Speaker Bios

List of 2021 GRITS Conference Speakers:

Gina Balamucki | Professor at the University of Texas School of Law

Panel: Organizing in Law School 

Gina Balamucki is a student at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and an anti-racist and anti-fascist activist. During law school, she co-founded a protester support fund, assisted in the criminal defense of dozens of anti-racist activists, and engaged in a variety of campaigns against confederate monuments, the police, and white supremacist groups. She is particularly interested in the ability of arts-related direct action to create social change.

Bill Beardall | Professor at the University of Texas School of Law

Panel: Labor Organizing: From the US South to the Global South

Bill Beardall directs the ground-breaking Transnational Worker Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. He has practiced as a public interest employment lawyer for low-income working men and women since 1978. Mr. Beardall also serves as Executive Director of the Equal Justice Center, a non-profit employment justice and civil rights organization with offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.

Widely recognized for his experience in reforming public justice systems and private employment practices, Mr. Beardall is a leading expert in low-income employment law and in securing access to the justice system for working people regardless of their income or immigration status. From 1984-2000 he served as Director of the Migrant Worker Division of Texas Rural Legal Aid and from 2000-2001 he was Legal Director for Texas Appleseed. In 2001 he founded the Equal Justice Center which, under his leadership, has become the leading law firm specialized in enforcing the workplace rights of immigrant and low-wage workers in Texas and the surrounding region. He has also directed the Law School’s Transnational Worker Rights Clinic since 2004 establishing it as one of the nation’s foremost law school clinics specializing in employment litigation and the evolution of U.S. employment law in a transnational labor market. The Clinic is operated as a partnership between the UT Law School and the Equal Justice Center.

Matthew Stark Blumin | General Counsel at Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Panel: Labor Organizing: From the US South to the Global South

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in fighting human trafficking and gender-based violence at work. The CIW is also recognized for pioneering the design and development of the Worker-driven Social Responsibility paradigm, a worker-led, market-enforced approach to the protection of human rights in corporate supply chains.

Built on a foundation of farmworker community organizing starting in 1993, and reinforced with the creation of a national consumer network since 2000, CIW’s work has steadily grown over more than twenty years to encompass three broad and overlapping spheres: The Fair Food Program, the Anti-Slavery Campaign, and the Campaign for Fair Food.

Matt Blumin is the General Counsel for CIW. A graduate of Stanford Law, Matt had clerkships at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals before beginning work in labor law. He has since worked for Friends of Farmworkers, AFSCME, and now with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Jill CampbellDirector of Immigration and Citizenship at BakerRipley

Panel: Crimmigration in the Carceral State

Jill Campbell is the managing immigration attorney and the current director of Immigration and Citizenship at BakerRipley, a community center and home base for New Americans that has been deeply entrenched in the Houston community since 1907. A fellow graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Jill has dedicated her life to providing quality representation for low-income families, including newly-arrived and undocumented immigrants.

Her vast immigration work focuses on Citizenship and Naturalization; Deferred Action; representation of refugees and asylees; family reunification cases; and humanitarian-based relief. In addition to her legal work, Jill also develops materials and provides ongoing support for the Immigration & Citizenship Program’s Naturalization services and helps host the BakerRipley’s Immigration Forums and Naturalization Workshops.

Selene Cruz | Board Member at Laredo Immigrant Alliance

Panel: Not Policy, Power! Movement Lawyering in Action

Selene Cruz was born in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León, México. She immigrated to the US when she was 4 years old. She is now a DACA recipient and is earning her Masters of Public Administration at Texas A&M International University. She is currently a high school English teacher and an immigrant rights organizer in Laredo, Texas. Since 2017, she organizes with the Laredo Immigrant Alliance, a group led by immigrants and allies that fight for immigrants right by engaging, educating, and organizing the community. The alliance currently provides resources and support for DACA recipients and detained immigrants in the bordertown’s detention centers.

Alyssa Gordon | Law Students for Black Lives

Panel: Organizing in Law School

Alyssa Gordon is a second-year Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. At Texas Law, Alyssa co-founded and serves as the Co-Executive Director of Law Students for Black Lives, an Austin-based organization that works to eradicate racial disparities in America’s legal system, amplify Black voices, and empower all communities in the fight to eliminate institutional and systemic racism in American society. In her role as Co-Executive Director, she mobilizes law students at Texas Law through various direct action initiatives, advocates for institutional changes at the law school, and cultivates community partnerships to center Black voices within the legal system and larger society. Law Students for Black Lives is composed of over 150 activists and consists of six collaborative teams specializing in policy reform, outreach, marketing, direct action, human rights, and wellness.

