JUNEAU, AK (April 19, 2021) – The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) is pleased to announce the hire of Courtney Lewis as the Child Welfare Attorney for the Tribe’s new Seattle-based office.
As the Child Welfare Attorney, Lewis will provide legal representation to children crime victims with the local courts of jurisdiction within the Washington area, track appellate level Indian Children Welfare Act (ICWA) cases within Washington state and nationwide, and provide effective consultation and legal advice to the Tribe relating to ICWA and child welfare matters. She will also be responsible for preparing and presenting legal arguments in court, and monitoring decisions that may affect tribal families.
"We are very pleased to welcome Courtney to the Tribe," said President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. "With a high tribal citizen population living in the Seattle area, it’s important Tlingit & Haida has the ability and accessibility to intervene when it comes to ICWA and other child welfare matters."
Tlingit & Haida's new Seattle-based office had a soft open in late March and is the first office to open outside of Southeast Alaska. The office will be located in the Seattle field office of Casey Family Programs, a foundation focused on influencing long-lasting improvements to the safety and well-being of children, families and communities and a long-standing partner to Tlingit & Haida.
In addition to the Child Welfare Attorney, Tlingit & Haida also hired a Family Case Worker and Administrative Assistant for the Seattle-based office whom all have connected with key personnel within the State of Washington.
"Child welfare law is both a challenging and rewarding practice," Lewis said. "I was grateful to learn the phrase, 'The difficult I’ll do right now, the impossible will take a little while,' initially sung by Billie Holiday, as a mantra for balancing short-term and long-term success for families."
Lewis has practiced child welfare law since 2008. She was the first person to be certified in Alaska as a child welfare law specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). She also served as the Alaska State Coordinator for NACC from 2019-2021. Lewis frequently provides ICWA training and has published several articles on how to best help families by fulfilling ICWA’s goals.