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First Person

Leading the Way for Youth in Foster Care

Lexi Ivers
Lexi Ivers, SPA/BA ’18

Lexi Ivers, SPA/BA ’18, is using her personal experience and current coursework to prepare her for a career fighting for foster children in the U.S. Ivers was just 16 when she began working with at-risk youth in the foster care system of Philadelphia. She knew at that time she wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the system, and she dreamed of changing it.

“Through my own personal experience and my service work with Philadelphia foster youths, I became interested in using the law as a protective mechanism for children with histories of abuse, neglect and trauma, and lack of stable caregivers.”

It wasn’t until Ivers arrived at American University’s School of Public Affairs that she narrowed her scope of interest and determined how best to accomplish her goals.

“Upon coming to AU, I knew I wanted to study the intersection of policy and law,” she said. “I wanted to understand how I could use the law to protect foster youths but I was unsure of the best way to bring about change. As I began researching policy responses to support foster youths, I learned of the disproportionate number of foster youths who are victims of sex trafficking in the United States.” 

Ivers credits her coursework with not only setting her on a career path, but also informing her as a “thinker.”

“My coursework has allowed me to develop an acute understanding of the disconnect between the law's intent and the law's reality,” said Ivers. “I have developed strong writing and problem solving skills which allow me to think critically about fundamental inequities that impact foster children and craft persuasive arguments, which allows me to be the most effective advocate.”

At AU, Ivers’ is focused on studying law and society, public administration and policy. She is the Head Ambassador of SPA and Vice President of SPA Student Council. Away from campus, Ivers started and currently leads a student-run leadership development and mentorship organization, called Junior Youth Action, D.C. The organization is focused on middle school at-risk youth, with a focus on foster children. She has also worked for the Support Center of Child Advocates, where she examined best practices to support foster youths who have been victims of sex trafficking.

“In 10 years, I see myself working as a staff attorney representing classes of children in foster care in suits challenging inadequate conditions, abuse and over-institutionalization,” she said.

While working in the legal field directly with foster youths is her short term goal, her ultimate career goal is to become a judge, a position that will allow her to have the most direct effect on the lives of foster children.