Patricia Gladden: A Decade of Putting Justice In Action

Pat Gladden has been involved with the Moran Center for over 10 years! After becoming exposed to the Moran Center (then called the Evanston Community Defender) in 2008 while working on a project for the Evanston Community Foundation, Pat jumped in with both feet in 2009 when she assumed the role of Board President and, in partnership with Executive Director Naria Santa Lucia, worked to evolve, grow, and modernize the little-known agency into what is currently known as the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy. Pat has continued to guide and lead the organization, serving as Board Secretary since 2013 and on the Strategic Planning Committee since 2014. Pat has never shied away from “going deep” to pursue justice.

From a young age, Pat recalls always having a strong sense of justice. As an “Army brat,” Pat’s family moved frequently and lived in far-flung places such as Taiwan and Alaska. As a young adult, she served in the Peace Corps in Chile. Inevitably, these impactful experiences shaped her ability to make astute observations, empathize with people, and embrace diversity.

After receiving her J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1978, Pat spent the bulk of her career at Washington National Insurance Company, serving as Corporate Counsel, Secretary, and Vice President, and Vice President of Human Resources for the Employee Benefits Division. During this time she also worked as an attorney for the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center, handling asylum cases. After leaving the company in 1993, Pat focused her energies and legal talents on pursuing school reform and assisting families and children with guardianship issues. These pursuits, in turn, led her to the Moran Center where she fully embraced the holistic model of providing youth with integrated legal aid and social work services.

Ten years later, Pat’s enthusiasm for the Moran Center is sustained in equal parts by her passion for the mission and her respect for the staff and her fellow board members. Pat says, “I admire the staff and what they do. All of them have good hearts and care a lot about the kids, even though it can be heartbreaking work. The board is committed, easy to work with, and our time together feels like time spent with friends.”

Fellow Board Member and Treasurer, Val Weiss, works with Pat on the Strategic Planning committee, which is currently in the midst of its second strategic planning process. According to Val, “Pat is deeply engaged in the strategic planning process.  Her vast experience, thoughtful approach, and sense of humor are invaluable to our team. She makes the process fun!  We’re grateful that she’s willing to give so generously of her time.”

When asked how the Moran Center has impacted the Evanston community, Pat suggests, “As someone who has lived in Evanston off and on for 48 years, I have seen the positive feeling that people have once they become acquainted with the important work that is being done. It makes us a more caring community… Given the cruelty and disregard that we see directed toward the poor and the stranger from our current national leadership, anything we can do to help families overcome their challenges is a worthwhile pursuit.”

Pat is a life-long learner and continues to expand her horizons by travelling and taking classes. In her “free time,” Pat enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and is thrilled that two of them are currently attending Evanston schools.

Access to Mental Health Care

Improving access to mental is a keystone of our “going deep” strategy. During the past couple of years, we have developed several key partnerships that are now primed to create a network of supports by which we can address the gap that persists for low-income minority youth who need access to urgent psychiatric care. In alignment with the efforts of Evanston’s Cradle to Career Health, Wellness, & Safety Action Team, the Evanston Health Department, and the Mental Health Board, we seek to catalyze Evanston health and mental health providers to develop innovative strategies to close the mental health care gap. This community-b ased focus on mental health care creates an environment in which meaningful synergies can be realized.

To further deepen and strengthen the mental health care safety net, last year we established a partnership with Erie Family Health Center and launched the Access to Mental Health project. This project, funded with a Responsive Grant from the Evanston Community Foundation, will put the wheels of mental health justice into action for Evanston families by providing coordinated care for urgent psychiatric consultation.  

Moran Center clients, like many disconnected families in Evanston, are challenged by complex social and economic determinants of health, including poverty, homelessness, racism, and trauma. While our social workers provide quality counseling and support, some clients need immediate psychiatric services for stabilization, medication consultation, and monitoring. Barriers to accessing such services are well documented — long wait lists, lack of insurance, few psychiatrists who accept Medicaid, and poor follow-up.


