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Below are the biographies for CAP's "Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education, and Juvenile Justice" Fall 2013 speakers. Click on the relevant speaker's name to link to his/her biography. This page will be updated as we finalize speaker biographies.
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.
Catherine Fine is a public health practitioner with over 10 years of experience in the field of public health violence prevention. Based on her work in Baltimore and Boston, her areas of expertise include leading teams to design and implement citywide violence prevention strategies. The focus of her work includes developing strategies and programs that are grounded in understanding the root causes of violence and are aimed at increasing resident engagement, training and capacity building, and direct services for Boston’s residents and community providers. In her role as the Director of the Division of Violence Prevention for the Boston Public Health Commission, Catherine oversees several federal initiatives funded by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control, as well as programs funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and private foundations. Ms. Fine is a graduate of the University of Rochester, and she holds a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr. Thea James, M.D., is Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Dean, Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine. She is Director of the Boston Medical Center Massachusetts Violence Intervention Advocacy Program, and a member of the Boston Medical Center Injury Prevention Center Leadership Team as Director of Community Outreach. Dr. James was a member of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Task Force on Defending Childhood 2011-2012. She is a founding member of the National Network of Hospital-based Intervention Advocacy Programs (NNHVIP), and is a member of the steering committee and the research group. Dr. James is immediate past Chair, Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine Licensing Committee, and immediate past President, Boston Medical Center Medical and Dental Staff. A graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, James trained in emergency medicine at Boston City Hospital, where she was a chief resident. She is a co-founder of Unified for Global Healing, a non-profit organization that develops global partnerships, to improve the well being of underserved communities internationally. UFGH takes multidisciplinary teams to Haiti, Ghana West Africa, and India. Dr. James has been a recipient of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Mulligan Award for leadership and public service, 2012 Boston Business Journal Champions in Healthcare honoree, and recipient of the Boston District Attorney’s Role Model Award, 2012.
Jeffrey B. Teitler holds degrees from the Yale School of Drama and New York University's, Tisch School of the Arts. Currently serving as Professor of Production and Performance Studies at Central Connecticut State University, his narrative and documentary films have been recognized/seen in festivals nationwide.
Lisa H. Thurau is a graduate of Barnard College and holds a Masters degree in Anthropology from Columbia University. She graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University in 1991. Before becoming an attorney, Lisa worked as a researcher and advocate for reform and improvement of the public education system in New York City. She worked as an Associate in the litigation department of Coudert Brothers, an international law firm on copyright and commercial litigation matters.
Marsha Levick is the co-founder, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel of Juvenile Law Center, the oldest public interest law firm for children in the United States. For more than 35 years, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women's rights and is a nationally recognized leader in juvenile law. Levick has authored or co-authored numerous briefs before the US Supreme Court as well as many other federal and state courts, including Roper v Simmons, striking the juvenile death penalty; Graham v Florida, striking juvenile life without parole sentences for non-homicide crimes; JDB v North Carolina, requiring consideration of youth status in the Miranda custody determination; and Miller v Alabama, striking mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences in homicide cases. Levick has also written many scholarly articles on children and the law. Levick has led Juvenile Law Center’s work addressing the Luzerne County, PA “kids for cash” judges’ scandal, believed to be the largest judicial corruption scandal in American legal history. Levick serves on the board of several national non-profit organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, and is a member of the Dean’s Council of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Levick has received numerous awards for her work, including recognition from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations, the American Association for Justice, and was the co-recipient of the Philadelphia Inquirer 2009 Citizen of the Year Award. Levick was also named the inaugural recipient of the 2013 Arlen Specter Award, established by the Legal Intelligencer to recognize the lawyer or judge who has done the most to promote the law, the legal profession or justice in Pennsylvania in the last ten years. Levick is also an adjunct professor at both the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Temple University Beasley School of Law.
R. Daniel Okonkwo is the Executive Director of DC Lawyers for Youth. Daniel is a founding member and the former Board Chair of DCLY. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates, is a community advisory panel member of the Washington, D.C. Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a member of the Executive Committee of the National Juvenile Justice Network, a mayoral appointee to the Washington, D.C. Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, and a member of the WAMU (88.5 FM) Community Council.
