Meet Our Team

Amy Lemley

Executive Director

Amy Lemley is the Executive Director of John Burton Advocates for Youth, founded by former California State Senator John Burton. John Burton Advocates for Youth is a state-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and youth in foster care and homeless children by advocating for policy change, providing technical assistance and training and conducting research. Prior to joining the John Burton Foundation, Ms. Lemley was the Executive Director and co-founder of First Place for Youth, a nationally-recognized program providing affordable housing and supportive services to former foster youth.

Debbie Raucher

Project Director

Debbie Raucher has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and currently serves as John Burton Advocates for Youth’s Project Director, providing leadership and strategic visioning for our Education initiatives. In this role, Ms. Raucher provides technical assistance and training designed to improve post-secondary educational outcomes for foster youth along with implementation of a statewide advocacy agenda crafted to better address the needs of foster youth attending college.

Ms. Raucher has worked in the social services field for over 20 years including extensive work in the areas of implementation of Extended Foster Care and developing solutions to homelessness. Prior to her role developing the post-secondary education program California College Pathways, she worked with the John Burton Advocates for Youth’s Homeless Youth Capacity Building Project. Her previous positions include serving as the Deputy Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic where she oversaw all program operations for over 1500 units of supportive housing in San Francisco.

Simone Tureck

Associate Policy Director

Simone Tureck is a Bay Area native with a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Simone received her undergraduate degree from UCLA, and spent several years working with foster youth with severe mental health challenges in Los Angeles County. Simone was the Executive Director of the Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance from 2014 to 2016, and is currently the Associate Policy Director at John Burton Advocates for Youth where she also worked from 2009 to 2014.

Deborah Pruitt

Project Manager

Deborah Pruitt is an educator with over eighteen years’ experience teaching in California community colleges while also serving as a management consultant in the nonprofit sector. Her award-winning book Group Alchemy: This Six Elements of Highly Successful Collaboration is a practical guide for creating a collaborative culture in groups that can produce big impact and social change.

Jessica Petrass

Project Manager

Prior to joining John Burton Advocates for Youth, Jessica worked as a Program Manager at Hillsides Youth Moving On, serving transitional age youth (TAY). Jessica joined Hillsides in 2010 as a therapist in the Full-Service Partnership program where she provided intensive community-based mental health services to children and TAY. In 2012, Jessica transitioned to the YMO department where she could continue to fulfill her passion and commitment to serving young adults. Jessica received her Masters in Social Welfare from UCLA and her bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego in Psychology and Communication Studies.

Martha Joseph

Operations Manager

Martha Joseph is a graduate of San Francisco State and has been with John Burton Advocates for Youth for almost 2 years. As a former foster youth, Martha has experienced the support of the John Burton Foundation first hand and she takes great pride in supporting other foster youth who are pursuing their education.

Luz Hernandez

JBAY Fellow

Luz Hernandez is a currently enrolled in San Francisco State and is a part of our JBAY Fellows Program. In this program Luz is learning the vital professional skills necessary to compete in the job market after she graduates with a degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Criminal Justice in Spring 2018.

Alexis Barries

JBAY Organizer

Alexis Barries is a Youth Organizer at John Burton Advocates for Youth. In this role, she advocates for policies to improve the lives of foster youth, homeless youth and youth involved in the juvenile probation system. Alexis was formerly in foster care and was part of the first cohort of youth to participate in extended foster care to age 21. She is a full-time student at Sacramento City College.