Unsung Heroes Event

Each year, the Youth Law Center recognizes people who have made a difference in the lives of our clients during the past year at its Unsung Heroes Event.


Youth Law Center established the Loren Warboys Unsung Hero Awards to honor Loren Warboys, who joined the staff of the Youth Law Center in 1979 and became Managing Director in 1994.  Loren was a nationally recognized expert on education and mental health services for children in the juvenile justice system.  He was a brilliant attorney whose efforts were fueled by a deisre to assure that children in public systems are treated fairly and are able to maximize their potential.   Sadly, he succumbed to leukemia in December, 1999.


The Loren Warboys Unsung Hero Awards and annual event are funded through individual event sponsors.  In keeping with the spirit of the event, attendance is free.  To register to attend this year’s event or if you would like to support the event click here. 


2015 Unsung Heroes Honorees

This year’s honorees have helped strengthen families and improve the lives of children and youth involved in the nation’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. It is our pleasure to honor:


Sue Burrell

Sue Burrell began her legal career as a trial lawyer and juvenile appellate/training specialist for the Los Angeles County Public Defender, and as an appellate lawyer for the California State Public Defender.  In 1987, she joined the Youth Law Center and since that time has worked for juvenile justice system reform through civil rights litigation and appellate challenges; drafting and testifying on legislation; training and consulting with juvenile system professionals; and writing on a wide range of juvenile justice issues.  Her work has been directed at reducing unnecessary incarceration, eliminating harsh conditions of confinement, and assuring fair treatment of young people in the system.  Sue has worked with the National Juvenile Defender Center since its inception and co-authored the first national study of juvenile representation.  She serves on the Board of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center and co-edited and produced its manual on collateral consequences. From 2008 to 2011 she led the California team for the MacArthur Foundation’s Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, working to increase support and training for juvenile defenders in California. She was a member of the 2003/04 Governor’s Juvenile Justice Working Group and serves on the Board of State and Community Corrections Juvenile Justice Standing Committee.  In 2011, she was awarded the American Bar Association’s Livingston Hall Award for excellence juvenile justice advocacy.  Ms. Burrell received her B.A. from UCLA in 1970; her M.L.S. at UCLA in 1971; and her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, in 1977.



Teri Kook

Teri Kook is the Chief Strategy Officer for the Family Impact Network in Spokane, Washington. She is designing and implementing key elements of the launch of performance based contracting in child welfare in Eastern Washington.  Previously, Ms. Kook served for twelve years as the Director of Child Welfare at the Stuart Foundation. At the Stuart Foundation, Ms. Kook designed and led key initiatives that improved access and success of foster youth in pursuing their dreams to obtain a college degree and pioneered robust public/private partnerships to align child welfare reform efforts to improve child welfare outcomes in California and Washington.  Ms. Kook brings more than two decades of experience in practice, policy development and leadership in public child welfare agencies. Earlier in her career Ms. Kook held positions as the Chief of Child Welfare in Stanislaus County, and was an Adjunct Professor in the Master of Social Work program at California State University, Stanislaus.  Ms. Kook holds a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Stanislaus and received a Masters Degree in Social Work from San Jose State University. She served on the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care and the Child Welfare Council.



Deborah Ellen Petrovich

Deborah entered into the Florida foster care system at 15 days of age.  Deborah was a drug exposed infant with asthma and developmental concerns.  She was adopted in Miami in 1998 by John & Trudy Petkovich.  In 2008 along with two friends she started the Birthday Foundation, which provided birthday cakes & gifts to children in care.  Today she participates in Love In Action a group that provides birthday cakes as well as events and other supports for children & their foster parents.  She graduated high school in 2013 from the IB program Cum Laud.   For the past seven years she has been a leader with the NexGen Teen Summit in Florida.  A Talent Show at that Summit two years ago led to the organization of the NexGen Band, where she is the lead guitarist.  Their focus presently is to create awareness of the need for quality foster homes for teens as well as protecting the rights of children in our system of care.  She had the honor of playing at the QPI National Conference in San Diego as well as speaking at National Adoption Day in Miami, among other events and interviews. Deborah believes all children have the right to have the positive, loving life she has been given.  Through her passion for music and continued advocacy she wants to help other children achieve whatever their goals maybe with the support of a loving family.



Trudy Petrovich

Trudy has been working in the child welfare field since 1990, when she and her husband John began the process to become licensed foster parents.  Their adult children John and Amy agreed that they could make a difference in the life of a child, one at a time.  During their 18 years as licensed foster parents they were the home to almost 300 infants, most drug or alcohol exposed.  Out of all those children they decided to adopt three girls, Katherine (1990), Deborah (1995) and Molly (2000) when they became available for adoption.  The addition of these beautiful children to their family, made them realize the need to become strong advocates for all the other children in our system of care.  Their family is now a multicultural, special needs family who believes in the importance of advocacy to provide better outcomes for foster and adopted children. Through continued advocacy, commitment and partnership she continues to strive for better outcomes for all children in our system of care.  To that end she works to support quality foster and adoptive parents, who not only nurture and love the children but advocate to make a difference in their lives.  Trudy is the Executive Director of the Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parents Association; sits on both the Adoption Advisory Board and the Dependency Court Improvement Panel; works with Bunchy’s Holiday toy Drive in Miami; and works with QPI Florida through the Fostering Success campaign and as a Foster Parent Liaison at DCF, Kids Hope United and Our Kids, Inc. She is the recipient of the Foster Parent of the Year Award in both 2000 and 2005 and the 2015 Healing Hands Award from FSFAPA.


See all past honorees of the Loren Warboys Unsung Heroes Award.