National Center for Youth Law


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At the Center — Oct-Dec 2013

Congratulations to the entire staff of NCYL’s FosterEd initiative on receiving national recognition for their innovative work to support the educational needs of foster youth. The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), a national organization based in Washington, DC named FosterEd as one of 15 local, state, and national initiatives making a critical difference in the lives of youth in foster care.

Tamara Lange Joins NCYL as a Senior Attorney

Tamara Lange

Tamara Lange has joined NCYL as a senior attorney specializing in mental health care, economic security, and trauma-informed systems. Before joining NCYL, she worked in her own private practice as a mediator and public health policy consultant. Tamara developed Santa Clara County Counsel’s Impact Litigation & Social Justice Section and served as its first Lead Deputy. In that role, she challenged both Medi-Cal’s refusal to pay for inpatient psychiatric hospital care for youth in detention and the California Controller’s refusal to pay for mental health services mandated by federal and state special education laws. In 2011, Tamara received the County Counsels’ Association of California Dwight Herr Perpetual Award for Outstanding Appellate Practice for her work in a public nuisance action against lead paint manufacturers. In 2014, the trial court in that case ordered the creation of a $1.15 billion cleanup fund. Before joining Santa Clara County Counsel, Tamara was a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & AIDS Project for many years, litigating constitutional claims involving student harassment, custody and visitation restrictions, juvenile justice, and marriage equality. Early in her career, Tamara was a litigator in private practice and served as a judicial clerk to the Hon. Richard A. Paez and the Hon. William A. Fletcher. She received her J.D. from Berkeley Law in 1995 and graduated as a College Scholar from Cornell University in 1990. Tamara has taught negotiations at Berkeley Law and local government litigation at Stanford Law School.

Casey Schutte Joins NCYL’s FosterEd Project, Passes California Bar

Casey Schutte

Casey Schutte has joined NCYL as an attorney and manager of NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (FosterEd), focusing on improving the educational outcomes of foster youth. He is managing FosterEd’s California pilot program in Santa Cruz County. In 2006 Casey received an MSW from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and began his work as a child welfare social worker. He returned to school in 2009 to pursue a dual degree in law and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Casey clerked at NCYL in the summer of 2010 and graduated with his JD/MPP in May 2013.

Julia Aros-Thornton

NCYL Welcomes Julia Aros-Thornton to our Tucson, Ariz. office as an educational liaison for the FosterEd program. Prior to joining NCYL, she worked in foster care, educating, licensing and supporting foster families to meet the needs of the foster children in their homes. Julee speaks Spanish, providing her the ability to work with Spanish-speaking families, and she also has knowledge of American Sign Language. She began her career working with delinquent juveniles and their families through the juvenile court, providing case management services to improve educational and delinquent outcomes. She then moved on to provide in-home services to families who had been referred to Child Protective Services. Working with families in their homes gave her a real life understanding of the challenges underprivileged families face day to day.

Elizabeth Day

NCYL Welcomes Elizabeth Day to our Tucson, Ariz. office as an educational liaison for the FosterEd program. Elizabeth comes to NCYL with more than three decades of professional experience as an advocate for children of all ages. She holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Arizona, and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW).  Elizabeth worked for Tucson’s largest school district, Tucson Unified School District, for 32 years as a school social worker. She worked with children in both general and exceptional education, and has extensive experience working with children who have autism, as well as children with emotional disabilities.  She was an early supporter of, and now sits on the advisory board of, the KARE (Kinship, Adoption, Resource and Education) Center, which provides support to grandparents and kin raising others’ children.  From 1994 to 2003, Elizabeth was the coordinator of the Utterback Family Resource and Wellness Center, a one-stop center with a variety of programs, including a low-cost medical clinic, to improve educational outcomes for underserved children and their families.

Andrea Molina

NCYL Welcomes Andrea Molina to our Tucson, Ariz. office as an educational liaison for the FosterEd program. Andrea received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2007. She went on to receive her graduate degree in education from American University in Washington, DC where she was a teacher for six years. Andrea has worked with and mentored children of all ages and has deep roots in the Tucson community. The fact that she is bilingual and bicultural has assisted her in bridging gaps within the communities where she has worked. Her understanding of the achievement gap in education and her desire to see an end to it, has led her to her work with FosterEd.

Melissa San Miguel

NCYL Welcomes Melissa San Miguel as the new policy manager for the FosterEd program based out of our Oakland office. Prior to joining NCYL, Melissa worked as a legislative coordinator with The Education Trust out of Oakland, writing position letters, analyzing and monitoring legislation and managing a variety of projects. She also spent time at California Forward, the California Department of Education and the Commonwealth Club. Melissa was a California at-large delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can see video of her at the convention here. She is also a proud product of public schools, and was the valedictorian of her graduating class at UC Berkeley, where she earned her degree in political science.

NCYL Board Vice President Chris Wu took a new position as senior director of the Judicial Engagement Team at Casey Family Programs. Prior to this move, Chris had been supervising attorney for the California Judicial Council Center for Children and the Courts, and executive director of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care. Before joining the Judicial Council, he provided direct representation for child clients, and also served as Managing Attorney and Executive Director, during ten years at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco.

Quinn and Piper O'Conner

Congratulations to NCYL’s Lisa O’Connor on the birth of her twins (Quinn and Piper) late last year. Lisa is an educational liaison in NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (FosterEd) in Santa Cruz County.

Zenobia Bell

Congratulations to Zenobia Bell on passing the California bar exam. Zenobia is currently volunteering at NCYL after earning her J.D. from UCLA School of Law.

Jesse Hahnel, NCYL attorney and Director of NCYL’s Foster Youth Education Initiative (FosterEd), is featured on the John Paul Stevens Fellowship Foundation website.