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.




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 including:

R.B.W., In Interest of, 548 N.E.2d 1085, 192 Ill.App.3d 477 (Ill. App. 1989)

Tiller v. Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 2013 IL App (4th) 120504, 999 N.E.2d 719, 

In re DS, 740 N.E.2d 54, 317 Ill. App.3d 467, 251 Ill.Dec. 224 (Ill. App. 2000), and 

Montalbano v. DEPT. OF CHILDREN & FAMILY, 797 N.E.2d 1078, 343 Ill. App.3d 471. 

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 Illinois Parents Attorney Network / Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts Training on June 22, 2018. 



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.



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.


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 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.


Board Members