As one example, a recent Moran Center client who was in acute mental health distress was hospitalized six times in five different psychiatric facilities in the last six months without any coordination of care, only to be discharged after a few days with no psychiatric follow-up for medication management and no continuity of care plan. Cuts in state funding have caused many mental health providers to reduce services or close programs, or limit the number of clients they can see, causing long wait times and a patchwork of care.

This is clearly a crisis on a national and state level that warrants the attention of policy makers, health care systems, and providers. But meanwhile, we are taking action on a local level by going deep to create linkages, partnerships, and pathways to help our clients get the help they need.

Diving Deep Into 2018

From Executive Director and Juvenile Justice Attorney Patrick Keenan-Devlin:

Patrick with Common and Moran Center Board Member Jonathan Samuels.

I was fortunate enough to kick off 2018 by spending a special day at the Kennedy Forum of Illinois’ Annual Meeting. “Bending Toward Justice: A Summit for Mental Health Equity” was a powerful day of inquiry, exploring the intersection of justice, mental health, and education. 

There were many fabulous speakers (Common, Michael Phelps, Patrick Kennedy, to name a few), but I must say that I learned the most from some of the less famous voices at the Forum. These were the voices of individuals who have experienced firsthand the equity gaps in mental health justice, criminal justice, and education justice. Stories such as Angelica Diamond Garcia who, after being raped at age 15, began engaging in risky behavior that ultimately resulted in her being arrested and handcuffed in her school cafeteria. Angelica spent the next four years bouncing in and out of Illinois’ youth prison system. Fortunately, Angelica got involved with Storycatchers Theatre while she was incarcerated. Through her involvement with Storycatchers and the meaningful relationships that she developed with her teachers and coaches, Angelica is on a hopeful path of healing. Since 2011, she has acted as a spokesperson and performer for Storycatchers. Angelica’s experience should inform policymakers, inspire youth who are caught up in the system and enlighten those of us who are looking for practical ways to make a difference.

Here is a video of the panel discussion from the Kennedy Forum of Illinois:


 

I came away from the Kennedy Forum resolved to “go deep” in 2018. To go deep in understanding the complexities of mental health, trauma, brain development, and resiliency. To go deep in building partnerships so that we can provide children and their families with the supports that they need. And to go deep in advocating for youth and helping them stay in school, connected to our community, and out of any pipeline that tries to funnel them into prisons or other broken institutions. Let’s reframe the narrative around “giving kids a second chance.” Because what we are really talking about, is providing every child a FIRST chance!

Thanks for your continued support. Together, let’s go deep to put Justice In Action!

Meet Reggie

We met Reggie when he was just eight years old, making him one of our youngest clients. While his story is still evolving, we would like to share it with you because we think it illustrates how your donation to the Moran Center for Youth Advocacy puts the wheels of justice into action for youth in our community. 

After less than three years in the public school system, Reggie had received 40 disciplinary referrals. Although Reggie had an excellent attendance record and was consistently described by his teachers as smart, it was difficult for him to make connections with his classmates and his grades indicated that he was under-performing in school. Reggie’s grandmother and legal guardian, Lorna, was growing concerned. It was painful for her to see Reggie, a child who had always liked school, feeling insecure and questioning his ability to learn. Lorna reached out to the Moran Center to get Reggie the support he needed.

The Moran Center assembled an integrated team consisting of a special education attorney and a social worker. After helping Lorna navigate the complicated Medicaid and mental health care systems, Reggie received a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation and started taking medication to help with his diagnosed ADHD. We even helped Lorna with transportation and childcare arrangements so she could take Reggie to his appointments. 

Throughout 2017, the Moran Center met with school officials to negotiate a plan that addressed Reggie’s unique needs, including receiving critical help from a reading specialist. Over the summer, we partnered with Reggie’s school to provide the family with YMCA summer membership passes, Evanston beach passes, swim lessons at the YWCA, and tuition for summer camps. Reggie’s favorite part of summer was going to the beach where he reconnected with some of his classmates! 
 
As Reggie enters the 3rd grade, we will continue to assist him and his family, providing advocacy, counseling, and case management as they navigate the daunting maze of the special education and mental health care systems to ensure that Reggie receives appropriate services and support.  

