Our Work

Children’s Law Center has been fighting for 25 years to ensure every child in the District of Columbia can grow up with a stable family, good health and a quality education.

Judges, pediatricians and families call on us to advocate for children who are abused or neglected, who aren’t learning in school or who have health problems that can’t be solved by medicine alone. Councilmembers, DC government officials and advocates turn to us when the District’s laws and policies are failing children and need to be improved.

DC’s Black and Brown children often shoulder the combined burden of systemic racism, poverty and trauma. We address this by finding long-term solutions – whether we advocate for mental health services when a child has experienced multiple traumas or secure changes to school discipline laws.

With nearly 100 lawyers, social workers and other professional staff and additional help from hundreds of pro bono lawyers, we reach one out of every nine children in DC’s poorest neighborhoods – more than 40,000 children and families since our founding in 1996. We multiply this impact by advocating for city-wide solutions that benefit all children.

Making Learning Fun Again

When Yesenia shifted to distance learning, she lost the hands-on support she had in school. Her autism made it difficult for her to connect with others through the screen. She became depressed and developed new behavioral health issues. Her dad called the family’s Children’s Law Center lawyer for help. We advocated for the school to tap into Yesenia’s creativity. They started using comic books to encourage her to read and held art class first thing each morning.

“Things changed when Children’s Law Center got involved. Yesenia is now active in her classes and motivated to learn – and her recent grades are A’s.”

One Grandfathers' Life-Changing New Role

For Mr. Waters, taking care of his 12- and 7-year-old grandsons, Crevonte and Kaire, has been life-changing. When their mother was unable to care for them, Children’s Law Center stepped in to help him gain custody and move the grandfamily into a special community for grandparents raising grandkids. Now, with a support system made up of fellow church members and grandparents, Mr. Waters reflects on his rewarding new role,

I see that I’m saving lives and doing the right thing. And I couldn’t have done it without Children’s Law Center.

Turning 21 During a Pandemic

Deshala knew she was racing against the clock. As soon as she turned 21, she would “age out” of the foster care system. She had felt ready, but then the pandemic hit and all of her big plans screeched to a halt. Three weeks before graduation, her classes stopped. Her part-time job cut her hours. Thankfully, Children’s Law Center led an effort to get legislation passed that prevented foster youth from losing housing stability and financial support in the midst of the pandemic.

“I was so close to graduating, but everything just stopped. This extension helped me stay focused on building the future I wanted for myself.”

Creighton Magid, Chair, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Melissa Wiley, Treasurer, Ernst & Young LLP

Elizabeth Bausch, Secretary

Allison L. Alexander, Clark Enterprises, Inc.

Meagan Barkett, NorthStar Anesthesia

Brian V. Breheny, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Traevena Byrd, American University

Anne P. Davis, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

Manu Gayatrinath, Latham & Watkins LLP

Stephanie P. Hales, Sidley Austin LLP

Frederick L. Klein, DLA Piper

Michael S. Labson, Covington & Burling LLP

Daniel A. Masur, Mayer Brown LLP

Evan Miller, Jones Day

Robert Ourisman, Jr., Ourisman Automotive Group

Miguel E. Rodriguez, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Simone E. Ross, Covington & Burling LLP

Joanne L. Zimolzak, Dykema Gossett PLLC

Stephanie P. Hales, Chair, Sidley Austin LLP

Stephanie M. Bell, Wiley Rein LLP

Meredith L. Boylan, Venable LLP

Jennifer Brough, Locke Lord LLP

Karen Bruni, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Jill Caiazzo, Amazon

Nicole Cerquitella, Aetna

Ronald Coenen Jr., Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP

Theresa M. Coughlin, Jones Day

Nathaniel Custer, WilmerHale

Michael S. DePrince, Troutman Pepper

Sean M. FitzGerald, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Tracey A. Fung, Williams & Connolly LLP

Charlotte Gillingham, Crowell & Moring LLP

Adam C. Goldstein

Laura K. Hamilton, Clifford Chance US LLP

Katie Heilman, Arent Fox LLP

Shira M. Helstrom, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Melanie Katsur, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Maureen C. McDonald, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

David McDonough, Wells Fargo & Company

Stacey McEvoy, Hogan Lovells US LLP

Bryan Nese, Mayer Brown LLP

Jessica T. Nyman, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Katherine E. Pappas, Miller & Chevalier Chartered

Elizabeth R. Park, Latham & Watkins LLP

Julia Post, Covington & Burling LLP

Jessica A. Rebarber, Dentons US LLP

Timothy W. Riffe, Fish & Richardson P.C.

Benjamin Shapiro, Deloitte

Catie Ventura, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Ben Wolfert, Bates White Economic Consulting

Melissa Wiley, Chair
Jessica Abrahams
John T. Bentivoglio
Thomas N. Bulleit
H. Guy Collier, Past Co-chair
Joseph S. Conti
Wayne R. Curtis
Renee DeSilva
Donna Donlon
Ona Alston Dosunmu
A. Patrick Doyle
Janet Eakes
Evan R. Farber
Joseph C. Figini
Vicki Scheer Foster, Past Co-chair
Mary Giliberti
Wendy Goldberg

Justin Gray

Nina Gross

Michael N. Harreld

Anthony Herman

Sharon Gibson Judge

Leslie Kiernan



Ed Lazere
May Liang

Claire M. Maddox
James Marsh, Founder
Margaret J. McKinney
Kenneth Noyes
Sylvia Pearson
Robert A. Peck
Alan A. Pemberton
Charles F. (Rick) Rule
Theodore D. Segal
Nancy Sidamon-Eristoff

Page Lane Smith

Catharine E. Snowdon

Jean Steele

Julia Tolkan

Mariella Trager

Diane Weinroth

Gloria Wilder

Deborah A. Wilson

Peter L. Winik