CEO & Legal Director

MARCI A. HAMILTON is the Founder, CEO, and Legal Director of CHILD USA, www.childusa.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit academic think tank dedicated to interdisciplinary, evidence-based research to improve laws and public policy to end child abuse and neglect.   She is also the Fels Institute of Government Professor of Practice and a Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania.  Before moving to Penn, Professor Hamilton held the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

Prof. Hamilton is the leading expert on clergy sex abuse and child sex abuse statutes of limitation (“SOL”).    She has been invited to testify and advise legislators in every state where significant SOL reform has occurred.  She is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge University Press), which advocates for the elimination of child sex abuse statutes of limitations.  She has filed countless pro bono amicus briefs for the protection of children at the United States Supreme Court and the state supreme courts.  She is the co-author of Children and the Law (Carolina Academic Press 2017).

Hamilton is a leading and influential critic of extreme religious liberty and the author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty (Cambridge University Press), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  Hamilton successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) at the Supreme Court in Boerne v. Flores (1997), and defeated the RFRA claim brought by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee against hundreds of child sex abuse survivors in Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. Listecki (7th Cir. 2015).  She has represented numerous cities, neighborhoods, and individuals dealing with church-state issues as well as claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).   

Hamilton has been honored with the 2019 Distinguished Daughters Award by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf; the 2018 Louis H. Pollak Award for Public Service by the University of Pennsylvania Law School; the 2015 Annual Religious Liberty Award, American Humanist Association; the 2014 Freethought Heroine Award; the 2016 Voice Today, Voice of Gratitude Award; the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award, 2012; the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy and scholarship, 2008; and selected as a Pennsylvania Woman of the Year Award, 2012, among other awards and honors.   She is also frequently quoted in the national media on child sex abuse, statute of limitations issues and constitutional, RFRA, RLUIPA, and First Amendment issues. 

Hamilton clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Professor Hamilton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, B.A., summa cum laude; Pennsylvania State University, M.A. (English, fiction writing, High Honors); M.A. (Philosophy); and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.   She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.

Executive Director

Jillian Ruck joins CHILD USA as a former high school teacher, having taught across the country including in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Washington DC. Subjects she taught included: Government, AP World History, World Cultures, and US History. Her experience teaching high school is what inspired her to join CHILD USA where she oversees many grants and initiatives, including the Game Over Commission, Family Court Reform, and others.

Jillian received her B.A., double majoring in History and Secondary Education from Villanova University, where she received a Senior Leadership Award. Jillian is passionate about social justice for children and is committed to the mission of CHILD USA in preventing child abuse and neglect throughout the country.

Executive Assistant to CEO

MaryClare joins Child USA with a successful career as a preschool teacher, volunteer, and a member of various local and national nonprofit organizations. Her passion for the well-being of every child is what inspired her to leave the classroom and join Child USA. MaryClare will utilize her experiences and skills as liaison to members of the CHILD USA team as well an ambassador for the organization.

MaryClare received her BFA from West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. She continued her education at The Art Institute of Philadelphia where she received a Continuing Education Certificate. MaryClare continues her education by completing courses in various areas of personal and professional interest.

Staff Attorney

Alice Bohn joins CHILD USA as a Staff Attorney. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, where she later worked as the Director of Insurance & Risk, overseeing initiatives to prevent child sexual abuse. As a student, Alice served as the Symposium Editor of the Pepperdine Law Review; she was also a member of the Moot Court team and the International Commercial Arbitration Moot team.

Before law school, Alice worked with International Justice Mission on a national campaign to end bonded labor in India. She graduated from Gordon College with a B.A. in Sociology, having focused her studies on Human Trafficking and Cultural Conflict. Her interest in CHILD USA’s work grows from a conviction that the rule of law must function for every member of society, including our children.

Staff Attorney

Alice Nasar Hanan joined CHILD USA in February 2019. She is a staff attorney and contributes to the legal research, analysis and development of our Statute of Limitations Reform Initiative. She is a former student of Marci Hamilton from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. At Cardozo, she was the recipient of the Dean’s Merit Scholarship, worked as an editor of the Cardozo Law Review, was a legal writing teacher’s assistant and graduated with honors. She received her B.A. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif. Alice began her legal career in New York City at Kasowtiz, Benson, Torres, and Friedman LLP, as a litigation attorney with a focus on complex commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense. Next, she moved to New Jersey with her family and joined a local litigation firm. Alice brings to CHILD USA both her legal expertise and passion for respecting the dignity and legal rights of all children.

 Staff Attorney

Lauren began her career as a paralegal, working in private family law firms while earning her B.A. in Criminal Justice from DeSales University. Lauren found her passion for child welfare when she joined the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network Legal Services Initiative, which provides legal services to Pennsylvania’s county child welfare agencies. There she received specialized training in juvenile dependency.

