Diane Smith Howard

Diane Smith Howard
Portrait of Diane Smith Howard

Managing Attorney for Criminal and Juvenile Justice

Legal Services

A litigator with 24 years of experience in juvenile and education law, Diane Smith Howard’s work at NDRN focuses on conditions for children, youth and adults with disabilities in institutional systems. Specifically, youth in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and refugee resettlement systems, and adults with disabilities in the criminal justice and mental health systems. Diane provides training and technical assistance to the P&As on these issues. In addition, she advocates on these issues within the Administration and on the Hill, and works with a number of coalitions, including the Civil Rights Roundtable.

Diane holds a B.A. with honors from Colby College and a J. D. from Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, MI. She retains active bar licenses in Michigan and Maine. She has taught at the graduate and high school level and has published a number of legal articles. In addition to working previously as a senior staff attorney for education law at NDRN’s earlier iteration, NAPAS, she has also provided direct client representation, including systemic case representation, at the P&As in Maine and Michigan and for a legal services office in rural Michigan.

Diane’s passion for this work is rooted in a family connection to foster and adopted children with disabilities and to adults who are at risk of institutionalization due to a lack of community supports.