Amanda M. Walsh is an attorney and social worker, or as she likes to say, “an attorney with a social worker’s heart.” Her passion is to promote healing through systems and policy change, a passion that is rooted in her and her family’s story of multigenerational trauma and poverty. Their story follows a predictable trajectory of failing systems and biased policies that led to her parents’ cycle of incarcerations, institutionalizations, and homelessness while Amanda cycled through foster care, social services, and a failing public education system leading to her lived experience of developmental trauma and disability. Her story is the foundation of her educational and professional experiences as a highly skilled strategist in policy, advocacy, and program and organizational development. Amanda is attracted to innovative models of care that proactively address the social determinants of health while providing healing tools at the individual and family levels. She is also a storyteller and brings the power of narrative to her personal and professional life, including uplifting stories of lived experiences and healing journeys as the most powerful force for social change and liberty.
Amanda currently leads the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, where she oversees all operations and organizes state agencies, policy makers, and statewide experts in collaboration building, policy development, and monitoring around child and family well-being. Prior to her current role, Amanda was a staff attorney at the Legal Council for Health Justice, where she started as an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Walgreens Co. and Baker & McKenzie, LLP. There, she established Illinois’ first pediatric behavioral health medical-legal partnership. Her work focused on legal cases and policy issues addressing the needs of children and families across the spectrum of mental health and across state systems, including special education, school discipline, access to mental health and healthcare, public benefits, child welfare, and general family planning in immigration.
She completed her undergraduate studies at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she designed a major in “Justice and Mental Health” with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She then received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she was a Civitas ChildLaw Fellow and completed certificates in Child and Family Law and Public Interest Law. She also obtained her Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) in Mental Health and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Health Law and Policy from Loyola. Amanda serves a member of the Chicago Bar Association and a founding member of the Psychedelic Bar Association and the American Psychedelic Practitioners Association. She volunteers as a founding board member, treasurer, and policy committee chair of the Illinois Psychedelic Society and as board secretary for Entheo IL. Her story has been featured by several news outlets and she has published and presented numerous times on child and family wellbeing. In addition to her selection as a member of Disability Lead, her many accolades most recently include a Fearless Children’s Lawyer of the Month award presented by the American Bar Association and selection as a 2021 Civic Leadership Academy Fellow at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
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