Ilona Prieto has been an advocate in the juvenile and criminal justice system for over nearly twenty years. Her career began as a front line public defender in Baltimore City. She moved from fighting on the front lines to trying to develop local and regional resources for front line attorneys through the National Juvenile Defender Center's efforts to build capacity and overcome barriers to quality representation as Director of both the Southern Juvenile Defender Center and the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center. She worked to develop training materials in Louisiana and assisted in the representation of over 150 youth who were abandoned post-Katrina without access to lawyers. Because of her work, she was recruited to lead juvenile justice recovery efforts in New Orleans through the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative at the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. Her efforts also supported the introduction to the court of the first ever standalone juvenile public defender office, Juvenile Regional Services, founded by her colleagues. She later directed the office. Ilona also held the position of Director for the Juvenile Life Without Parole Defense Resource Center at Barry University School of Law, working with state wide advocates and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth to implement Graham in Florida.