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Below are the biographies for CAP's "Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education, and Juvenile Justice" Fall 2012 speakers. Click on the relevant speaker's name to link to his/her biography.
Elizabeth Bartholet is the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School, where she teaches civil rights and family law, specializing in child welfare, adoption and reproductive technology. Before joining the Harvard Faculty, she was engaged in civil rights and public interest work, first with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and later as founder and director of the Legal Action Center, a non-profit organization in New York City focused on criminal justice and substance abuse issues.
Jessica Budnitz is a Lecturer on Law and the founding Managing Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School. Before working at CAP, she founded and directed Juvenile Justice Partners, a child-focused legal clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is an Echoing Green Foundation Fellow, the 2003 recipient of HLS's Gary Bellow Public Service Award, and a 2004 recipient of the YWCA of Cambridge Award for Outstanding Women. For many years, Ms. Budnitz served as a Prelaw Residential Tutor in Leverett House at Harvard College. She is a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School and a 1998 graduate of Duke University.
Andrew Hoffman is the Managing Attorney for the Boston office of the Children and Family Law Division (CAFL) at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, where he represents children and parents in child abuse and neglect cases. He previously served as staff counsel to CAFL and also practiced in civil legal services. He is the author of The Role of Child's Counsel in State Intervention Proceedings: Toward a Rebuttable Presumption in Favor of Family Reunification, 3 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 269 (Spring 2004) and several chapters in Child Welfare Practice in Massachusetts, MCLE (2006). He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Leora Joseph served as Chief of the Child Protection Unit in the Boston (Suffolk County) District Attorney's Office between 2004 and 2012. In that capacity she reviewed 1100 cases annually on child abuse and neglect, supervised a staff of 13, prosecuted and investigated serious child abuse felonies, and served as liaison with other state agencies in issues like juvenile exploitation.
Jeri Cohen Judge Jeri Beth Cohen is currently a circuit judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Juvenile Dependency Division. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Boston University, her Master of Arts degree at Harvard University, and her Juris Doctorate at Georgetown Law. Judge Cohen was a trial attorney, assistant state attorney, and county judge before becoming a circuit judge nineteen years ago. With 15 years of combined experience in the juvenile dependency division, Judge Cohen has taught at statewide and national conferences and judicial colleges, and published numerous articles on family drug courts and child welfare. Judge Cohen has presided over a Dependency Drug Court for the last 14 years and was instrumental in training other drug courts across the country. Her drug court was an original mentor court for The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. She received a four year National Institute of Drug and Alcohol grant along with The University of Miami School of Epidemiology to study motivational casework in family drug court. She is the chair of the Community-Based Care Alliance in Miami-Dade County and currently serves as the chair of the Statewide Dependency Court Improvement Panel which is focusing on improving court practices related to outcomes from the Child and Family Services Reviews. She also serves on the Executive Board of the South Florida Behavioral Health Network, an entity tasked with redesigning our mental health and substance abuse system in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Jeanne Miranda is a professor at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. She is a mental health services researcher who has focused her work on providing mental health care to low-income and minority communities. She was the Senior Scientific Editor of the Surgeon General’s Report focused on the mental health of ethnic minorities and became a member of the Institute of Medicine in 2005. Her current work focuses on developing and testing mental health interventions for families adopting older children.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh is an author and foster mother. Her debut novel, The Language of Flowers,sold in 40 countries and landed instantly on the New York Times bestseller list. She and her husband, PK, have four children: Donovan, 22; Tre'von, 20; Chela, 6; and Miles, 4. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard. Vanessa Diffenbaugh is also the founder of the Camellia Network. Camellia Network's mission is to create a national network that connects every youth aging out of foster care to the critical resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive in adulthood. In The Language of Flowers, Camellia [kuh-meel-yuh] means "My Destiny is in Your Hands." The network’s name emphasizes the belief in the interconnectedness of humanity: a reminder that the destiny of our nation lies in the hands of our youngest citizens.
Arden O'Connor graduated from Harvard College and started a non-profit called Rediscovery Inc., dedicated to serving adolescents transitioning out of the foster care system (www.rediscoveryhouse.org). Substance use, behavioral issues and mental illness were rampant within the population served by Rediscovery Inc. and Arden developed innovative partnerships within the community to ensure that her clients received high quality treatment. Over the course of ten years, Rediscovery Inc. has served over 400 clients, employed 25 individuals and has grown to a $2 million dollar budget, through a combination of state and private funding.
Arden received her MBA from Harvard Business School, where she focused in Healthcare and researched access to high quality behavioral health services on the East Coast. Over the past several years, Arden has worked at healthcare companies delivering services in patients’ homes.
