The National Center for Youth Law is bringing in a longtime fighter for child, youth and community justice as the Oakland, California-based organization’s second in command.
Shakti Belway, a graduate of Stanford University’s law school like the center’s director, Jesse Hahnel, brings with her deep experience in community law, litigation, direct representation, policy development, legislative reform and strategic mobilization.
As deputy director, Belway will help guide, plan and oversee the National Center for Youth Law’s impact litigation, policy development and advocacy, public agency partnerships, research and coalition building, while playing a key role in setting the organization’s strategy priorities.
She’s worked with a number of high-profile organizations, including the UCLA Civil Rights Project, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP, and was also a mediator for a conflict resolution firm in Santa Barbara. Before attending Stanford Law she graduated from Yale University.
Shakti’s hiring comes more than one year after one of the center’s top litigators, and a longtime child advocate Bill Grimm, died of cancer at age 69. The National Center for Youth Law, founded in 1970, helps low-income children achieve their potential by transforming the public agencies that serve them. It has achieved notable successes in juvenile justice, child welfare, health, public benefits and education rights.
The center has been led by Hahnel since 2015, the year that its longtime leader John O’Toole retired after 35 years with the organization. The center’s recent litigation includes action on the detention of immigrant youth who could be placed with relatives in the country, child welfare settlements in Missouri and Kansas, and a lawsuit against Sacramento over alleged discriminatory punishment practices.