Juvenile Law Center

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

Congratulations to our 2017 winners!

We are pleased to present the recipients of the 2017 Juvenile Law Center Leadership Prize.

About the Leadership Prize

Juvenile Law Center’s annual Leadership Prize is awarded to outstanding advocates working to advance the rights and well-being of youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Internationally recognized for its expertise, Juvenile Law Center has been a trailblazer in the field of contemporary children’s law. Recipients of this prize are leading lights in the field whose inspirational careers have served as beacons for the next generation of advocates, and whose work has substantially improved the lives of America’s most vulnerable children.

The inaugural recipient, Juvenile Law Center Co-Founder Bob Schwartz, not only brought Juvenile Law Center to national and international prominence over the course of his leadership, he also helped develop the nascent field of children’s law - inspiring thousands of children’s rights advocates working nationwide today.

Child Welfare Leadership Prize

MaryLee Allen is the Director of Policy for the Children's Defense Fund. From its inception, the Children's Defense Fund has challenged the United States to improve policies and programs for children. Over the years, it has become known for careful research on children’s survival, protection and development in all racial and income groups and for independent analyses of how federal and state policies affect children, their families and their communities. Throughout her tenure at CDF, MaryLee has been recognized as the preeminent expert on child welfare federal legislation and policy in the country. Her work addresses child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, foster care and adoption. She has played a leadership role in the development, passage and implementation of major child welfare and children's mental health reforms. Along with the Child Welfare League of America, she co-chairs a coalition of national child welfare and mental health organizations. She testifies frequently before Congress, and has authored a number of books and publications that have shaped the field.

Juvenile Justice Leadership Prize

Inspired to work on behalf of youth by her upbringing in the South Bronx by Puerto Rican migrants, Gladys Carrión believes that our juvenile justice system should treat young people as we would treat our own. As Commissioner for New York State's Office for Children and Family Services [2007-2013], Gladys inherited a system she described as "toxic." Impatient with incrementalism, she closed 21 facilities during her tenure, more than any state commissioner in history. She worked as deftly with youth, families and advocates as with elected officials, braving stiff political opposition from unions and legislators to reduce incarceration by nearly half, shift funds to community based programs, and improve conditions. Her work has been rightly lauded by publications like the New York Times and Village Voice. From her experience as a legal services attorney in government heading youth development, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, she understands that children thrive best in their own families and communities and that they should be deprived of liberty only as a last resort and for the shortest period of time.

Special Prize for Global Advocacy

Lois Whitman is the founding director of Human Rights Watch’s Children’s Rights Division, which investigates and works to end human rights abuses against children globally, including the use of child soldiers, extreme sentences in the criminal justice system, the worst forms of child labor, torture of children, attacks on students, teachers, and schools, and abuses of migrant children. She remains a deeply-valued senior advisor. She is also a board member of Physicians for Human Rights and on the CUNY Law School’s Visitors Committee. Her own research put Turkey’s torture of children on the front page and helped stop police abuse of detained children in Northern Ireland. Under her leadership, Human Rights Watch was instrumental in the international campaign to ban the use of child soldiers, the ongoing campaign to end the use of extreme prison sentences for youth in California, exposure of the dangerous conditions under which mostly Latino children work on US farms and, recently, persuading the largest US tobacco companies to prohibit the employment of children under age 16 on tobacco farms in their supply chains. Lois has been a pioneer in advocating on behalf of all of the world’s children.


Thank You to Our Sponsors


Rosewater Fund



Nadeem and Gina Bezar
Sandra and Tom McCoy
Barry and Jan Zubrow



Annie E. Casey Foundation
Casey Family Programs
Kathleen and Nicholas Chimicles


E. Rhoda Shaten Charitable Foundation
Carole Haas Gravagno
Holland & Knight
Ann and Ken Krogulski
Stephen Labaton and Miriam Sapiro
Mira Rabin and Thomas Whitman
Skadden Arps LLP



DLA Piper
Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
Independence Foundation
Susan Vivian Mangold and Daniel Mangold
Ann Rosewater and Robert Kronley
Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis
Amy Schwartz and Eric Koenig
Robert G. Schwartz

2017 Leadership Prize Event Photos - March 20, National Constitution Center (click to enlarge)















Photography by: Baiada Photography

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One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before. Support