Susan Vivian Mangold began her career at Juvenile Law Center when she was fresh out of law school in 1987, working as a staff attorney on a fellowship from Harvard Law School. This fall, after more than two decades in academia, she’ll be returning to the JLC as its new executive director, the organization announced last week.

Mangold was selected to succeed Robert Schwartz, the JLC’s co-founder and executive director since 1982, after a national search that took more than six months to complete. Mangold’s experience in the area of child welfare, her lengthy history of academic research and her connections in academia made her the right candidate to take over for Schwartz when he steps down in October, said Robert Reinstein of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, who chaired the nine-member search committee.

“What we were looking for was a candidate who was extremely talented, with great experience in the area of juvenile rights, and who had the capacity to develop the kinds of skills that Bob showed,” Reinstein said. “I think we found that person in Sue.”

Mangold, who has been a professor of law at SUNY Buffalo Law School since 1992 and plans to finish out her fall teaching commitments, will assume her new role Oct. 14, following the organization’s 40th anniversary gala the night before, according to a release.

She acknowledged that “nobody can fill Bob’s shoes,” but said she plans to strengthen the organization’s presence on child-welfare issues, in addition to maintaining its focus on matters of juvenile justice.

“I look forward to all the conversations that are now going on around urban education and disparities in education and health disparities and trying to broaden those conversations,” Mangold said. “If you’re talking about education, you have to think about the kids in the juvenile justice system.”

Mangold said she has already been in conversation with Schwartz and Marsha Levick, the center’s other co-founder, about the transition process. She is “devouring” the materials she’s been receiving in preparation, many of which she would already have been reading because her academic work is so closely related to the aims of the Juvenile Law Center. In addition to teaching classes on children and the law, she is co-editor of “Children and the Law: Doctrine, Policy and Practice,” a law school casebook now in its fifth edition.

“Sue was a star during her five years with us,” Schwartz said in the release. “She maintained a family court caseload, worked on policy reform, and helped shape laws to improve the lives of vulnerable children. She will be an invaluable asset to Juvenile Law Center’s team.”

Mangold’s entire career has been focused on children’s issues. 
While at Harvard College for her undergraduate work, she was director of the school’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program and helped to find funding for a summer program to support kids when college students left for the summer. She also helped form an after-school girls’ club in Holyoke, Massachusetts, prior to law school. Her experiences convinced her to focus on children’s issues in law school, where she served as executive director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and co-founded the Children’s Rights Project.

That work led her to the Juvenile Law Center, where she worked for five years before entering the academic world, building a career of research that Reinstein said will serve her well as executive director.

“The Juvenile Law Center has been very heavily engaged in merging theory and practice,” Reinstein said. “We have used a considerable amount of research in child development in our juvenile justice successes.”

Mangold has been involved in community-based partnership research, serving as lead academic on various initiatives, and plans to bring that approach to the JLC, opening up the way the organization works with other public interest groups and academics and turning research into an advocacy tool.

“If we don’t think about the unique consequences for kids in state care, then we’re not going to find the solutions that we need,” Mangold said.

Ben Seal can be contacted at bseal@alm.com or 215-557-2368. Follow him on Twitter @BSealTLI.