In 2007, Jennifer Rodriguez joined the Youth Law Center (YLC), a national public interest law firm that has worked for 4 decades to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems so every child and youth can thrive, and has served as Executive Director since 2012. Jennifer is the recipient of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform Janet Reno Women’s Leadership Award for her advocacy ensuring youth are included in foster care and juvenile justice policy development; the Juvenile Law Center’s Leadership Prize for her advocacy fighting for rights and well-being of youth in foster care and juvenile justice; and was recognized in 2021 as a federal Children’s Bureau Champion for her national impact in transforming foster care to a support for families.
YLC’s advocacy aims to ensure children and youth are not only protected from harm and dangerous conditions in systems, but also receive the support, opportunities and nurturing they need for healthy, productive adulthoods. At YLC, Jennifer worked to build and launch the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), a national systems change strategy to strengthen foster care by focusing policy, practice and culture around relationships and excellent parenting for children. Jennifer’s leadership at YLC has a special focus on advocacy to reduce the use of congregate care and build systems that ensure children receive the parenting necessary to heal and thrive and live in conditions that meet their developmental and emotional needs. As a former foster youth who spent her childhood in both foster care and juvenile justice institutions, Jennifer has spent most of her life advocating for systems to be responsive to the needs of 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 received her J.D. from University of California, Davis and is the proud mother of two beautiful children who teach her daily about the power of love, high expectations and opportunities.
To schedule an interview with Jennifer, please contact:
Selina Weiss, Development and Communications Coordinator
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.
To schedule an interview with Carole, please contact: