Join us on May 18th to meet the newest member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Lindsey P. Horvath, of the Third Supervisorial District. During our time together, Supervisor Horvath will share her priorities for child and family well-being and her hopes for a thriving partnership with philanthropy.
Our meeting will also focus on the growing momentum for pre-petition legal advocacy models, which provide legal services to parents who would otherwise be unable to afford counsel. In May of 2022, Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis brought forth the Advancing a Countywide Pre-Petition Advocacy Model for Child Welfare motion. Since that time, an LA County team of legal services organizations, parents with lived experience, and national experts have worked to develop a model that will aid families facing a DCFS investigation. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the emergent LA County model, as well as existing programs led by LA Dependency Lawyers and Children’s Law Center of California, and- of course, opportunities for philanthropic impact.
Supervisor, Third District, LA County Board of Supervisors
Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on November 8, 2022 after serving as a West Hollywood City Councilmember and the longest consecutively-serving Mayor. Supervisor Horvath’s career has been defined by tackling the hardest problems, building diverse coalitions, and delivering results for her community.
Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath made history as the youngest woman to ever be elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She is the first millennial, and currently the only renter to serve on the Board, bringing a much-needed perspective to LA County leadership.
In addition to her work as a Councilwoman and Mayor, Supervisor Horvath previously served in a number of roles, including: President of the California Contract Cities Association (CCCA); Board Member for CalCities (formerly the League of California Cities); Board Member for the National League of Cities (NLC); President of Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) for the National League of Cities; Chair of the Contract Cities Liability Trust Fund Claims Board & Oversight Committee; and Executive Committee Member and Legislative & Regulatory Chair for CleanPower Alliance of Southern California. Supervisor Horvath received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management & Fundraising from UCLA Extension. She resides in West Hollywood with her dog, Winston.
Youth and Family Well-being Deputy, Office of Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath
Lizzie Shuster serves as Supervisor Horvath’s Youth and Family Well-being Deputy where her portfolio includes Department of Children and Family Services, First 5 LA, Early Childhood and Education, Education, Domestic Violence, Child Support Services, and the Youth Commission. Prior to joining Supervisor Horvath’s team, she served as Associate Director for the LA Center for Strategic Partnerships, leading the Center’s Youth Development and Empowerment work and working with partners to identify, build, and advance joint initiatives to better serve youth and families throughout Los Angeles County.
Lizzie has both private sector and political experience, formerly serving in the Office of Scheduling and Advance for President Barack Obama and working at Facing History and Ourselves, a major educational nonprofit organization. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Bates College. She is a proud resident of the Third District where she lives with her husband and rescue dog.
Directing Attorney, Children's Rights, Public Counsel
Sharon Balmer Cartagena (she/her) is the Directing Attorney of Public Counsel’s Children’s Rights Project. Growing up in Reading, PA, infamous for being the poorest city in the United States, Sharon saw up close how income equity, housing and school segregation, school-based criminalization, and racial disparities in child welfare devastate generations of children, youth, and families. Sharon is a 2007 graduate of Fordham University School of Law and a 2006 graduate of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Work. Since graduating, Sharon has directly represented children, youth, and families on a variety of legal issues, including family law, probate guardianships, access to public benefits, education rights, and other legal issues that destabilize families and push them toward the door of child welfare. In her current role, Sharon builds on her 16 years of direct practice expertise to inform local, state, and national policy advocacy initiatives, particularly focused on the front end of the child welfare system.
Preventive Legal Advocacy Fellow, Barton Child Law & Policy Center
Emilie Cook is the Preventive Legal Advocacy Fellow at Emory University School of Law’s Barton Child Law & Policy Center. With the support of the Barton Center and Casey Family Programs, Emilie works with multi-disciplinary teams across the country to promote and support programs that engage in the provision of high quality legal advocacy and upstream support services to address social determinants of health and the effects of poverty, systemic racism, and other forms of discrimination and oppression that harm families and lead to unnecessary child welfare system involvement. Before joining the Barton Center in 2022, Emilie spent seven years representing parents and children in dependency proceedings in rural Georgia, and served as circuit guardian ad litem for the Ocmulgee Juvenile Court and Ocmulgee Family Drug Treatment Court Panels. Emilie is a passionate proponent of preventive legal advocacy and its capacity to improve outcomes for children and families.
