21 Jun An Important Transition at TeamChild
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Message from Annie Lee
When Pat Arthur, Simmie Baer and Christie Hedman called me 27 years ago to do education law training for an attorney in a brand new project called TeamChild, I didn’t know it would lead me to quit my legal aid job two years later to join Elizabeth Calvin and Rosey Thurman in launching TeamChild. At that time, we didn’t know what the future held, we just agreed to take those first steps, together. We couldn’t have gone as far or long without tremendous support from leaders in public defense, civil legal aid, and the community throughout our journey. The list is long and growing!
Now, after 24 years with TeamChild, twenty of those as its Executive Director, I’m writing to let you know that I’ll be leaving TeamChild at the end of 2021. Words can’t capture the deep gratitude I have for the opportunity to spend all these years working with and alongside friends and colleagues – a group of tenacious, fearless, brilliant advocates who embrace and embody the idea that young people have dreams that are worth fighting for and justice requires that they be seen and heard.
TeamChild is ready for the next chapter of advocacy for young people in the broader movement for racial equity and youth justice. Our staff are dedicated, passionate and no nonsense when it comes to equity, anti-racism, and justice for young people. They lead with strong, shared values and forge relationships that move our collective practices forward. Our board is energized and committed. Our financial health has never been better, with strong reserves and new revenue already secured for growing our impact. There hasn’t been a better moment to make space for new leadership to guide TeamChild into its next chapter.
For me, I’m ready, too, to leave this dream job and turn to my next chapter, the beginning of which includes taking time to focus on family, reflect deeply on what has been an incredibly fulfilling 24 years at TeamChild, and refuel for the next challenge. There’s no question that I’ll miss TeamChild and the day to day labor of love and respect for each other and the work.
TeamChild was born out of the crisis of the 1990’s when the criminalization of young people, especially youth of color, overfilled county detention centers and state juvenile prisons. Thousands of young people each year were scarred with a “juvenile criminal rap sheet”, encumbered with legal financial debt, and locked out of education and employment opportunities. Over the past 25 years, TeamChild staff have blazed trails and supported transformations – walking alongside young people in individual cases and advocating for broader change across the juvenile legal system. In this work, we’ve been steadfast in rejecting the premise that incarceration and punishment make communities safer. We’ve been ardent advocates for centering and including youth in the decisions that impact them and the trajectory of their lives.
We have come a long way together. We’ve seen a steady, significant reduction in the number of young people who get entangled and incarcerated in the juvenile legal system. We’ve worked with our public defense partners to improve the access to and quality of juvenile defense. We’ve joined with community partners to put an end to open-ended expulsions, expand the ability for 90% of juvenile court referrals to be diverted, increase public investments into community-led approaches, and end the use of youth detention for non-criminal issues. We haven’t always seen the full staircase with each step, but we’ve always been willing to take it.
Our times demand us to come together to take the next bold steps towards racial and youth justice. I know you’ll continue to support TeamChild as we stand with our clients and communities to advance the work we started so many years ago.
TeamChild’s staff and board have been collaborating on the process to recruit TeamChild’s next Executive Director. While my last day isn’t until the end of the year, I will be taking a short summer leave starting July 1st and will return in September through the end of 2021 to support staff and board in these transitions. I look forward to connecting with you in the coming months, so please reach out!
A Message from Rosa Peralta
I’m writing on behalf of TeamChild’s board of directors to share our gratitude for Annie’s two plus decades stewarding TeamChild’s mission and for her leadership in advancing justice for young people in Washington state and around the country. While it seems nearly impossible to imagine TeamChild without Annie, we know the organization is bigger than any one person and we are excited about its capacity and its potential. Annie is leaving at a time when TeamChild is in an incredibly strong position, with staff and board aligned in our collective vision, a healthy financial position, increasing capacities to represent youth through individual and policy advocacy, and a demonstrated commitment to putting our anti-racism and equity values into practice. We also appreciate the deep and wide support we have from all of you — our community of clients, families, stakeholders, colleagues and supporters– to help us with this transition and in advancing our mission.
Staff and board have begun the process of looking for a new Executive Director. We are working together to define the attributes necessary to lead this organization and to engage a search firm to help us. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and on opportunities to join us in celebrating and honoring Annie’s 20+ years of work at TeamChild.
Rosa Peralta, Board President