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

Juvenile Law Center 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 justice systems.

Recipients of the Leadership Prize are leading lights in the field whose inspirational careers have served as beacons for the next generation of advocates. Their work has substantially improved the lives of our most vulnerable youth. Awardees are advocates who have changed the field of children’s rights through a lifetime of work on behalf of youth in the child welfare or justice systems or through a landmark contribution with enduring significance. 

The inaugural recipient, Juvenile Law Center Co-Founder Robert Schwartz, not only brought Juvenile Law Center to national and international prominence over the course of his 40 years of leadership, he also helped develop the nascent field of children’s law, inspiring thousands of children’s rights advocates working nationwide. Today, Juvenile Law Center is recognized both nationally and internationally for its expertise as a trailblazer in the field of children’s rights law.

Congratulations to the 2017 Leadership Prize Winners!

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

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, families, and communities.

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. Her work has been rightly lauded by publications like the New York Times and Village Voice.


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.

Learn more about Leadership Prize winners >>

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



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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

Support Juvenile Law Center

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