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RISE Coordinator Valarie Slater Wins Fellowship


Rachael Deane
Legal Director, JustChildren Program, Legal Aid Justice Center
804-521-7304 |

Fellowship Supports Juvenile Justice Reform Advocates of Color

Richmond, Va., September 29, 2017 —Valerie Slater, attorney and RISE for Youth coalition coordinator at the Legal Aid Justice Center, has been has been chosen as a fellow in the Youth Justice Leadership Institute. The Institute is a prestigious national fellowship program for juvenile justice reform advocates run by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) in Washington, DC. Applications to the year-long leadership development program are competitive, and only ten people are selected each year.

Ms. Slater coordinates the Reinvest in Supportive Environments (RISE) for Youth coalition, a statewide, nonpartisan campaign coalition with the central goal of developing community-based alternatives to youth incarceration.  She is a former staff attorney at the disAbility Law Center of Virginia and a graduate of the University of Richmond School of Law, where she participated in the school’s Children’s Defense and Education Rights clinics.

“Valerie is an exceptional leader who amplifies the voices of youth and communities of color to reform Virginia’s juvenile justice system,” said Rachael Deane, the legal director of the JustChildren program at Legal Aid Justice Center. “This fellowship will enhance the work of the RISE Coalition to demand alternatives to incarcerating youth in Virginia.”

“Youth justice can only be equitable when affected youth and families are a part of shaping what that system of justice looks like,” said Valerie Slater. “Overwhelmingly, impacted youth and families are people of color. I am honored to have this opportunity to grow as a leader as we work to tear down barriers and build opportunities for impacted communities to assert their power to help transform juvenile justice in Virginia.”

Although communities of color are heavily impacted by juvenile justice policy, advocates of color are surprisingly underrepresented in advocacy leadership. The Youth Justice Leadership Institute seeks to address this imbalance by offering fellowships to develop the leadership and advocacy skills of people of color who are in the youth justice field. During the year-long program, Institute fellows increase their knowledge about the juvenile justice system’s structures, reform needs, and effective advocacy and organizing techniques to achieve system change. They are also matched with experienced advocates, who mentor them over the course of the year. 

Photos, videos, and more information about the Institute and previous fellows can be found here:


The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights injustice in the lives of individual Virginians while rooting out exploitative policies and practices that keep people in poverty. LAJC uses impact litigation, community organizing, and policy advocacy to solve urgent problems in areas such as housing, education, civil rights, immigration, healthcare and consumer finance. LAJC’s primary service areas are Charlottesville, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Petersburg, but the effects of their work are felt statewide.

RISE for Youth is a statewide, nonpartisan campaign coalition whose central goal is to develop a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration that will keep juvenile justice system involved youth closer to their homes and support networks while making our communities safer.

The National Juvenile Justice Network is composed of coalitions, organizations and alumni of the Youth Justice Leadership Institute across 34 states and the District of Columbia, all of whom advocate for a fairer justice system for children and teens.

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