Founded in 1992, the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) is a comprehensive children's law office and part of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. At the CFJC, attorneys and law students work together to promote justice for children, adolescents, and their families through direct legal representation, policy advocacy, and law reform.


Julie L. Biehl (she/her/hers), Assistant Dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic, CFJC Director, Clinical Professor of Law

Julie BiehlJulie L. Biehl has served as Director of the Children and Family Justice Center since 2009. In 2018, she was named Assistant Dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. Her work focuses on the representation of indigent youth charged with crimes in juvenile court and at post-dispositional hearings, and on policy reform in the areas of juvenile sentencing, the over-incarceration of youth, mental health services for children, and the response to youth who commit sexual offenses. Julie has been a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission since 2010 and is a member of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. In 2017, she was awarded the CARRE Visionary Award by the SAFER Foundation. For the 2017-18 academic year, Julie was the Harry B. Reese Teaching Professor, an appointed chair was established in 1993 in honor of longtime Law School faculty member Harry Browne Reese.

Alison R. Flaum (she/her/hers), Legal Director, Clinical Professor of Law

Alison FlaumAlison Flaum joined the Northwestern clinical faculty in 2005 and has taught in both the Center on Wrongful Convictions and the Children and Family Justice Center. Before coming to Northwestern, she was a trial attorney at Washington, D.C., Public Defender Service, a Prettyman Clinical Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center Juvenile and Criminal Justice Clinics and a Skadden Fellow at the Urban Justice Center in New York City. Her areas of expertise include criminal and juvenile defense, post-conviction litigation and trial advocacy.



Shobha Mahadev (she/her/hers), Project Director for the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, Clinical Professor of Law

MahadevShobha L. Mahadev is a Clinical Professor of Law at the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC), housed in the Bluhm Legal Clinic. In that capacity, Shobha represents adolescents, as well as adults, facing trial or convicted for offenses that occurred in their youth, on appeal and in post-conviction and clemency proceedings, and supervises students working on those cases. Shobha also serves as the project director for the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, overseeing policy and litigation strategy with respect to advocating for fair sentencing laws for youth and young adults convicted of serious crimes. The Coalition’s work and Shobha’s expertise have contributed to significant reforms of sentencing laws in Illinois and across the country. In 2021, Shobha was appointed to the state’s new Resentencing Task Force, which will advise the governor and legislators on innovative ways to reduce the state’s prison population through resentencing. She has co-authored numerous amicus curiae briefs submitted in the U.S. Supreme Court, state supreme courts, and other courts of review. Shobha was also the primary author of The Illinois Juvenile Defender Practice Notebook, a training manual for attorneys representing youth in court. Prior to joining the CFJC, Shobha was a litigation associate at a Chicago-based law firm and an Assistant Defender with the Office of the State Appellate Defender, First Judicial District, where she represented indigent clients convicted of criminal offenses on appeal. 

Uzoamaka Nzelibe (she/her/hers), Clinical Professor of Law

NzelibeUzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe is a Clinical Professor of Law and staff attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center. She joined the CFJC in 2004 and primarily represents children, emerging adults, and parents seeking asylum or other humanitarian forms of immigration relief. Uzoamaka also works with local nonprofits and community members to develop policy-related responses to issues affecting parents and youth in the immigration system. Before joining the CFJC, Uzoamaka worked as an immigration and employment law associate at a Washington D.C.-based law firm and a litigation association at a boutique civil litigation firm in Chicago. Her areas of expertise include asylum, unaccompanied minors in immigration court, and removal defense.

Staff & Fellows

Lydette S. Assefa (she/her), Clinical Fellow, Staff Attorney
AssefaLydette Assefa joined the CFJC in 2020 and directly represents children and adults facing or serving long sentences for offenses that occurred in their youth, on appeal and in postconviction proceedings, and she supervises law students working on those cases. She also assists the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children as an advocate for children and young adults serving life without the possibility of parole and other extreme sentences. She tracks these cases, recruits pro bono attorneys, coordinates attorney trainings on youth sentencing, conducts research to support legislative advocacy and policy reform, and writes amicus curiae briefs in the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Appellate Court. Before joining the CFJC, she clerked in the Staff Attorney’s Office in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Lydette received a law degree from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law where her student experience included working with the CFJC on juvenile life without parole cases.

Karyn Glass (she/her), Staff Attorney

karynglassbKaryn Glass is an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center. She represents youth and adults who have been placed on the Illinois juvenile sex offender registry. Through litigation, she seeks to end their registry obligations. She also advises people throughout the state on their rights while living on the registry as well as the legal process for removal. Karyn has a law degree from American University Washington College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College.



