Advocates for marginalized groups talk frequently about centering the voices of communities and other stakeholders to ensure that those most closely affected by the proposed policies drive reform. Nevertheless, those same advocates often lack a clear plan for how to engage with those stakeholders in a way that allows for a true exercise of power in decision-making. For young people involved in the foster care system, arguably among the most marginalized and disenfranchised of groups, advocates must overcome additional obstacles including societal conditioning that adults are typically in a better position to know what is best for young people. Betsy Fordyce, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, will share her organization’s systematic process for building and sharing power among transition-aged foster youth mobilizing for Child Welfare System reform in Colorado. She will describe a youth empowerment framework the organization uses to guide their thinking and will then explain the steps that organizers take to lift the voices of foster youth around the state in pursuit of legislative and other policy advocacy on behalf of their community, providing a blueprint for others to emulate.
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 12:30-1:15 PM
Lunch provided. RSVP here to help with food ordering.
Betsy Fordyce has served as the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center since early 2020. Originally joining the organization in 2008, she has worn many hats in advocating on behalf of youth in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and homelessness arenas. Betsy brings an array of experience in direct legal representation, teaching and training, and legislative and policy advocacy. She represented Colorado youth as a guardian ad litem in dependency & neglect and delinquency cases, as well as in the appellate courts. Betsy initially began her legal career as a law clerk for Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court. She later served as a staff attorney managing the national training program at the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), before returning to the Children’s Law Center in 2016 as the Director of the Youth Empowerment and Legal Advocacy Program.
Betsy teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and is also a trainer for the Red Book Training Course with the NACC. During the 2018-2019 academic year, Harvard Law School awarded Betsy the Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship, recognizing exemplary lawyers who have distinguished themselves in public interest work and who can assist students who are considering similar career paths. The Villanova Law Alumni Association recently recognized Betsy with its Award for Public Service.
Betsy is a graduate of Villanova University School of Law and the University of Notre Dame.
Co-sponsored by: Advocates for Education, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Disability Law Students Association, First Class, La Alianza, LAMBDA, and the Street Justice Coalition.