Announcing the 2017 Class of Leadership Academy Fellows

JustLead Washington welcomes 32 new Leadership Academy Fellows into its growing network of legal and community leaders dedicated to advancing equity and justice in Washington State.

The new class of 2017 Fellows includes attorneys and advocates working within the civil, criminal, and juvenile justice systems as well as community organizers, social service providers, and other leaders from community-based organizations across the state. “Given the pace at which our political and policy landscape is shifting in ways that increasingly target marginalized communities, it is energizing to see so many talented, passionate advocates wanting to increase their capacity to collaborate and problem solve in service to their communities,” said Jennifer Werdell, JustLead’s Executive Director.

2017 Leadership Academy Fellows include:

  • Elizabeth Benki, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Michele Besso, Northwest Justice Project
  • Esperanza Borboa, Eastside Legal Assistance Program
  • Marsha Chien, Washington State Office of the Attorney General
  • Sokha Danh, Public Defender Association
  • Jay Doran, Legal Foundation of Washington
  • Chach Duarte White, Legal Counsel for Youth and Children
  • Merf Ehman, Columbia Legal Services
  • Amina Fields, Amina Fields Law Office
  • Becky Fischer, Pacific County Youth Alliance
  • Tony Gonzalez , Columbia Legal Services
  • Hilary Hibbeln, Center for Justice
  • Larry Jefferson Jr., Thurston County Public Defense
  • Ahmed Jenkins, Thurston County Public Defense
  • Maria G. Jimenez, Puentes: Advocacy, Counseling & Education
  • Kitara Johnson, Excelsior Youth Center
  • Sam Keller, Fair Work Center
  • Anne Lee, TeamChild
  • Shar Lichty, Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane
  • Jill Malat, Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid
  • Gloria J. McKinney, YWCA Sexual Violence Legal Services
  • Georgina Olazcon Mozo, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Mirya Muñoz-Roach, St. Vincent de Paul Society
  • Adam W. Papini, City of Spokane Prosecutor’s Office
  • Karena Rahall, Seattle University School of Law Access to Justice Institute
  • Sandy Restrepo, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo
  • Brian Rowe, National Technology Assistance Project/Northwest Justice Project
  • Chalia Stallings-Ala’ilima, Washington State Office of the Attorney General
  • Brenda Tausch Lapora , Wayfind
  • Angeline Thomas, Washington Appleseed
  • Vanessa Torres Hernandez, ACLU of Washington
  • Elizabeth Yost Neidzwski, Skagit County Public Defender’s Office

JustLead Washington, formerly known as the Washington Equal Justice Community Leadership Academy, has been building the capacity of individuals and organizations working toward equity and justice for low-income and marginalized and communities in Washington since 2013. Its signature Leadership Academy program was initially developed as an initiative of the Washington State Access to Justice Board.

2017 Fellows will participate in four in-person retreats in Seattle as well as online coursework throughout the year. The Leadership Academy’s core curriculum is drawn from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and grounded in the experience, practice, and values of Washington’s equity and justice community. To date, the Leadership Academy has graduated 85 leaders who continue to work together to further social change.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Werdell, JustLead Washington Executive Director, at