Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director

Jennifer Rodriguez, J.D., is Executive Director of the Youth Law Center (YLC), advocating to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems across the country so youth can thrive. Jennifer spent many years of her childhood in foster care and juvenile justice facilities, and has spent most of her life advocating to ensure justice, compassion and opportunity for system involved youth. Jennifer’s advocacy has resulted in significant national policy, practice and culture changes around the fundamental needs of youth and formally including system involved youth as part of all policy processes. Jennifer’s leadership at YLC has a special focus on ensuring youth in both child welfare and juvenile justice receive the parenting necessary to heal and thrive and live in conditions that meet their developmental and emotional needs. Before coming to the Youth Law Center in 2010, Jennifer served for eight years at the California Youth Connection, a nationally-recognized foster youth advocacy organization, leading efforts resulting in major legislative and policy accomplishments for California probation and foster youth, including stronger educational rights, higher education funding, increased funding for transition services, and promotion of normalcy and  permanence for teenagers. Jennifer received her G.E.D. from San Jose Job Corps, her B.A. from UC Davis, and her J.D. from UC Davis law school and is mother to two beautiful children.

Education:
J.D., University of California, Davis, 2004

B.A., University of California, Davis 2001

A.A., San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, 1999

G.E.D.,  San Jose Job Corps, San Jose, 1994

 

David Brown, QPI Coordinator (Florida)

David Brown joined YLC in 2014 to serve as Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) Coordinator. In this role, he travels throughout the country to various sites and works with each site’s foster care program to develop a cohesive, collaborative system. David supports sites at various stages of development, from the very early stages of implementing QPI to established sites who have fully embraced QPI. David works closely with foster  families, social workers, leadership of child welfare organizations, and stakeholders nationally.  Prior to his position with YLC, David served as the Director of  Programs for a community based care agency in Southwest Florida, where he was responsible for coordinating  foster care recruitment, licensing, training, and support, kinship care, and the non-relative caregiver program for five counties.  David has worked in the field of child welfare for over a decade in the areas of foster care licensing, child protective investigations, and continuing education and curriculum development.

Education:

M.S.W., Florida Gulf Coast University, 2012

B.A., New England College, 2002

Honors: National Association Social Workers Southwest Florida, Social Worker of the Year, 2013

  

Lucy Salcido Carter, Policy Advocate

Lucy Salcido Carter joined the Youth Law Center in 2016 to serve as policy advocate, providing policy leadership and support to a wide range of YLC efforts including the Quality Parenting Initiative, grant-funded projects, and legislative reforms. For 25 years, Lucy has worked with nonprofits, public agencies, foundations, education institutions, and law firms to advocate for better laws, improve public systems, enhance communications, and implement innovative programs and policies for a wide range of issues including child welfare, violence prevention, higher education, racial equity, and criminal justice. Prior to working at YLC, Lucy was the policy director at a California-based innocence project where she successfully lobbied for the passage of key California bills to prevent wrongful convictions, strengthen legal claims of innocence, and increase compensation and services for exonerees. She also spearheaded innovative partnerships among innocence attorneys and prosecutors and facilitated restorative justice retreats for individuals harmed by wrongful conviction. Lucy’s other policy accomplishments include bringing national visibility and federal funding to the issue of child exposure to domestic violence.

Education:

J.D. Stanford University

M.A. New York University

B.A. Princeton University

 

Virginia Corrigan, Staff Attorney

Virginia Corrigan joined the Youth Law Center as an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Baker & McKenzie and Intel in September 2013 and became a staff attorney in 2015.  As an Equal Justice Works Fellow, Virginia’s represented probation-supervised youth in extended foster care in Contra Costa County and worked to improve conditions for youth in the juvenile justice system across California.  In law school, Virginia documented conditions in adult and juvenile detention facilities in Panama as a member of the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic.  After graduation, she served as a clerk for the Honorable David M. Lawson in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Education:

J.D., Harvard Law School, 2011

B.A., University of Michigan, 2007

 

Catherine A. Huerta, QPI Coordinator (CA)

Catherine Huerta joined YLC in 2015 to serve as the QPI Coordinator for the State of California, after having served as a consultant to the project for a number of years.  Prior to working with QPI and YLC, Ms. Huerta worked for over 37 years working to improve the lives of families of community of Fresno County, retiring in 2011 as Director of the Fresno Department of Social Services.  Prior to serving as director, Ms. Huerta served as Director and Assistant Director of the Department of Children and Family Services for eight years.

