Meet Our Staff & Board
heatherb [at] ejusa [dot] org
Heather is based just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Talk to her to if you are a member of a conservative faith group or if you have contacts in the conservative community.
Heather joined EJUSA after three years of working for the Montana Abolition Coalition. There Heather did outreach and public education amongst Evangelicals, political conservatives and members of law enforcement. As a result of Heather’s tremendous success engaging these communities, repeal legislation is closer to passage in Montana than ever before.
Previously, Heather worked for the Helena Pregnancy Resource Center, the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington DC, and for the Michigan Republican Senate Majority Leader, Ken Sikkema.
Heather graduated with a political science degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her favorite things are dancing, coffee and going to rodeos. Heather’s dad actually won a rodeo the day she was born and she’s been a similarly lucky asset to every person or organization that’s had the pleasure of her company since!
cherrellb [at] ejusa [dot] org
Cherrell joined EJUSA in mid-December 2011. She was so eager to get to work here that she negotiated with North Carolina A&T State University to let her move to New York and complete her last semester of college remotely. A tough negotiator and an overachiever to the core, she had no trouble convincing her school to agree! Cherrell has been organizing since her freshman year of college. She worked with Americorps to develop programs to improve retention of first generation college students, interned with the Beloved Community Center working on initiatives ranging from police accountability to environmental justice, received a grant to run a literacy program for a refugee relocation youth center, and chaired the Political Awareness and Involvement Committee of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. She also co-founded and later directed the student group, Ignite Greensboro. In 2011 she led a grassroots campaign that organized hundreds of students to effectively stop the reopening of a city landfill near a residential neighborhood. The march was the largest public action in Greensboro since the sit-ins in the 1960’s.
monac [at] ejusa [dot] org
Mona is a woman who knows what she is doing. She came to EJUSA with 10 years experience training, campaigning and organizing with Amnesty International on human rights issues in both the mid-Atlantic and Western Regions. We met Mona in 2002 when she helped win a moratorium on executions in Maryland, as part of her work with Amnesty’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office. All told she coordinated teams winning legislative policy victories in six different states during her time at Amnesty. In addition to her experience with death penalty issues, Mona is also a non-lethal weapons expert. She developed this expertise at AIUSA, when she advised police units on the human rights implications of their whole arsenal of non-lethal weapons. And as a bona fide member of the Barrow, Alaska Polar Bear Club, she actually jumped into the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean. Yikes! We’re just glad to have this tough woman on our side.
sarahc [at] ejusa [dot] org
We often call Sarah “the Dad” at EJUSA, because she fixes things. Anything. Whether it’s a broken computer or an obscure piece of information that only a dad would know, Sarah is the one to plug that hole. And that’s exactly what she does for our state partners as well! Sarah opened EJUSA’s Western Field Office in June 2009, bringing her skills and expertise to states west of the Mississippi. She came to EJUSA fresh from the 2004 election season, when she managed get-out-the-vote and poll monitoring campaigns for the Unitarian Universalist Association. Sarah has also worked for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), covering national policy issues, criminal justice, and the death penalty in Washington, DC and Philadelphia. Sarah is originally from Indiana and a graduate of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She is a Quaker, a professionally trained singer, and a competitive rower.
colleenc [at] ejusa [dot] org
You might call Colleen a good luck charm. She started at EJUSA in 2009 working as a close partner to the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. By 2011 Illinois ended its death penalty. Colleen then scaled up her work with the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty. She served as a lead strategist and helped to coordinate the nearly 200-strong coalition of murder victims' family members, who were central to the Connecticut campaign to repeal the death penalty. That campaign succeeded in 2012. So you could call Colleen a good luck charm but her incredible energy, dedication, and compassion are more than just luck. Colleen previously served as the first Statewide Coordinator and Executive Director for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP). Before MADP, Colleen studied philosophy and political science at Millikin University. She divides her down time between singing to her pup Penelope, trying new recipes, and scaling walls at a rock climbing gym.
JillF [at] ejusa [dot] org
Jill spent three years as Executive Director at Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty (NADP). During her tenure, she transformed NADP from a scrappy, all-volunteer organization to a serious grassroots powerhouse! She grew NADP's number of supporters by 150%, almost doubled NADP's individual donations, and helped build awareness about the death penalty's flaws throughout the state capitol. Jill was one of EJUSA's closest state partners while at NADP but now she's an official member of the EJUSA team. She will work closely with Emma to bring you all of EJUSA's online communications. We are thrilled we were able to nab Jill when she left Nebraska to do a Master's degree in Public Policy in Chicago. Now we've got this state superstar on the inside!
march [at] ejusa [dot] org
Marc Hyden joined EJUSA from the National Rifle Association (NRA) where he served as a Campaign Field Representative in the State of Florida. Prior to his service with the NRA, he was the Campaign Manager of a Congressional race in Western North Carolina. Marc has additionally served as the Legislative Liaison/Public Affairs Specialist with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security and as the Legislative Aide to the Georgia Senate President Pro Tempore.
