Governor Nathan Deal - Georgia’s 82nd Governor (2011-2019)

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Melissa Carter

Executive Director, Barton Child Law and Policy Center

Carter is a member of the Emory Law faculty and is the Executive Director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center. The Barton Center is an interdisciplinary child law program founded to promote and protect the legal rights and interests of abused, neglected and court-involved children through legislative advocacy, policy development and holistic representation, and to develop dedicated and knowledgeable juvenile law professionals. As  Executive Director, Carter is responsible for the administration of the Center, including supervision of clinical faculty, staff and students, development and budgeting, strategic planning and directing the Center’s policy and legislative agendas.  She oversees the Center’s three student legal clinics, directs the public policy and legislative advocacy clinics and teaches a related course in child welfare law and policy.
Prior to joining the law faculty, Carter served as the appointed 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 in Illinois and Georgia for the states’ Court Improvement Projects, 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 & Surmay,  P.C., representing clients in adoption, assisted reproductive technology and juvenile court cases and was previously affiliated with Emory Law as Barton’s 2002 post-graduate fellow.
Carter has authored several publications on child welfare topics, contributed to the drafting and passage of multiple pieces of state legislation, and is a frequent presenter on juvenile law topics. In 2012, she was appointed by Governor Deal to serve as a member of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. She also serves as an advisory to the Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children and as an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors of VOICES for Georgia’s Children. Carter was selected as a 2009 Marshall Memorial Fellow, has received multiple awards for service to the State Bar of Georgia and was honored in 2010 by the Georgia EmpowerMEnt Group for her advocacy on behalf Georgia’s foster youth. She was recently named by the Fulton County Daily Report as one of Georgia’s top lawyers under 40 “On the Rise."