Dr. Brett Drake is a Professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. His substantive area is child maltreatment and public child welfare systems, with an emphasis on early system contacts, including reporting and substantiation. He formulated the popular “Harm / Evidence” model of substantiation and has a particular interest in poverty and its strong association with child maltreatment. The majority of Dr. Drake’s federally funded work features longitudinal analyses of children reported to child welfare, in comparison to socioeconomically matched controls. Dr. Drake’s work features the incorporation of geographic variables (e.g. neighborhood poverty) into child maltreatment research, and explores a range of policy issues, such as mandated reporting, and questions of class and racial bias in child welfare reporting. Dr. Drake also focuses on research methodology, and is the author of a popular social work research textbook. Some of his most recent work highlights the degree to which standard poverty measures underestimate the neighborhood poverty experienced by African-American and Hispanic children. In addition, Dr. Drake has recently published work clarifying findings from the National Incidence Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect and has done related work exploring disproportionality among African-Americans, Whites and Hispanics using data from a range of varied sources. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Drake had several years of field experience as a child protective services worker.
Andrew L. Cohen has represented parents and children for the Committee for Public Counsel Services Children and Family Law (CAFL) Division since 1995. In his current position as CAFL Director of Appellate Panel, Mr. Cohen oversees the work of 110 private child welfare appellate attorneys, conducts trial and appellate trainings, and maintains a small trial and appellate caseload. He has argued many appeals before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court, including Care and Protection of Sophie, Adoption of Vito, and Adoption of Olivette. He also regularly files amicus curiae briefs in child welfare matters on behalf of his agency. He has authored articles and book chapters on evidence, parent representation, and child welfare trial and appellate practice. Mr. Cohen has lectured at the American Bar Association, the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy, the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations, and the Massachusetts, Boston, and Juvenile Bar Associations. Before joining the CAFL Division, he worked for four years doing commercial and bankruptcy trial and appellate litigation and clerked for The Hon. Carolyn Dineen King of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Mr. Cohen is a former chair of the Boston Bar Association Family Law Section and a former member of the Boston Bar Journal's board of editors. He currently serves on the steering committee for the American Bar Association’s National Parents’ Counsel Organization.
Judge Jeri B. Cohen is currently a circuit judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Dependency and Criminal Drug Court Divisions. 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. Before being elected to the bench in 1992, Judge Cohen was a trial attorney with the Office of the General Counsel, Securities Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C., and an Assistant State Attorney under Janet Reno. While Judge Cohen has presided in several divisions of the County and Circuit Courts, her primary assignment has been in the Dependency Division of the Juvenile Court. Judge Cohen is recognized as a national expert on issues relating to child welfare, substance abuse and mental health. She is responsible for creating one of the first dependency drug courts in the country for parents who lose custody of their children because of addiction. She has worked on a national level with the Department of Justice and the National Drug Court Institute, to develop curricula and train dependency drug courts across the country. She has taught at statewide and national conferences and judicial colleges, and published numerous articles on family drug courts and child welfare. 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. This study was one of the first randomized court-based studies in the country. Judge Cohen is the chair of the Community-Based Care Alliance in Miami-Dade County tasked with overseeing the privatized child welfare system for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. She is the past chair of the Statewide Court Improvement Project responsible for bringing state dependency courts into compliance with federal child welfare requirements. She served in this capacity for four years, setting up the statewide Model Court program for Florida. During her tenure, she oversaw the development of the statewide Dependency Court Benchbook that integrated law with behavioral health. She was a senior judicial fellow for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, sat on the Governor’s Commission for Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the South Florida Behavioral Health Network, the entity managing mental health and substance abuse services for Miami-Dade County. Judge Cohen has received numerous awards, including the Community Service Award from the South Florida Jewish Federation and the statewide Child Advocate of the Year award from the Guardian Ad Litem program.
Professor James Dwyer has taught Family Law and Youth Law at William & Mary since 2000, and at the University of Wyoming and Chicago-Kent law schools previously. He has written four books and numerous articles on the rights of children and the rights of biological and legal parents in connection with children's schooling, medical care, parentage, custody, protection from maltreatment, and adoption. His family law textbook was released in 2012. Professor Dwyer's major current projects are a book critiquing liberal policy responses to parental and community dysfunction and a book developing a general theory of children's rights and national responsibilities with respect to children's international migration.