In 2011, Arden founded O’Connor Professional Group to address the needs of families and individuals struggling with an array of behavioral health issues. As a family member of several people in recovery, Arden is passionate about helping families and individuals navigate the highly fragmented treatment system in a way that can help create positive outcomes and allow families to heal. Her youngest brother, Chris O’Connor, went through over 12 facilities within 7 years; O’Connor Professional Group was founded to help families like hers find high quality treatment providers and create structures of accountability.
Vanessa Roth has written produced and directed award- winning social issue documentaries and headed up social media reform efforts for over a decade. Roth’s work has earned her dozens of honors including an Academy Award, two Sundance Special Jury Prizes, Cine Golden Eagles, Casey Medals, and a Dupont-Columbia Award. Her films have been catalysts for progressive social change, received the highest accolades in documentary filmmaking, and have been broadcast nationally on PBS, HBO, A&E the Sundance Channel and Discovery, and distributed internationally. Her work is always accompanied by national outreach campaigns to empower youth and other subjects of her films to become active participants in the policies that affect them and to raise awareness and participation among the general public. Used by colleges and universities across the country, her films become tools for training new lawyers, judges, social workers, journalists and filmmakers, and have been seen by congress, the National Governor’s Association, have been featured on Oprah, NPR, as the media centerpiece of the Bill and Melinda Gates Educational Summit, NBC’s Education Nation and at the Youth Presidential Inauguration events in 2009. Some of her films include: "Taken in: The Lives of America’s Foster Children," "Close to Home," "Aging Out," "Schools of the 21st Century," "9/11’s Toxic Dust," "No Tomorrow," "Freeheld," "Third Monday in October," "American Teacher," and the upcoming "Untouchables."
While making independent features, Vanessa is a Thought Partner to the Education work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is producing and directing an 83 part series called "THINK Literacy" for the Harlem Success Charter Network.
Vanessa is also an adjunct professor at NYU’s school of journalism, as well as at the New York Film Academy and leads workshops in universities around the country on ethics in documentary filmmaking and how to use social issue media for progressive policy change. Additionally, she works with dozens of international organizations to create avenues to empower young people and vulnerable families.
Vanessa received a Masters Degree in Social Work and a minor in Family Law from Columbia University in 1995. Before founding Big Year Productions she worked at the UCLA Child Center on a study of comprehension monitoring of children who have experienced trauma and are asked to testify in court. She was a child advocate at the Legal Aid Society in the Juvenile Rights Division in NYC, at New York City Public Schools, and at the Rape Treatment Center in Los Angeles. She received a BA in English and Psychology from UCLA in 1992 and attended Emerson College where she studied creative writing from 1988-1990.
Cheryl Dorsey is President of Echoing Green, a pioneer in the social entrepreneurship movement. This global social venture fund has awarded over $31 million in start-up capital to over 500 next generation social entrepreneurs worldwide since 1987. Dorsey received an Echoing Green Fellowship in 1992 to help launch The Family Van, a community-based mobile health unit in Boston.
Dorsey has served in two presidential administrations as a White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Labor (1997-98); Special Assistant to the Director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Labor Department (1998-99); Transition Team Member of the Innovation and Civil Society subgroup of the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform Policy Working Group (2008-09); and Vice Chair for the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (2009-present).
Dorsey serves on several boards including the Harvard Board of Overseers, the SEED Foundation, and Northeast Bank. In 2009, Dorsey was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by US News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. For 2010 and 2011, she was named as one of The Nonprofit Times' "Power and Influence Top 50." In 2011, Newsweek and the Daily Beast named Dr. Dorsey one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World.”
Dorsey received her Bachelor's degree in History and Science magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges, her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and her Master's in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School. She completed her pediatric residency at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Scott Sherman Dr. Scott Sherman is the Executive Director of an award-winning nonprofit organization, the Transformative Action Institute. The mission of TAI is to train the next generation of social entrepreneurs, innovators, and change makers for the 21st century.
Sherman is an expert on the most effective ways that citizens succeed in their attempts to change the world. He is currently writing a book summarizing his research, "How We Win: The Science of Making the World a Better Place."
Over the last decade, Sherman has taught courses on social entrepreneurship and social innovation at numerous universities, including Yale, Princeton, NYU, and Johns Hopkins.
His work on nonviolent social change projects has been praised by such Nobel Peace Prize Laureates as the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and the late Mother Teresa. He is also a nationally recognized speaker on environmental regeneration and transformative action. He has won the outstanding teaching award from the University of California at Berkeley. In 2004, he was nominated for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars’ Faculty of the Year award for the entire U.S.
Sherman earned his undergraduate and law degrees from U.C. Berkeley, as well as his Ph.D. in environmental studies from the University of Michigan. Besides his work as a grassroots community organizer, lecturer, and author, Sherman has worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Law Foundation.
