Staff

Elizabeth Clarke, President and Founder

Betsy Clarke is the founder and President of the Juvenile Justice Initiative. Prior to developing the Juvenile Justice Initiative, Betsy served as Juvenile Justice Counsel for the Office of the Cook County Public Defender for six years, and served for 15 years in the Office of the State Appellate Defender, including appointments as Legislative Liaison and Juvenile Justice Coordinator.

Ms. Clarke is the co-founder and director of the Midwest Juvenile Defender Center, a co-founder of the North American Council on Juvenile Justice, an advisory board member of the National Juvenile Defender Center, and a co-founder and active member of the National Juvenile Justice Network.   She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and serves on both the Child Law and Legislative Committees.

Ms. Clarke is a frequent speaker and has authored numerous articles, including the chapter on Appellate Review in the IICLE Juvenile Law Handbook, and a detailed study of the Illinois juvenile transfer provisions published in the National Journal of the Juvenile and Family Court Judge’s Association.   Ms. Clarke has been honored by numerous local and national organizations, and was named a “Champion for Change” in 2009 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and a national Youth Advocate by the National Juvenile Justice Network in 2013. You can contact Betsy at bc@jjustice.org or (847) 864-1567.

Garien Gatewood, Director of Policy Advocacy

Garien Gatewood is the Director of Policy Advocacy at the Juvenile Justice Initiative, where his work focuses on legislation and policy reform for youth in Illinois. Prior to coming on board at JJI, Garien worked as a youth reentry advocate for the Children’s Law Center for two years where his work focused on systemic change and individual reentry services for youth throughout Ohio.  In 2015 Garien was one of  ten people selected as Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellow of the National Juvenile Justice Network, during his fellowship he developed a statewide youth reentry guide for Ohio and partnered with organizations throughout the nation developing reentry programs. Garien earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, during his time in law school he clerked with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Mississippi Innocence Project. Prior to law school, Garien earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration with his thesis focusing on the Poverty Epidemic in Rural Mississippi. You can contact Garien at gg@jjustice.org or (773) 318-2963.

Lija Siliunas, Development and Office Assistant

Lija Siliunas came on board at the Juvenile Justice Initiative to implement a more sophisticated database to improve tracking of fundraising and donor outreach. Her work focuses on development through events, news, and donor management. Prior to joining JJI, Lija attended Saint Louis University, where she studied psychology and computer science. In that time, she served as a student advocate for humane immigration and criminal justice reform, lobbying in Washington D.C. for two years and hosting events to engage her peers in advocacy. She also served on the leadership team for the university’s Atlas Program, a week-long educational initiative to inspire social action to address global justice issues. You can contact Lija at lija@siliunas.com or (708) 606-0429.