A Statement from the Children’s Defense Fund
June 18, 2019
It is with deep sadness that we share the news that MaryLee Allen, the Children’s Defense Fund’s longest-serving staff member and an anchor of our policy work, passed away on June 13, 2019.
For more than 40 years—nearly the entirety of the Children’s Defense Fund’s existence—MaryLee took a lead role in shaping our advocacy for children’s welfare, health and safety. Over the course of her career, she left an indelible mark not only on the Children’s Defense Fund, but also on the field of child welfare policy. Every federal child welfare law enacted in the past four decades has been influenced by MaryLee and her unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children.
In 1974, MaryLee worked on CDF’s first-ever policy report, Children Out of School in America. In recent years, she worked to ensure the passage and effective implementation of the landmark Family First Prevention Services Act child welfare law. And every day in between, she worked tirelessly to make America a better place to be a child. MaryLee’s legacy for children lives on in the dozens of policies she helped create, the hundreds of careers she shaped, and the countless lives she touched.
The Children’s Defense Fund will continue to be a bold policy advocate for children, spurred by MaryLee’s belief that there is always more work to do and shaped by her determination to always make children the top priority. Kathleen King has stepped into the role of Interim Policy Director for the Children’s Defense Fund. Kathleen has been part of CDF’s policy team for the past 12 years, most recently serving as Deputy Director for Child Health.
The Children’s Defense Fund will hold a Celebration of Life event to honor MaryLee’s life, career and legacy on Monday, July 22 from 2:00-5:00pm. Doors will open at 1:30 PM. A one-hour program will begin promptly at 2:00 PM with a reception to follow until 5:00 PM.
The event will take place in the Knight Conference Center on the 7th floor of the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Avenue). Attendees should use the Freedom Forum entrance, located on 6th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and C Street, not the main Newseum entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Newseum is Metro-accessible (via Archives/Navy Memorial and Judiciary Square stations). Parking is available at the Newseum (entrance on C Street NW; $20 fee) and in nearby parking garages.
The celebration will be streamed online for those who cannot join us in Washington, D.C. Please check back on this page in the coming weeks for information on accessing the live stream.
The Children’s Defense Fund has created the MaryLee Allen Fund for Child Advocacy for those who wish to contribute to the continuation of the work to which MaryLee devoted her life. Those wishing to share notes of condolence or remembrance may do so below. These messages will be shared with MaryLee’s family and her CDF colleagues.