“A passion for social justice and standing up for those who need a voice is what led me to pursue a career as a public interest attorney.”

Patti Tutone, JD
Director of Custody Advocacy

Patti Tutone has been a staff attorney at Council for Children’s Rights since 2016, becoming Director of Custody Advocacy in 2019. Before joining the Council, Patti was an attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina from 2006-2015, representing myriad clients including those who were victims of domestic violence, facing eviction or loss of Section 8 vouchers, or denied unemployment benefits. She was recently awarded Women Lawyers of Charlotte’s 2019 Woman of the Year. Born in Staten Island, NY, Patti has called Charlotte home since 1992. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. with Distinction in journalism and mass communication and a J.D. with Honors. She values her close relationships with family and enjoys a tight-knit group of friends. She stays busy with Jazzercise and her supper club, book clubs, game night crew, and trivia group.

Thank you for your continued support of Council for Children’s Rights as we serve the children in our community. The Custody Advocacy Program (CAP) team, alongside everyone else at the Council, continues to work tirelessly to ensure that children’s legal rights are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since we last checked in with you, our efforts haven’t slowed. In fact, we’re busier than ever as we adapt to this new way of doing business.

Here’s just a glimpse of what we’ve been up to these past several weeks:


As much as I miss my peers, working alone has forced me to ‘woman up’ on my technology skills.

I’m a long way from my daughter’s IT savvy, but not so dependent on others when computer blips happen. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!

Ann Sanders

Staff Attorney

Ann is drafting motions and orders at home to efficiently and skillfully achieve case goals, and she was one of the many brave attorneys maintaining 6 feet of distance in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in April, seeking an emergency order on behalf of her child-client.

I’m having Zoom meetings with child-clients. Turns out you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

Speaking of dog, my client heard Brody barking and wanted to meet him.

Linda Hurlbert

Staff Attorney

Linda is using her reasoned judgment, positive nature, and finely-honed legal skills to negotiate settlements virtually, while always making sure to check in with her child-clients to ensure they feel safe and heard.

It seems growing up playing video games has finally paid off!

I’m using my computer skills to make sure our clients are still being fully represented and their voices heard.

Joshua Lee

Staff Attorney

Josh doesn’t treat this as a 9-5 job, and he’s put in more than a few late nights this past month, zealously advocating for children in crisis, coming up with creative solutions to complex problems, and not backing down until he’s convinced parents to do what’s best for their kids.

Working remotely each day has taught me how to wear my ‘Mom hat’ and my ‘lawyer hat’ at the same time.

While he may be a little distracting during a Zoom meeting, this little guy sure does remind me why advocating for kids is such rewarding work.

Bridget Vanevenhoven

Staff Attorney

Despite having an energetic toddler at home who would love all of her attention, Bridget somehow finds the time to collaborate with volunteers, lend a hand to her team, and most importantly, give each and every one of her child-clients the immense care and attention they truly deserve.

Many parents are unable to download, scan and email needed documents back to us, so I’ve arranged to both deliver and retrieve documents in our building lobby, while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask, of course.

Beth Mackinem

Program Assistant

Beth is the first point of contact for parties, and she goes above and beyond to get everything needed to get started on a case. Whether it’s finding ways to safely retrieve documents from parties with limited technological access, or scheduling virtual conferences for our attorneys, she takes on any task we throw her way with a smile, and she’s always there for our clients.

In trying to make the best of a difficult situation, I’ve found comfort in the quote, ‘Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.’

Heather McDonough

Legal Support and Database Manager

Heather is the glue that holds us all together. Not only does she juggle multiple screens, she’s also always juggling countless tasks – hunting down records, connecting with and assigning volunteers to cases, and being everyone’s go-to person for questions or support. We simply could not do this work without her.

While we’re not seeing each other in the office right now, our team is in constant communication and continue to learn from each other and push each other to be better.

I’m truly humbled to lead this amazing group of people!

Patti Tutone

Director of Custody Advocacy

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the CAP Team in action. I’m so proud of this group of advocates, and all they have done to adapt to and make the best of a challenging situation. These dedicated, essential employees are fighting the good fight daily.

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