In 2005, the global nonprofit organization Echoing Green recognized Sherman as one of the world’s “Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs.”
Michael Gregory is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School, where he teaches and practices law as part of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI). TLPI is a partnership between Harvard Law School and Massachusetts Advocates for Children. TLPI’s mission is to ensure that children traumatized by exposure to violence succeed in school. At HLS, Gregory co-teaches in the Education Law Clinic with Susan Cole, in which law students represent individual families of traumatized children in the special education system and engage in systemic advocacy in education reform at the state level. In conjunction with the clinic, he and Ms. Cole co-teach the course, “Educational Advocacy and Systemic Change: Children at Risk.” Gregory has also taught Education Law and Policy and Education Reform Movements. Gregory received his JD from Harvard Law School in 2004, graduating cum laude. He also graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in American Civilization from Brown University in 1998, and received a Master of Arts in Teaching, also from Brown University, in 1999. Gregory is a co-author of TLPI’s landmark report and policy agenda Helping Traumatized Children Learn, and is also a co-author of Educational Rights of Children Affected by Homelessness and/or Domestic Violence, a manual for child advocates.
Dena Sacco is a Senior Researcher for the Kinder & Braver World Project, which grows out of a partnership between the Berkman Center, The Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The California Endowment. Dena’s work for the project focuses on legal policy issues, including “An Overview of State Anti-bullying and Other Relevant Laws”.
Dena participated in the Berkman Center’s Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative, for which she and Harvard Law students wrote “Sexting: Legal and Practical issues”. In addition, with Professor John Palfrey and Dr. Danah Boyd, Dena co-directed the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology companies that joined together to identify effective tools to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth.
From 2007-2012, Dena was an Assistant Director and Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, focusing on child exploitation and youth online safety issues. She has also been a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, co-teaching the seminar “Child Exploitation, Pornography & the Internet” as well as teaching in the Graduate Program and in the First Year Legal Research and Writing Program. From 1999-2005, Dena was an Assistant United States Attorney in Boston, where she had primary responsibility for child exploitation cases in the District of Massachusetts. From 1997-1999, she was a Counsel in the Office of Policy Development at the United States Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Prior to working for the federal government, Dena was an associate in the employment and labor law department of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker in Washington, DC. Dena received her B.A., cum laude, from Yale College in 1990, her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1993, and an LL.M. in European Union law from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium in 1994.
Mary Flannery graduated with her masters in Expressive Art Therapy from Lesley College in 1984. After graduation she spent eight years working with mentally ill adults at Danvers State Hospital, where she came to understand the importance of art for those who are struggling to be seen and heard. Having seen the power of creating and exhibiting artwork that allowed an extremely marginalized group of people to tell their own stories, Mary decided to focus on adolescents and founded Raw Art Works in 1988 when RAW won a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services to design and implement the first statewide art therapy program for incarcerated youth. In 1994 she and her dedicated team of art therapists opened RAW Space in Central Square, Lynn, so that kids would not have to commit crimes in order to find a place to belong. Over the past 16 years, Mary has been a consistent mentor and guide to hundreds of teens, welcoming them to RAW in their first weeks of high school, celebrating with them at their graduations and helping them find their place in the world beyond. Currently, Mary leads the Women 2 Be and Adventures in Fine Arts groups and provides clinical and artistic guidance to the programming team. Mary’s work is grounded in the belief that while it is important that kids create strong artistic products, “the true product is the kids exhibiting themselves for the rest of their lives.” Mary and RAW’s Executive Director, Kit Jenkins, were honored with the 2008 Distinguished Educators of the Year by Massachusetts College of Art.
Chris Gaines is a professional filmmaker and photographer, whose work has screened nationally and internationally at film festivals and on television. In 2007 Chris was awarded a 'Moving Image Fund' grant from the LEF Foundation in support of Areno, a semi-autobiographical narrative exploring lonely souls, unattainable dreams, and comic tragedies of an Asian-American military family living in the Arizona desert. In 2000, his film, Direct Objects won Best in Show at the Arizona International Film Festival. Since receiving the award he has served as a member of the festival's jury.
Prior to RAW, he worked professionally as the assistant director of a televised nightly news magazine, a weekly public television program on Latino interests and a motion graphics designer. He has taught film at the high school and university levels.
Sherri Killins,Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, has provided leadership in designing and implementing a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement system in multiple environments including Head Start in which she also serves as the Head Start Director. Dr. Killins has also positioned four statewide systems in mental health, educator and provider supports and CFCE and information and referral for early educators, children and their families and providers including out of school time services.