BenJ [at] ejusa [dot] org
Ben joined EJUSA in 2012 just a few months after leading the campaign that ended the death penalty in Connecticut!!! No biggie. He was Executive Director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP) and - in partnership with EJUSA - ran CNADP's lobbying, media, and organizing activities over three legislative sessions. Ben started off as a volunteer CNADP but soon enough they wanted to hire him. EJUSA knows the feeling! We jumped at the chance to make Ben an official EJUSA team member once the Connecticut repeal campaign had succeeded. Ben is originally from Columbus, OH. He's a proud buckeye and graduate of Ohio State University. He now lives with his wife, dog, and two cats in Lawrence, KS, where he roots for the Jayhawks as long as they are not playing Ohio State.
laurap [at] ejusa [dot] org
When it comes to running and winning campaigns, Laura is the master. She once visited her child's preschool to give an impromptu lesson in civic action, and she helped the students organize a protest complete with picket signs, drums, tambourines, and chanting to get snack time reinstated. (The kids won, of course.) Laura brought that same spirit to EJUSA’s state partners and field program when she joined our team in 2008. Before that, as Deputy Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, Laura and her grassroots team defeated the death penalty in 2005 and have kept the state death penalty-free ever since. Laura has also assisted campaigns for the League of Women Voters and New Yorkers for Verified Voting. She was a Public Defender with the Legal Aid Society for twelve years and even worked as a legal correspondent for MTV!
sharis [at] ejusa [dot] org
As the longest-running employee of EJUSA, Shari is the vision behind EJUSA’s overall direction and within the broader national movement. She served as a key member of the teams that repealed the death penalty in New Jersey in 2007, ended New York’s death penalty in 2005, and gutted Maryland’s death penalty in 2009. Prior to joining EJUSA in 2000, Shari was Program Director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center and volunteered with a number of other organizations. She graduated from New York University and has a Master’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as an independent filmmaker in New York City in the mid-90s. She also swing dances and plays the bass.
lexs [at] ejusa [dot] org
Lex moved to Brooklyn from Los Angeles in 2011 to expand EJUSA’s collaboration with the communities hardest hit by the criminal justice system, namely communities of color. When he was in middle school, the National Conference for Community Justice came to his school to diffuse racial tensions. Lex eventually became a youth leader and then staff member of the conference's Brotherhood Sisterhood Camp. The camp changed his life and he knew he wanted to spend his life working for racial justice and improving the lives of people in underserved communities. He went on to work with teens, homeless youth, immigrant youth, and other at-risk constituencies around issues of HIV and health education, pregnancy prevention, and violence prevention for a variety of groups including the Children’s Hospital, the L.A. Free Clinic, and the Hollywood Teen Community Project. Lex has long used theater and other creative and interactive means to engage young people in confronting issues like race, health education, and stereotypes, including work with Encompass, JP Leary, and the Wisconsin Department of Education. He is a founding member of the L.A based youth radio program “Soul Rebel Radio,” which was expected to last 8 weeks and has continued for six years.
emmawa [at] ejusa [dot] org
Emma is the brains and voice behind EJUSA’s online and offline communications, including the Equal Justice Edition and our quarterly newsletter. She came to EJUSA from The Hunger Project, where she worked on a wide variety of communications and research projects to raise awareness about hunger and poverty issues. Emma has a Master’s Degree in International Development Studies from The University of Glasgow in Scotland and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Florida International University in Miami. She is also a lover of arts and crafts activities traditionally associated with juveniles, such as pipe-cleaner animals and dioramas.
jasonz [at] ejusa [dot] org
Jason is EJUSA’s people and systems guru, keeping the trains running so that our amazing staff can do what they do best. Jason comes to EJUSA having been a member of the planning team for the 2005 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Busan, South Korea and a Consultant for the International Crisis Group in Northeast Asia. Most recently, he focused on technology and communications strategy with The Tobin Project in Cambridge, MA. Jason also has substantial experience consulting with nonprofits to develop their budgeting processes and strengthen their board governance. He has a BA from UC Berkeley, an SM from MIT and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Less administratively, Jason has co-written a Lonely Planet guidebook and sings with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York.
