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Aida Vindell, '12, Named 2019 Reunification Hero by ABA Center on Children and the Law

Wednesday, July 3, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: UDC Law Staff
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Aida Vindell

The ABA Center on Children and the Law celebrates National Reunification Month each June by honoring parents, professionals, and youth who best demonstrate the compassion and perseverance to keep families together. This year, the Center named Aida Vindell, '12, a 2019 Reunification Hero, in recognition of her important contributions to children’s rights.

Vindell is a Senior Attorney in the Guardian ad Litem Program at the D.C.-based Children’s Law Center, where she represents children who are subjects of abuse and neglect cases in D.C. Family Court. Lawyers in the Center’s Guardian ad Litem program work toward family reunification while ensuring that children in the child welfare system receive the safety, services, and support they need to thrive. Through close partnership with the Center’s social workers, investigators, and special education attorneys, lawyers in the Guardian ad Litem program advocate for children beyond the courthouse doors and into the schools and medical facilities responsible for the children’s education and well-being.

In an interview with Vindell published last week by the ABA Center on Children and the Law, she described the challenging conditions facing child welfare practitioners in D.C. as well as her thoughts on potential reforms that could address barriers to reunification. Vindell also spoke to her career trajectory. After graduating from college in Florida, she joined the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program as a non-attorney advocate in Miami. There, she spent two years in the program’s Transitioning Youth Project, supporting young people aging out of foster care while helping them build enduring connections with adults or distant family members. In recognition of Vindell’s hard-hitting advocacy work for the program, she was named Guardian ad Litem of the Year in 2008.

Vindell also recounts the firsthand experience with family separation that drew her to the field, describing in the interview with the ABA Center on Children and the Law how her two brothers were separated from her when she was a child after the Nicaraguan government attempted to recruit them as child soldiers. She was only reunited with her brothers after her family found refuge in the United States and saved up enough money to rescue her siblings from the orphanage where they had ended up. “My brothers spoke of how difficult it was being raised in an orphanage and the impact of being separated from us. It was incredibly challenging for my brothers, my parents and myself,” said Vindell of the harrowing experience, explaining the motivation for her work today. “Many children and families face the heartbreak of separation for many reasons, from domestic violence to systemic poverty. In many cases, the family just needs the right support and resources to successfully reunify.”

Vindell’s personal experience with family separation – and successful term with the Miami-based Guardian ad Litem Program – inspired her decision to become an attorney. While studying toward her J.D. at UDC Law, Vindell honed her lawyering skills as a student attorney with the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and HIV/AIDS Clinic. She also worked as a judicial intern for Senior Judge Zinora Mitchell-Rankin of the D.C. Superior Court and as a legal intern with the D.C.-area public interest organizations Kids In Need of Defense and Ayuda, which she later joined as a staff attorney in Ayuda’s Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Unit.

In her current role as Senior Attorney with the Children’s Law Center, Vindell enjoys the company of several UDC Law alumni working for the public interest firm. Her colleagues Sarah Flohre, ’07, and Caitlin Russi, '15, work respectively as Supervising Attorney and Staff Attorney in the organization’s Healthy Together Program, a medical-legal partnership between Children's Law Center attorneys and pediatricians in health clinics to find and fix the root causes of a child's health problem.

The three UDC Law alums are just the latest of a long line of UDC Law graduates who have worked with the Children’s Law Center. In addition to Vindell, Flohre, and Russi, law school alumni who have worked at the Center include Adrienne Jones, ’06, Genetta Smith, ’06, Jamie Desjardins, ’07, Alyssa Patzoldt, ’08, Dalton Collins, '15, Albert "AJ" Amissah, '16, and Shakira Hansley, '17.

The Children’s Law Center is the former home of several UDC Law faculty members as well, including Associate Dean for Academic Affairs LaShanda Adams, Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs Matthew Fraidin, and Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic Lauren Onkeles-Klein. Former UDC Law Clinical Instructors Tanya Asim Cooper and the late Laura Rinaldi also worked at the Center before joining the law school.

 


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