Ivana Culic, MD, is the Associate Director of the Special Care Nursery at Beverly Hospital as well as a staff neonatologist at Children's Hospital in Boston. Born and raised in Croatia, Dr. Culic attended the University of Zagreb Medical School where she completed her post-graduate studies. As valedictorian of her medical school class, she was offered a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Biology at Boston University. She then spent two years working to better understand the molecular base of adult onset illnesses. Following the time she dedicated to the basic science, Dr. Culic turned her interest towards clinical medicine. She completed her Pediatric Residency and Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Tufts University, (Floating Hospital for Children) in Boston. Following graduation from Tufts, Dr. Culic began her career as a neonatologist, working at both Children's Hospital Boston and Beverly Hospital. She is board certified in pediatrics and in neonatal perinatal medicine. In addition to her clinical practice, she is an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Culic is married, has three children and currently resides on the North Shore.
Paulo Barrozo is an Assistant Professor at Boston College Law School. His work focuses on Criminal Law (national and international), International Law, and Legal Theory. He received an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Rio de Janeiro University Research Institute. Before coming to Boston College Law School in the fall of 2009, Professor Barrozo was a Clark Byse Teaching Fellow, a Landon H. Gammon Fellow, and a Graduate Fellow in Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School. As a Lecturer at Harvard University, Professor Barrozo was a ten-time recipient of the Distinction in Teaching award and the first recipient of the Stanley Hoffman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In addition to his academic work, Professor Barrozo is an active advocate for the rights of the neurodiverse and the unparented, appearing before international bodies such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations.
Whitney Reitz joined Senator Landrieu’s staff in October 2012, as a Senior Policy Advisor on International Child Welfare. She focuses on permanency issues for children living outside of family care and revitalizing the U.S. intercountry adoption program.
Ms. Reitz has worked on humanitarian immigration and assistance issues at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department for over 20 years. At USCIS, Ms. Reitz helped lead the USCIS Special Humanitarian Program for Haitian Orphans in 2010, which united nearly 1,200 Haitian orphans with their U.S. families after the tragic earthquake. In 2011, Ms. Reitz served as a principal negotiator in multiple rounds of talks which resulted in the U.S. and Russia signing an adoption agreement, thereby preserving an important option for Russian children in need of permanent families.
For over 20 years, Ms. Reitz has dedicated her career to humanitarian issues, with an emphasis on immigration, working extensively on intercountry adoption, refugee admissions and assistance, international migration and temporary protected status.
Margaret McKenna is an educator and lawyer who has spent her career advocating for social justice. McKenna began her work life as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Later in her career, she served as the Deputy Counsel in the White House, Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education and led the education transition team for President Clinton. McKenna’s education experiences include a role as Vice President of Radcliffe College and twenty-two years as president of Lesley University. Her tenure at Lesley, included: introduction of its first PhD program, merging two other colleges as part of Lesley, growth from a student body of 2,000 to 10,000, increasing the physical plant by 400% and increasing endowment from less than $2 million to over $160 million. For the last four years, she has led the Walmart Foundation where her giving budget was over $900 million. In that role, she created and implemented Hunger and Nutrition as the signature program of the Foundation and led the Walmart initiative to become the largest donor of food in the United States. McKenna is an author, speaker an expert on issues of educational access, women’s economic empowerment, hunger and social change leadership. Serving on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, she is the recipient of ten Honorary Degrees. She presently serves as a fellow at the Aspen Institute’s Ascend program.
Bill Shore is the founder and chief executive officer of Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America. Shore founded Share Our Strength in 1984 with his sister Debbie and a $2,000 cash advance on a credit card. Since then, Share Our Strength has raised and invested more than $376 million in the fight against hunger, and has won the support of national leaders in business, government, health and education, sports and entertainment.
Raj Chetty is the Director of the Lab for Economic Applications and Policy for Harvard University, Department of Economics as well as Director of the Public Economics group at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Editor of the Journal of Public Economics. His research combines empirical evidence and theory to inform the design of more effective government policies. His work on the topics of taxation, unemployment, and education has been widely cited in media outlets and Congressional testimony. He was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2012 and the Clark Medal from the American Economics Association in 2013.
Steve Gross, M.S.W., is the Founder and Chief Playmaker of the Life is good Playmakers, a 501(c)(3) public charity. He has devoted his career to the service of our most vulnerable children. A pioneer in utilizing exuberant, joyful play to promote resiliency in children and their caregivers, and a leader in the field of psychological trauma response, Gross is committed to the healthy development of children facing the most challenging circumstances.