Alyssa is a current impact litigation law clerk at the Southern Center for Human rights, a civil rights organization in Atlanta, Georgia that fights for a world free from mass incarceration, the death penalty, the criminalization of poverty, and racial injustice. She has strong experience in the sectors of civil rights, criminal legal system reform, and community empowerment.

Kelly HaraganProfessor at the University of Texas School of Law

Panel: Environmental Justice in the American South

Kelly Haragan is a clinical professor and director of the Environmental Clinic. Kelly joined the faculty in 2008. Prior to joining the Clinic, Kelly worked as legal counsel for national nonprofits including: the Environmental Integrity Project in Washington DC, Environmental Defense Fund in Austin, and Public Citizen’s Austin office. She also worked at the Austin firm Henry, Lowerre, Johnson, Hess & Frederick, representing citizen and environmental groups in permitting and enforcement matters. Kelly specializes in Clean Air Act permitting and enforcement.

Jaribu HillFounder of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights

Panel: Labor Organizing: From the US South to the Global South

Jaribu Hill is the Founder of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights and the Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Conference (SHROC) and is a human rights attorney and a veteran community organizer. Hill is a former Director of CCR South and during her tenure, won a permanent judgment against the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Columbia, South Carolina. She is a LDF cooperating attorney and serves as local counsel in a school desegregation lawsuit against Western Line School District in Greenville, MS. Hill is an international human rights spokesperson and cultural artist. Jaribu serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Noyes Foundation. She is a Special Master for Mental Commitments in the Chancery Court of Washington County, Mississippi and former Municipal Judge for the City of Hollandale, Mississippi. Hill is the author of Knowledge is Power, a “Know Your Rights” manual and co-author of the Black College Guide. She is published in various law journals, periodicals and reviews, including Southern University Law Review and Black Scholar. She is a featured commentator on the acclaimed TV series, “Murder in Black and White,” produced by Keith Beauchamp. Jaribu hosts “Talking Rights with Jaribu,” on WDSV 91.9 FM, a community based radio station in the Mississippi Delta. She is a former Skadden Fellow and the first Alum to receive the Dean’s Medal at CUNY Law (Class of ’95).

Barbara HinesProfessor at the University of Texas School of Law

Panel: Crimmigration in the Carceral State

Barbara Hines is a former clinical professor and founder of the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic. She directed and co-directed the immigration clinic of the University of Texas School of Law from 1999 to 2014. Professor Hines was awarded the 2014 University of Texas School of Law Massey Award for Teaching. She currently teaches as an adjunct professor at the law school.
From 2014 to 2017, she was a Senior Fellow at the Emerson Collective and worked on local and national immigration issues, focusing primarily on the detention of immigrant families.

She served on the Board of the National Immigration Project from 1997 until 2019. She is currently the Co-Chair of the Board of Grassroots Leadership, an abolitionist organization dedicated to reducing mass immigration and criminal incarceration.
Professor Hines has practiced in the field of immigration law since 1975. She has received numerous teaching and professional awards, including the 2020 Texas Law Review Association Leon Green Award, 2018 Ohtli Award for Outstanding Service to the Mexican Community in the U.S. from the Foreign Secretary of Mexico, 2015 National Women’s Political Caucus Women of Courage Award, 2015 Spirit of CHLSA award of the Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Association of University of Texas School of Law, 2010 National Lawyers Guild Carol King Award; 2009 MALDEF Excellence in Legal Services Award; 2007 American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching and 1992 AILA Jack Wasserman Award for Excellence in Litigation.

Professor Hines was a Fulbright scholar in Argentina in 1996 and 2004, helped establish the first immigration clinic there and continues to collaborate on immigration issues in Argentina.

She has litigated many issues relating to the constitutional and statutory rights of immigrants in federal and immigration courts including the lawsuit leading to the closure of the Hutto immigrant family detention center in 2009. She was involved in the drafting and passage of in-state tuition legislation for undocumented students in Texas, the first of such laws in the country. Professor Hines continues to work on national immigration issues and advocacy.

