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.
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