Marsha Levick has been selected for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s (AACAP) 2017 Catchers in the Rye Humanitarian Award. This award was established in 1990 to honor those who have made sustained and substantial contributions to the mental health of children and youth through work in services, advocacy, philanthropy, research and/or education. Levick was chosen to be recognized for the award due to her exemplary work and leadership at the Juvenile Law Center, of which she is a co-founder and currently serves as deputy director and chief counsel. Under her leadership since its founding in 1975, the Juvenile Law Center has contributed to the winning of 5 landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, all of which greatly helped youth in the juvenile justice system. Using successful legal arguments and the latest research in adolescent development and neuroscience, the resulting rulings included ending the juvenile death penalty and banning mandatory life without parole sentences for all youth offenders. Levick has also authored and co-authored numerous appellate and amicus briefs in state and federal appeals courts throughout the nation.
In addition to her position at the Juvenile Law Center, she also serves on the boards of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. The 2017 Catchers in the Rye Humanitarian Award was presented at the AACAP’s 64th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 25, 2017. Upon accepting the award, Marsha Levick said, “With over 40 years of fighting for kids’ legal rights and well-being in my rear-view mirror, I know well the highs and lows of this work, the exhilaration of winning a landmark victory, and the despair of falling short of the mark. I accept this award not as a marker of how far we have come, but of how far we have yet to go. I will keep my arms outstretched as far, and as long, as I can. Thank you.”