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Thomas C.
Democrat DE

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    by Senator Thomas R. Carper

    Posted on 2014-01-15

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    CARPER. Mr. President, it is with great pleasure that I rise to honor the exemplary service of Liz Ryan, a Delawarean and founder, president and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. Liz's love of helping others was inspired at a young age by her family's participation in a host program called the Ulster Project. The Ulster Project is designed to bring young Catholic and protestant youth from Northern Ireland to Wilmington, DE, where they live with Delaware families. The program allows these young potential leaders to build bridges in a safe environment and then return, hopefully to develop and maintain those bridges in their native Northern Ireland. Hopefully, they learn skills and attitudes that are needed to unite people when differences divide them. This program inspired Liz to work with children at risk both overseas and here in the United States. Bridging differences has become the hallmark signature of Liz's work.

    I came to know Liz when she joined my congressional staff as a legislative aide in the late 1980s, and she eventually rose to the position of legislative director. After I was elected Governor of Delaware in 1992, Liz worked on my transition team and then took on the assignment of setting up Delaware's first staffed Washington, DC, office. In addition to her work for our State, she also worked closely with the National Governors Association, where she was a respected contributor to the development and growth of that organization.

    After establishing the Delaware office, which has continued to make valuable contributions to the administrations of the governors who followed me, Liz returned to Delaware as my Deputy Chief of Staff, where she focused her attention on the Cabinet Family Services Council. She worked to develop programs for special needs and at-risk children.

    Liz's commitment and energy needed a bigger stage. She left Washington to become a VISTA volunteer, but eventually returned to continue her work advocating for children at the Children's Defense Fund, Juvenile Court Centennial Initiative, and the Youth Law Center before founding the Campaign for Youth Justice in 2005. The campaign under Liz's dynamic leadership focused on changing both state and federal laws and policies impacting on youth caught up in the adult criminal justice system. As a result, today there are several thousand fewer kids in the adult system, giving them a better prospect for a successful transition to adulthood. Through many years of work, she has become one of the most influential people in the field of juvenile justice today.

    It is clear that children in Delaware and across the country have benefitted from Liz's steadfast work on their behalf. Even though she will be missed as she steps down from the Campaign for Youth Justice, she leaves beyond a strong and vibrant organization that will continue her valuable work. I am proud of the work Liz accomplished during her time on my staff and for her work for our nation's youth. I know Liz is not done, and I can't wait to see what comes next. Today I say thank you, Liz, and good luck in all that lies ahead. ____________________

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