Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director
Jennifer Rodriguez initially joined the Youth Law Center as a Gold Foundation Fellow in 2007. As a former foster youth who also spent time in juvenile justice institutions, she wanted to do systemic legal advocacy on behalf of other children and youth who, like her, are growing up with a government agency as their only family. After the completion of her fellowship, Jennifer stayed on at YLC as a staff attorney, and in 2012 she took the reins as Executive Director. More
Jennifer works on both child welfare and juvenile justice projects at YLC, with a special focus on ensuring children and youth involved in both systems live in conditions that meet their developmental and emotional needs, and are provided with the opportunities they need to build a foundation for a healthy adulthood. Jennifer works to improve services for infants and toddlers in foster care through the application of research on child development and brain science; to increase incarcerated youths’ access to and relationship with their babies; to eliminate the use of and improve conditions in congregate care; expand resources for young people transitioning out of child welfare and probation to adulthood; and to ensure every young person in foster care lives in a foster family where they will receive loving, nurturing high quality care. In her work on behalf of system-involved children, Jennifer employs a range of strategies, including developing and drafting legislation; participating in state and national workgroups; working collaboratively with state and local agencies to improve programs and services; and providing training and technical assistance to professionals, youth and families. Also, because of her background, Jennifer’s work reflects her passion for engaging involved youth and families as the agents of change and having them centrally involved in advocacy efforts. Before coming to the Youth Law Center, Jennifer served for seven years as the Legislative and Policy Manager and as a Youth Organizer for the California Youth Connection, a nationally-recognized foster youth advocacy organization. At CYC, Jennifer led policy efforts to make the child welfare system responsive to foster youth. Her advocacy at CYC resulted in major legislative accomplishments for California foster youth, including stronger educational rights, funding to support them in higher education, expansion of transition services, and increased attention to permanence for teenagers.
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 CLOSE
Robin Bishop, Administrative Assistant
Robin Bishop provides ongoing litigation and project support to Youth Law Center Attorneys. She also assists in various aspects of development including grant preparation, monitoring the grant reporting process, tracking donations, organizing the annual Unsung Heroes Event and working with the Board of Directors. She has spent her entire career working with public interest law reform organizations. Before joining the Youth Law Center in 1987, Robin worked for the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco and the San Francisco firm of Morrison & Foerster. More
B. A., State University of New York at Binghamton, 1978 CLOSE
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.
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
Alice Bussiere, Staff Attorney
Alice Bussiere has been a staff attorney at the Youth Law Center since 2000. She works on both juvenile and child welfare issues. Alice joined the Youth Law Center from the Child Care Law Center where she was the managing attorney for three years. Before that, she was a staff attorney for thirteen years at the National Center for Youth Law where she worked on health care, public benefits, child welfare, and other issues that affect low-income children. More
From 1981 to 1984, Alice was litigation director for Texas Legal Services Center, a state support office for legal services programs in Texas. From 1978 to 1981, she was a supervising attorney and lecturer in clinical studies at Yale Law School. At Yale, she supervised students in the Legal Assistance, Mental Hospital Legal Services, and Children’s Rights clinics. Prior to that, Alice represented low-income clients in civil legal assistance programs in New Haven and Waterbury, Connecticut.
J.D., University of Connecticut, 1974 B.A., University of Hartford, 1970
Administrators for the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance Recognition, 1998 North American Council on Adoptable Children Child Advocate Award, 1994 National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Reginald Heber Smith Award, 1993 State Bar of California, Loren Miller Legal Services Award, 1993 CLOSE
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.
J.D., Harvard Law School, 2011
B.A., University of Michigan, 2007
Robin Goldfaden, Staff Attorney
Robin joined the Youth Law Center in 2016 to work on a range of child welfare and juvenile justice matters. She previously was a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Earlier in her career, she was a NAPIL (now Equal Justice Works) Fellow and served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Fortunato P. Benavides of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Honorable Allyne R. Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
J.D., Columbia University School of Law, 1997
A.B., Brown University, 1991
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.
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.
Cat McCulloch, Youth Law Center Fellow
Cat McCulloch is a Youth Law Center Fellow working on child welfare, juvenile justice and issues affecting youth in both systems. Cat originally joined the Youth Law Center as a Julius Glickman Fellow in October 2014 to work on a project involving stemming the flow of foster youth into the juvenile justice system and ensuring that foster youth who become involved with the juvenile justice system are treated fairly. While in law school, Cat participated in several clinics, including the Human Rights Clinic, the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Criminal Defense Clinic and the Domestic Violence Clinic. During law school Cat interned at Disability Rights Texas, the ACLU of Texas, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Prior to law school Cat worked as a paralegal at Disability Rights Advocates and as a volunteer at La Casa de las Madres.
J.D., The University of Texas School of Law, 2014
B.A., The University of California Berkeley, 2009
Maria Ramiu, Managing Director
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 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.
J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, 1986
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1983
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.
J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley, 1986 B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1983 CLOSE
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. More
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.
J.D., Northeastern University School of Law, 1978 M.Ed., Northeastern University, 1974 B.A., Smith College, 1971
Zero to Three Harris Mid-Career Fellow, 2003 to 2005 CLOSE
Javier Stauring, Director Healing Dialogue and Action
Chaplain Javier Stauring joined the Youth Law Center in 2016, where he works on juvenile justice reform efforts with YLC staff and directs Healing Dialogue and Action, a new organization that focuses on restorative justice by bringing together families of murder victims with families of youth who have been tried as adults. Javier is also the Director and founder of the Healing Justice Coalition, a coalition of faith based organizations supporting reform of the juvenile justice system. Javier has spent his entire career ministering to young people in the juvenile justice system. Prior to joining YLC, Javier served as the Co-Director of the Office of Restorative Justice of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2002-2015, where he oversaw the largest Catholic Detention ministry program in the nation. Javier has been deeply involved in transformational justice policy in California, having been part of the team that created and passed SB 9 , SB 260, and 261. Javier has received international recognition for his life’s work, including being commended in Sweden by the World’s Children’s Prize for his advocacy work with incarcerated youth and victims of crime. He is also the first United States citizen to receive the international award from Human Right Watch.
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.