Please consider a generous gift today so we can put the wheels of JUSTICE in ACTION for youth who deserve justice in the courtroom, access to the classroom, and support in the community. 

To protect client confidentiality and privacy, client names have been changed and images are not of actual clients. 

Justice League Meets Justice Challenge – Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 6, 2017

MORAN CENTER MEETS FUNDRAISING CHALLENGE

Evanston Community Foundation’s Partners for the Future Grant Supports Youth Justice

The James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy (“Moran Center”) has successfully completed a“Partners for the Future” (PFF) challenge grant from the Evanston Community Foundation (“ECF”), receiving $100,000 in matching funds. The Moran Center publicly launched the “Justice Challenge” in January 2017, asking donors to join the “Justice League” by making a commitment to close the justice gap for kids in our community. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and the Moran Center completed the terms of the matching challenge well in advance of the one-year deadline.

The Partners for the Future challenge grant is a donor-advised ECF initiative that invests in the capacity of high-performing Evanston non-profits ready to develop greater support. The challenge to the Moran Center was to raise new or increased gifts of $5,000 from individual donors; each qualified gift was then matched by ECF.

On November 1, 2017, the Moran Center hosted a celebratory luncheon at The Barn in Evanston. Executive Director, Patrick Keenan-Devlin shared with donors that the funds raised through the Partners for the Future challenge grant will go toward creating a school-based civil legal clinic, broadening access to mental health supports, and advocating for critical systemic reforms.

Moran Center Board Chair Betsy Lehman presented the Moran Center’s long-term vision of creating a “Restorative Justice” city in Evanston. “By creating safe and welcoming spaces, a sense of belonging for our youth, and advocating for community-based solutions, as opposed to pushing kids out of our schools and our community, we can restore trust, build respect, and enhance the social-emotional competencies of all Evanston residents, and most importantly, of some of our most vulnerable children and families.”

“The Partners for the Future challenge grant is intended to help organizations go to the next level in their ability to raise major gifts to realize their missions,” said Marybeth Schroeder, Vice President for Programs at ECF.  “The Moran Center board and staff did an incredible job inspiring both longtime donors and new supporters.  They’ve built a strong foundation for continued growth.”

“This challenge grant propels the Moran Center’s capacity to deliver our unique model of advocating for kids and their families by providing integrated legal representation and social work services. We are very grateful to the Evanston Community Foundation for providing us with this opportunity, and even more grateful to our ‘Justice Leaguers’ who generously supported our vision for building a more just, accessible, and supportive community for Evanston’s’ kids,” said Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Executive Director of the Moran Center.

The Moran Center’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Joi-Anissa Russell adds, “It is very compelling to offer our donors the chance to double their impact. Their generosity allows us to ‘go deeper’ in seeking equitable and just solutions for our clients.”

Photos by Rich Foreman Photography.

Directors’ Showcase: Jonathan Samuels Advocates for Local Youth

From a very early age, Jon Samuels witnessed his family’s commitment to the community.

“My parents never pushed politics but they were passionate through their work in the medical and mental health fields as well as their broader commitment to the community. They strongly believe in fairness and justice for everyone. That had a big impact on me.”

Samuels was a keen observer of electoral politics in high school and college, specifically the 1992 and 1996 Presidential campaigns. However, his true political awakening came when he took his first full-time campaign job in 1997 after meeting then congressional candidate Jan Schakowsky. At the time, Samuels was a program director with the McGaw YMCA where he was organizing expanded programming for the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy. He was part of a team that mentored a group of 5th-12th-grade students in leadership development activities and planned community service projects. The first student-led project was to march against gun violence.

“I was proud of the students for taking on such an important issue, but I expected a small crowd when we went to ETHS to kick off the march.”

“The students clearly tapped into something important to Evanston because nearly a thousand people showed up. The Evanston Police Department had to shut down Lake Street to traffic as we marched to a planned rally in Fountain Square.”

Samuels says he went to that march following the lead of his students. For him, it was a life changing event, as it was during that march that Jan Schakowsky introduced herself to Samuels and convinced him to go back to her campaign headquarters to meet her team. Reflecting on that day, Samuels said: “I had no idea that Jan would have such a profound impact on the trajectory of my life and career.  I will always count her as a member of my family.”