Dr. Killins has over 20 years of advocacy experience for children and families as a provider of direct care to leadership roles on issues relating to children and families on public policies and human service reform.
Since being appointed to D.E.E.C., Dr. Killins received her certificate from Harvard Graduate School of Education PreK-3rd ; is a member of the Regional Advisory Committee under the U.S. Department of Education; a member of the Education Commission of the States as well as a member of Mass Postpartum Commission. Under her leadership in 2011, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts secured a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. In 2012 Dr. Killins received the Massachusetts Reading Association Legislative Award and Horizons for Homeless Children Public Leadership Award. Most recently she was appointed to the Children’s Museum Board of Advisors.
Dr. Killins is the mother of three daughters.
Amy O'Leary is director of Early Education for All, a campaign of Strategies for Children, an advocacy and policy organization that works to ensure that children in Massachusetts have access to high-quality early education and become proficient readers by the end of third grade. Amy joined EEA in 2002 as the early childhood field director and has also served as the Campaign’s deputy director.
Prior to joining EEA, Amy worked as a preschool teacher and program director at Ellis Memorial and Eldredge House Inc. in Boston. In 2011, Amy was elected to the governing board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She is a member of the Children's Defense Fund Emerging Leader Fellowship and serves on the adjunct faculty at Wheelock College in Boston. In addition, Amy presents at national, state and local conferences and provides technical assistance to advocates and legislators in other states.
Amy earned a Master in Public Administration degree from the Sawyer School of Management at Suffolk University. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and early education from Skidmore College.
Jane Tewksbury was selected as the Executive Director of Thrive in 5 in February, 2012. Launched by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Thrive in 5’s mission is to ensure that children of all races, ethnicities, incomes, abilities and languages have the opportunities and support they need for success in school and beyond. Thrive in 5 achieves its mission by partnering with families, early education and care providers, health providers, other community organizations and the private sector. This partnership allows Thrive in 5 to build community capacity to support school readiness, strengthen the quality of services, expand and create new programs and initiatives to meet demand and measure progress to ensure accountability so that all of Boston’s children enter kindergarten ready to succeed.
As the Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services from 2005 to 2012, Ms. Tewksbury pursued an aggressive reform agenda to restore DYS as one of the lead juvenile corrections systems in the country using a balanced approach between holding juvenile offenders accountable for their actions and providing services to improve their long-term life outcomes.
Ms. Tewksbury previously served as the Chief of Staff to the Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety and as the Commonwealth’s first Undersecretary for Forensic Services overseeing the State Police Crime Lab, the Medical Examiner’s office, the Criminal History Systems Board and the emergency “911” system.
Ms. Tewksbury has served in a variety of criminal justice-related positions throughout her legal career including service as Legal Counsel to the state’s Attorney General; an Assistant Attorney General; and an Assistant District Attorney. During her tenure at the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Tewksbury established a nationally recognized priority unit for the prosecution of serious and habitual violent juvenile offenders.
Selected in 1993 as a Fellow in the Children and Family Fellowship of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ms. Tewksbury was deployed to the Arkansas Department of Juvenile Justice and later to the Maryland Subcabinet on Children, Youth and Families, to work on state level systems reform efforts affecting disadvantaged children and families.
Ms. Tewksbury is a member of the Board, and Chair of the Programs Committee, of the YWCA of Boston which focuses on empowering women and eliminating racism.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Harvard/Radcliffe College, Ms Tewksbury is the recipient of several awards in recognition of her professional achievements and volunteer activities.
Wayne Ysaguirre is President and CEO of Associated Care and Education, Inc. (Associated). He was promoted to this position in 2007 after serving Associated in many roles over 18 years. Starting as a teaching assistant, he worked as a program assistant, program director in family child care, and Vice President for Family Child Care and Organizational Development ultimately leading to his current position as President and CEO. Associated, New England’s first nonprofit early education provider, serves approximately 1200 children daily by striving to improve the lives of Greater Boston’s youngest students and their families through education, technical assistance and training, and advocacy and research. With 130 years of experience, Associated serves as educators and advocates, acting as an agent of change in urban early education for children from birth, in partnership with their families and their communities. Delivering a comprehensive range of services, including six early care and education centers, a family child care program of over 140 educators, mental health and social services to children citywide, and nutritional support and education, Associated prepares the children in our care for success in life by investing in school readiness, promoting healthy development and strengthening families.