Executive Director, Children's Law Center of California
Leslie Starr Heimov, Executive Director, has been with Children's Law Center of California (CLC) since 1992. She began her career at CLC as a staff attorney, providing direct representation to parents and children in the dependency system, and later moved to a supervising attorney position. In 2004 Heimov became CLC’s first Policy Director, responsible for CLC's legislative and policy agendas. Ms. Heimov has worked tirelessly to promote best practices for legal representation and improve outcomes for children and their families in the child welfare system.
During her tenure as Executive Director, CLC expanded its programs to include representation of children in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Placer counties utilizing a multidisciplinary model of representation where dependency attorneys work as part of a team of in-house social workers, case managers, peer advocates, survivors, mental health, education, dual status and immigration experts and more.
She co-leads California’s CSEC Action Team, serves as President of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counsel for Children, and is a founding member of the Family Justice Initiative – a collaborative effort to ensure high quality multi-disciplinary representation for all children and parents involved with the child welfare system across the United States.
Ms. Heimov is also a founding member R.I.S.E. High, a project based real world high school, for youth who are disconnected from school, which in September of 2016 was one of 10 high schools nationwide selected by Lorene Powell Jobs and the Emerson foundation to be an XQ Superschool.
Senior Children and Human Services Deputy Children and Human Services Deputy for Supervisor Janice Hahn, BOS
Maral V. Karaccusian (she/her) is a public servant who is deeply committed to the advancement of progressive policies that defend and increase opportunities for marginalized people, children, older adults, and current and former foster youth.
She currently serves as the senior children and human services policy deputy for Supervisor Janice Hahn, where she focuses on developing and implementing policies for early care and education, child welfare, domestic violence, social services, issues pertaining to older adults, and people with disabilities; while focusing on prevention services and ultimately working to ensure that Los Angeles County's services are reaching those who need it the most.
Prior to joining the Supervisor's office, Maral worked for Congressmember Karen Bass where she served as district director. She has worked in the field as a residential counselor, educational advocate, has taught life skills to transitional age youth who have been part of the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, and has worked as a youth advocate. Working in the field in these various roles and as a social worker, Maral saw firsthand how policies impact children, youth, families, and adults throughout Los Angeles.
Maral holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently serves as a member of the Center for Nonprofit Management Board and has served on the GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society Board
Senior Director, Casey Family Programs
Justin Lee is Senior Director of Strategic Consulting for Los Angeles County at Casey Family Programs, the nation's largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America. In his role as Senior Director of Strategic Consulting, Justin manages five-sector partnerships across Los Angeles County to improve the lives of children, families, and communities.
Parent Partner II / Parent Hopeline, Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers
Pari Lucero held a respected career in accounting for over a decade. In 2016 she joined Vista Del Mar Wraparound as a Parent Partner. She graduated from LA’s first DMH sponsored training consortium. She studied directly under Dr Ruth Beaglehold at the Center for Nonviolent Parenting and Education. In May 2020 she accepted an offer from Dennis Smeal and joined the LADL team as a seasoned Parent Partner II. She holds certificates in Parenting Facilitation and Domestic Violence Advocacy. She sits on the service committees of LA vs Hate, LA Hospitals and Institutions of AA and LADL’s “Know Your Rights Committee”. She carries a strong message of hope to parents struggling with DCFS investigations. By consulting often with her LADL supervisor, offering parents confidentiality and information about investigation processes, sharing her lived experiences where appropriate, compassion and natural empathy. She has successfully mitigated the department’s concerns for numerous DCFS investigations. She feels Divine Grace has provided her with this opportunity.
Executive Director, Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers
Dennis Smeal is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and the U.S.C. Gould School of Law. He has practiced Dependency Law since 1996, and worked at Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc. since its inception in 2006, as a Staff Attorney, Senior Attorney, Supervising Attorney, Law Firm Director and, since January 2, 2020, as Executive Director, serving that organization’s 275 employees as they assist their clients who currently exceed 16,000 on any given day. He has developed an intensive six-week one-on-one training for new Parent's Attorneys, has conducted Dependency Law workshops, trained other L.A. legal non-profits and guest lectured at law schools. He is a produced playwright, a proud Dad, and a two-term PTA President.