“It took about 3 seconds for me to realize that this person was so extraordinary that I had to recruit him to work on my campaign for Congress.” That’s when Congresswoman Schakowsky says she “kidnapped” Jon Samuels, grabbed his arm and brought him to her campaign office in the Rotary Building. She recaps that was one of the smartest moves of her life!

Samuels’ interest only grew when he moved to Washington D.C. in 1999 to work for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky during her first four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Jon then worked for me for eight years, and his skill, dedication, and effectiveness were apparent to all – eventually landing him in the White House serving as an invaluable Assistant to President Barack Obama. I was in the room when the President gave a big heartfelt farewell to Jon, extolling his virtues and accomplishments.”

Congresswoman Schakowsky said she was bursting with “motherly” pride and still is after 20 years. “For me, to meet Jon Samuels was to love him.”
  
Having been introduced to the Moran Center by current board member Adam Chiss, Samuels says, “It is an incredible honor to serve as a Board Member. I have been so thoroughly impressed with the staff, their commitment to youth in our community and their hard work and talent. It is humbling to serve alongside the other distinguished members of the board.”

Chiss feels just as humbled by Samuels and his commitment to service, “When considering prospective candidates to nominate to the Moran Center’s Board of Directors, I thought how lucky we’d be if we could successfully recruit Jon, knowing what a doer he is; knowing his passion for working towards progressive, inclusive public policies; knowing his talents in working with a range of diverse personalities and harnessing different viewpoints; and knowing he was moving back to his hometown of Evanston after nearly two decades in D.C. and was looking to get involved in a meaningful, impactful way.”     

Samuels believes that President Obama framed the importance of the Moran Center’s mission and the services it provides, as well as the need to reform our criminal justice system, best when he said:

“Justice is not only the absence of oppression-it is the presence of opportunity. Justice is making sure that every young person knows that they are special and their lives matter. Justice is living up to the common creed that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper. Justice and redemption go hand in hand.”

When asked what Samuels hoped that youth would gain in their involvement with Moran Center programs and services, Samuels shared thoughtfully, “This work is not just about the individuals it serves. Although helping young at-risk Evanston youth meet their potential is reason enough to support the Moran Center, our entire community benefits when we are able to help create better outcomes for our youth. I hope we are able to carry that message to an increasingly broader audience so that even more young people in Evanston (and beyond) and the broader community can benefit even more from the great work done by the Moran Center. The Moran Center is able to make an enormous impact with a relatively small amount of resources and the model is one that should be adopted elsewhere.”

Warehouse Concert for Cause

On July 15th, Taed Cejtin, an Evanston local, organized “Warehouse Concert for Cause” at Hammer & Pixel Studio – a videography studio on Custer Street owned by Taed’s father, Steve Cejtin. The concert – featuring six local performers with music ranging from hip-hop to blues to rap – benefited the Moran Center. Approximately 200 people attended, raising $1,500!

Warehouse performers included: Rub n’ AlcCub-J, Blake Rue, Swill, CJ the Kid 24, and Rebellious. Additional support was provided by VVR Apparel and images are courtesy of DualMind Visuals.

“The event was a huge success and I really enjoyed collaborating with everyone. We had a great turnout and people were very impressed by the talented musicians and the studio space,” Taed states. Born and raised in Evanston, Taed has always been proud of his community. “I recently graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Civil engineering. My father actually inspired me to go into engineering and got me involved in music, particularly drumming, at a very young age.” While collaborating with his friend Adam Rubman (member of Rub n’ Alc), the two came up with the idea of an event with the dual purpose of showcasing local artists as well as supporting the Evanston community. Taed says, “We wanted to give back to something that we cared about and the Moran Center immediately came to mind.” In addition to organizing and emceeing the event, Taed played drums with Rub n’ Alc at the Warehouse Concert for Cause.

“Seeing young people who have experienced first-hand the challenges of navigating childhood to adulthood then reach out and help other youth in the community is really inspiring,” said Moran Center Executive Director Patrick Keenan-Devlin. “We need this kind of youth-led activism and leadership to invoke systemic change and create a more equitable community.”

