directors. Over the course of his career, he was a mentor and inspiration to hundreds of law students and young public interest attorneys.


NCYL Law Clerks Johanna Robinson and Sun Young Lee

Johanna Robinson

Johanna Robinson

Johanna Robinson, a third-year student at Harvard Law School, will be assisting NCYL Senior Attorney Bill Grimm with the Clark K. case to reform foster care in Clark County, NV. Joanna will also be working with Senior Attorney Leecia Welch to expand NCYL’s Fight for Your Rights handbook, designed to educate foster youth about rights and services available to them.

Joanna is a committee chair on the Harvard Law Public Interest Auction, which raises money for students who want to do summer clerkships in the public interest sector. Johanna is also a member of the Harvard Child Advocacy Program, which provides classes and clinical programs for students interested in gaining experience in youth law.

As a 2008 law clerk at O’Melveny & Meyers in Los Angeles, Johanna reviewed policies for Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to helping women survivors of war. The summer prior she researched and wrote on trademark infringement and contract matters as an associate for Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, also in Los Angeles.

Johanna graduated with distinction from Cornell University in May 2006, where she double majored in Economics and Psychology. At Cornell University, Johanna worked as an Economics Research Assistant for the Johnson Graduate School of Management. She studied the effects of successful collegiate athletic programs on university alumni donations, as well as on the quality and quantity of prospective student applicants.

Sun Young Lee

Sun Young Lee

Sun Young Lee who graduated last spring from CUNY Law School in New York, NY, is assisting NCYL Deputy Director Patrick Gardner with litigation and research in the area of children’s mental health.

While at CUNY, Sunny was a Legal Assistant at the New York Office of the Attorney General, working directly under the Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights. She assisted on cases involving civil rights, racial justice, and landlord/tenant disputes. Sunny also spent a year as a public policy intern for New York’s City’s Long-Term Care Community Coalition, researching and writing legislation on behalf of the city’s elderly. Sunny also served as Vice President of CUNY’s Asian Pacific American Law Student Association.

Sunny received her BA from Barnard College in 2003. While in college, she spent three years working as a bilingual (Korean) peer educator for the Asian Pacific Islanders Coalition for HIV/AIDS (APICHA) in New York City. At the same time, she volunteered as a group coordinator for the Asian Youth Program, collaborating with the New York Asian Women’s Center to help child victims of domestic violence.


NCYL Fellows Zahra Hayat and Jesse Hahnel Pass the CA Bar

Two of NCYL’s fellows have passed the California Bar!

Zahra Hayat, a Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Yale Law School with an LL.M. degree, is an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow at NCYL. She is working to secure mental health services for children placed in foster care outside their home county. Zahra is also assisting on NCYL’s Katie A. case to establish community-based mental health services for California foster youth. Zahra earned her undergraduate degree at Lahore University of Management Sciences 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 had they been 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.

Skadden Fellow Jesse Hahnel, who graduated from Stanford Law School, is working at NCYL to advance the educational rights of foster youth in group homes through individual representation and local and statewide policy changes. He will also train agencies and youth advocates about the laws impacting educational outcomes for group home youth. Jesse spent his first year of law school at Harvard, but after working with Professor William Koski at Stanford’s Youth and Education Law Project, Jesse transferred to Stanford to better facilitate their collaboration. The two co-authored The Past, Present, and Possible Futures of “Education Finance Reform” Litigation, published by the American Education Finance Association. Before attending Law School, Jesse worked as a teacher in San Francisco, New York City, and Washington DC.


NCYL Bids Farewell to Administrator Maria Salzano

Maria Salzano

Maria Salzano

Maria Salzano has left NCYL to take a job at the California School Health Centers Association. The association, based in Oakland, CA, is a non-profit that advocates for public policies that support school-based health care.

Maria was NCYL’s office manager and later had the job of administrator.

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