Mr. Ysaguirre serves on the Board and Executive Committee of MADCA, the representative organization for community-based early education programs in the Commonwealth and is on the board of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children. He is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Department of Early Education and Care, the Early Education for All Public Policy Committee, and a member of the Thrive in 5 Leadership Council. He is a member of Boston’s Defending Childhood Leadership Team and Boston’s Child Wellness Council as well as representing Associated as a partner in the Boston Place-Based Initiatives – Communities of Practice. And, most recently, he became a member of the working group team for Prevent Blindness America, the MA Pilot program of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health. He most recently served on EEC’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Fund team, the Governor’s Readiness Project Subcommittee for Early Education as part of a consortium to create a comprehensive, strategic plan for the next era of education improvement in the Commonwealth and as a member of the Governor’s Early Education and Care Cost Savings Task Force.
John T. Affeldt is a managing attorney at Public Advocates in San Francisco, where he focuses on educational equity issues through litigation, policy advocacy and partnerships with grassroots organizations. John served as a lead counsel on Williams v. California, which resulted in a breakthrough 2004 settlement guaranteeing California’s students sufficient instructional materials, decent facilities and qualified teachers. He is also lead counsel on Campaign for Quality Education v. California, a landmark state school funding challenge filed in 2010.
John has brought the only lawsuits in the country to enforce the teacher quality provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which require states and districts to provide fully credentialed, i.e., “highly qualified,” teachers in equal measure to low-income students and students of color. These actions have led to California strengthening its definition of the “highly qualified” teacher all students are owed; a state court voiding the improper labeling of some 4,000 provisionally-certified teachers as “highly qualified”; and a Ninth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals ruling striking down a federal regulation that unlawfully labels teachers still in training across the nation as “highly qualified.” In Association of Mexican-American Educators v. California, John won a precedent-setting en banc decision from the Ninth Circuit establishing that discriminatory teacher tests must be job-related, a result that forced California to reform its certification exam to the benefit of 50,000 test-takers annually.
John is a founding member of the Campaign for Quality Education and Parents and Students for Great Schools, two grassroots, community-based coalitions working to build a statewide policy advocacy campaign to improve educational opportunities for low-income students of color. As part of this work, John co-drafted a state law that now requires all schools to report publicly their actual per-pupil expenditures by school site, the first such law in the country.
Before coming to Public Advocates, John clerked for the Hon. William M. Hoeveler in Federal District Court in Miami, assisting with the trial of Manuel Noriega. Prior to law school, John spent three years living and working as a volunteer in Indonesia with VIA.
John has been named a California Attorney of the Year twice, once by California Lawyer Magazine in 2005, and again in 2010 by the Recorder. In 2007, John was also named a Leading Plaintiff Lawyer in America by Lawdragon Magazine.
John graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1990 and Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 1984.
Mark Warren is associate professor of public policy and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a sociologist who studies efforts to strengthen institutions that anchor low-income communities—public schools, religious congregations, and other community-based organizations—and to build broad-based alliances among these institutions and across race and social class. Mark is committed to using the results of scholarly research to promote equity and justice in public education and public policy and to advance civic democracy and social justice. He is the author of several books, including A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform (Oxford University Press, 2011), Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2001).
Will Poff-Webster grew up in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston and attended high school at Boston Latin School. In his junior year of high school, he organized Boston Public School students to fight against budget cuts to their education, holding student rallies at the Mayor's State of the City Address, the School Committee, and the State House. Out of this effort, he joined the Boston Student Advisory Council to advocate for student voice in education reform efforts. Will is most proud of BSAC's accomplishment in winning statewide student involvement in the teacher evaluation process. Will is currently a junior at Harvard College, studying history and hoping to return to the Boston Public Schools as a history teacher. He now works as an alumni staff member at BSAC, serving as representative on the Boston United for Students coalition working for reform in the Boston Teachers' Union contract. He is Vice President of the College Democrats of Massachusetts and the Harvard Democrats, and teaches 5th-grade civics at the Condon Elementary School in South Boston through the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Carlos Alberto Rojas Alvarez is a graduate of the Boston Latin School and is taking a gap year before entering college in the fall of 2013. He has been a community organizer and political advocate with Youth on Board and the Boston Student Advisory Council since his sophomore year in high school and worked on campaigns related to health education, school discipline, the school-to-prison pipeline and student involvement in the evaluation of teachers in the Boston Public Schools and the state of Massachusetts. He sat on the Boston School Committee during the 2011-2012 school year where he represented and advocated for over 56,000 students and their families.
Jason Williams received his B.A. degree in political science from Boston College. After graduating, he joined Teach For America (TFA) and taught 6th grade Math and Science in East Oakland. In 1999, he was nominated for California’s Middle School Teacher of the Year Award. Jason was also elected to the California Teachers’ Association State Council of Education, where he assisted in drafting legislation to address issues of educational disparity.