Afterward Lauren attended Drexel Law’s 2-year accelerated JD program, where she earned 2 CALI Excellence for the Future Awards and served as a Dean’s Scholar, graduating in 2017. Lauren then picked up where she left off in juvenile dependency work by joining the Montgomery County Public Defender Office’s Child Advocate Unit, acting as guardian ad litem and legal counsel to children ages 0-21.

Lauren serves as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Children’s Rights Committee and Legislative Sub-Committee, as well as Montgomery County Bar Association Children and the Law Committee and Education Law Committee. She is active in her community, where she serves on local youth sports organizations and on her children’s school’s Home and School Association Board.

 Lauren has found her calling in giving children a voice. She is dedicated to continuing that work with Child USA by championing children’s rights.

 Staff Attorney

Jessica Schidlow joins CHILD USA as a Staff Attorney with an extensive background in child welfare. Jessica holds a Master’s degree in Professional Clinical and Counseling Psychology and worked as an out-patient child and family-based therapist before pursing her legal education. After law school, Jessica joined the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office in their Child Advocacy Unit where she represented hundreds of at-risk and dependent youth in their Juvenile and Orphan’s Court proceedings. Jessica is committed to advancing the rights of children and improving the outcomes for court-involved youth by ensuring practices that are trauma-informed and congruent with legal, medical, and social-science research.

Jessica earned her B.A. in Psychology from Temple University, Honors Program. She earned her M.A. in Professional Clinical and Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University, graduating with distinction. Jessica earned her J.D. from of Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, 2-year accelerated program, where she served as a research assistant and president of the Health Law Society. Jessica is a National Board-Certified Counselor and member of the National Association of Counsel for Children. She also serves on the Children and the Law Committee for the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Children’s Rights Legislative Subcommittee for the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Lead Social Science Researcher

Carter Timon joins CHILD USA with experience conducting research in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and having covered such diverse topics as the expression of sexuality in conversation, new religious movements, and the performance of behavioral science. His most recent work focused on increasing therapists’ adoption of evidence-based practice when caring for traumatized children. Carter received his Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania where he specialized in semiotic anthropology. He received his B.S. in Psychology, Linguistics, Anthropology and Sociology from Ursinus College, where he earned the Jessie Ashworth Miller Prize for his work in Anthropology and Sociology. He is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Delta Phi Society. Carter is drawn to CHILD USA by his drive to improve all individuals’ (and therefore our collective, too) wellbeing. 

Social Science Researcher

Elizabeth Allen joins CHILD USA with a background in child maltreatment research. She graduated magna cum laude from Bucknell University in 2013 with a double major in Psychology and Spanish and a minor in Women’s Studies. Additionally, Elizabeth earned a Master’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University in Human Development and Family Studies where she was part of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network. She is interested in risk and resilience mechanisms following child maltreatment and translating research into practice. Elizabeth is excited to be a part of CHILD USA and is passionate about their mission to protect children and inform child welfare policy.

Social Science Researcher

AJ Ortiz joins CHILD USA after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Science in Social Policy program. He graduated from Millersville University in 2014 with a degree in social work and went on to work in educational settings and complete a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Before coming to Penn, AJ worked as a therapeutic foster parent recruiter and conducted trainings on complex trauma, human trafficking prevention, and specialized foster care. During graduate school, he co-authored a paper analyzing evidence for programs serving youth aging out of foster care and studied implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act. AJ’s primary focus is preventing institutional child abuse, particularly in residential facilities. He is ultimately interested in using mixed-methods social science research to inform child protection policies nationwide.


Andrew Boster grew up in a small Mid-Western town in Illinois and graduated from Augustana College (Rock Island, IL) with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Psychology and Speech Communications Majors, Paleontology Minor).  He subsequently moved to Fort Worth, TX where he managed a Walgreen’s store and then owned and managed a security firm in Dallas.  He went on to become a successful federal grant writer for governmental and non-profit entities primarily in Texas and Florida.


As a grant writer since 2007, he is proud of the noble missions he has been able to further through his writing and management of a vast array of grant funding programs.  Federal agencies Andrew has written award winning proposals to and managed grants from include the Department of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Federal Transit Administration, National Endowment for the Arts, FEMA, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, among many other federal and state agencies. 


A few notable projects he has been an integral part of include Domestic Violence prevention efforts in Ventura County, CA, COVID-19 information dissemination efforts to low income urban communities throughout the U.S., TEX Rail, Fort Worth Bike Sharing, the Trinity Railway Express, the Arts Council of Fort Worth, and multiple multi-billion dollar intermodal transportation initiatives through the North Central Texas Council of Governments.


In addition to grant writing, Andrew is a few weeks away from becoming a licensed real estate agent in Texas and he also manages his wife’s small STEM focused tutoring business.


Andrew, his wife, and five year old son live in Midlothian, TX which is a small but growing community about 25 miles south of Dallas.  He is a graduate of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Leading Edge Program and a participant in the Leadership Fort Worth Program prior to moving to Florida.  He loves being actively involved in the communities in which he lives and currently volunteers through Rotary and Meals on Wheels, an initiative he has helped with since he was 12 years old.


