The judiciary is out of step with the country.
unrig the courts
Progressives must prioritize enlivening the entire federal bench, from the District Courts to the Supreme Court by nominating young, progressive lawyers.
our vision for the circuit courts
It’s time for progressives to recognize the power that can be built by putting young, progressive—and qualified—lawyers on the bench.
If we want to change the nature of justice in this country, it’s not enough to just talk about the Supreme Court. We must think about who should be appointed to the circuit courts.
It is long past time for a federal judiciary that reflects the diversity of the people impacted by that judiciary. It is long past time for an appellate bench filled with rising progressive stars. And it is long past time for Democratic administrations to nominate younger judges.
a numbers game
The federal judiciary does not represent who we are.
It does not represent who we want to be.
% of active circuit court judges were partners at corporate law firms
active circuit court judges are women of color
% of active circuit court judges went to harvard or yale
% of circuit court judges spent the majority of their career in legal aid or public defense
our future judges
Deputy Director of Litigation, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund
Leah Aden is the Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF), where she uses litigation, legislative, policy, and public education strategies to ensure that Black people have access to the political process, economic opportunity, and environmental justice.
Leah was a member of the LDF’s litigation team in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder in which the Supreme Court immobilized Section 5, the heart of the Voting Rights Act. To document the loss of Section 5’s protections, Leah authored Democracy Diminished: State and Local Threats to Voting Post-Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, which details state, county, and local voting changes — proposed or implemented — since Shelby County.
Leah has successfully led LDF’s efforts to block a panoply of discriminatory voting changes, including to early voting and polling places. Leah represents students at a historically Black university who have been denied access to on-campus early voting in Allen, et al. v. Waller, et al. Leah has also successfully represented Black voters in a number of statewide cases, blocking implementation of discriminatory photo identification laws and challenging at-large methods of electing members to government bodies. In addition, Leah advocates for the abolition of prison-based gerrymandering and felony disenfranchisement laws, and represents organizations and individuals in Gruver, et al. v. Barton, et al., a challenge to Florida legislation undermining a historic ballot initiative that restored the right to vote to 1.4 million people with felony convictions. Leah also works with environmental justice advocates to urge the EPA to protect against environmental racism.
Prior to joining LDF, Leah earned the prestigious Fried Frank/LDF Fellowship and worked as a litigation associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP. She also previously served as a fellow at the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she focused on public education issues, including school desegregation and education adequacy litigation. Leah served as a law clerk to the Honorable John T. Nixon of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, and received her J.D. from Howard University School of Law.
Founding Executive Director, Detroit Justice Center
Amanda Alexander is a community-oriented movement lawyer who has worked to end mass incarceration, advance racial justice, and build thriving and inclusive cities in New York, South Africa, and now in her home state of Michigan.
Community provides strength and purpose for Amanda, who grew up in Southfield and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her father was incarcerated when she was five years old, which ultimately inspired her mission to fix the criminal justice system.
Today, Amanda is the founding Executive Director of the Detroit Justice Center (DJC), which promotes inclusive economic development and catalyzes change within the criminal justice system through community lawyering. DJC’s work is varied; in May 2020, it filed a class action lawsuit against Wayne County, MI on behalf of medically vulnerable plaintiffs in Wayne County Jails, while the Just City Innovation Lab convened Detroit changemakers experimenting with restorative justice approaches to architecture and urban planning and the Economic Equity team continued assisting community land trusts.
In addition to her work with DJC, Amanda is a Senior Research Scholar at University of Michigan Law School, a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, and serves on the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration as appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She launched the Prison & Family Justice Project at the University of Michigan Law School to provide legal representation to incarcerated parents and advocate for families divided by the prison and foster care systems. Her compassionate advocacy has garnered countless accolades, including selection to the inaugural class of John Legend’s Unlocked Futures accelerator, a 16-month program for social entrepreneurs working in the criminal justice field; a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship; the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s Community Builder Award; and the NAACP-Detroit’s Great Expectations Award.
Amanda is not only a racial justice lawyer and historian, but also a writer and legal scholar; she has been published in Truthout, Detroit Free Press, Harvard Journal of African-American Public Policy, Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal, and Review of African Political Economy, among other places.
Supreme Court & Appellate Counsel, MacArthur Justice Center
Easha Anand serves as Supreme Court & Appellate Counsel at the MacArthur Justice Center in Washington, D.C. She litigates police excessive force, criminal defense, habeas, prison conditions, and other civil rights cases around the country.
At MacArthur, Easha focuses on addressing the strategic imbalance facing criminalized defendants and other marginalized groups. Prior to joining the MacArthur Justice Center, Easha was an attorney with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in California, where she secured a grant of certiorari from the Supreme Court for a victim of a police shooting and argued an en banc Ninth Circuit case that resulted in vacatur of a life without parole sentence imposed on her client for crimes he committed as a juvenile.