From 2000 – 2005, Jason served as Executive Director of Teach For America in Phoenix. During his tenure, local funding for the program doubled, teacher placements increased 150%, and the number of schools and districts partnering with TFA increased 100%. In addition, the Phoenix program went from TFA’s lowest to its highest performing region in the U.S. And, under the No Child Left Behind law, Jason was able to provide additional leadership by facilitating Arizona’s first successful alternative certification model for credentialing teachers.
In 2006, Jason secured the Democratic Party nomination for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction in the primary election with 54% of the statewide vote, and a majority of votes in 14 of 15 counties. In the general election, he received more votes than any other non-incumbent Democrat in the closest of all the statewide races. His broad, diverse, grassroots campaign was endorsed by several community leaders, business executives, and community organizations including the Tucson Citizen, Arizona Education Association, Arizona AFL-CIO, Progressive Democrats of America, Planned Parenthood, and the Arizona Human Rights Fund.
Most recently, Jason has served as the Managing Partner of BlueDynamic, Founder of AZ School Works, faculty member for Arizona State University’s Beat the Odds Institute Parent Liaison Academy, and as a member of several Boards of Directors and Advisory Committees including College Depot, Communities In Schools, Genesis City, George Gervin Prep Academy, and Phoenix Collegiate Academy. Today, Jason is excited to continue his work to ensure educational equity and excellence for all children as the Massachusetts Executive Director with Stand for Children.
Emily Kernan is Director of the Mental Health Advocacy Project at Lawyers For Children, Inc. The Project’s mission is to ensure that children in foster care with mental health needs receive timely, consistent, and individualized services in the least restrictive placements possible. Emily represents children with a variety of mental health problems in foster care, abuse, neglect, termination, adoption, and guardianship proceedings in family court, and she also works to address systemic problems facing this population. Emily started the Mental Health Advocacy Project as a Skadden Fellow after she graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007.
While at Harvard Law School, Emily participated actively in the Child Advocacy Program and served as co-president of the student organization, Child and Youth Advocates. Through CAP, she did clinical work with a Washington State Court of Appeals Commissioner to develop court reforms to expedite permanency for children in foster care. She also worked at Harvard’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative to help children exposed to family violence obtain necessary school-based services. Emily spent her summers in law school at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, California, where she assisted with policy work and impact litigation on behalf of children in foster care, and at the Legal Services Center of The Door in New York City, where she advised and represented youth with foster care, education, housing, employment, and immigration problems.
Emily received a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Child Development from Duke University in 2003. She co-authored an article in Applied Developmental Psychology assessing the likely impact and effectiveness of the Adoption and Safe Families Act using research on child development.
Steven Schwartz is the Legal Director and former Executive Director of the Center for Public Representation in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has practiced disability and civil rights law since 1972, after graduating from the Harvard Law School. Mr. Schwartz has extensive experience litigating class action cases related to the reform and development of community services systems for persons with disabilities, as well as civil rights damage cases for institutionalized persons. He currently is litigating nine community integration class action cases in Arizona, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Massachusetts, and recently concluded cases in Connecticut and Florida. Mr. Schwartz has authored a number of law review articles related to issues affecting the rights of persons with disabilities and has testified before Congress on several occasions. He has been on the faculty of the Harvard and Western New England Law Schools. Mr. Schwartz also provides litigation support and technical assistance to attorneys throughout the United States on mental disability issues.
Lisa Lambert is the executive director of Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), a statewide, family-run, grassroots nonprofit organization based in Boston. PPAL is the state organization of the national Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and has been a SAMHSA-funded statewide family network since 2000.
Lisa grew up in Massachusetts and attended Mount Holyoke College. After college, she moved to San Diego, where she lived for 11 years before returning to Massachusetts. While she was in San Diego, her two sons were born. Her oldest son began showing signs of significant mental health needs by first grade and Lisa successfully worked with a number of child-serving systems to secure services for him. He is now a young adult who has become a proactive advocate for himself.
Lisa became involved in children’s mental health as an advocate for her young son in California. After moving back to Massachusetts, she began supporting families whose children and youth had behavioral health needs. She became involved with PPAL, first on a regional level and then on a statewide level. Her areas of expertise include mental health policy, systems advocacy and family-driven research.
Realizing that individual parent and youth stories need to be supported by data, Lisa authored several studies which collected data from families. In 2002, PPAL collaborated with Health Care for All to survey families on their experiences. This resulted in Speak Out for Access: The Experiences of Massachusetts Families in Obtaining Mental Health Care for their Children (Ariel Frank, Joshua Greenberg and Lisa Lambert, 2002). Later studies have focused on the need for change in crisis care, the experience of families and youth with psychiatric medication, community barriers and in 2012, a study of family experience with the elements of medical home, Linking Medical Home and Mental Health: Listening to Massachusetts Families.