The vision of the nonprofit he founded is a world where all children grow up feeling safe, loved and joyful. In order to make this vision a reality, the Life is good Playmakers partners with frontline professionals – such as teachers, social workers and child life specialists – who dedicate their lives to helping children overcome poverty, violence and illness. These Playmakers use the power of play to build healing, life-changing relationships with the children in their care. This foundation of playfulness allows children to engage the world with passion and joy while giving them the courage and creativity to see possibilities and solutions in the face of adversity. To date over 3,500 certified Playmakers have cared for more than 210,000 children throughout the United States and Haiti.
Steve’s talents have been called upon to respond to some of the greatest catastrophes of our time, including the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and the 2012 Newtown school shooting. At the heart of his work, Steve helps others access their own playfulness so that they can build resilience and bring greater joy, connection, courage and creativity to their work and their lives.
John Jacobs is Co-Founder and Chief Creative Optimist, The Life is good Company. The Boston, MA based lifestyle brand spreads the power of optimism and helps kids in need by donating 10% of its net profits to The Life is good Kids Foundation. Jake, Life is good’s iconic hero with the contagious smile, teaches men, women and kids that optimism is fun, healthy, and empowering.
John created his first poorly spelled and crudely drawn book at the age of five. He’s been writing and drawing ever since, graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1990 with dual degrees in English and Art. He immediately began designing and selling tee shirts after college and worked as a substitute teacher to supplement his income during Life is good’s infancy.
In 1994, with a combined sum of just $78 in the bank, John and his brother Bert officially launched Life is good. Today, Life is good products are sold by over 3,500 retailers nationwide and on Lifeisgood.com. Bert, John, and The Life is good Company are living proof that “Optimism can take you anywhere.”
Life is good focuses on forging meaningful, emotional connections, and relies heavily on its community of optimists to build its brand. Because Life is good considers kids its ultimate source for inspiration, the company is committed to helping kids in need through its products and through its support of The Life is good Kids Foundation. The company with a positive purpose has raised over $9.5 million for kids in need to date, principally through the annual Life is good Festival, Life is good products and other fundraising efforts.
Bert and John are the youngest of six siblings from Needham, MA. They credit their mother with teaching them to face the bumps in the road with a smile. The Jacobs brothers see simplicity, humility and a sense of humor as the three keys to Life is good’s continued success.
When John is not evolving the brand for future seasons, he enjoys any game under the sun, film, music, and diving into the water to catch things. He lives in his favorite sports town, Boston, with his wife Jessica, their two sons, Oskar and Oliver, and daughter Lucy.
James E. Ryan is the 11th dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. An expert on law and education, constitutional law, and constitutional theory, he writes primarily about law and educational opportunity. Ryan is the co-author of the textbook Educational Policy and the Law, and the author of Five Miles Away, A World Apart, which was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. He has also authored or co-authored articles on constitutional law and theory.
Damon Smith is Principal of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Before becoming Principal in March 2012, he served as the Interim Principal as well as the Dean of Curriculum and Learning Community “R” at the high school. Prior to that he was Assistant School Director at New Mission High School and a Mentor Teacher for the Cambridge/Harvard Summer Academy. He began his career in education as a Humanities teacher at New Mission High and served as a case manager for Project LEEO (Leadership, Education and Employment Opportunities), a youth development organization. Smith is a graduate of Wesleyan University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Northeastern University Principal Residency Network.
Josh Brody is the Director of Sequoyah School, an independent K-8 progressive school in Pasadena, California. At Sequoyah, Josh has led the development and implementation of indexed tuition, and the recent construction of three new buildings to accommodate a 25% increase in student enrollment.
Eric Glustrom is the founder of Watson and Educate! - two sister organizations transforming education worldwide.
Dan Pallotta invented the multi-day charitable event industry with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days. These events altered the landscape of options for ordinary individuals seeking to make an extraordinary difference. Dan’s work brought the practice of four-figure philanthropy within the reach of the average citizen who had never raised money for charity before in their lives. These multi-day events raised $582 million in nine years - more money raised more quickly for these causes than any private event operation in history.
Dan also created the Out of the Darkness suicide prevention events, which brought that issue out into the open and gave its closeted constituents the courage to put the cause on the map. The event concept has netted millions for the cause.
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.”
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