Faculty, Fellows, and Staff

Melissa Carter *Denise Fowler *Parker Leckerling * Stephen Reba * Randee Waldman *

Melissa Carter

Executive DirectorMelissa Carter, Director

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.

Denise Fowler

Administrative AssistantDenise Fowler, Administrative Assistant

Denise Fowler joined Emory Law September 2019 as the Administrative Assistant for Barton Child Law, Turner Environmental Law, and Policy Center. Denise is a graduate of Georgia State University and is currently completing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Georgia Southwestern State University. Denise has worked her way through the education system in administrative support positions with 15+ years of experience. She began working at an elementary school, high school, college, and now law school. Denise enjoys taking long walks, fitness boot camps, and spending time with family and friends. She has recently started biking and exploring nature trails.

Parker Leckerling

Policy Fellow

Parker Leckerling joined the Barton Child Law and Policy Center in August 2020 as the postgraduate policy fellow. Originally from upstate New York, Parker attended college in western Virginia, where he majored in American History with a concentration on Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement. After graduating, he moved to Portland, OR where  he spent several years exploring various career paths including environmental advocacy and legal administration. In 2017, he chose to attend law school in order to pursue a career in public policy and legislative advocacy. In law school, he immersed himself in policy development and advocacy via extensive coursework, a summer internship in the United States House of Representatives, and three semesters of service as a student intern with the Barton Center. During that time, he observed and advocated in both years of the 2019-2020 biennial session of Georgia’s General Assembly, produced multiple legislative analyses of bills affecting the child welfare space, and contributed to a white paper on the effects of direct observation drug screening on individuals with histories of trauma.

Parker earned his B.A. in American History from Washington and Lee University and his J.D. from Emory University School of Law.

Stephen Reba

Director, Appeal for Youth Clinic Steve Reba, APPEAL for Youth

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.

Randee Waldman

Director, Juvenile Defender ClinicRandee Waldman, Juvenile Defender Clinic

Randee J. Waldman serves as the Director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law. In this role, she supervises law students in holistic representation of young people charged with delinquent and status offenses. In addition to representing these clients in their juvenile court cases, she and her students also represent them in special education proceedings, school suspension proceedings, and other forums according to the clients' needs. Professor Waldman engages in policy work related to juvenile justice issues and teaches courses in juvenile justice and education law.

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.

Professor Waldman is a widely respected trainer, speaker, and writer. She is a NITA certified trial skills trainer and a certified trainer for the National Juvenile Defender Center's Juvenile Training Immersion Program. She has presented at numerous regional and national conferences. Professor Waldman serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Association of Counsel for Children, the Advisory Board for the Southern Juvenile Defender Center, and the Executive Committee of the newly created Child Protection and Advocacy Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is also an active member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the juvenile justice committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Clinical Legal Education Association.

Waldman received her BA from Haverford College and her JD from the University of Chicago Law School.