Loyola University Chicago

School of Law

Children's Legal Rights Journal Symposium

and Loyola’s Children’s Legal Rights Journal

Environmental Justice: Advocating for the Health of Children

Symposium Editors: Claire Ocana and Nana Otutua-Amoah

Symposium Brochure (PDF)

This symposium will explore many of the current issues surrounding environmental health as it relates to children and youth. Distinguished speakers will discuss how environmental hazards influences children and their families, as well as the legal and ethical issues related to youth and justice.  The symposium will also delve into topics such as environmental racism, environmental litigation and policy, mental health, and education. Finally, speakers will discuss how environmental health affects laws relating to children - all with the goal of nurturing and understanding children and youth more effectively.

The symposium will be held in the Philip H. Corboy Law Center, Power Rogers & Smith Ceremonial Courtroom, on the 10th floor of 25 E. Pearson St. and Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus.

The Illinois MCLE Board has approved this program for 5.0 hours of general credit. Loyola University Chicago School of Law is pleased to present this conference at no charge for Loyola students, faculty, and individuals not seeking MCLE credit. For those who wish to obtain MCLE credit, registration fees will apply:

  • $50 for attendees seeking MCLE credit
  • $40 for Loyola alumni seeking MCLE credit
  • As part of our wider financial hardship consideration, there is an immediate discount of 50% for attorneys working in the areas of government or public interest.

Fees are payable at the door by check made payable to Loyola University Chicago.

Register Here


8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Breakfast and Registration

9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductory Remarks

  • Claire Ocana and Nana Otutua-Amoah, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Diane Geraghty, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

9:15 – 10:15 a.m. Overview of Children's Environmental Health and Justice

  • Dr. Susan Buchanan, University of Illinois at Chicago

10:15 – 11:15 a.m. Environmental Litigation and Case Law

  • Dan Tarlock, IIT Chicago-Kent

11:15- 12:00 p.m. Climate Change and Global Food Security

  • Michael Barsa, Northwestern School of Law

12:00 p.m. Break

12:15 - 1:15 p.m. Working Lunch and Presentation: Environmental Activism in Chicago Neighborhoods

  • Meleah Geertsma,Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Kimberly Wasserman, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)

1:15 - 2:00 p.m. Childhood and Lead Poisoning

  • Anita Weinberg, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

2:00 - 2:45 p.m. Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Collaborative

  • Adam Avrushin, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Frank Avellone, Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing
  • Julie Kuhn, Sinai Urban Health Institute

2:45 - 3:00 p.m. Closing Remarks and Reflection

  • Megan Rossman, Loyola University Chicago School of Law


Diane Geraghty
Diane Geraghty is a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Professor Geraghty developed and directs Loyola's nationally recognized Civitas ChildLaw Center. Her teaching, scholarship, and service focus primarily on all aspects of the law as it affects children and families. Currently, she co-chairs Loyola’s new interdisciplinary Center on Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice. She has served as a consultant on legal education and children’s rights in Africa and Asia and is the recipient of many awards for her contributions to children’s law.

Susan Buchanan
Dr. Susan Buchanan is a clinical associate professor and associate director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine residency program at UIC. She directs the Great Lakes Center for Children's Environmental Health. Dr. Buchanan's practice involves the evaluation of pediatric and adult patients with health problems related to their environment either in the workplace or community. Her research interests and areas in which she has published numerous peer reviewed studies include the safety and occupational health of low income and immigrant workers as well as environmental exposures to children and women of childbearing age.

Dan Tarlock
Dan Tarlock is an internationally recognized expert in environmental law and the law of land and water use. He is a frequent consultant to local, state, federal and international agencies, private groups and law firms, and is an elected member of the American Law Institute. Since 2009, Professor Tarlock has been a member of a standing National Research Council to advise the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on future challenges to their missions, such as climate change. He is currently one of three United States special legal advisers to the NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation.

Michael Barsa
Michael Barsa is a professor at Northwestern School of Law and is the co-director of the Environmental Law Concentration. Professor Barsa litigated numerous high-profile environmental and natural resource cases before joining the Northwestern faculty. He also developed novel legal strategies in cases involving large-scale groundwater contamination from MTBE in gasoline, DDT off the California coast, subsurface trespass of oilfield water, international environmental harms arising from the first Gulf War, and recycling. In 2012, he received the Robert Childres Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

Meleah Geertsma
Meleah Geertsma is a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Midwest Program, where she works to reduce air and water pollution throughout the Midwest, particularly in environmental justice communities. Ms. Geertsma also spearheads NRDC’s national efforts to control methane from the oil and gas sector, and has guest-taught classes on environmental health and the Clean Air Act at several Chicago universities. Prior to that, she co-taught an environmental law and policy seminar at the University of Chicago and spent two years doing health-care antitrust work at the Federal Trade Commission.

Kimberly Wasserman
Kimberly Wasserman is the executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and chair of the Illinois EJ Commission. Ms. Wasserman joined LVEJO as an organizer and helped to organize community leaders to successfully build a new playground, community gardens, the remodeling of a local school park, and forced a local polluter to upgrade their facilities to meet current laws. Her work as executive director of LVEJO helped reinstate a job access bus line, assisted with the closure of two local coal power plants by focusing on a 10-plus year campaign that fought for remediation and redevelopment of the sites, and led to the recent victory of a new 23-acre park to be built in Little Village.

Anita Weinberg
Anita Weinberg, a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has been involved in efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Chicago. She is the recipient of grants from the Chicago Community Trust, Telligen, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for work on lead poisoning prevention. She serves on numerous committees and councils devoted to children's rights. She has co-authored amendments to the Illinois Juvenile Court Act and the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. Professor Weinberg has testified before congressional and state legislative committees on child welfare and health related issues.

Adam Avrushin
Adam Avrushin is the associate director at the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. He is the former associate director of Youth Service Project, a youth service agency located on Chicago’s west side. In that capacity, he oversaw the organization’s programs that provided trauma-informed and positive youth development services to community youth while also working with stakeholders to continue building a safe and thriving greater Humboldt Park community. Mr. Avrushin served as an assistant public guardian with the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian where he successfully represented and advocated for hundreds of children in Illinois’ child welfare system.

Frank Avellone
Frank Avellone is senior attorney and policy coordinator at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, a non-profit renters’ rights organization. For more than 35 years, Mr. Avellone has engaged in anti-poverty litigation on behalf of low-income tenants, workers, and consumers, and has created and participated in numerous collaborative community projects to promote justice for the poor.  A native of Cleveland, he worked in Ohio’s small cities and rural communities before moving to Chicago in 2003.

Julie Kuhn
Julie Kuhn joined Sinai Urban Health Institute in 2011 as a supervisor of program initiatives for the Asthma CarePartners. After two years at Abraham Low Self-Help Systems where she managed a life skills and anger management program for youth, Ms. Kuhn joined Respiratory Health Association (RHA). Ms. Kuhn managed RHA’s Fight Asthma Now program and supervised the health educators delivering the program in the city and suburban Cook County. Her experience at RHA expanded her interest in public health issues and how they relate to her passion for social justice and the severe inequities within the city and beyond.

The Loyola University Chicago School of Law Children’s Legal Rights Journal is a national legal journal that releases three issues annually, edited by Loyola students with the cooperation of the National Association of Counsel for Children. The Children’s Legal Rights Journal focuses on the broad range of legal issues confronting children, including child welfare, juvenile justice, adoption, mental health, and education. Generally, the readership consists of lawyers, social workers, physicians, researchers, mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, and educators. The Children’s Legal Rights Journal encourages interdisciplinary submissions as well as more traditional law-related articles.