Easha is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the United States Supreme Court and Judge Paul J. Watford on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before law school, Easha worked as a journalist and as a capital defense investigator.
Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC
Jennifer Bennett is a principal at Gupta Wessler PLLC, where she heads the firm’s San Francisco office and focuses on cutting-edge public interest and plaintiffs’-side appellate litigation, covering issues including civil rights, consumer protection, constitutional law, workers’ rights, and government transparency.
In 2019, she argued and won a landmark, unanimous victory on behalf of transportation workers challenging forced arbitration before the Supreme Court in New Prime v. Oliveira—the first case in over a decade in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the party challenging arbitration. Jennifer also recently won a groundbreaking case in the Ninth Circuit vindicating the public’s right to access court records. Jennifer’s Supreme Court and appellate advocacy has been recognized with national awards, including the Pound Civil Justice Institute’s Appellate Advocacy Award (two years in row), the American Association for Justice’s F. Scott Baldwin Award, Public Justice’s Change Maker Award, and the National Consumer Law Center’s Rising Star Award.
Before joining Gupta Wessler, Jennifer was an attorney at Public Justice in Oakland, California, where she also focused on cutting-edge public interest appellate litigation. Jennifer received her J.D. from Yale Law School, and clerked for the Honorable Marsha Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Jesse Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the Honorable Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She sits on the board of directors of Justice Catalyst, and is a member of the advisory boards of the Project on Predatory Student Lending and the People’s Parity Project.
Assistant Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Maggie Blackhawk is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Maggie is a respected scholar in the field of constitutional law, federal Indian law, and legislation.
Maggie has multiple law review publications; acts as the Senior Constitutional Advisor to the President of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe; and in May 2019 was published by the New York Times, arguing that the Supreme Court’s legal abuse of Native Americans sets the stage for America’s poor treatment of many of its vulnerable populations. Maggie has also been touted as breaking new ground in federal Indian law for her legal activism and efforts to emphasize pluralism, diversity, and the reality of the United States’ history while teaching young lawyers.
Maggie graduated from UCLA summa cum laude in 2005 and attended Stanford Law School soon after. Past positions include the President of the AALS Section on Legislation and Law of the Political Process, as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law, and as an associate at the Washington D.C. firm Bredhoff & Kaiser.
National Political Organizer, Working Families Party
Tiffany Cabán is currently a National Political Organizer with the Working Families Party, where she is focused on recruiting and supporting decarceral political candidates.
As a public defender at New York County Defender Services for four years and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice for three years, Tiffany represented over one thousand indigent clients. Tiffany uses a holistic approach to build stability in her client’s lives, and has also helped her clients navigate the immigration system; secure employment; obtain VAWA or U-visa status; and secure Social Security, housing, and healthcare benefits.
In 2019, Tiffany ran for Queens District Attorney, falling just 55 votes short of winning the Democratic primary. Her platform, which included ending mass incarceration and civil asset forfeiture, decriminalizing sex work and recreational drug use, and prioritizing prosecution of corporate crimes, drew national attention and helped Tiffany win the endorsements of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and other progressive prosecutors like Rachael Rollins and Larry Krasner.
Tiffany was born in Richmond Hill, Queens to parents who grew up in public housing. Her father worked as an elevator mechanic and her mother was a children’s caretaker. Tiffany received her J.D. from New York Law School, which she attended knowing she would become a public defender.
Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
Matthew Campbell is an enrolled member of the Native Village of Gambell on the Saint Lawrence Island in Alaska who has spent his career focused on practicing Indian Law and working with Native American communities.
Matthew is a Staff Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund, where he has litigated voting rights cases against the state of North Dakota, drafted the brief on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians for the Jim Thorpe appeal, drafted the brief on behalf of several tribes and non-profits to protect sacred sites in the uranium withdrawal case, and represented the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly in advocating for federal policy changes and organizing and promoting education reforms. He has also implemented the Sacred Places Project, advocated for water rights settlement, drafted portions of amicus briefs on aboriginal title, and oversees the Native American Rights Fund’s law clerk program.
Before joining the Native American Rights Fund, Matthew was an attorney with Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP in New Mexico, where he focused his practice on Indian Law, education, water law, and general civil litigation. Prior to that, Matthew clerked for the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, with now retired Judge Patrick Irvine. Matt received his J.D. from Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he worked with the Indian Legal Clinic and clerked for Bledsoe-Downs and Rosier, PC.
Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition
Steve Choi is the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, a coalition of over 200 member groups that represents New York State’s immigrant communities.
Steve’s work at the New York Immigration Coalition is a culmination of years of non-profit work with a focus on representing Korean and Asian communities. Before joining the New York Immigration Coalition, Steve was the Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action; before that, he was Director of the Korean Workers Project at the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF). Steve has also worked in the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center in Boston, Greater Boston Legal Services, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Los Angeles.