Lisa has received many awards for her work including the 35th Anniversary Award, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, 2008; Carl B. Cutchins Child and Family Advocacy Award, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Corporations of Massachusetts, 2007; Department of Mental Health’s Human Rights Award, 2001; Department of Mental Health’s Certificate of Appreciation, 1996, 1997, 1998.
Lisa Goldblatt Grace is the Co-founder and Director of My Life My Choice. Since 2002, MLMC has offered the only comprehensive prevention curriculum aimed at reaching girls most vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation. Further, MLMC offers a unique continuum of services including prevention groups, training, survivor mentoring, and program consultation. Ms. Goldblatt Grace has been working with vulnerable young people in a variety of capacities for over twenty years. Her professional experience includes running a long term shelter for homeless teen parents, developing a diversion program for violent youth offenders, and working in outpatient mental health, health promotion, and residential treatment settings. Ms. Goldblatt Grace has served as a consultant to the Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Trial Court’s “Redesigning the Court’s Response to Prostitution” project and as a primary researcher on the 2007 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of programs serving human trafficking victims. In addition, Ms. Goldblatt Grace has written in a variety of publications regarding commercial sexual exploitation and offered training on the subject nationally. Ms. Goldblatt Grace is Adjunct Faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and holds masters degrees in both social work and public health.
Lt. Pi Heseltine has been with the Massachusetts State Police for approximately 20 years. She is currently assigned to the Special Service Section of the Investigative Division investigating cases of child exploitation; more specifically child prostitution/ Human Trafficking. Previous assignment(s) included the Massachusetts Missing Children Clearinghouse where she created and launched a public facing website designed to assist the public, law enforcement and social services in developing a better systemic response to children at risk. Prior to that, she worked with the FBI and Boston Police on the Innocence Lost initiative.
Before the above assignments, Lt. Heseltine worked in both Essex and Middlesex counties conducting homicide, sexual assault and child abuse investigations.
Lt. Heseltine currently teaches sexual assault investigations for both the State and Municipal Police. In addition, she serves on the Governor’s Commission on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence where she spearheaded the drafting of the Sexual Assault Guidelines for Law Enforcement for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance (MACA).
Ann Wilkinson, Coordinator of Survivor Mentor Services, has been a Mentor and Group Facilitator for My Life My Chooice since 2006. Ann brings eighteen years of experience as Counselor, Group Facilitator, and Mentor to multi-stressed youth and women. Prior to coming to MLMC, Ann worked in the fields of domestic violence, homelessness, and substance abuse treatment in a variety of leadership roles. Her work experience has included being the Senior Manager at Elizabeth Stone House, and the Director of Women’s Programs at Peace at Home. Ann utilizes her personal experiences in “the Life” to inform the work she does with adolescent girls and adult women, helping them build a life free from exploitation.
Edward Dolan was appointed Commissioner for the Department of Youth Services (DYS) in May 2012 after serving as its Deputy Commissioner for 14 years. Commissioner Dolan began at DYS as the Director of Classification. During his tenure at DYS, Mr. Dolan’s leadership and commitment has been critical to shaping the direction of the Department to a focus on positive youth development. A strong advocate for implementing reform practices that reshape and strengthen the juvenile justice system, Commissioner Dolan has more than 30 years experience in criminal and juvenile justice issues and an extensive background in public administration, finance, social policy and urban planning.
Prior to joining DYS, Commissioner Dolan was Chief Operating Officer for Massachusetts Half Way Houses, Inc. He also previously managed two areas of the Division of Forensic Mental Health, supervised mental health clinicians and provided oversight to contracted forensic services in district, juvenile and superior court clinics for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.
In 1985, Commissioner Dolan served with the Massachusetts Parole Board as its Director of Research, Planning and Systems Development. In 1990, he was promoted to Executive Director - a leadership position he held for an additional five years. As a court planner in the Office of the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court, he played an integral role in managing operations across seven trial court departments during the early days of court reform.
As a consultant for the National Institute of Corrections, Crime and Justice Foundation and various states and local jurisdictions, Commissioner Dolan frequently lends his expertise on juvenile justice, parole and adult and juvenile correctional issues. Mr. Dolan holds a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and an undergraduate degree in Government from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
David Domenici David is the Director of the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings at the University of Maryland. David started the Center in the fall of 2011. The Center’s mission is to radically improve the quality of education provided to our nation’s most at-risk and underserved students: low-income, minority teenagers and young adults who are attending schools in alternative settings, including youth and adult correctional facilities.