Education:

M.S.W., California State University Fresno, 2004

B.S.: University of San Francisco,1992

 

Mehrzad Khajenoori, Administrator

Mehrzad lived on three continents, in three countries, in three states, and worked at three different non-profits before coming to the Youth Law Center. She says that she has now found where she belongs. In addition to being the administrative accountant, finance officer, and controller for YLC, she also works with grant report financing and budgeting. Most importantly, Mehrzad is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, which makes her feel right at home at YLC.  

 

Maria Ramiu, Senior Staff Attorney

Maria Ramiu joined the Youth Law Center as a staff attorney in 1992 and currently serves as the Center’s Managing Director.  She has litigated, trained, written and consulted on a wide range of legal and policy issues relating to children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. She has served as lead or co-counsel on many of the Center’s cases including litigation to secure appropriate services, safe placements and permanency for foster youth and safe and humane conditions of confinement for securely confined youth. Maria has been involved in a variety of advocacy efforts to address disparate treatment of youth based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability. She has also served on local, state and national advisory boards and other entities convened to address safety, health and welfare issues of youth in out-of-home care. Prior to joining the Youth Law Center, Maria worked as a staff attorney for Contra Costa Legal Services Foundation in Richmond, California and as an associate with the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Education:

J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, 1986

B.A.,  University of Pennsylvania, 1983

 

Carole Shauffer, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives

Carole Shauffer became Youth Law Center’s Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives in 2012 after serving as Executive Director since 1994, and before that, as a Staff Attorney since 1981.  Carole’s work has focused on improving outcomes for foster youth through developing better services for infants and young children in the child welfare system, working with faith communities to provide support and services for at-risk youth, and reducing the use of shelter care for foster youth, particularly for infants and toddlers.

Carole co-created the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) project, which is focused on developing positive culture change within the child welfare system.  She has also worked to improve access to community and family for youth in the juvenile justice system through introducing child welfare practices to probation departments in California. With Georgetown Professor Rachel Barr, Carole has developed a hands-on parenting project now being instituted in five facilities in California and one in Ohio.  Often referred to as the Baby Elmo Project, it provides at risk youth with parenting tools to communicate a build relationships with their children, thus positively affecting the development of the baby and the father. Before joining the Youth Law Center, Carole worked at the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

Education:

J.D., Northeastern University School of Law, 1978

M.Ed., Northeastern University, 1974 B.A., Smith College, 1971

Honors:

Zero to Three Harris Mid-Career Fellow, 2003 to 2005

 

 

Phyllis Stevens, QPI Coordinator

Phyllis Stevens joined the Youth Law Center in 2016 to serve as a Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) Coordinator. In this role, she travels throughout the country to various sites and works with each site’s foster care program to develop a cohesive, collaborative system. Phyllis supports sites at various stages of development and works closely with the foster families at each site.  Phyllis is an adoptive mom and former foster mom. She is founder and Executive Director of Together as Adoptive Parents Inc, an organization that provides support, resources and advocacy for adoptive, foster and kinship families, as well as the President of the Philadelphia Resource Parents Association Inc., an advocacy Association for foster parents. Phyllis is also on staff with North American Council on Adoption Children (NACAC) and travels throughout the state doing various trainings for them. Phyllis has won many awards locally and nationally for her work with children.

 

Stacy Young, Equal Justice Works Emerson Fellow

Stacy Young joined the Youth Law Center in 2017 as an Equal Justice Works Emerson Fellow. Her work aims to combat barriers to education equity and to improve educational outcomes of juvenile justice youth through the provision of direct legal services, community education, policy advocacy, and impact litigation. Stacy’s longstanding commitment to social justice and public interest law is demonstrated by her experience representing and supporting at-risk youth, families, community groups, and clients with substantial needs, in the areas of education, school discipline, criminal record expungement, housing, domestic violence, disability, discrimination, and disenfranchisement.

Education:

J.D. Stanford Law School, 2017

B.A. University of San Diego, 2011