Steve has received accolades from the New York Law Journal as the recipient of the 2013 Rising Stars Award, the Korean American Association with the “Man of the Year Award,” and was awarded the Skadden Fellowship, the Wasserstein Fellowship, the Skirnick Public Interest Fellowship, and the Harvard Law School Asian Pacific American Alumni Award. Steve also serves on the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
Managing Partner, Immigrant Advocacy & Litigation Center, PLLC
Luis Cortes-Romero is a managing partner at the Immigrant Advocacy & Litigation Center’s Washington office, where he practices exclusively in immigration litigation.
Luis is a trial and appellate lawyer who has represented clients in a wide variety of immigration-related cases, including constitutional issues, challenging immigration detention, immigration consequences to criminal convictions, and seeking waivers of inadmissibility. Luis has represented clients in high-profile constitutional litigation involving equal protection and due process claims, and in connection with governmental investigations. Luis co-counseled Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, successfully challenging the Trump administration’s attempted rescission of the DACA program before the Supreme Court.
Previously, Luis was a Managing Attorney for the Washington office of the Barrera Legal Group. Luis is a DACA recipient; he applied for and received DACA status during his third year of law school. Luis was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a year old, and his father’s deportation motivated him to go to law school. Luis is a first generation college graduate, and received his J.D. from the University of Idaho Law School, where he participated in the school’s Immigration Litigation and Appellate Clinic.
Staff Attorney, National Consumer Law Center
Joanna Darcus is a Staff Attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. Her practice focuses on litigation, debt collection, and student loan matters.
Joanna fights for marketplace justice through direct representation of low-income student loan borrowers. Her broader goals include the pursuit of good policies, litigation to right wrongs, and helping other advocates to do the same.
Joanna has extensive litigation experience: following her graduation from Duke Law School, she started as an Independence Foundation Fellow at Community Legal Services. Over the course of four years, she climbed the ranks to eventually become the Supervising Attorney and Francis & Mailman Fellow in Consumer Law. In this position, she supervised intake staff and designed organizational infrastructure to help low-income Philadelphians access free legal services. Joanna also worked to tackle her clients’ debt collection and student loan problems through direct representation and systemic advocacy.
Professor of Law, UC Hastings Law
Veena Dubal is a Professor of Law at UC Hastings. Veena’s work focuses on the intersection of law and digital technology.
Veena uses empirical methodologies and critical theory to understand the impact of digital technologies on the lives of workers; the influences of law and work on identity; and the role of law and lawyers in solidarity movements.
Veena is a widely published academic. Her work has been featured in the California Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, Berkeley Journal of Empirical and Labor Law, and Perspectives on Politics. In her most recent project, Veena is exploring how five decades of shifting technologies and emergent regulatory regimes changed the everyday lives and work experiences of ride-hail drivers in San Francisco. This will take shape in the manuscript Driving Freedom, Navigating Neoliberalism, and is a culmination of over one decade of ethnographic and historical study.
Veena’s work has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Slate. Further, her commentary and research on the intersections of technology, low-wage work, and organizing (particularly in the so-called “sharing” or platform economy) are regularly featured both in the local and national media and in a number of documentaries, including When Rules Don’t Apply, City Rising, and Gig a Uberização do Trabalho.
Staff Attorney, ACLU of Texas
Born and raised in south Texas, Rochelle Garza is a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas in the Brownsville office. As a fluent Spanish speaker and advocate for immigrants, children, and victims of violence, she has expertise in the areas of immigration, family, and criminal law, including how these laws affect her community on the border with Mexico.
Rochelle has been heavily involved in fighting for reproductive rights for unaccompanied minors in detention, including in the Garza v. Hargan case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Rochelle as guardian ad litem to Jane Doe. She has also worked against the “zero tolerance” immigration policies of family separation and denial of access to the ports of entry for asylum-seeking families and individuals. In September of 2018, Rochelle testified regarding the Jane Doe case before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Justice Kavanuagh to the Supreme Court. Rochelle has received national and state recognition for her work, including from the National Abortion Federation and the State Bar of Texas.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Rochelle was an attorney and managing member of Garza & Garza Law, PLLC. Rochelle received her J.D. from the University of Houston School of Law. Rochelle is very active in her local community, serving as a Board Member for the Moody Clinic, a rehabilitation services provider for children with special needs, and as a director for the Cameron County Bar Association, an organization of lawyers focused on fellowship, education, and public service. She is currently participating in the State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association’s LeadershipSBOT program that is designed to recruit, train, and retain Texas lawyers for local and state leadership positions. Most recently, Rochelle was appointed to a three-year term to the State Bar of Texas Committee on Laws Relating to Immigration and Nationality.
Senior Attorney, Public Justice
Karla Gilbride is a Senior Attorney at Public Justice. She focuses on fighting forced arbitration provisions in consumer and employment contracts.