David has been working with at-risk and court-involved youth for 15 years. In 1997, he quit his job as a corporate lawyer, and along with a colleague, started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School—a school designed for court-involved teens. Over the next 10 years David served as the organization’s Executive Director, while also serving as the Principal of its initial campus. In 2007, Maya Angelou was asked to take over the school at Oak Hill, Washington, DC’s long-term juvenile correctional facility—long considered one of the worst juvenile prisons in the nation. David designed the school program, hired all the staff, and became the founding Principal of the school, called the Maya Angelou Academy. David left the Maya Angelou Academy in the fall of 2011 to start the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings.
Jason Szanyi is a staff attorney at the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, where he advocates for safer and more humane conditions for youth in juvenile facilities and promotes policies and practices that reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. Jason’s current projects include partnering with Connecticut officials on strategies to create a more equitable and effective juvenile justice system for youth of color in Hartford and Bridgeport, as well as working with the District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services on ways of supporting juvenile justice-involved youth in community-based settings. Jason is also helping juvenile justice agencies comply with the Justice Department’s new standards for the prevention, detection, and response to sexual misconduct as part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Jason joined CCLP in 2009 upon receiving a Skadden Fellowship, which funds two years of legal advocacy to improve the lives of the poor and those deprived of their civil and human rights. As a Skadden Fellow, he worked at CCLP and at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service’s Juvenile Services Program, representing detained and incarcerated youth in a variety of legal proceedings and engaging in policy advocacy for children in the juvenile justice system. Jason has also served on the Skadden Fellowship Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Prior to joining CCLP, Jason attended Harvard Law School, where he worked with the Government of India on reforms to its juvenile justice system as part of the law school’s Child Advocacy Program. He earned his BA in psychology from Northwestern University in 2006.
Reginald Dwayne Betts Reginald Dwayne Betts is a husband and father of two young sons. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Mr. Betts to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. An award-winning writer and poet, Mr. Betts’ memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, was the recipient of the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. In 2010 he was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to complete The Circumference of a Prison, a work of nonfiction exploring the criminal justice system. In addition, Mr. Betts is the author of a collection of poetry, Shahid Reads His Own Palm. In addition to his writing, Mr. Betts is involved in a number of non-profit organizations, including the Campaign for Youth Justice for which he serves as a national spokesperson. He received a B.A. from the University of Maryland and was recently a Radcliffe Fellow to Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies.
Lael Chester Lael Elizabeth Hiam Chester became Executive Director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice in 2001, after having served on CfJJ's Board of Directors for approximately five years. Lael is a graduate of Barnard College and Harvard Law School. Her prior work experience includes both litigating and researching juvenile justice, criminal justice and civil rights issues. She has held positions as the Albert Martin Sacks Clinical Fellow at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. She received the Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award in May 2004 for her extraordinary commitment to protecting the rights of juveniles as well as the Women of Justice Award from the Women’s Bar Association and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in December 2009. In June 2011 the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps honored her with its Embracing the Legacy award. She currently serves as a member of the Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, serves on its Executive and Grants Review Committees, and chairs its Disproportionate Minority Contact Subcommittee.
Barbara Kaban is the Director of Juvenile Appeals for the Youth Advocacy Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Prior to joining CPCS, Kaban was the Deputy Director and Director of Research and Policy at the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts for twelve years. In 2009, Kaban was the recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Legal Services Award and was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the statewide Child Advocate Advisory Board. In 2011, the Governor appointed Kaban to the federally mandated state advisory group entitled the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee which is charged with the responsibility to help coordinate juvenile justice and delinquency prevention efforts in the Commonwealth. A recipient of a 1998 Soros Justice Fellowship, Kaban graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College Law School, has an M.B.A. from Boston University and a M.Ed. in educational psychology from Harvard University. Kaban has served as a consultant to the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. She is on the Board of Directors of the New England Juvenile Defenders Network and the National Children’s Law Network. Her recent publications include: “Revitalizing the Infancy Defense in the Contemporary Juvenile Court," Rutgers Law Review (Fall 2007); “Do You Know Where the Children Are? A Report on Massachusetts Youth Unlawfully Held Without Bail,” (2006) http://www.prisonpolicy.org/kidsbail; “Rethinking a Knowing, Intelligent and Voluntary Waiver in Massachusetts Juvenile Courts,” Journal of the Center for Children and the Courts, v.5 (2004); “When Police Question Children: Are Protections Adequate?” Journal of the Center for Children and the Courts, vol. 1, 151 (1999); reprinted Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal, vol. IV, 12 (Summer 2000); reprinted Massachusetts Bar Association Section Review, vol. 4, 1 (Winter 2002); and "An Overview of Disposition Process in Delinquency Cases" in the 1999 Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education publication entitled Juvenile Law Basics. Further, she initiated and supervised the Juvenile Life Without Parole project at the CLCM that resulted in the 2009 publication “Until They Die A Natural Death: Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Massachusetts.”
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