The Juvenile Law Center awards its Leadership Prize to those who do exceptional work in creating change for youth in the child welfare and justice systems, whether through a large contribution, a lifetime of advocating for change, or any other outstanding efforts.
“The Leadership Prize is an opportunity to recognize remarkable achievement, build the field of child advocacy and celebrate the work of Juvenile Law Center,” said Sue Mangold, the CEO of JLC, in an email.
This year, the center chose three winners who have had breakthroughs in improving the child welfare and justice systems.
Jennifer Rodriguez, J.D., executive director of the Youth Law Center, was raised in foster care herself and knows firsthand the struggles that come with that environment. Her main focus is on providing healthy parenting to youth in both the child welfare and the juvenile justice system to make sure their needs are met to empower them to thrive in their situations.
“As a directly impacted woman of color who has not had a traditional path, I deeply appreciate JLC’s acknowledgement that leadership in this work is about taking action to deliver on a vision, and also about building leadership in the communities of people who are most impacted,” Rodriguez said.
Nicole Pittman, the vice president and director of the Center on Youth Registration Reform and Impact Justice, is an expert on child sex offender registries. She co-wrote a Human Rights Watch report in 2013 titled, “Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US.” She has changed policies regarding placing children on sex offender registries in a dozen states as well as federally.
“This award has come at a time when I was questioning whether my work was as impactful as it could be,” Pittman said. “It is validating to know I’ve made a difference. There are always bumps in the road and moments when you need to step back and see the big picture of how you are contributing. Being selected for this prestigious award made me stop and reflect on the larger arc of my career.”
The third winner is Elizabeth Calvin, who is a senior advocate of the children’s division for Human Rights Watch. Calvin’s leadership in the area of juvenile justice has led California to pass 11 laws aimed at reducing the rate of incarceration for youth, including a law that prohibits 14- and 15-year-olds from being tried as adults. She has also invested time in making sure youth in prison have access to rehabilitative services and educational opportunities.
The Leadership Prize Celebration will be held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on May 1.