Karla was a field organizer with the Sierra Club and with Green Corps prior to law school. After law school, she joined Mehri & Skalet PLLC, a firm specializing in its representation of employees, consumers, whistleblowers, and small businesses in high-impact cases. Here, Karla represented employees in wage and hour and employment discrimination cases, and consumers in class actions and cases brought under the Fair Housing Act.
After three year at Mehri & Skalet, Karla joined Public Justice. Since then, Karla has testified before the California and New York state legislatures on forced arbitration provisions, and has litigated a number of arbitration-related appeals in federal and state appellate courts. She has also focused on fighting the tactic of corporations trying to decapitate class actions by offering individual settlements to the named class representatives.
Beyond her work at Public Justice, Karla also serves on the board of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
Karla went to law school at Georgetown, and clerked for Judge Ronald Gould on the Ninth Circuit. Karla was born blind, and is a co-founder of the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, International Refugee Assistance Project
Becca Heller is a human rights lawyer, and the Executive Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), which she co-founded in 2008.
Becca founded IRAP while in law school. Today, IRAP is a public interest law firm that partners with volunteer attorneys who work pro bono on urgent refugee cases, often teamed with law students, to provide legal services to individual refugees as they navigate the application, appeal, and resettlement processes under both U.S. and international law. Becca initially founded IRAP at Yale Law School as a student organization to help Iraqis displaced by war; it has since grown to have chapters at 29 law schools, partnerships with more than 100 law firms, and has expanded its reach to refugees from countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Becca and IRAP played a prominent role in responding to the 2017 Trump executive order restricting people from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States. Anticipating the signing of the order, Heller and colleagues alerted IRAP’s vast network of volunteer lawyers to go to airports to assist those who might be detained. They ultimately brought the lawsuit IRAP v. Trump.
Becca, a Dartmouth College graduate, was previously a visiting clinical lecturer at Yale Law School from 2010 to 2018 before becoming a 2018 Macarthur Fellow. She has authored articles in Foreign Policy and the Stanford Social Innovation Review and is a frequent speaker on immigration and refugee issues. She has appeared on The Daily Show and will be featured in an upcoming Netflix documentary Immigration Nation. Becca works to expand pathways to safety for those fleeing persecution and educate a new generation of lawyers about the importance of access to counsel for refugees.
Becca is the mother to one young daughter.
Partner, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
Kalpana Kotagal is a partner at the Washington D.C. civil rights and employment law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC. Kalpana has an impressive range of experiences in civil rights and employment matters.
Kalpana’s work has included representing female sales employees in a Title VII and Equal Pay Act case against one of the nation’s largest jewelry chains (Jock et al. v. Sterling Jewelers Inc.); bringing suit on behalf of female sales employees in a putative class action against AT&T, alleging violations of the Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act (Allen v. AT&T Mobility Services LLC); and representing transgender beneficiaries of both private and publicly provided health insurance who have challenged the denial of transition-related care as discriminatory. Kalpana also played an instrumental role in representing Wal-Mart employees in the landmark Supreme Court case, Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which addressed the standards for class certification in employment discrimination matters.
In addition to her litigation work, Kalpana is also an active member of numerous non-profit boards. She holds memberships and board positions on the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative; non-profit labor advocacy group A Better Balance; consumer advocacy non-profit Public Justice; the American Constitution Society Task Force on #MeToo in the legal profession; and the Dean’s Council for Penn Law Women at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2018, Kalpana earned the well-deserved title of a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School.
Assistant Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Leah Litman is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Law School, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Federal Courts, and seminars on public interest issues and litigation.
Leah spent two years at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in its Appellate and Government and Regulatory Litigation Groups before turning to academia. Leah has previously taught at Harvard Law School, University of California, Irvine, School of Law, and Stanford Law School.
Leah’s work has appeared in the California Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, Duke Law Journal, and Northwestern Law Review, among other journals, and her recent research focuses on reproductive rights and federal post-conviction review. She is a regular contributor to the Take Care blog and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Slate.
Leah also maintains an active pro bono litigation practice; she was part of the litigation team in Garcia v. United States and on the merits briefs in Hernandez v. Mesa and Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt before the Supreme Court.
Leah is one of the co-hosts and creators of Strict Scrutiny, a popular podcast about the U.S. Supreme Court, and co-founder of Women Also Know Law, a media and academic tool to promote women and non-binary academics in the legal world. She is outspoken about sexual harassment in the judiciary and engages in critical dialogue on social media around topics such as the Voting Rights Act and diploma privilege.
After studying chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard College, Leah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School before clerking for The Hon. Jeffrey S. Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund
Natasha Merle is Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she uses litigation, legislative, policy, and public education strategies to promote racial justice, primarily in the areas of criminal justice, political participation, and educational opportunities.
