Juvenile Law Center Names Child Welfare Expert Susan Mangold to Succeed Schwartz

The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center (JLC) has named Susan Mangold, a law professor with a deep background in child welfare, to serve as its second executive director. She will succeed Bob Schwartz, the organization’s co-founder, who will retire after 30 years in October.

Mangold is currently a law professor at the State University of New York’s Buffalo Law School. It is a return for Mangold, who was a staff attorney for JLC from 1987-1992.

“Sue was a star during her five years with us,” observed Schwartz. “She maintained a family court caseload, worked on policy reform, and helped shape laws to improve the lives of vulnerable children. She will be an invaluable asset to Juvenile Law Center’s team.”

“I cannot imagine a greater honor than to return to Juvenile Law Center and join the leadership team as the Executive Director,” said Mangold.  

Schwartz co-founded JLC in 1975 with its current deputy director, Marsha Levick, and has served as its executive director since 1982. Levick, who leads litigation and policy advocacy for the firm, will remain with Juvenile Law Center.

JLC’s history of litigation dates back to its involvement in Santiago v. City of Philadelphia, a class-action lawsuit about the conditions of confinement in a Philadelphia juvenile detention center.

The center’s legal docket expanded during the 1990s and again in the following decade. It filed one of several compelling briefs in the Roper v. Simmons case, the first of several U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the past decade that banned juvenile exposure to the death penalty and limited their exposure to life without parole sentences.

JLC gained significant publicity in 2009 for its involvement in the “Kids for Cash” scandal in Luzerne County, Penn., in which judges accepted kickbacks from developers interested in creating and filling a privately run juvenile detention center.

The case against judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan began with a federal prosecution related to the kickbacks, and JLC filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of youth who had been detained in the center. But the JLC had challenged the detention and incarceration practices of Ciavarella for more than ten years, well before the longtime juvenile judge had a financial motive for his decision-making.

Mangold’s expertise lies more in child welfare than juvenile justice, and it is likely that JLC will pursue more work in that sector with her at the helm. Her curriculum vitae boasts a long list of law review articles and presentations on a wealth of child welfare issues, ranging from Title IV-E flexibility and waivers to mental health and domestic violence.

“Part of our current strategic plan is reinvigorating our child welfare portfolio,” said Schwartz, in an interview with The Chronicle. “We were more well-known for that than juvenile justice 25 years ago, when Sue was with us.”

Schwartz, said the presence of Levick – who runs point on most of the center’s high-profile juvenile projects – allows JLC to expand in child welfare without putting juvenile justice on the back burner.

“Marsha will continue to lead a spectacular body of work on juvenile justice,” he said.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.