Bright Conference Room

ABOUT OUR ORGANIZATION

OUR MISSION

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Our mission is to ensure that child abuse investigations are rooted in due process and evidence-based medicine. We provide medical and legal resources and referrals at no cost to families facing wrongful allegations of child abuse or neglect due to medical conditions, birth injuries, and normal childhood accidents that result in findings that are misinterpreted as signs of abuse. We work with attorneys and medical experts to obtain objective second opinions from independent, board-certified treating physicians. The Family Justice Resource Center seeks to promote policies and practices that protect abused children, exonerate innocent parents, and call for integrity in child protection services. Ultimately, the goal of the Family Justice Resource Center is to protect children from harm–whether that harm comes at the hand of a parent or a broken child welfare system. 

Family Justice Resource Center Board of Directors

OUR STORY

The Family Justice Resource Center was officially established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2018, but its origins date back much further—bringing together the work of two earlier organizations, the Family Defense Center (FDC) in Chicago and Pediatric Accountability in Central Illinois (PACI) in Peoria. Our board of directors is composed of parents who have been exonerated formally by the child welfare system after being targeted as guilty of child abuse in medically complex cases, and attorneys who have devoted their careers to representing parents in the child welfare system. We now consult on cases nationwide and collaborate with a large network of professionals and organizations committed to protecting children.

OUR LEADERSHIP

MICHELLE WEIDNER

MICHELLE WEIDNER

Executive Director

Weidner has over 20 years of experience in public relations, writing, and nonprofit advocacy. She is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which she served as a radio and television broadcaster for the American Forces Network. She has a Master of Public Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, summa cum laude, from Northern Illinois University. She and her husband experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation of abuse in 2010 due to a radiological interpretation error.

ALAN NOVICK

ALAN NOVICK

Board President

Novick spent 35 years as a public defender and private practitioner in abuse / neglect court in McLean County and throughout Central Illinois. He has tried hundreds of adjudications and terminations in the trial court and has filed many appeals to the Fourth District Appellate Court. He has also tried hundreds of DCFS administrative appeals to expunge indicated findings, and has participated in numerous clinical reviews. He lectured on Effective Representation Of The Parent At The Adjudicatory Hearing and Handling Post Dispositional Matters at the IPAN / AOIC Training.

DIANE REDLEAF

DIANE REDLEAF

President Emeritus

Redleaf is the principal at Family Defense Consulting , the co-chair of United Family Advocates (a bipartisan federal policy advocacy group for families in the child welfare system), and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. She founded and led legal advocacy at the Family Defense Center in Chicago for 12 years, until 2017. She is the author of They Took the Kids Last Night: How The Child Protection System Puts Families At Risk. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where she was an Articles Editor of the Stanford Law Review, and Carleton College, magna cum laude.

TONY LAWLOR

TONY LAWLOR

Vice President

Lawlor is the owner of Lawlor Consulting Group LLC and the co-founder and former Associate Director of SYESA, a Chicago social services agency that helps youth in foster care transition to successful adulthood. He has a Master of Arts in Evangelism and Leadership from Wheaton College and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. A former ward of the state himself, he experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation in 2013.

MARY BRODERICK

MARY BRODERICK

Secretary & Treasurer

Broderick is the President/Owner of ClearView Research, Inc. and is a former board president of the Family Defense Center. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She and her husband experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation of abuse in 2003, due to a radiological interpretation error. As a volunteer Family Advocate, Broderick helps families navigate the child welfare system.

BRENNA & JOEL SIEBOLD

BRENNA & JOEL SIEBOLD

Board Members

Brenna is a third grade teacher at a Wisconsin elementary school where Joel is also on staff. In 2018, they were falsely accused of abusing their son due to complications resulting from heterotaxy syndrome. After their case was resolved, Joel & Brenna connected with the FJRC to partner on addressing the flawed policies and practices that contribute to the rising number of medically-based wrongful allegations.