Natasha is lead counsel in LDF et al. v. Trump et al., an ongoing lawsuit challenging President Trump’s creation of the racially discriminatory “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.” Natasha is a member of the litigation team in Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill, a challenge to Alabama’s discriminatory voter photo ID law. Natasha also co-authored the briefs in Buck v. Davis, resulting in the Supreme Court’s reversal of Mr. Duane Buck’s death sentence, which the Court found was poisoned by the toxin of unconstitutional racial bias.
Natasha is also Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law, where she has taught in their Racial Equities Strategies Clinic and Clinical Seminar. Prior to joining LDF, Natasha completed two years at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP as an LDF/Fried Frank Fellow, working on complex commercial and civil rights litigation. Natasha has also worked as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the District of Arizona and was an Equal Justice Works Fellow/Staff Attorney at the Gulf Region Advocacy Center, where she represented individuals facing re-sentencing on capital murder convictions. Natasha received her J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Director, ACLU Racial Justice Project
ReNika Moore is the Director of the ACLU Racial Justice Project, where she leads a team that uses litigation, advocacy, grassroots mobilization, and public education to dismantle barriers to racial equality.
ReNika recently won a challenge against the Small Business Administration for their decision to bar those who had served time in prison from the Paycheck Protection Program. She is a frequent commentator on racial injustice in the popular press.
Before joining the ACLU, ReNika was the Labor Bureau Chief of the New York Office of the Attorney General (NYAG). While there, ReNika led multi-state efforts to fight federal rollbacks of labor protections after Trump took office, fought the misuse of competitive labor agreements, and stood up for low-wage workers by enforcing labor standards. ReNika also oversaw the Labor Bureau’s appellate representation of New York State’s Department of Labor and Workers Compensation Board. Prior to her time at the NYAG, ReNika supervised the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s economic justice litigation, public education, and public policy efforts. There, she litigated myriad racial justice and civil rights cases including the class action Cogdell v. Wet Seal, which resulted in a $7.5 million settlement and provided for numerous compensation, promotion, and personnel changes to ensure opportunity for current and future Black retail workers.
ReNika has also served as a faculty member in the Shriver Center’s inaugural Racial Justice Training Institute for legal aid and legal services attorneys from around the country. Earlier in her career, ReNika worked at Outten & Golden LLP, a plaintiff’s employment law firm, and clerked for the late Honorable Robert L. Carter in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York after graduating from Harvard Law School. Before attending Harvard Law, she worked on economic development issues, including predatory lending and urban redevelopment, at the Greenlining Institute, an advocacy and public policy organization in California.
Assistant Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School
Sanjukta Paul is an Assistant Professor of Law at Wayne State University. She is spending this semester as a Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota.
Sanjukta focuses on labor regulation and antitrust; she also teaches courses in employment law and corporations. Her interests also include labor, market, and business regulation from a critical and reform perspective. These interests have been shaped by Sanjukta’s long list of academic and professional experiences.
Sanjukta is a well-respected and oft-cited scholar. Sanjukta’s current book project, Solidarity in the Shadow of Antitrust (Cambridge University Press), reinterprets the development of antitrust law in terms of its allocation of economic coordination rights, with a particular focus on work and workers. Her scholarship has also appeared or will appear in, among others, the UCLA Law Review, Law & Contemporary Problems, and the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law. Finally, her paper “The Enduring Ambiguities of Antitrust Liability for Worker Collective Action” was recognized with the Jerry S. Cohen Memorial Fund’s award for the best antitrust scholarship of 2016.
Following Sanjukta’s graduation from Yale Law School in 2003, she clerked for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After her clerkship, Sanjukta became a public interest attorney in Los Angeles focusing on civil rights issues. Soon after, she became a research and teaching fellow at UCLA.
Special Counsel for Civil Rights, Office of the Connecticut Attorney General
Joshua Perry is Special Counsel for Civil Rights at the Office of the Attorney General. Joshua brings years of experience in public defense reform and criminal justice work to this position.
Immediately following his graduation from NYU in 2006, Joshua worked as a staff attorney at New Orleans Public Defenders. He worked his way up to General Counsel and Counsel for Special Litigation in 2008, serving as a key member of management, and providing advice and counsel to the Chief Defender as the office recovered from Hurricane Katrina and expanded from 6 to more than 100 staff members. While in this role, Joshua developed and taught a comprehensive training curriculum for new staff attorneys and played a leading role in developing the office’s civil rights litigation agenda.
In 2012, Joshua left the New Orleans Public Defenders to become the Executive Director for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. Here, he led a staff of attorneys, policy experts, investigators, social workers, and youth advocates in the South’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to juvenile justice reform; developed and implemented organizational vision; and planned and oversaw legislative and policy reform agenda, communications strategy, civil rights litigation docket, external relationships, and development efforts.
Between 2016 and 2018, Joshua was a principal at a consulting and advocacy firm committed to advancing freedom, fairness, and social justice. In 2018, he became the Deputy Director of Connecticut Legal Services, and in 2019, the Special Counsel for Civil Rights of the State of Connecticut.