Professor Hines received her B.A. with honors in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1965, attended the University of Texas School of Law and received her J.D. from Northeastern University in 1975.

Rebekah HinojosaSierra Club Organizer

Panel: Environmental Justice in the American South

Bekah Hinojosa is an artist and organizer from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas currently serving as the Sierra Club’s Gulf Coast Campaign Representative. She works with communities along the Texas coastline to stop crude oil export terminals, associated pipelines, and three LNG fracked gas export terminals that would harm people of color and indigenous populations. She is inspired by building art with people of all ages.

Chaumtoli Huq | Associate Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law 

Panel: Labor Organizing: From the US South to the Global South

Chaumtoli Huq is an Associate Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law and the founder/Editor of an innovative law and media non-profit focused on law and social justice called Law@theMargins (www.lawatthemargins.com).  At CUNY, she teaches Contracts, Labor Law, Lawyering, and directs the Workers’ Rights Clinic.  

Huq has devoted her entire professional career to public service focusing on issues impacting low-income New Yorkers, workers in Bangladesh, and human rights issue related to South Asia. In 2014, she was appointed as the General Counsel for Litigation for the New York City Office of the Public Advocate, becoming then the highest-ranking Bangladeshi-American in New York City government, for which she received a New American Heroes award from the New American Leaders Project.  Along with holding leadership roles at Legal Services of NYC and MFY Legal Services, she also served as Director of the first South Asian Workers’ Rights Project at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, as a Skadden Fellow, and as the first staff attorney to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a multi-ethnic, immigrant and worker led labor organization.  In 2019, she was awarded the Access to Justice Leadership Award by the South Asian Bar Association of New York, and in 2020 was the Daynard Public Interest Visiting Fellowship awarded to nationally recognized public interest leaders.  

Huq is the author of Charting Global Economic Inequalities and Emancipatory Human Rights Responses from the Ground Up: The Tea Workers Movement of Bangladesh, available online at Columbia University’s Human Rights Law Review website, contributor to an edited volume titled, Labor, Global Supply Chains and the Garment Industry in South Asia; the anthology Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality (Ed. Sarah Husain; Seal Press 2006), author of, The War on Terror on Muslim Women and Girls: Forging Transformative Solidarities (Scholar and Feminist Online), co-author of “Laying the Groundwork for Post 9-11 Alliances: Reflections Ten Years Later on Desis and Organizing” (Asian American Literary Review, Volume 2, Issue 1.5, Fall 2011), and has authored Op-Eds in Al Jazeera, Huffington Post and Daily Star, the largest English daily in Bangladesh.

You can follow her on twitter @profhuq and follow Law@theMargins work at @lawatmargins.

Abby JohnstonDeputy Editor of The 19th

Panel: The 2021 Texas Legislature and Impact on Women’s Equity

Abby Johnston is the deputy editor of the 19th, an independent, nonprofit newsroom reporting on issues at the intersection of gender, politics, and policy. Before joining The 19th, Abby edited and managed digital strategy for the Texas Observer, Frontline and Texas Monthly. She is a National Magazine Award-winning writer and editor and a graduate of the University of Texas and the University of Missouri.

Lisa JordanEnvironmental Clinic Professor at Tulane University School of Law

Panel: Environmental Justice in the American South

Professor Lisa Jordan is the Director of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. A native New Orleanian, Professor Jordan began her legal career as a student attorney in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. Upon earning her LL.M. from Tulane Law, Professor Jordan became a prosecutor in Orleans Parish. In 1996, she began work as a supervising attorney at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. Less than a year after she began her career as a Clinic attorney, she became lead attorney for the Clinic’s representation of a grassroots group called the St. James Citizens for Jobs and the Environment and its regional and national partners in their successful fight against the location of the Shintech polyvinyl chloride complex in an environmental justice community in Convent, Louisiana. The Clinic’s multifaceted work on the community’s behalf earned it awards and depictions in tv movies, but environmental justice issues proliferated in Louisiana and along the chemical corridor of the Mississippi River, known as Cancer Alley. Thus, Professor Jordan and the Clinic remains engaged in representation of environmental justice communities and disproportionately impacted individuals. Currently, the Clinic is engaged in state court litigation challenging air permits issued to Formosa Plastics to construct a plastics production complex that would emit thousands of tons per year of air pollution in the largely African American and rapidly industrializing Fifth District of St. James Parish.

