Jane Paulson: Leveling playing field for foster kids

The year was 1990, and it was pivotal in Jane Paulson’s life. After spending a decade working as a social worker, she was ready for a career change.

IMG_9695Jane applied to be a legal assistant for a small family law office in Burien. As she sat in their reception area waiting to be interviewed, she thumbed through their personnel policies and was pleasantly surprised to see that this firm offered Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday.

“In 1990, few workplaces offered Martin Luther King Day as a holiday to its employees,” she recalled. “I liked the progressive thinking of this firm and thought this is a place I would like to work.”

She was offered the position and went to work for the firm and attorney Brian Linn, a man who devoted a significant portion of his practice to helping people who could not help themselves.

“Brian was a champion for underserved people,” Jane said. “He represented people with disabilities and installed a device to communicate with deaf clients. He also handled guardianships and represented vulnerable children in foster care and adoption cases.”

It was through Brian’s work in adoption and foster care that Jane was introduced to Lutheran Community Services Northwest. He represented the organization’s Permanency Planning Foster-Adopt Program in legal proceedings, and was a key partner in its nationally recognized model of care. Brian continued to serve as a champion for the agency’s foster kids until cancer claimed his life in 1996.

“After Brian’s death, my husband Allan and I wanted to do something to honor his memory. Brian and his wife were adoptive parents and finding permanent families for foster kids was important to him,” Jane said. “He worked with Lutheran Community Services on many adoption cases, including one of the first adoptions by a gay couple.”

The Paulsons worked with LCS Northwest to establish the Brian Linn Scholarship Fund to support education and career endeavors for foster kids. They knew that only 10 percent of foster youth attended college and an even smaller percentage graduated. They wanted this fund to give these kids an incentive to pursue post-secondary education. The first scholarship was awarded in 1998.

Nearly 20 years later, Jane continues to work for that family law firm in Burien and the Paulsons continue to be supporters of the Brian Linn Scholarship Fund. Thanks to their generosity, scholarships have helped foster kids with traditional expenses like tuition and books to apprenticeship tools and work uniforms.

“We’ll continue to help level the playing field for foster kids,” said Jane.

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