Faculty, Fellows, and Staff
Melissa Carter joined the Emory Law faculty in December 2010 as the executive director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center. She directs the instructional and policy activities of the Child Law and Policy Center and the Juvenile Defender Clinic; supervises Center faculty, staff and students; and teaches related courses.
Prior to joining the law faculty, Carter served as the appointed state Child Advocate, leading the staff of the Office of the Child Advocate in the fulfillment of the executive agency’s statutory mandates to provide independent oversight of the child welfare system and coordination of activities related to child injury and fatality review and prevention. She has extensive experience in public administration and policy, having also worked for the state’s Court Improvement Project, a federally-funded program focused on improving the processing of civil child abuse and neglect cases in juvenile courts. Carter formerly practiced with the law firm of Claiborne, Outman and Surmay, PC, representing clients in adoption, assisted reproductive technology, and juvenile court deprivation (abuse and neglect) cases and was previously affiliated with Emory Law as Barton’s 2002 postgraduate fellow (now the Robin Nash Fellow).
Carter has published several articles on child welfare topics including child representation and federal regulatory schemes, has been involved with the drafting and passage of multiple pieces of state legislation, and is a frequent presenter on juvenile law topics to child welfare and juvenile court professionals. She was selected as a 2009 Marshall Memorial Fellow. Carter received her undergraduate degree in psychology and her law degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Program Administrative Assistant
Melinda Banks began working for Emory University School of Law in October 2011, as an administrative assistant to the faculty and staff of the Barton Center and the Turner Environmental Law Clinic.
Before coming to Emory, Melinda’s experience was in the legal field, with over fourteen years as a legal secretary and paralegal. Prior to that, she worked for five years as an office assistant for the police academy which was held at Palm Beach State College (formerly known as Palm Beach Community College) located in Lake Worth, Florida.
Banks received her A.S. in Business Administration from Palm Beach Community College during her tenure at the police academy.
Michele Papotto came to Emory University in 1998, where she was an administrative assistant at Emory College. She began working at the Emory University School of Law in 1999, as the executive assistant to the dean before joining the Barton Child Law and Policy Center in May 2002. She has served as a member of the Staff Concerns Subcommittee for the President's Commission on the Status of Women. She also served as the Administrator for the Lamar Inn of Court, the Emory chapter of the American Inns of Court from 1999-2008. Papotto serves on the Citizen Review Panel of Gwinnett County Juvenile Court.
Papotto spent ten years as a public school music educator teaching kindergarten through sixth grade. She taught in New York for eight years before relocating to Georgia where she taught for two years in LaGrange, Georgia.
Papotto received her Bachelor of Music from Furman University and her Master of Arts in Music from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Director, Appeal for Youth Clinic
Steve Reba joined the Barton Center in 2009 as the Ford and Harrison LLP Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic. Reba directs the Appeal for Youth Clinic, which provides legal services to youth in foster care who are being tracked into the "school-to-prison pipeline."
Before coming to Emory, Reba served as a staff attorney for the Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children, a federally funded project aimed at improving the process for civil child abuse and neglect cases. At Justice for Children, he managed the implementation of a juvenile court process system and was part of a case review effort to learn best practices for areas targeted in Georgia’s Child and Family Services Review.
Reba is a former Emory Summer Child Advocacy Program participant and was placed with the Barton Center in summer 2007. His interest in child welfare policy arose during an internship in 2006 with the Dekalb Child Advocacy Center. Prior to law school, Reba played professional baseball.
Reba received his B.A. in Communications from Clemson University and his J.D. from John Marshall Law School.
Director, Juvenile Defender Clinic
Randee Waldman came to Emory in 2006 as the Managing Attorney for the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic. She supervises law and social work students in their representation of young people charged with delinquent and status offenses, engages in policy work related to juvenile justice issues, and teaches a course in juvenile justice.
Waldman began her legal career as a litigation associate at Debevoise and Plimpton in New York. She then spent over five years as a Senior Attorney at Advocates for Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring quality and equal public education services for New York City's most vulnerable students. While at AFC, Waldman represented parents and students at all levels of administrative proceedings to obtain appropriate special education services for students with disabilities, represented students in student discipline cases, served as co-counsel in several impact litigation cases in federal court, and directed the pro bono and law student intern programs.
Waldman received her BA from Haverford College and her JD from the University of Chicago Law School.
Director, Policy and Advocacy
Kirsten Widner directs the legislative and policy work of the Center, supervises students, and represents the Center in collaborative initiatives on the local, state, and national level.
After a successful career in business, Widner attended law school to pursue a career in child advocacy. During law school Widner represented both children and the child welfare agency through several internships in San Diego and Los Angeles. She gained policy insight and advocacy experience through her work in the University of San Diego's Center for Public Interest Law and Child Advocacy Institute. She was an editor of the San Diego Law Review, and her student comment on a child welfare-related issue was published by the journal. Widner was also a member of her law school's national moot court team, winning a number of national honors, including Best Oralist in Capital University's 2007 Adoption and Child Advocacy Competition. She graduated from law school with honors, was awarded the Dean's Distinguished Service Award and the D'Angelo Outstanding Child Advocate Award, and was elected to the Order of the Barristers.
Widner came to the Barton Center as a postgraduate fellow in law in 2007. In January 2010, she was appointed Director of Policy and Advocacy. She is co-chair of the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division Juvenile Law Committee and is a recipient of the 2010 Award of Achievement for Outstanding Service to the Georgia YLD.
Widner received her BS from the University of San Francisco and her JD from the University of San Diego.