Talila LewisCo-Founder of HEARD and Social Justice Engineer

Panel: Intersection of Disability Rights and Racial Justice

Named one of Pacific Standard Magazine’s Top 30 Thinkers Under 30 and a 2015 White House Champion of Change, Talila A. Lewis is a social justice engineer who uses lawyering, organizing, popular education, and multi-modal information visualization to disrupt cycles of violence and systemic inequity. Lewis’ advocacy primarily focuses on prison abolition, decriminalizing disability, ending wrongful convictions of deaf/disabled people, and providing support to multiply-marginalized deaf and disabled people affected by mass incarceration.

Lewis co-founded & serves as the volunteer director of HEARD, a volunteer-dependent nonprofit organization that works to end incarceration of and violence against deaf/disabled people. A recent graduate of American University Washington College of Law, Lewis also co-founded the Harriet Tubman Collective and co-developed of the #DisabilitySolidarity praxis; serves as a consultant on various topics including racial, economic, gender, and disability justice; and previously served as a Givelber Public Interest Lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law and a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Dr. Amanda Masino | Professor of Environmental Studies at Huston-Tillotson University

Panel: Environmental Justice in the American South

Dr. Masino is a proud member of HT’s Environmental Studies faculty. She advances environmental education by blending environmental science and community action. She is Co-Director of the Dumpster Project, an education initiative that is transforming a used trash dumpster into a sustainable home as a K-16 environmental education platform and public engagement tool. She co-advises HT’s environmental student group Green is the New Black with Karen Magid and Dominique Bowman, and co-founded the Building Green Justice Forum, a conference series that highlights local environmental justice issues.

Julie Mao | Co-Founder and Deputy Director at Just Futures Law

Panel: Not Policy, Power! Movement Lawyering in Action

Julie Mao has nearly a decade of experience in the immigrant rights, police accountability, and labor rights movement. She was a senior attorney at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and attorney at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. She has represented immigrants in civil rights litigation against law enforcement abuse and labor exploitation, and worked with hundreds of directly impacted community members to stop their deportations.

Recently, she has been engaged in legal strategies challenging migrant prosecutions, technology-based policing, and local police collusion with ICE. Julie is a graduate of NYU School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar and a student of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic. She is a former Equal Justice Works fellow and named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Law and Policy.

Claudia Muñoz | Co-Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership

Panel: Crimmigration in the Carceral State

Claudia Muñoz is the Co-Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration, deportation, criminalization, and prison profiteering.  From 2017 to 2020, she was the Immigration Program Director at Grassroots Leadership. She has worked as an organizer for various labor and immigrant rights organizations throughout the country.

Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Claudia has called Texas home for 20 years. Claudia began her political activism and community organizing in 2003 while attending Navarro High School (formerly Lanier) in Austin, TX,  to defend access to in-state tuition for undocumented college students in Texas. She later turned her organizing efforts to the intersection of criminal justice and immigration after a  family member was racially profiled by police and detained by ICE.  Claudia is a proud graduate of Prairie View A&M University and received a B.A. in Political Science in 2009.  She serves on the Board of Directors of Just Futures Law.  

Bakeyah NelsonAir Alliance Houston

Panel: Environmental Justice in the American South

Operating as the Executive Director since 2017, Bakeyah works closely with the Board of Directors and staff to ensure that AAH’s mission is fulfilled through strategic planning, programs, and management.

Previously, she led a consulting firm focused on advancing health equity and worked in Harris County Public Health’s Office of Policy and Planning where she was responsible for leading community health initiatives to reduce environmental inequities.

Bakeyah was recently honored as one of the Texas Organizing Project’s 2018 Community Champions. She is a Senior Fellow of Class XLVI of the American Leadership Forum and was selected as one of the Aspen Institute’s Health Scholars for the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival. She is also a contributing faculty member with Baylor University’s Department of Public Health. Bakeyah serves on a number of committees including but not limited to: the Houston-Galveston Area Council’sTechnical Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee of the Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee, and the Transportation Air Quality Subcommittee.

In 2012, Bakeyah was selected for the University of California, San Francisco’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment Reach the Decision Makers Fellowship, which trains scientists, community members, clinicians, and public health professionals to effectively promote science and health-based policies. Later in 2012, she was a recipient of the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) Model Practice Award for demonstrating exemplary leadership to advance environmental justice and public health.

