Past Recipients | Fearless Children's Lawyer of the Month
These lawyers have been celebrated for advocacy resulted in a system wide change or that improved the life of child clients.
Alexandra Santa Ana
Alexandra Santa Ana is a staff attorney at the Equal Justice Society, where she works to expand the understanding of present-day discrimination to include unconscious and structural bias, and to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
While still a law student at Seattle University, Vallen Solomon worked with legal and social service providers to co-design a multi-prong effort to prevent youth homelessness that was connected to evictions. “If I could, I would abolish evictions.”
Erin Lovell launched Legal Counsel for Youth and Children (LCYC) to alleviate the challenge in representing system-involved children brought on by traditional legal aid and public defense operating in silos, offering support on one legal issue.
Gladis Molina Alt
As the Executive Director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, Gladis Molina Alt leads attorneys, social workers and volunteers who serve as Child Advocates in the complex, convoluted, and confusing immigration legal system.
Ashley C. Sawyer
Ashley Sawyer sees schools as a microcosm of the racism, transphobia, and hate we see in our society. That’s why for eight years, she has been an attorney who works at the intersection of educational justice and ending criminalization of children.
Amir Whitaker is a children’s rights and education lawyer because children need good lawyers. As he put it, “Children are our most vulnerable population. They legally can’t advocate for themselves many times.”
Resilient, Texas youth would undoubtedly be worse off without fearless children’s lawyers like Blake Rocap who are willing to have difficult conversations, overcome deep stigmas, and push for youth autonomy.
Richelle Mahaffe loves her job as a juvenile public defender in Des Moines, Iowa. She sees the difference it makes when young people have someone they can trust in their corner.
Twenty years ago, Annie Lee took the helm of TeamChild as one of its earliest directors, and with her “dream team” of advocates for youth, set out to build a youth law program that combined direct, holistic advocacy with systemic policy reform.
Growing up in urban and rural Southern California and hearing about the challenging experiences her parents faced as children, Chorisia Folkman was painfully aware of the inequities that existed for young people.
Stephanie Johnson became passionate about advocating for children back in 1995 when she tried her very first case as an attorney for a child client, and she has never looked back.
Rhea Yo believes attorneys for young people must exemplify fearless humility in a traditionally pretentious profession. “No amount of education and experience makes me an expert in the lives of my clients.”
Maria Griglio been a leading force in changing the perspective on child sex trafficking victim and creating a safe space for advocating for the rights and well-being of these children in Los Angeles County.
Joanna Visser Adjoian and Lauren Fine
Joanna Visser Adjoian and Lauren Fine met when they were just starting out as lawyers in Philadelphia, working with a family organizing group made up of individuals whose loved ones were sentenced as children to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kristen Jackson is a senior attorney at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, California, where she represents immigrant children in state and federal proceedings to protect procedural rights and obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and asylum.
As the director of the Illinois' Children’s Mental Health Partnership, Amanda Walsh sees huge amount of mental health needs, gaps in service and coordination, children in need. And she says "Ok, this is my job." That is why she is fearless.
Rebekah Rashidfarokhi works for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, an organization that supports pro bono lawyers across the city to provide free legal services to the poor and working poor, and directs their Guardian ad Litem for Minors program.
Rachel Nastasi is inspired by her clients and believes that despite their circumstances, she must still advocate for their wishes and well-being with passion and a smile.
What Jack Harrison loves most about being a lawyer for children—that he is constantly learning from his clients and their families—is also central to his advice for new lawyers.
Brooke Burns is the current Managing Counsel of the Juvenile Unit for the Ohio Office of the Public Defender where she has worked for the last 14 years representing countless youth in delinquency proceedings.
LaKayla Witherspoon works for TeamChild in Seattle, Washington, providing civil legal advocacy for young people involved in the juvenile justice system.
Shelly L. Skeen
As an attorney at Lambda Law, Shelly has focused on issues pertaining to the implementation of rights recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges, name and gender marker work, and policy, advocacy, and education about the discrimination LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV experience every day.
While still a law student at Seattle University, Vallen Solomon worked with legal and social service providers to co-design a multi-prong effort to prevent youth homelessness that was connected to evictions.
Claire Bazata, our first Fearless Lawyer of the Month, hails from a small town in Nebraska where her clients include youth and children for whom she is appointed counsel by the juvenile courts.
Daniel Rosenberg is the senior attorney in the County of Imperial, California, area assigned to represent children who are victims of abuse and neglect and who are active in the juvenile dependency or foster care system.
Cristina Law Merriman
For five years, Cristina Law Merriman has been a fearless lawyer at Chicago’s Lawndale Christian Legal Center, a unique organization that provides both minors and emerging adults with holistic, community-based legal services.
Atteeyah Hollie is a senior attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights, whose mission is achieving equality, dignity, and justice for people impacted by the criminal legal system in the Deep South.
Marion (“Mickey”) Donovan-Kaloust is the directing attorney at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s Riverside, California, office. ImmDef defends immigrant communities against injustices in the immigration court system and is leading the fight for the right to counsel in deportation proceedings.
Lynn Vogan is a staff attorney at the Youth Law Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The Youth Law Center represents children and youth in child welfare and delinquency proceedings in Polk County, Iowa, and is one of the leading child advocacy programs in the state of Iowa.
“How do we make sure there is equity in the education system?” That is the question Abre' Conner puts forth. When in law school, Abre' was able to stop and take critical stock of some of her previous educational experiences.
Anissa Patton practices in Georgia, which does not have agency policy or practice guidance on how caseworkers and other service providers should affirm and support LGBTQ youth (or even basic nondiscrimination law or policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity).
Robert Latham challenges the notion that he, or anyone who advocates for children for that matter, can truly be fearless.
Tyrone’s work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights focuses on ending the criminalization of queer and trans sexuality and LGBTQ poverty, but this anti-poverty work has addressed core issues facing youth.