UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families Celebrates Opening of New Offices

Event brings together powerful collaboration to address needs of children and families in Los Angeles.

L.A. County’s top child and family advocates, researchers, policymakers and community organizations gathered in November to celebrate the opening of the new offices of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families and the Foster Youth Museum.

But the ribbon cutting was about more than a celebration. It signaled the coming together of a powerful collaboration intent on working together to address the needs of children and families at risk, with a special focus on youth in foster care.

“Tonight, the silos are coming down, across our campus and across this town,” said Tyrone Howard, director of the Pritzker Center and a professor of education at UCLA. “If we work together, we can get great things done for kids.”

Added Co-Director Audra Langley: “We recognize that solutions do not come from one system and on our campus they do not come from one discipline. . . If you look around this room you can see the people we are coming together with to build relationships, collaborations and partnerships to do this work. As a world class university in Los Angeles we cannot shy away from the complexities and inequities that are realities for so many of our children and families.”

UCLA Professor of Education Tyrone Howard directs the Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. Pictured with LAUSD Board Member Kelly Gonez. Photo by John McDonald

The UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families is a new UCLA campus-wide initiative focused on the needs of children and youth who are disconnected from traditional pathways to success. The interdisciplinary venture brings together the UCLA Department of Education, the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, the UCLA Department of Social Welfare, and other departments, schools and resources across campus to address the complex needs of foster youth and create better prevention systems for families who are at risk of losing their children to the foster care system. The Center will serve as a hub for collaborative efforts with other organizations, agencies and educational institutions across Los Angeles.

“One of the great things about UCLA is the interdisciplinary aspect of the campus, and [the UCLA Pritzker Center] aims to bring so many of these areas together — so many of you are making a difference,” said Tony Pritzker, whose family foundation has endowed the Center. “And not just on campus, but downtown— it’s a joint effort across our community.”

“I am really grateful to those of you here tonight,” added Jeanne Pritzker. “I got into this to support a lot of really smart, talented, passionate people doing really important work, and it’s incredibly exciting to see all that is happening.”

In addition to UCLA Jane and Marc Nathanson Family Professor of Psychiatry Patricia Lester, who is on the Center’s leadership team, UCLA was represented by Kelsey Martin, Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine and Gary Segura, Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was joined by Hon. Victor Greenberg, Presiding Judge (Juvenile), Los Angeles County Superior Court; Bobby D. Cagle, Director, Department of Children and Family Services; Jonathan Sherin, Director, Department of Mental Health; Terri McDonald, Director, Los Angeles County Probation Department; Kristin Sakoda, Director, Department of Arts and Culture; and, Shannon Thyne, Pediatrics Chief, Department of Health Services. Also attending were Kelly Gonez, Board Member, Los Angeles Unified School District, Hon. Debra Losnick, Judge (Juvenile), Los Angeles County Superior Court; Kim Belshé, Executive Director, First 5: and Winnie Wechsler, Executive Director, Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.

Judge Michael Nash, Director of the Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection, encourages the collaboration between L.A. County and UCLA as “a different way of looking at this system.” Photo by Todd Cheney, UCLA

“Over the years I have learned that when government partners with these kinds of research institutions and enlightened philanthropy we can make some real progress on meeting the needs of people who really need our help. . . .,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and life-long-Bruin Sheila Kuehl, who served as the keynote speaker. I’m really deeply grateful for the vision and commitment of the Pritzker Family Foundation and the wonderful partner they are to the County and to UCLA.”

The evening celebration marked the opening of the Center’s new offices in the Ueberroth building at UCLA which will house faculty and staff from different departments across UCLA and serve as a gathering place for those working to benefit children and families in Los Angeles.

“This is an opportunity. Let’ s put our heads together and reimagine a different way of looking at this system, said Michael Nash, Director of the Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection. Let’s look at it from the perspective of what is the best way to manage this system to get the most benefit for the children and families that we serve.”

“I don’t see this as an opening in the Ueberroth Building and UCLA, said Victor Greenberg, Presiding Judge for the LA County Superior Court (Juvenile). Rather, I see this as UCLA opening its doors outward into our communities and into the lives of our children and families.”

Above: Representatives of Los Angeles County and UCLA gathered to celebrate their collaboration within the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, and the center’s newly opened space in the Peter V. Ueberroth Building in Westwood.

L-R: Bobby Cagle, director, Department of Children and Family Services; Kelly Gonez, board member, LAUSD; Tony and Jeanne Pritzker, Audra Langley, co-director, Pritzker Center; Kelsey Martin, dean, David Geffen School of Medicine; Tyrone Howard, director, Pritzker Center; Taylor Dudley, administrative director, Pritzker Center; Ruby Tucker, administrative assistant, Pritzker Center; L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and Judge Michael Nash, director, Office of Child Protection.

Photo by Todd Cheney, UCLA