Bakeyah’s Doctorate in Public Policy, Master’s in Applied Sociology and Bachelor’s in Psychology all come from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Raj Patel | Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs

Panel: Environmental Justice in the American South

Raj Patel is an award-winning author, film-maker and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at the Unit for the Humanities at the university currently known as Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa.

He has degrees from the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics and Cornell University, has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world. Raj co-taught the 2014 Edible Education class at UC Berkeley with Michael Pollan. In 2016 he was recognized with a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award. He has testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the US House Financial Services Committee and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.

In addition to numerous scholarly publications in economics, philosophy, politics and public health journals, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to the Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Times of India, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer. His first book was Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. His second, The Value of Nothing, was a New York Times and international best-seller. His latest, co-written with Jason W. Moore, is A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

He can be heard co-hosting the fortnightly food politics podcast The Secret Ingredient with Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott, and KUT’s Rebecca McInroy. He is currently completing a documentary project about the global food system.

Annette PriceStatewide Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership’s Texas Advocates for Justice

Panel: The 2021 Texas Legislature and Impact on Women’s Equity

Annette Price is the Statewide Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership’s Texas Advocates for Justice. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Price moved to Texas in 2007. She was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2005 after serving 20 years, and in 2008, she was granted an early release from parole. She has been involved with reentry programs in Travis County since 2016, and she participated in writing a housing guide for apartment managers in 2018. She holds a double masters in Professional Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling from Grand Canyon University.

Maya RagsdaleMovement Lawyer and Organizer

Panel: Towards Justice: Decarceration, Abolition, and Transformative Justice

Ragsdale is a former Miami-Dade public defender, driven by a passion for the people she used to represent: poor, mostly Black defendants who have historically been railroaded by the U.S. penal system. Although no longer a participant in that system, Ragsdale has continued her advocacy as a so-called movement lawyer involved in organizing efforts with local groups. Working with the Dream Defenders, she helped start the Free the Block campaign, which seeks to end pretrial detention and the use of cash bail. And when the coronavirus reared its ugly head in March, Ragsdale was one of the first activists to sound the alarm about the inmates in Miami-Dade’s jails, who — as she predicted — began contracting COVID-19 at alarming levels. Starting in April, she helped represent them in a lawsuit against Miami-Dade’s corrections department, interviewing dozens of incarcerated people and their families to document unhygienic, inhumane, and even life-threatening conditions inside the Metro West Detention Center. “The people inside are vulnerable,” she said during an April Zoom call, “and it’s on us to protect them, because Corrections won’t.”

Jorge Renaud | Director of Policy and Advocacy, SW Region at LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Panel: Towards Justice: Decarceration, Abolition, and Transformative Justice

Born in New Mexico but raised in Texas, Jorge is the son of a farmer of Louisiana descent, whose family moved to South Texas over 150 years ago, and a mother who waded the Rio Bravo at 15. He is an Army veteran, has a MSSW from the University of Texas at Austin, and is the proud father of Catarina Amelia Renaud. As a Policy Analyst at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Jorge authored dozens of bills in 2013 and 2015 that addressed Texas prison conditions and parole supervision.

As a Senior Policy Analyst at the Prison Policy Initiative, he authored numerous studies examining ways to alleviate this country’s obsession with incarceration and disproportionate sentences. Jorge has published poetry and essays across the country. He was also previously incarcerated for over 27 years. Jorge has been an integral part of Reenvision Justicia’s network of Latinx organizers, lawyers and policy analysts for years and a regular and popular speaker at LatinoJustice annual convening of Latinxs and the Criminal Justice system.

Maddie Seales | Criminal Defense Attorney and Former Student Organizer at Miami School of Law

Panel: Organizing in Law School

Maddie is a May 2020 graduate of the University of Miami School of Law. At Miami Law, Maddie co-founded the Alternative Legal Theories Reading Group and served as a Senator in the Student Bar Association, Vice-President of the National Lawyers Guild, and Community Service Co-Chair of the Black Law Students Association. She organized with the Environmental Justice Clinic and the Society of Bar & Gavel to bring Law 4 Black Lives to campus to speak about prison/police abolition. She was a panelist on the “Reclaiming Our Legal Education” panel at the 2020 Rebellious Lawyering Conference at Yale Law School. Maddie graduated from Amherst College and prior to law school was an actress in Los Angeles and immigration case manager in New York. She spent her summers and post-bar clerking at the Office of the Los Angeles County Public Defender. She is currently living in Los Angeles and working for criminal defense attorney, Jovan Blacknell.

