Since I took my first pro bono school discipline case as a 29-year-old volunteer lawyer for the new Children’s Law Center in 1987, through my years on the Law Center board, the Council for Children board, and the Council for Children’s Rights board, the Council’s mission of standing up beside individual children in need and speaking up for all children in our community has been the constant center of my civic life. I am honored now to serve on the front lines with the rest of the Council’s staff.
But my new job as Executive Director is not about me, and I plan for “I” to be absent from my future notes to you.
Like every job at the Council, my job is about helping all of the children in our community to grow up safe, healthy and educated, so each child can find a path to success. It is about helping a child of poverty being disciplined for acting out in school because she lacks the glasses she needs to see her lessons. It is about helping a child of affluence find services to make the transition back to his family after treatment in a mental health facility. It is about helping a child arrested for a first offense after making a bad judgment about following the wrong people. It is about helping children caught between divorcing parents find stability and support. It is about finding the gaps these children fall through in the systems serving them, and it is about helping the community find the will and the way to close those gaps.
As the fable goes: We wade into the river to pull out as many in peril as we can, and we go upstream trying to stop them from falling in.
We cannot do it alone. We need you. We need you to contribute. We need you to volunteer. We need you to add your voices to ours encouraging our community’s leaders to serve our children better. We need you to help us hold them accountable. And we need you to celebrate with us each leader who comes through for our children and every child who accepts help onto a better path.
Perhaps one day all of us on the Council staff will have no jobs because our community raises all of our children safely, with the best health care and the finest education. Imagine the possibilities.
That day has not yet come, but now I get to go to work every day with people dedicated to those possibilities. Who would not be excited to have that privilege? Thank you.