National Center for Youth Law


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At the Center — Oct-Dec 2014

In Memoriam, Alba Witkin (November 15, 1919 to December 26, 2014)

Alba Witkin

Alba Witkin

The National Center for Youth Law recently lost one of its most treasured and stalwart supporters. Alba Witkin died December 26, 2014 at her home in Berkeley, at the age of 95.

Mrs. Witkin and her husband established the Bernard E. and Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation, through which they gave away millions to Bay Area organizations including schools, legal programs, and children’s organizations. She had a special interest in helping children who had special needs, such as foster children.  Her late husband, Bernard Wiktin, was an eminent attorney and author.

NCYL is grateful for her support, her humble approach to charitable giving, and her friendship over the years.

Jess Reed Joins NCYL as CSEC Policy Advocate

Jess Reed

Jess Reed

Jess Reed is NCYL’s new Policy Advocate working on the implementation of a state program designed to assist commercially sexually exploited children and youth.

Jess holds a Masters of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley where she studied issues affecting people experiencing homelessness with a focus on youth homelessness. Prior to joining NCYL, Jess interned with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), where she helped to implement the federal strategic plan to end homelessness. She earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley.


L-R: NCYL Fellow Annie Lee, Judge Leo Dorado, NCYL Fellow Stephanie Krol.

L-R: NCYL Fellow Annie Lee, Judge Leo Dorado, NCYL Fellow Stephanie Krol.

NCYL Fellows Annie Lee and Stephanie Krol were recently sworn in to the California Bar.  Here they are pictured with Judge Leo Dorado at their swearing in ceremony.

FosterEd Team Adds New Faces

Deb Stephenson, Miranda Mammen, Erika Hernandez, and Michelle Lustig have joined the staff of The FosterEd initiative. Deb and Miranda are working in the Oakland office as part of the National staff. Erika is working on the Santa Cruz County Pilot Project and Michelle is in the Los Angeles office.

Deb Stephenson

Deb Stephenson is FosterEd’s Technology Project Manager, leading all information-sharing and technology initiatives. Deb began her career as a social worker in juvenile justice and special education. Prior to joining NCYL, she spent five years as a project manager creating software and data system solutions for various non-profit organizations. She is dedicated to helping organizations amplify their impact through the use of collaborative tools. A graduate of Simmons College, she has worked with youth and the organizations that serve them as a coach, program director, board member, and volunteer.

Erika Hernandez is an Education Liaison with FosterEd: Santa Cruz County. Erika earned her B.S. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz in 2007. Previously, she worked at the Live Oak Family Resource Center as a Community Support Specialist and then as a Family and Youth Advocate. As a Family Advocate, she provided families with case management services to strengthen the well-being of the entire family. As a Youth Advocate, she worked with youth on probation, connecting them with appropriate resources to fulfill the terms of their probation. Erika is a native Spanish speaker, enabling her to serve both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking families.

Miranda Mammen

Miranda Mammen

Miranda Mammen is FosterEd’s Operations Manager, supporting FosterEd’s work across project sites. She earned her B.A. with distinction in American Studies in 2014 from Stanford University. At Stanford, she co-founded Students for Reproductive Justice and directed a mentorship group for middle school girls. Previously, she was a Work/Family Policy Intern with the National Partnership for Women & Families in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Lustig, EdD, MSW, PPS, is the Senior Strategist for FosterEd: Los Angeles. She is the Manager of Foster Youth and Homeless Education with the San Diego County Office of Education. Dr. Lustig has over 25 years of experience in public and private child welfare, research, and education. She is an adjunct professor at the USC School of Social Work and the School of Education at California State University, San Marcos. She has worked for The Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, Child Welfare Services, and Casey Family Programs. She has created several nationally recognized programs that increase school stability and improve academic outcomes for students in foster care.


Lisa O’Connor, husband Kevin and twins, Piper and Quin

FosterEd Education Liaison Lisa O’Connor, her husband Kevin and the twins, Piper and Quin


NCYL Welcomes Back DeAngelo Cortijo

Former intern DeAngelo Cortijo has returned to NCYL as a juvenile justice advocate engaged in research on juvenile justice best practices and advocating for alternatives to incarcerating children. DeAngelo earned his Diploma in Paralegal studies from Black Stone Career Institute in 2014.

DeAngelo is originally from San Francisco’s Mission District. At age two, he entered the dependency system. By age 21, DeAngelo had served seven years in the juvenile justice system, including three years in California’s Department of Juvenile Justice. DeAngelo obtained his GED and held leadership and advocacy positions while in the juvenile justice system. Since his release, DeAngelo has used his experiences not only turn to his life around, but also to become an advocate for vulnerable youth. He is a Board Member for San Francisco’s City-Wide Transitional-aged Advisory Board where he advises on budget expenditures, local policy, and programs.

DeAngelo is currently a student at Chabot College and plans to transfer to U.C. Berkeley in the fall of 2016. Ultimately, he wants to attend law school and become a champion for vulnerable youth and advocate for reforms that treat children in trouble with the law fairly and appropriately for their age and level of culpability.

DeAngelo Cortijo, NCCD President Alex Busansky, and Frankie Guzman at the 2014 Media for a Just Society Awards.

DeAngelo Cortijo, NCCD President Alex Busansky, and Frankie Guzman at the 2014 Media for a Just Society Awards. (Photo courtesy of NCCD)


NCYL Board Chair appointed Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy

NCYL Board Chair Peter Edelman has been appointed Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center. He is currently faculty director of the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, and is an expert in constitutional law, legislation and social welfare. The Carmack Waterhouse Professorships, which include professorships in law, medicine, ethics and public policy, and state and local government, were established by the late Carmack Waterhouse, Georgetown Law class of 1935, and his wife, Mary, with a gift from their estate. Waterhouse was a patent attorney with the Atomic Energy Commission.


Intern Anthony and staff attorney Erin Liotta

Middle school intern Anthony and staff attorney Erin Liotta creating an exhibition of his project on football related lawsuits to share at school.