Elizabeth SepperProfessor at the University of Texas School of Law

Panel: The 2021 Texas Legislature and Women’s Equity

Elizabeth Sepper is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law and a nationally recognized scholar of religious liberties, health law, and equality. Her recent work focuses on legal theoretical and policy debates related to the anti-discrimination obligations of public accommodations under federal, state, and local laws. Her article, Doctoring Discrimination in the Same-Sex Marriage Debates, on the issue of religious objections to gay rights won multiple awards, including the 2014 Dukeminier Award for best sexuality law scholarship. She is the editor of Law, Religion, and Health in the United States (Holly Fernandez Lynch, I. Glenn Cohen, & Elizabeth Sepper, eds. Cambridge Univ. 2017).

Sepper received her LL.M. and J.D. magna cum laude from New York University School of Law, where she served as an notes editor of New York University Law Review. Following law school, she clerked for the Hon. Marjorie Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, practiced human rights law with a focus on women’s rights, and was a Center for Reproductive Rights fellow at Columbia Law School.  Prior to joining the Texas faculty, she was a professor at Washington University School of Law. During 2018-19, she held the LAPA\Crane Fellowship in the Law and Public Affairs Program at Princeton University to work on her book project Sex in Public, which explores the history and contemporary implications of social movements against sex discrimination in public accommodations.

Azadeh ShahshahaniLegal & Advocacy Director at Project South

Panel: Not Policy, Power! Movement Lawyering in Action

Azadeh has worked for a number of years in the U.S. South to protect and defend immigrants and Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities. She previously served as president of the National Lawyers Guild and as National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU of Georgia. Azadeh serves on the Advisory Council of the American Association of Jurists and on the Board of Directors of Defending Rights and Dissent. Azadeh has served as a trial monitor in Turkey, an election monitor in Venezuela and Honduras, and as a member of the jury in people’s tribunals on Mexico, the Philippines, and Brazil. She has also participated in international fact-finding delegations to post-revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt as well as a delegation focused on the situation of Palestinian political prisoners. She is the author or editor of several human rights reports, including a 2017 report titled “Imprisoned Justice: Inside Two Georgia Immigrant Detention Centers,” as well as law review articles and book chapters focused on racial profiling, immigrants’ rights, and surveillance of Muslim-Americans. Her writings have appeared in the Guardian, the Nation, MSNBC, USA Today, Aljazeera, and HuffPost, among others. Azadeh received her JD from the University of Michigan Law School where she was Article Editor for The Michigan Journal of International Law. She also has a Master’s in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan. Azadeh is the recipient of the Shanara M. Gilbert Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the National Lawyers Guild Ernie Goodman Award, the Emory Law School Outstanding Leadership in the Public Interest Award, the Emory University MLK Jr. Community Service Award, the US Human Rights Network Human Rights Movement Builder Award, the American Immigration Lawyers Association Advocacy Award, the Distinguished Leader Award from the Fulton County Daily Report, and the University of Georgia Law School Equal Justice Foundation Public Interest Practitioner Award, among several others. She has also been recognized as an Abolitionist by the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University & the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and as one of Atlanta’s 500 Most Powerful Leaders by Atlanta Magazine.  In 2016, Azadeh was chosen by the Mundo Hispanico Newspaper as an Outstanding Person of the Year for defending the rights of immigrants in Georgia.  In 2017, she was chosen by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the 40 under 40 notable Georgians.

Caren E. Short | Senior Staff Attorney at Southern Poverty Law Center

Panel: Intersection of Disability Rights and Racial Justice

Caren works across the Deep South—mostly Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—alongside community partners to mobilize voters, restore voting rights to people with felony convictions, pursue electoral policy reforms, and challenge discriminatory voting practices. Caren also worked in SPLC’s Economic Justice Project advocating on behalf of people working to make ends meet in the Deep South, particularly in communities of color. She also represented immigrant children and their families in education matters across the Deep South and investigated conditions faced by youth and adults in Alabama’s overcrowded jails and prisons.