Senior Attorney and Managing Litigator, National Resources Defense Council
Jaclyn is a Senior Attorney and Managing Litigator at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Her docket includes complex environmental matters in both state and federal courts.
Jaclyn has served as lead attorney in many high-profile cases: defending a billion-dollar program for renewable energy and energy efficiency in California, defeating proposals to transport explosive crude oil by train, securing additional environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline, and invalidating the approval of a dangerous pesticide. Recently, she has brought challenges to the Trump administration both in litigation and in a public comment regarding the U.S. Department of State’s rule entitled “Environmental Protection: Regulations for Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act” in July 2020. Previously, Jaclyn clerked on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, worked as a Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation Fellow, and represented public agencies and environmental organizations at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP.
Jaclyn studied biology and political science at the University of Oregon before attending UCLA, where she received a dual degree from the School of Law and the School of Public Health, earning a J.D. and a Master’s in environmental health sciences.
Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund; Director, Civil Rights Clinic, Howard University School of Law
Ajmel Quereshi currently serves as Senior Counsel at NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), spearheading LDF’s work in the areas of education and economic justice.
Ajmel began his legal career with the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Maryland, where he argued before the Maryland Supreme Court and regularly testified before the Maryland legislature. Ajmel then worked as Staff Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, where he litigated complex class action claims involving the United States’ most inhumane correctional facilities.
In his work at LDF, Ajmel’s litigation experience includes leading the efforts in Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education, a case on behalf of a class of children in Baltimore who have been denied a constitutionally adequate education; challenging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s suspension of affordable housing regulations; fighting discriminatory tax foreclosures in Detroit; assisting in filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians; and representing an individual sentenced to death in Arkansas. He also coordinated a national coalition working to reduce the over-criminalization of Black children in schools and launched LDF’s work on behalf of airline passengers who have been subject to racial and religious profiling, resulting in the issuance of new federal agency documents guiding airline staff as to the proper procedures for the questioning of individuals aboard planes.
In addition, Ajmel serves as Director of the Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law, where he also has taught courses in Torts, Federal Civil Rights, Appellate Litigation, and Movement Lawyering. Under his direction, the Clinic filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and has filed amicus briefs in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as in Fletcher v. Lamone, in which the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland upheld the nation’s first statewide law to prohibit prison-based gerrymandering. His teaching has been recognized by Harvard Law School, which awarded him a Wasserstein Fellowship in 2016.
Ajmel is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.
Jessica Ramey Stender
Senior Counsel for Workplace Justice & Public Policy, Equal Rights Advocates
Jessica Ramey Stender is dedicated to centering workers’ experiences in legal advocacy, now as Senior Counsel for Workplace Justice & Public Policy at Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) in San Francisco.
Prior to law school, Jessica worked at Friends of Farmworkers in Philadelphia, providing legal assistance to migrant farmworkers throughout Pennsylvania, including mushroom workers in their eight-year battle to unionize. After graduating from Berkeley School of Law and working as a Civil Rights Fellow at the public interest class action firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, Jessica served as Legal Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., a transnational migrant workers’ rights organization, advocating on behalf of low-wage migrant workers in U.S. courts and before U.S. government agencies.
At ERA, Jessica focuses on sexual harassment and pay and pregnancy discrimination, and her litigation experience in these spaces is extensive. Jessica argued before an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit for an equal pay case and represented amici in Rizo v. Yovino arguing that an employer cannot use a woman’s prior salary to justify paying her less than male counterparts. She also testified before the EEOC in 2019 regarding the need for pay data collection to close the gender and racial wage gaps.
In addition to her work with ERA, Jessica coordinates the Stronger California Advocates Network, a statewide network of organizations promoting policy reform to improve the economic security of women and families. She also serves as Co-Chair of both the Women’s Rights Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice and the Policy Committee of the National Taskforce on Tradeswomen Issues, and is a member of the Policy Committee of the National Equal Pay Today campaign. Jessica was named one of the Top Labor & Employment Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal in 2018.
Interim Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Voting Rights, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
As Chief Counsel for Voting Rights, Allison Riggs leads the voting rights program at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, an organization she joined in 2009. In March 2020, she also took over as Interim Executive Director of the organization.
Over the last decade, Allison’s voting rights work at SCSC has focused on fighting for fair redistricting plans, fighting against voter suppression, and advocating for electoral reforms that would expand access to voting. Allison has litigated redistricting cases on behalf of State NAACP Conferences in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. In 2016, she successfully challenged North Carolina’s Voter Suppression Law, which the Fourth Circuit determined “target[ed] African-American voters with almost surgical precision.” In 2018, Allison argued the Texas redistricting case, Abbott v. Perez, in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2019, she argued the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case, Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina, in the Supreme Court. Allison works closely with grassroots organizations and communities of color as they seek to advance their political and civil rights.