eunice [dot] tim [at] gmail [dot] com
Eunice Timoney Ravenna leads organizational development programs for the local Cincinnati organization, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC). From 2006 to 2009 Eunice was the Midwest Field Organizer for Equal Justice USA, providing support to state campaigns working for a moratorium on executions in Ohio, Missouri, and Indiana. Eunice also spent eight years at IJPC prior to her work with EJUSA, doing public education, community organizing and advocacy on social justice issues. She is a co-founder of Families That Matter, an organizing committee for families who have loved ones on Ohio’s death row. Eunice served as the Director of St. Francis Soup Kitchen, taught adjunct at Xavier University in the theology department, served on the Board of the Sarah Women’s Center, and worked/volunteered with many other social justice advocacy groups and direct service centers. Eunice is a graduate of Immaculata College and has a Master’s of Arts from Xavier University. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Cincinnati Catholic Social Action Commission, the fundraising committee of Power Inspires Progress, and the Board of Trustees of Visions Community Services.
Jane Henderson is the Executive Director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions (MDCASE). In her current position, she is responsible for the leading anti-death penalty organization in the state of Maryland, conducting public education, organizing, and advocacy campaigns. Her leadership securing a moratorium on executions in Maryland won her the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's "Abolitionist of the Year" Award in 2002. Jane has been active in the movement for criminal justice reform for over two decades, beginning in 1990 when she founded the Equal Justice USA program of the Quixote Center. (And we are proud to have our founder now serving on our board since we’ve spun off from the Quixote Center!) Jane is the embodiment of the old saying that "all politics is local," - she can often be found chatting up prosecutors, legislators, and other political leaders at the county pool, the grocery store, or at her kids' soccer matches.
Peter Loge is the Principal of Milo Public Affairs LLC, a national communications and advocacy consulting firm. Peter has directed two leading national death penalty organizations and advised criminal justice reform and death penalty efforts in a number of states including Texas, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Maryland, New Jersey (where he was part of the team that led the successful abolition effort), and elsewhere. Prior to launching Milo Public Affairs LLC in 2007, Peter was a Senior Vice President and director of the media relations team at M+R Strategic Services, where he provided strategic counsel to a wide array of social justice, human rights, and other organizations. Peter was the first Director of The Justice Project, an organization that has led national efforts for criminal justice reform. He also held senior staff positions in the US House and Senate. And he throws great parties!
edl [dot] deleonlawyers [at] gmail [dot] com
Edgar De Leon was a member of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for 15 years, working as a Detective Sergeant and an attorney for the police department before he retired in 1999. In 2005, Edgar was part of an international team that trained police officers in the European Union on the handling and investigation of hate crimes. He has counseled law enforcement, community groups, and companies on issues of cultural diversity. After retiring from the police force, Edgar became a founding partner in a law firm whose clients include the NYPD Patrolman's Benevolent Association. In 2003, the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, appointed Edgar to serve on the Committee on City Marshals. He has also served as the President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, on the board of a neighborhood community organization, and as a legal analyst on Court TV. He is a recipient of the Network for Woman’s Services Commitment to Justice Award in 2000, the Borough of Manhattan Community College's Latino Honor Society Award for 2001, the Fordham University School of Law LALSA Alumni Award for 2004, and was named one of El Diario newspaper’s “Most Notable & Featured Latinos” for 2012.
urbangrief [at] aol [dot] com
Lisa Good has extensive experience working on violence reduction and with crime survivors in urban communities. She is currently the Program Director for SNUG/Ceasefire, an intervention initiative that brings together community members, faith leaders, and law enforcement to reduce violence in the city of Albany. Her experience working in communities harmed by violence, and personally having lost a family member to murder, led her to investigate what resources were readily available to people in urban communities, many of whom were living below the poverty line and predominately people of color. She discovered that the experience of crime victims in urban neighborhoods is largely ignored. She founded Urban Grief Team in 2001, a community based bereavement and crisis response team that offered support to those impacted by crisis, homicide, and death. She continues to make presentations on the crisis, trauma, and bereavement needs of victims in neighborhoods being disproportionately impacted by violence and homicide. Prior to directing the SNUG program, Lisa worked for 18 years at the Homer Perkins Center, a long-term residential drug treatment facility for adults. She is also an ordained minister and serves as an associate minister at the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. She is a graduate of Maria College (AAS. in Liberal Arts) and holds a Bachelors of Science from Skidmore College. She has served in multiple board and volunteer positions and received numerous awards and recognitions, including volunteer counselor for the Albany County Crime Victims and Sexual Assault Center from 1997-2007, Cornell Cooperative Extension Volunteer HIV Educator from 1990-2000, former Vice Chair of the Capital District African American Coalition Against Aids, former board member of New York State Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals, and 2008 Omega Chi Women of Distinction Award.