Andrew’s favorite way to spend his time is with his family.  Coaching his son’s YMCA basketball team, fixing dinner together in the evenings, and being engaged in church as a family are activities he holds in high regard.  Personally, Andrew enjoys leading an active lifestyle.  Lifting weights, swimming, learning and trying out new recipes, and travelling to new places with his wife and son are a few of the favorites.


Postgraduate Fellow

Nicole Brigstock graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020 with a B.A. in Political Science. Her passions include human rights activism, climate justice and sustainability, and community organizing. Nicole has published research and journalistic articles on sex trafficking in Ohio and Nepal. As an undergraduate, she worked as an organizing fellow on Penn’s campus and interned in the Juvenile Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. She plans to spend the next few years working and traveling before heading off to Law School to continue studying human rights.

Postgraduate Fellow

Shayna Chernak joins CHILD USA as a recent graduate from Boston University. She previously interned for CHILD USA and has extensive background with social media, public relations, and media logistics. Shayna received her Bachelor of Science in Communications and a minor in political science in 2019. Her personal and professional experiences have made her passionate about children’s rights. She plans to become a child advocacy lawyer in the future.

Postgraduate Fellow

Simone joined CHILD USA as a Fox Leadership Fellow during her senior year at the University of Pennsylvania and now works as a Postgraduate Fellow. From her experiences as an elite youth athlete and a member of a Division I varsity sports team during college, she is deeply passionate about the issue of abuse in athletics and CHILD USA and the Game Over Commission’s work to protect vulnerable children.

Simone received her B.A. in Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, where she served as the representative of student-athletes on the University Council. During college, she interned at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and at the United States Supreme Court. She plans to attend law school and pursue a legal career defending human rights with a focus on women’s and girls’ issues.



University of Pennsylvania: Research and Development Intern

Laura Crawford joins CHILD USA for the summer after finishing her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania. Laura is majoring in anthropology and minoring in math and computer science. Since quarantine started she’s been reading, going for long walks, and wishing that she could have a puppy. She is excited to work with CHILD USA and get a look into the nonprofit world.

Vanderbilt University: Communications Intern

Brooke Deasy has joined this summer as a Communications Intern at CHILD USA. She currently lives in a suburb of Philly, and is a prospective sophomore at Vanderbilt University studying both English and Economics. She loves to read and write, and plans on pursuing a literary career, most likely publishing realistic fiction novels. She is passionate about children and absolutely loves working with young students. At Vanderbilt, she is on the dance team and performs at football and basketball games, in addition to volunteering in the greater Nashville community.

Villanova University: Research & Development Intern

Grace Jang was born in South Korea and moved to Los Angeles, CA with her immediate family when she was three. Now, she lives in Bergen County, New Jersey and is a junior at Villanova University working towards getting her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies with a minor in Humanities. She is excited to join the CHILD USA team this summer as an intern, because she is very passionate about all the causes that CHILD USA works towards. 

Harvard University: Research & Development Intern

Janella is a graduate of University of Washington with Bachelor’s in Biochemistry and Applied Mathematics, and now is pursuing a Master’s in Public Health studying Global and Population Health and Child Protection at Harvard University. Her prior experiences span across immunology research, child welfare, robotics, GIS, clinical medicine, and public health in Korea and the U.S. She is interested in social determinants of maternal and child health and the crossovers in health policies. Upon graduation, Janella looks forward to either apply for PA school or be involved in child-protection employments analyzing and designing community-centered health care for women and children in low-resource settings as well as children experiencing child abuse and maltreatment.

University of Pennsylvania: Fox Fellow

Claire is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Health and Societies with a concentration in Health Policy and Law, and minoring in Latin American and Latino Studies. She has a background in social science and legal research and is interested in the intersection of the legal and healthcare systems, particularly in how they can better serve marginalized communities.
She is exited to apply these interests to her work with CHILD USA and their mission of protecting children’s welfare through abuse prevention and Family Court reform.

University of Pennsylvania: Fox Fellow

Grace graduated from Penn in May 2020 with a Bachelors in Arts in the Biological Basis of Behavior (Neuroscience) and minors in Medical Sociology and Health Services Management. She is very passionate about mental health advocacy and education. In her spare time, she loves watching live theater and elite gymnastics. She’s excited to be working with CHILD USA this summer! 

Pennsylvania State University: Research & Development Intern

Katie joins CHILD USA as a Research and Development intern this summer. She is a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Biobehavioral Health, and is continuing on to receive her Masters of Public Health from Penn State’s College of Medicine. During her time as an undergraduate at Penn State, she was actively involved with the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, working as a research assistant with the Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative. This is where her passion for preventing child abuse and neglect began, and she is excited to continue this important work with CHILD USA! 






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Philadelphia, PA 19104




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