Caren has worked as Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., as staff attorney in the Voter Protection Program of Advancement Project (Washington, DC), and clerked for the Honorable Robert J. Cordy on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Boston. She graduated magna cum laude from Howard University School of Law, where she served as a student attorney in the Civil Rights Clinic and on the editorial board of the Howard Law Journal. Caren received her B.A. in Political Science from Purdue University. She lives in Atlanta with her dogs, who have a blossoming social media presence @khotso_and_baldwin.

Y. Frank Southall Lead Organizer at the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative

Welcome Event: Eviction and Housing Justice in the COVID Era

Y. Frank Southall is the Lead Organizer and Community Engagement Coordinator at the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI) in New Orleans, LA. At JPNSI, Southall manages the organization’s organizing and community engagement strategies. His primary organizing focuses are around evictions, renters’ rights and other matters related to housing justice.

Prior to working at JPNSI, Southall worked at Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans in the Freret Neighborhood Center, where he focused on intergenerational community-building, youth organizing and programs designed to improve quality of life. He has also worked at Tulane University’s Center for Public Service, Public Allies, Working America and other organizations focused on social, racial and economic justice. Southall has presented workshops, research and participated on panels at Tulane University, Auburn University, the Highlander School & for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to name a few. Additionally, his activist work has been featured in publications such as “Teen Vogue”, “Curbed”, “Vice News” and more.

In his free time, he serves as the elected representative for the 94th District on the Louisiana Democratic State Central Coordinating committee, is a co-founder of an emerging tool lending library in New Orleans and is on the board of directors for the New Orleans Food Cooperative. Southall studied Journalism and African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

Flint TaylorPeople’s Law Office

Panel: Not Policy, Power! Movement Lawyering in Action

G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for 45 years. Among the landmark cases that Mr. Taylor has litigated are the Fred Hampton Black Panther case; the Greensboro, North Carolina case against the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis; the Ford Heights Four case in which four innocent men received a record $36 million settlement for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment; and a series of cases arising from a pattern and practice of police torture and cover-up by former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, former State’s Attorney Richard Devine, and numerous other police and government officials, five of which have been settled against the City of Chicago and Cook County for a total of approximately $26 million. He obtained a multi-million dollar settlement for a seven year old boy who was falsely accused by the Chicago Police of the murder of 11 year old Ryan Harris and has represented, and continues to represent, numerous other wrongfully convicted persons who have spent decades in prison and on death row, including Burge torture victims Michael Tillman, Darrell Cannon, Ronald Kitchen, Alonzo Smith, Anthony Holmes, Victor Safforld, Shawn Whirl, and Jackie Wilson, exonerees Randy Steidl, Paul Terry, Ronald Jones, Jerry Miller, Oscar Walden, Lewis Gardner, Paul Phillips, Terrill Swift, and Jonathan Barr, and the first woman jailhouse lawyer in Illinois, Maxine Smith.

Taylor’s work in fighting against police torture in Chicago over the past 29 years has been instrumental in obtaining the conviction and imprisonment of police torture ringleader Jon Burge and the precedent setting decision that upheld the inclusion of former Mayor Richard M. Daley as a co-conspiring defendant in the Tillman civil rights case. He also worked with the movement to obtain reparations for 60 survivors of Chicago police torture. He has also represented Nanci Koschman in her case against the CPD and SAO for covering up the truth about the death of her son in order to protect the Daley family, was one of the lead lawyers in obtaining a $5 million settlement for 74 victims of illegal strip and body cavity searches by the Milwaukee Police Department, and now represents three victims of torture and abuse at the CPD’s secret interrogation site, known as Homan Square.

Taylor also played a major role in the George Jones “street files” case that uncovered the unlawful Chicago police practice of keeping one set of files to be produced to defense lawyers while maintaining another secret set of files that often contained exculpatory evidence. This case dramatically changed the criminal discovery process in Cook County and also led to the groundbreaking wrongful prosecution verdict in Jones v. City of Chicago. As a police brutality litigator, he has been instrumental in pioneering and litigating Monell pattern and practice claims against municipalities, particularly in the areas of repeater cops, police discipline, the police code of silence, and domestic violence by police officers. Taylor also played a key role in major litigation brought against the Marion Federal Penitentiary, Stateville and Pontiac prisons in the areas of unconstitutional segregation, cruel and unusual conditions of confinement, and behavior modification.