fakeemail [at] email [dot] com
Jonathan E. Gradess is Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA), a not-for-profit, membership organization dedicated to improving the quality and scope of public legal representation in New York. The Association operates the nation's only state-funded Public Defense Backup Center, serving New York's more than 5000 public defense attorneys. Jonathan, who has worked as a criminal defense lawyer, a private investigator, and a clinical law professor at Hofstra law School, serves on the Board of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty and is a member of the Restorative Justice Commission of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
lorijtownes [at] verizon [dot] net
Lori James-Townes is the Director of Social Work Services for the Maryland Offices of Public Defender (OPD) and a consultant for the University of Maryland School of Social Work on partnership initiatives with the OPD. Lori is also a mitigation specialist and has been providing alternative sentencing and mitigation services for two decades. Lori began her career in criminal justice volunteering at the Baltimore City Jail. She realized that the young men she worked with were just like the men who lived in the Baltimore projects she once lived in as a child. Working with the women inmates she realized she could have been any one of them. Since those days she has dedicated her life to uncovering and conveying the factors that impede her clients from remaining out of the criminal justice system. Lori serves on the board for the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and is the Chairperson for the organization’s annual conference. She also served as President of the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists for seven terms. She was named Alumni of the Decade by the University of Maryland School of Social Work Alumni Association and is a doctoral candidate at Morgan State University, completing a dissertation on former death row inmates now serving life sentences and their families.
msjesseb [at] verizon [dot] net
Jesselyn McCurdy is a Senior Legislative Counsel in the Washington Legislative Office (WLO) of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and is responsible for defending civil liberties in Congress and in the Executive Branch in the areas of criminal justice. Prior, she was a Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and a Legislative Counsel in the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union working on criminal justice issues federally. Jesselyn was also the Co-Director of the Children's Defense Fund’s Education and Youth Development Division, where she co-chaired a consortium of over 80 national non-profit organizations working on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. Jesselyn has also worked as the Assistant Section Director of the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, and was a staff attorney for the American Prosecutors Research Institute affiliated with the National District Attorney’s Association. Jesselyn received a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Rutgers University and her JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.
richard [dot] schrader [at] gmail [dot] com
Richard Schrader is the New York Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDC) and a veteran leader in the public interest movement. His political commentary and analysis is regularly featured on national and local news programs including Dateline NBC, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, ABC's Good Morning America, Good Day New York, and New York 1's Inside City Hall. Richard’s past includes involvement with numerous, high visibility litigation efforts, including the fight to free Darryl King, a wrongfully imprisoned New York inmate who was eventually released. He was a lead lobbyist in the creation of the New York State Capital Defender office that represented people facing the death penalty before New York ended the death penalty. Other former positions include political and media strategist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ in New York and New Jersey, Commissioner of Consumer Affairs in New York City (where he led the first law enforcement action against merchants selling tobacco products to minors), and Public Affairs Director of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
siem [dot] michael [at] gmail [dot] com
Michael Siem has been practicing law since 2000, and is now Special Counsel at the firm Baker Botts, where he specializes in intellectual property litigation with a focus on patents. He was formerly a Principle at Fish & Richardson, where he was the co-head of the firm’s Business Development for New York and has managed large litigation teams with litigation budgets of over $10 million. Mike has also worked on numerous pro bono death penalty cases. He argued two death penalty appeals before the Virginia Supreme Court and was lead counsel in a death penalty case in Georgia. Mike was a recipient of the 2008 Thurgood Marshall Award for Capital Representation given by the Committee on Capital Punishment of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Mike is also on the steering committee for the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project and was honored by the Project when they gave an award to Fish & Richardson for his death penalty work in 2012.
Fighting our nation's broken death penalty system can be hard work. We take it seriously, but sometimes we need to lighten things up to keep our spirits high. Here's the EJUSA team at one of our finer moments:
The EJUSA Bunch: workin' in the grassroots of your home town. Pictured above: Shari, Laura, Rebecca, Mike, Mona, Colleen, Sarah, and Emma
EJUSA office - Brooklyn
Our humble central headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. Our neighborhood, DUMBO ("Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass"), is home to lots of artists, designers, and filmmakers. As organizers and advocates, we are certainly the unique kids on the block. Our cheerful office has three large windows, which keep our space filled with light even during our movement’s darker days. And if you contort your body just so, you can even catch a glimpse of the famous skyline and bridge view outside our window!
West Coast field office
The Seattle office that makes EJUSA bi-coastal, where Sarah Craft holds down the fort and revs up our western state campaigns. Though Sarah is the only official resident of the office, her Boston Terrier, Francona ("Frankie"), joins her many days, and the view of the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier keep her in good company.