December 15, 2023

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"I am feeling so inspired and empowered to make changes for youth"

Saluting Our Unsung Heroes

At the Youth Law Center, we are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. We work with and for children, their families, and their communities to fight for their right to access resources to help them thrive. We cannot do this without the everyday people who power our work. That is why we are proud to present the Loren Warboys Unsung Hero Awards to you.

The Loren Warboys Unsung Hero Awards honor the legacy of our first managing director, Loren Warboys. Loren’s expertise and commitment to advocacy for children in the juvenile justice system, particularly in the areas of education and mental health services, was unparalleled. A founding staff member, Loren worked at the Youth Law Center from 1979 until his untimely death from leukemia in 1999.

Each summer we host exceptional students who we hope will be the next generation of leaders and legal advocates for children and youth. This year our Unsung Heroes are the 2023 Youth Law Center class of summer interns and law fellows, all of whom worked tirelessly to advocate for children and young people and continued the exemplary work of previous summer interns and fellows.

Today we salute 2023 Unsung Hero Summer Law Fellows: Brianna Fluhrer, Gabby Renae, Gillian Katz Lamon, and Michelle Calcany Blair.

Brianna Fluhrer, Summer Law Fellow and student at UC Law San Francisco

Brianna’s work increased the Youth Law Center’s capacity as a California Legal Aid Support Center, including developing a resource related to the civil legal needs of dual jurisdiction young people (those who are impacted by both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems), researching questions related to health access for dual jurisdiction youth, including the impact of the Medicaid inmate exception, and providing significant data analysis and research assistance for a major report on the state of education in California’s court schools that Youth Law Center will release before the end of this year (a copy of the Executive Summary is uploaded with this report).

Brianna also assisted the Youth Law Center in planning a focus group of stakeholders and young people impacted by the child welfare system to help us better understand their needs related to financial aid for higher education. We are grateful for Brianna’s excellent contribution.

Gabby Renae, Summer Law Fellow and Student at Lewis & Clark Law School

Gabby’s work supported the Youth Law Center’s advocacy to build the power of youth to lead and design change and to address harmful conditions they face within systems. Gabby’s experience with systems, community organizing skills, and unwavering belief in the individual and collective power of young people contributed to the Youth Law Center’s movement lawyering model of building the power of youth to create new, positive futures for themselves and their communities. Gabby researched legal remedies available to hold systems accountable for the destructive and traumatic practice of solitary confinement and isolation of youth.

Gabby also worked with youth leaders in the California Youth Connection to identify their concerns about housing programs for youth in extended foster care, and reviewed programs across six California regions to identify policies in violation of the law, and develop policy recommendations and a presentation for youth leaders. Gabby’s work was critical to the Youth Law Center’s ongoing advocacy to improve extended foster care and prevent homelessness of systems impacted youth. We are grateful for Gabby’s excellent contribution.

Gillian Katz Lamon, Summer Law Fellow and Student at UC Law San Francisco

Gillian’s work supported the Youth Law Center’s advocacy to ensure children in the juvenile justice system across the country are free from abuse and neglect, and receive the opportunities and support to live in families, in their own communities. Gillian’s interest and experience in the intersections of mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice allowed her to contribute to our advocacy to improve how systems ensure access to critical supports. As part of her summer work, Gillian worked on a variety of research projects to improve the lives of juvenile justice impacted youth in Tennessee, including: an extensive review of the state’s licensing standards and regulations related to congregate care facilities; creating a resource to be used by on-the-ground organizing partners in Tennessee to comment on new proposed regulations; drafting Public Records Act requests; and gathering key information via interviews and data on behavioral health services access and adequacy to combat the draconian proposition to add 500 youth prison beds to Tennessee’s continuum of placements.

Gillian also supported our advocacy on California’s current Title 15 detention facilities regulations review process, particularly as it relates to the regulations that ensure youth have access to needed health care. We are grateful for Gillian’s excellent contribution.

Michelle Calcany Blair, Summer Law Fellow and student at UC Davis School of Law

Michelle’s work supported the Youth Law Center’s advocacy to improve housing stability and prevent homelessness among vulnerable children and youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems by ensuring youth receive the full benefits of laws designed to prevent homelessness and provide housing. Michelle’s interest in accountability for courts and other agencies responsible for systems impacted youth provided an important lens for evaluating the adequacy of housing programs and public benefits for youth.

Michelle also worked with attorneys and directly impacted youth across California to evaluate the licensing files of THP-NMD housing programs, a housing and supportive services program for young adults in extended foster care, and identify how these programs are held accountable for providing safe, healthy living environments for impacted young people. This evaluation uncovered a number of serious issues in these housing programs for future reform efforts. We are grateful for Michelle’s excellent contribution.


Support Our Work

With your help, the Youth Law Center can continue using the law as a tool, and inspiring the next generation of legal advocates to fight for our children in foster care and juvenile justice systems across the country while building better systems with their guidance.

If you make a gift to the Youth Law Center before Midnight on December 31, 2023, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, thanks to a $15,000 matching gift from two generous donors.