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At the Center — Oct-Dec 2011

Staff News

 

Michael Harris

Michael Harris

Michael Harris has joined NCYL as a Senior Attorney, working on juvenile justice issues. Michael brings significant juvenile justice experience to NCYL, particularly his expertise in collaborative reform, working with government officials and other stakeholders to achieve reform of juvenile justice systems in several jurisdictions. For six years before joining NCYL, Michael was Deputy Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute in San Francisco, working in California and Washington to reduce racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. Prior to that, Michael was a Staff Attorney and Assistant Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco.  He also previously worked at San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, and was a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow at Legal Services of South Central Tennessee.  Michael replaces Pat Arthur, former Senior Attorney at NCYL, who recently left to be an independent consultant. At NCYL, Pat worked on reforming the juvenile justice systems in Arkansas, Wyoming, and Texas, as well as eliminating life without parole sentences for juveniles nationwide. NCYL recently hired Pat to write a report on NCYL’s reform efforts in Arkansas.

Erin Liotta

Erin Liotta

NCYL has hired recent NCYL law clerk and Bridge Fellow Erin Liotta as a Staff Attorney.

Erin Liotta graduated from Yale University and, in 2011, Berkeley Law. During law school, she volunteered at the Workers’ Rights Clinic, the Housing Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center, the National Housing Law Project, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. Erin also served as Treasurer of the Berkeley Law Foundation. Her Comment on the plight of incarcerated survivors of domestic violence appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice. Prior to law school, Erin taught social studies in Shanghai and then served as Grants and Contracts Manager in the Civil Practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York City. As a Bridge Fellow at NCYL, she focused on education and mental health issues, assisting in litigation and representing individual clients through the Alameda County Juvenile Collaborative Court.  Erin replaces former Staff Attorney Bryn Martyna, who moved to Madison, Wisconsin where her husband, Matthew Bruss, has been awarded a post-doc in the Biochemistry Department at University of Wisconsin. Bryn worked at NCYL for six years, primarily on the Center’s foster care reform litigation in Washington State (Braam v. Washington), and Las Vegas, Nevada (Henry A. v. Willden). Bryn was also on the NCYL team that represented Dalton Dyer, former foster youth and high school football player who won the right of all foster youth to freely participate in high school sports and other extracurricular activities (Dyer v. CIF). Bryn said she is committed to continuing her youth advocacy work.

 

Rachel Vecoff-Hults

Rachel Velcoff-Hults

NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (FosterEd) welcomes three new members to its team.

Rachel Velcoff Hults is an attorney and manager of NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (FosterEd), focusing on improving the educational outcomes of foster youth.  Rachel is managing FosterEd’s California pilot program in Santa Cruz County.  Prior to joining NCYL, Rachel worked at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she focused on public benefits, health access, and youth issues, including foster care benefits and access to education.  Previously, she was a litigation associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in Washington, D.C.  Rachel received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 and her JD from Stanford Law School in 2008.  At Stanford, Rachel was a clinical student in the Youth and Education Law Project and co-president of Stanford StreetLaw, a legal education program for incarcerated and at-risk Bay Area youth.

Anita Silverman

Anita Silverman

Anita Silverman is an education liaison for FosterEd in Indianapolis, Indiana, working on NCYL’s recently launched program to improve the educational outcomes of the approximately 1,700 foster children in Marion County, Ind. Prior to serving NCYL, Anita was as an education consultant and a graduate school instructor at Ball State University. Anita has been a school principal and educational leader for more than 15 years, working specifically with at-risk youth both in traditional public and charter schools. Anita received a BA from Ohio State University, an MA from Governors State University, and a PhD in educational leadership from Ball State University.

Vanessa Smith

Vanessa Smith

Vanessa Smith is a volunteer attorney assisting Rachel and FosterEd Director Jesse Hahnel in California. Before law school, Vanessa was a corporate paralegal for 10 years and a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a child in foster care. After graduating from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2006, Vanessa worked as a child welfare attorney in San Francisco, representing children and parents in the juvenile court.  She has been a full-time parent for the past two years and is delighted to be working again and helping NCYL with its projects aimed at improving educational outcomes for children in foster care.

Kate Walker

Kate Walker

Kate Walker joined NCYL in September as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. She is focusing on reducing the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Bay Area. A graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, Kate interned at Alliance For Children’s Rights in Los Angeles, and was a volunteer at the Los Angeles Superior Court Self-Help Clinic. As a law student, Kate was on the board of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, and served on the board of Iowa’s Equal Justice Foundation. She also spent a semester at the University of Iowa Student Legal Clinic to address university students’ legal needs. Kate graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Public Policy Analysis with a focus on psychology.

NCYL bids farewell to Mikaela Rabinowitz and Patricia Soung, juvenile justice policy advocate and attorney, respectively. Mikaela has taken a new position at Resource Development Associates (RDA) and Patricia will be representing individual juveniles who are appealing their delinquency adjudications.

Deferred associates Sara Madge and Erica Turcios have completed their one-year positions at NCYL and have gone to work at their respective firms. Sara is an associate at Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston. At NCYL, she worked to improve access to mental health care for children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. She also working on issues related to adolescent health care, particularly on consent and confidentiality laws. Erica is an associate in the San Francisco office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.  At NCYL, she was a member of the litigation team for TR v. Dreyfus, a civil rights lawsuit against Washington state for failure to provide adequate care to children with serious mental health problems. She also worked on other issues involving child welfare system reform.

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