Mr. Taylor is also an accomplished appellate advocate, and successfully argued the cases of Cleavinger v. Saxner and Buckley v. Fitzsimmons before the United States Supreme Court, as well as numerous cases before Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and the Illinois Supreme Court.

Mr. Taylor is a longtime National Lawyers Guild member, a founding editor of the Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Reporter, has extensively written and lectured in the field of civil rights litigation and police torture, and frequently appears on radio and television and at other public forums to discuss these topics. He has authored four law review articles on these subjects, and his articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, The Nation, In These Times, the Huffington Post, Truthout, and Portside.

In 1975 Mr. Taylor was honored, along with his law partner Jeffrey Haas, for his work on the Fred Hampton case by being named by the Chicago Reader as members of the “Heavy 75,”, in 1977, with Haas, as an Advocate For Our Freedom for “representing a rare breed of legal advocates who take on the contemporary Sacco and Vanzetti or Scottsboro cases,” in 1986 he was nominated for the Durfee Foundation Award for his work in “enhancing the human dignity of others through legal institutions,” and, in 1989, again with Haas, received the Citizens Alert Fighters For Justice Award. He is the 2008 recipient of the William R. Ming Jr. Award of the Cook County Bar Association, given to a lawyer “for dedication and significant contribution to the causes of civil rights and individual liberties;” and in 2009 was awarded the First Defense Legal Aid First Defender Award for his “tireless commitment to protecting the civil rights of Chicago citizens.” He was also the recipient of the National Lawyers Guild’s 2009 Ernie Goodman Award “in recognition of extraordinary achievement by a National Lawyers Guild lawyer;” the 2009 Rainbow PUSH Father to the Community Award; the 2010 Jenner and Block award from the Northwestern Center on Wrongful Convictions for his “unflagging struggle against police brutality and racial repression under color of law;” with his law partners Joey Mogul and John Stainthorp, the 2010 Chicago National Lawyers Guild Arthur Kinoy Award for their “commitment to the struggle for justice for the survivors of torture;” the 2011 SFPIF Northwestern Law School Distinguished Alumnus Award for his “outstanding commitment to public service;” with his co-counsel Locke Bowman and Alexa Van Brunt, the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization’s 2014 Legal Eagle Award; and the 2016 Nelson Algren Humanitarian Award as “a conscience in touch with humanity.”

In 2002 he was named by Chicago Magazine as one of Chicago’s “30 Toughest Lawyers;” and by his peers as a “Leading Lawyer” in 2003, and 2015, as a “Super Lawyer” in 2007, 2008, and 2009, in 2015 as a member of the “Nation’s Top One Percent” by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, and in 2016 as a “Top Lawyer” in the Global Directory of Who’s Who.

Oliver Telusma | Juris Doctorate Candidate at the Florida A&M University College of Law

Breakout Session: Organizing in Law School

Oliver Telusma is a spoken word poet, public speaker and Juris Doctorate Candidate at the Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, Florida. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida in 2018, where he worked as a research coordinator for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program for two years. His writing and work focus on critiquing legal and political systems of power that target marginalized communities, life as a member of the Black diaspora, Black male vulnerability, allyship from other marginalized identities, the American and global South.

Riley Wilson | Law Student at Creighton University School of Law

Breakout Session: Organizing in Law School

Riley is currently a second year law student at Creighton University School of Law. Over the previous summer, he interned as a law clerk at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Nebraska and began volunteering as a legal observer during protests and demonstrations in Omaha.

Lucy WoodProfessor at the University of Texas School of Law

Panel: Intersection of Disability Rights and Racial Justice

Professor Wood teaches in the fields of disability law and nonprofit law. She is the founder and director of the INCLUDE Disability Law Project at Texas Law, which allows students interested in disability law to build practical lawyering skills through the provision of direct legal services to persons with disability and their families.  Under her supervision, students work on disability-related policy advocacy projects, special education cases, Medicaid appeals, and parent education workshops. 

Prior to joining the faculty in 2010, Wood worked for a decade in direct legal services in the field of disability rights. Following her receipt of the Skadden Fellowship in 2000, she worked as a staff attorney and then as managing attorney of the Austin-based regional office of Disability Rights Texas, where she represented persons with disabilities in civil rights cases involving communication access, special education, employment, housing, health, juvenile, and family law issues. Before commencing her practice, Wood served as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge William Wayne Justice.