Allison received her undergraduate, Master’s Degree, and J.D. from the University of Florida, and is on the Board of the League of Women Voters.
Executive Director, Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law
Vincent Southerland has dedicated his career to advancing racial justice and civil rights. In 2017, he joined the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU Law as its inaugural Executive Director.
Before joining NYU Law, Vincent served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender with the Federal Defenders for the Southern District of New York. Prior to his time at the Federal Defenders, Vincent spent seven years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he was a Senior Counsel. While at LDF, Vincent engaged in litigation and advocacy at the intersection of race and criminal justice, including the successful representation of people sentenced to death across the American South and children sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He also led LDF’s advocacy efforts around race and policing, and was lead counsel in school desegregation and employment discrimination matters.
Vincent previously served as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders, and an E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. He began his career as a law clerk to the Honorable Theodore McKee, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Honorable Louis H. Pollak, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Vincent holds an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center, received his JD from Temple University School of Law. He serves on the boards of The Bail Project and the Federal Defenders of New York.
Executive Director, Law for Black Lives
Marbre Stahly-Butts currently serves as Executive Director of Law for Black Lives, working with organizers and communities across the country to advance and actualize radical policy.
Marbre’s interest in pursuing a legal career was sparked after her father’s arrest for drug-related offenses when she was a child, where she saw firsthand a lack of representation by those in power in the criminal justice system. But first, she pursued studies and work internationally. After graduating from Columbia University and then earning a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University, Marbre worked in Zimbabwe organizing communities impacted by violence, and then in South Africa teaching at Nelson Mandela’s alma mater. Marbre returned to the United States and attended Yale Law School, where she created a peer-education curriculum and manual to help incarcerated parents involved in family law proceedings and gained experience with the Bronx Defenders, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Prison Policy Initiative. Upon graduation, she was a Soros Justice Fellow at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) working with families affected by aggressive policing and criminal justice policies in New York City; she was then hired as CPD’s Deputy Director of Racial Justice. In 2014, she became involved with the Ferguson uprising, which inspired her eventual turn to movement lawyering.
Marbre also serves on the Leadership Team of the Movement For Black Lives Policy Table and is a founding member of National Bail Out, a Black-led collective seeking to end systems of pretrial detention and mass incarceration through initiatives such as the #FreeBlackMamas campaign. In addition, Marbre is a city council designee to the Civilian Complaint Review Board for New York City appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. She was also part of the inaugural cohort of the Funders for Justice Advisors for 2017-2018, “selected in recognition of [her] expertise and leadership in movements for racial and gender justice, in police accountability campaigns and anti-criminalization movements, and efforts to inform more impactful grantmaking for community power-building.”
Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project
Chase Strangio has received national acclaim for his courageous leadership and advocacy for trans rights. Today, Chase is the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU LGBT and HIV Project.
After attending Grinnell College and working as a paralegal, Chase attended law school at Northeastern, where he came out as a transgender. Since then, he has emerged as a leader in queer activism. After graduation, Chase worked as a public defender in New York City under Dean Spade, now the first openly transgender law professor in the country. Chase was an Equal Justice Works Fellow and the Director of Prison Justice Initiatives at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, where he represented transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in confinement settings. He also co-founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund, an organization providing bond assistance to LGBTQ immigrants.
Chase represented Aimee Stephens in Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, which resulted in a landmark victory for LGBT and transgender individuals seeking protection from discrimination at the Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. Chase has also represented Chelsea Manning; assisted in challenging North Carolina’s “bathroom ban” bill; served on the legal team for Gavin Grimm, a transgender student denied access to the boys’ bathroom at his high school in Virginia; and challenged Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military. Chase’s efforts in the transgender military ban case were featured in “The Fight,” a documentary released in summer 2020 and produced by Kerry Washington.
Chase has won numerous awards and honors, including the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’s 2020 Stonewall Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws from his alma mater, Grinnell College. He was also named one of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Top 40 LGBT Lawyers Under 40 in 2018, honored by the Association of LGBTQ Journalists for Excellence in Opinion/Editorial Writing, named a Callen-Lorde Community Health Award Recipient in 2017, and BitchMedia “Bitch 50” Recognition of 50 individuals who have used their “creative or political power to further advance visibility, equality, or access for marginal folks” in 2017.
Ria Tabacco Mar
Director, ACLU Women’s Rights Project
Ria Tabacco Mar is the Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, where she recently led litigation against the United States Department of Education’s Title IX regulations on campus sexual assault.
Previously, Ria was a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, where she was part of the ACLU’s litigation team representing Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, whose cases were decided as part of the recent Supreme Court ruling Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia granting federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ people. Ria also led the ACLU’s team in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court case in which a same-sex couple was refused a wedding cake because they are gay. Ria has written pieces for the New York Times and Washington Post ranging from gender justice issues to life and parenting during COVID-19; she has also appeared on television programs including All In with Chris Hayes, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, and PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover. Ria was recognized as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association and on The Root 100 annual list of the most influential African Americans ages 25-45.
