HARRISBURG, PA (Feb. 6, 2020) – Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. has named Emma T. Chen General Counsel. She succeeds Martin D’Urso, who retired at the end of 2019. YAP partners with youth justice, child welfare and other systems to deliver community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and the institutional placement of young people in behavioral health, drug treatment, developmental disabilities or congregate foster care facilities.
Before joining YAP, Chen was an employment attorney in McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s Washington, D.C. office, where she advised and represented a wide range of clients in complex litigation matters. Chen started her legal career in Detroit as an attorney with Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. focusing her practice on commercial litigation and international arbitration. She maintained an active pro bono practice at both firms.
Chen begins her position with YAP as the 45-year-old nonprofit experiences unprecedented growth, serving youth and families in 28 states (up from 22 states a year ago) and the District of Columbia. YAP’s evidence-based model relies on paid neighborhood-based advocate-mentors, whose training enables them to empower young people to realize their strengths while connecting them and their parents/guardians with tools to firm their foundations. YAP has also begun to adapt its unique strength-based model to support adults returning home after long prison sentences that began in their youth.
Born to parents who immigrated to Michigan from Taiwan, Chen is a staunch advocate for racial equity, inclusion and civil rights. She serves on the board and is a past president of American Citizens for Justice, a nonprofit Asian-American civil rights organization that fights discrimination through civic engagement and community advocacy. She has also held leadership roles with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area, Inc. and the Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Frequently invited to speak at workshops and conferences on diversity, leadership, and employment law, Chen has received many honors, including being named to Super Lawyers® 2013 Michigan Rising Stars list and Lawyers of Color’s Inaugural Hot List that same year.
Chen earned her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where in her third year, she served as an Executive Editor of the Journal of Business and Employment Law. She spent her first summer as an intern with Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division in New York, where she worked with attorneys, foster parents, social workers and caseworkers to represent New York City’s children. Ms. Chen received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Yale University.