MoForever Alumni News - Winter 2019

19 | MoForever Winter 2019 ALUMNI UPDATE PRO BONO More than 16 million children in the United States live below the poverty line, with 7.4 million of those children living in extreme poverty. Many nonprofit agencies work diligently to prevent the devastating outcomes linked to childhood poverty. But the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) stands out from other child welfare organizations because it works to improve the systems of care that serve hundreds of thousands of children. NCYL was established in 1970 to undertake impact litigation on behalf of “delinquent youth confined in horrible places.” The organization’s vivid terminology has changed since then, but not its work. NCYL’s lawyers continue to engage in targeted litigation and legislative advocacy intended to precipitate system-wide changes and improve policies that help children in need. Today, NCYL’s annual budget of about $10 million is funded by state and county grants, lawyers’ fees, and charitable foundations such as The Morrison & Foerster Foundation. The Center also relies heavily on individual contributors to continue its work in children’s legal advocacy. MoFo partner Jack Londen serves on the NCYL board of directors, and MoFo’s pro bono team is also a strong partner in NCYL’s transformational work. So it is not surprising that two of the 30 lawyers at NCYL are MoFo alumni. Alumni Leecia Welch, senior director of child welfare and legal advocacy, and Seth Galanter, senior director for strategic advocacy, work daily in one of the only legal advocacy organizations in the country that transforms systems serving children using broad-scale litigation. Here, Leecia and Seth share pivotal moments and influential factors that have moved them forward on their journeys to transform children’s services and improve the lives of vulnerable youth. Leecia Welch grew up understanding better than most the damage that can happen to children who lack protection and opportunities to thrive. The daughter of a social worker, Leecia says that meeting kids who were in the foster care system and understanding their challenges had an indelible impact on her desire to make a difference, and her decisions to pursue a legal career in ADVOCATING FOR HOLISTIC CHILD-WELFARE SYSTEMS