Before her time at the ACLU, Ria served as Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, where she participated regularly as amicus curiae on cases involving marriage equality. She also worked as associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; and a judicial law clerk. Ria began her legal career clerking in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
In 2012, Ria married Robyn Mei Ping Colbert Mar, Chief Practice Officer at The Bronx Defenders. The couple has twins.
Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Franita Tolson is the Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at USC Law. Her scholarship and teaching are focused on the areas of election law, constitutional law, legal history and employment discrimination.
Franita began her academic career as a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern University School of Law. She also held the position of the Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights at Florida State University College of Law.
Over the course of her career, Franita has written on a wide range of topics including partisan gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Her forthcoming book, In Congress We Trust?: The Evolution of Federal Voting Rights Enforcement from the Founding to the Present, will be published in 2020 by Cambridge University Press.
Franita’s work has appeared in leading law reviews including the Boston University Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Alabama Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online. She has written or appeared as a commentator for various mass media outlets including The Huffington Post, The Hill, Reuters, and Bloomberg Law.
Franita clerked for both the Hon. Ann Claire Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Hon. Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School.
Senior Counsel & Project Director, Lawyering Project
Stephanie serves as Senior Counsel & Project Director at the Lawyering Project, an organization she founded in 2017 focused on improving access to reproductive healthcare through innovative, intersectional litigation.
Prior to founding the Lawyering Project, Stephanie worked as an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), where she argued Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt and successfully protected abortion access for women nationwide. During her ten years at CRR, she also led a series of successful challenges to Oklahoma laws restricting abortion access and partnered with the City of Baltimore, Maryland, to defend a first-in-the-nation ordinance regulating the deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers.
Stephanie has extensive experience litigating in both state and federal courts, and in both trial and appellate advocacy. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law, Visiting Fellow at the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School, and a member of the Board of Directors of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. Stephanie has been featured in the New York Times, Time, Glamour, and Rewire; she has written for the Huffington Post, Time, and other sources, and appeared on Democracy Now!
After graduating from Fordham University and NYU Law, Stephanie was an associate at Fried Frank before clerking with Judge Nina Gershon, a federal district judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Director of Investigations, Office of Labor Policy and Standards, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs
Elizabeth Wagoner is the Director of Investigations in the Office of Labor Policy and Standards in the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
Immediately after graduating from law school, Elizabeth developed Make the Road’s Immigrant Women’s Workplace Justice Project, which provided representation to immigrant women in wage-and-hour and sexual harassment litigation against abusive employers.
Since then, she continued to devote her career to workers’ rights. She has worked with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in expanding its Fair Food Program; served as the supervising attorney for Workers’ Rights at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty in Albuquerque; and spent time as an Assistant Attorney General in the Labor Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General. Elizabeth also worked at the boutique employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP, where she took on class action minimum wage and overtime cases.
Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of Texas Law School.
Managing Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates
Rebecca Williford specializes in impact litigation on behalf of people with disabilities as a managing attorney at Disability Rights Advocates.
Rebecca has worked at Disability Rights Advocates since her graduation from law school. She litigated the class action BCID v. Bloomberg, representing more than 900,000 people with disabilities in a challenge to New York City’s failure to address their needs in its disaster plans. In ACB v. Hulu, she represented people who are blind and have low vision, resulting in Hulu’s agreement to make its website and software applications accessible via screen readers and to provide audio description tracks for streaming content where possible. Rebecca’s advocacy in Center for Independent Living v. Wal-Mart Stores led to the development of a novel card reader point-of-sale payment device accessible to shoppers with mobility disabilities.
In addition to her extensive litigation experience, Rebecca is also a co-editor of the book Lawyers, Lead On: Lawyers with Disabilities Share Their Insights and a past Commissioner of the ABA Commission on Disability Rights. She was recognized as a Disability Changemaker in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Rebecca began using a wheelchair at 18 to help manage dysautonomia, a chronic neurological and cardiovascular disorder. She is a double Tar Heel, earning her B.A. and J.D. from the University of North Carolina. As a law student, Rebecca co-founded and served as president of the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities.
Executive Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders
Janson Wu is the Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). He has devoted his career to LGBTQIA+ issues.
Following law school, Janson worked as an attorney with the anti-poverty organization Tri-City Community Action Program, and as an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
Janson joined GLAD as a staff attorney, becoming fully involved in the full spectrum of GLAD’s work. He has worked on projects involving the rights of LGBT elders; marriage and family law; employment benefits; and transgender rights. He also served on the legal teams for GLAD’s two federal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, GLAD’s class action suit against Walmart, and the successful asylum case of Ugandan activist John Abdallah Wambere.
Janson is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has served on the ABA’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the Legal Committee of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.