National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) Executive Director Jesse Hahnel is stepping down after 14 years with the organization, including seven as leader of the Oakland-based center that advocates on behalf of young people in the nation’s child welfare, youth justice and immigration systems.
“He has transformed NCYL into an important part of the civil-rights movement and into an organization that amplifies youth power, dismantles systemic racism and other inequities, and works to create a world in which every young person has a full and fair opportunity to realize the future they envision,” National Center for Youth Law Board President Jason Okonofua wrote in an email announcing Hahnel’s departure this week.
Founded in 1971, the organization has long been known for its impact litigation, using class-action lawsuits to reform education, child welfare, immigration and youth justice systems. Under Hahnel, Okonofua said the National Center for Youth Law “won dozens of impact litigation cases in state and federal court, transforming systems that impact young people and establishing new rights for young people under the U.S. Constitution.”
That includes two recent efforts in Kansas and Washington. In 2021, Washington state child welfare officials settled with the National Center for Youth Law and other advocates after they sued over the high number of foster youth left to sleep in offices, hotels and the cars of social workers. And Kansas agreed in 2020 to provide a greater array of housing and mental health services to foster youth after a lawsuit launched by the organization identified the high rates of homelessness and placement changes among young people in care.
The National Center of Youth Law is kicking off a search to find Hahnel’s replacement. More information and the job posting can be found here. The salary for the position is $305,000.