Nathan Brieva sums up how he felt attending the event, “The overall enriching experience left a few hundred Evanston peers in awe of what can be accomplished as a group.”

Photos provided by Paul Elliot with DualMind Visuals.

 

Creating Trauma-Informed Space

June 9th was our annual Moran Center Clean Up Day. Fresh out of Trauma Workshops, we approached our Clean Up Day with an eye toward creating spaces in which our clients could feel safe. We freshened up our conference room, front office, and social work offices with a calming, warm paint color. We rearranged furniture to promote a sense of personal safety and privacy. We de-cluttered our work spaces to ensure a sense of order and respect. 

Of course, like all good things, we could not have accomplished all of this on our own. We were joined by a dedicated team of volunteers from Accuity. For the past three years, Accuity has supported our mission by providing clean-up volunteers, office furniture, graphic design services and IT support. We are lucky to have them as our friends and neighbors. 

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Community

How can we as a community stop punishing children who have lived punishing lives? Everyone – whether you are a teacher, counselor, coach, parent, classmate, school safety officer, police officer, lawyer, judge, or community member – can benefit from understanding that children who have experienced trauma have learned adaptive behaviors that are “normal” given their circumstances, but often times do not serve them well in school or in other settings. 

“Remembering Trauma” is a 16-minute film highlighting the life of a traumatized youth from his early childhood into older adolescence. The film illustrates the impact of complex trauma and the potential for misdiagnosis across various service systems.

This film was developed by the Center for Child Trauma Assessment, Services, and Interventions (CCTASI) in collaboration with partners from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and creator of the ReMoved film series, Nathanael Matanick.

NOTE: “Remembering Trauma” is inspired by a true story. It contains adult language and includes scenes with family violence and sexual assault, which may be upsetting to watch. It is strongly recommended that you view this film in the presence of a trusted adult that can offer support as needed.

The Invisible Backpack of Childhood Trauma

By Moran Center Executive Director Patrick Keenan-Devlin

Although the school year has just ended and many students have stashed their backpacks away for the summer, I have been thinking a lot about backpacks and what kids bring to school with them every day. I am not referring to books and school supplies. Rather, I am referring to the emotional challenges, distractions, anxieties, triggers, and mental health issues that many kids in our community carry with them every day as a result of experiencing childhood trauma. Imagine the weight of that on the small shoulders of a child!

Consider these startling statistics from SAMHSA:

  • 26% of children in the U.S. will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four.
  • Young children exposed to five or more significant adverse experiences in the first three years of childhood face a 76% likelihood of having one or more delays in their language, emotional, or brain development.
  • Youth in detention have experienced an average of six traumatic experiences before detention.

If we can understand the impact of adverse childhood experiences and visualize the weightiness of living with chronic trauma, perhaps we can shift our thinking from, “Why is this child misbehaving? Why can’t they make better choices?” to thinking, “I wonder what experiences have informed this behavior? How can we create an environment that supports their social-emotional learning and allows them to reset their triggers?” 

The Moran Center staff, along with several board members, recently completed three custom workshops on the topic of providing trauma-informed care. These workshops provided a framework for us to apply to every aspect of our work — from our phone interactions, to our intake processes, to how we present cases in court, to how we counsel children and advise parents, and even to our physical office space. 

Thanks to a generous grant from the Evanston Community Foundation, we were able to tap the expertise of several thought leaders and practitioners in childhood trauma:

John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County:
Marjorie Fujara, Pediatrician and Chair, Division of Child Protective Services

Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Center for Childhood Resilience:
Colleen Cicchetti, Ph.D., Executive Director
Tara Hill, Ph.D., Psychologist
Claire Coyne, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology

Partnership for Resilience:
Thomas Lenz, Coordinator

Pictured to the left is me along with Moran Center Deputy Director Kristen Kennard, Colleen Cicchetti, Tom Lenz, and Tara Hill at our workshop hosted by Creative Spaces.

Read on to learn more about how trauma-informed justice changes everything by improving outcomes for children.