Stephanie Kollmann (she/her), Policy Director

StephanieStephanie Kollmann, Policy Director of the Children Family Justice Center, manages juvenile and criminal legal research and reform projects aimed at ending ineffective and adult-derived approaches to young people, including youth incarceration. Since joining CFJC in 2010, she has authored and contributed to policy reports issued by the legal clinic, state commissions, and community groups on a wide range of topics, including gun violence, mandatory minimum sentencing, juvenile jurisdiction and adult transfer, youth reentry and community supervision policy, release from state prisons, and sexual offending. Stephanie often advises policymakers in Illinois and elsewhere on issues of justice reform and implementation. She has a law degree from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

Marisa LaBella (she/her), Legal Assistant

MarisaMarisa LaBella is a legal assistant for the CFJC. Marisa works alongside Alison Flaum, Julie Biehl, and Marjorie B. Moss in their advocacy for incarcerated youth and criminal justice reform. Before joining the CFJC, Marisa worked as a housing law paralegal at the Legal Aid Society in Cleveland. Marisa also worked as an immigration paralegal at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago where she helped survivors of domestic violence and other crimes apply for humanitarian relief. Marisa graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2019 with a major in Anthropology and minor in Spanish and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration at Northwestern.

Marjorie B. Moss (she/her/hers), Social Work Supervisor, Staff Attorney

MossMarjorie B. Moss joined the CFJC in 2005, where she spearheaded the Juvenile Defender Resource Institute, which provides litigation support for Illinois juvenile defenders and the children they represent in juvenile and criminal court. In September 2012, Marjorie became the CFJC's social work supervisor. In this role, Marjorie works closely with CFJC clients to ensure that their educational, medical, social, and emotional needs are met.

Prior to her current role, Marjorie spent the earlier part of her career at the Defender Association of Philadelphia and at the National Juvenile Defender Center advocating for youth involved in the juvenile and criminal justice system. Marjorie received dual degrees from Loyola University of Chicago in social work (MSW) and law (JD) in 2001.

Nicole Negrete (she/her), Project Coordinator

negreteNicole Negrete is the coordinator of the Final 5 Campaign, a campaign to close the remaining Illinois youth prisons. She works with a coalition of formerly incarcerated youth, individuals impacted by the juvenile legal system, and other allies to develop campaign strategy and tools. Nicole has previously worked as a housing case manager, a substance use treatment counselor, and a music teacher in community based orchestra programs. She is dedicated to abolitionist organizing efforts to end policing and prisons, with a particular interest in addressing how social services can replicate the harms of incarceration and policing. She has a master's degree in social work from University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor's degree in music education and performance from Northwestern University.

Isra Rahman (she/her), Outreach Coordinator
israrahmanbIsra Rahman is the Outreach Coordinator for the Children and Family Justice Center. Her work supports the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, and she works to end juvenile life without parole. She is interested in building models of engagement that center the experiences of directly-impacted communities and build intergenerational movements. Her previous work involves police misconduct research in downstate Illinois through the Invisible Institute as well as writing about food apartheid as a fellow at City Bureau. Isra graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies.


Angelia Renee Starks (she/her), Legal Assistant

StarksAngelia Starks (Angie) is a legal assistant for the CFJC. Angie works directly with Shobha Mahadev and Lydette Assefa concentrating in the area of representing adolescents and adults facing trial for convicted offenses that occurred during their youth. Before joining the CFJC, Angie worked with the #1 Ranked Law firm in Chicago for many years. Angie has concentrated in all areas of the legal industry in reference to administrative services and technical support services. Angie also concentrates in technical support providing help desk assistance to the CFJC and the Bluhm Legal Clinic. 

 Victoria Stotland (she/her), Pritzker Clinical Fellow, Staff Attorney

stotlandAs a Pritzker Clinical Fellow with the CFJC Immigration Law Project, Victoria works alongside Professor Uzoamaka Nzelibe and represents children, youth, and parents seeking asylum and other forms of humanitarian relief. She also assists in teaching in the Immigration Law Clinic. Victoria joined the CFJC in 2020 as the recipient of the Thomas F. Geraghty Fellowship after completing her LLM degree at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Prior to joining the Northwestern community, Victoria worked as legal counsel for the Canadian federal government where she advised the Department of Foreign Affairs on matters related to complex federal litigation, national security, and consular affairs. Victoria graduated with both a civil law and common law degree from the University of Montreal and is licensed to practice law in both the United States and Canada.