Public Counsel cherishes the memory of Virginia “Jenny” Weisz, the former Directing Attorney of our Children’s Rights Project, who passed away on January 20, 2024. Jenny’s brilliance, tenacity, and creativity left an indelible mark on Public Counsel and on the thousands of young people we have served over the decades.
Jenny joined Public Counsel to lead our Children’s Rights Project in 1992. Here she led efforts to promote adoptions, help loving adults in children’s lives become legal guardians when their parents could not care for them, provide legal services to students through legal aid clinics at high schools, and support teen parents, especially those in foster care. While at Public Counsel, she also published Children and Adolescents in Need: A Primer for the Helping Professional, a book informed by her own experiences as a lawyer for children. Jenny was a staunch believer in the power of providing holistic legal services, and she integrated social work into our practice from its earliest days. She mentored young lawyers and law students, and she forged lifelong friendships with both colleagues and clients. Decades later, our Children’s Rights Project is still thriving on the foundation she laid.
Jenny was a lifelong, passionate advocate for children. Before joining Public Counsel, she created the still-active Volunteers for Youth program based in North Carolina. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts later selected Jenny to build a statewide Guardian ad Litem program. In that role, she engaged judges, attorneys, and volunteers in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties, training them to protect the well-being of abused and neglected children. This network now includes over 5,000 volunteers and serves more than 17,000 children a year.
Jenny departed Public Counsel in 2004, when her family moved to the East Coast. There, she joined the Massachusetts Court Improvement Program as the training director, overseeing initiatives designed to increase child welfare expertise within the legal community.
Jenny is survived by her husband of 56 years, John; her sisters, Joyce Olney and Cannan Hyde; her brother, David Graves; her children, Dawn Brown, Allison Brettschneider, Daniel Weisz, and Tamara Weisz; and her grandchildren, Tyler Brown, Hannah Brown, and Sophie Brettschneider. Her memorial service will be held at Union Church in Waban, Massachusetts, on February 24, 2024, at 2:00 PM. Relatives and friends are invited.