Mark McKechnie

Mark McKechnie is the Executive Director of Youth, Rights & Justice (formerly the Juvenile Rights Project), a nonprofit public defense and advocacy organization in Portland. YRJ represents children, youth, and parents in the juvenile court system; provides education advocacy for children in foster care and youth in the juvenile justice system through its SchoolWorks program; and advocates for children’s issues in the Oregon legislature.

Mark joined YRJ in 1999 as a social worker and advocate. He became director in 2008 and has been involved in a number of public policy initiatives, including a redesign of the children’s mental health system in Oregon, and several pieces of legislation that have been enacted to: 1) promote school stability for foster children; 2) protect confidential juvenile court records; 3) reduce school suspensions and racial disparities in school discipline; 4) limit sex offender registration law for juveniles; 5) promote relative foster care; 6) reform policies for selecting adoptive parents; and many others. Before joining YRJ, Mark taught English as a Second Language in Taiwan and worked in the children’s mental health field. Mark earned a BA from The Evergreen State College and an M.S.W. from Portland State University.

He suggests the following articles to increase understanding of the issue:

Texas study on School-to-Prison Pipeline: Breaking School Rules

Oregonian Op-ed from 2011