Phoenicia D.W. Wallace, Esq., Executive Director
Phoenicia joined PLSE in October 2019, after two years of service as a Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the Bureau of Consumer Protection. A life-long Philadelphian who lives in Germantown, her path to PLSE has taken her through the Entrepreneurship Program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, the Peace Corps in Kenya, the Appalachian School of Law, the district office of State Senator Anthony H. Williams and the legislative office of City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and four years as a staff attorney and law clerk within the Philadelphia Court System. For two years, she was the weekly host of “Universally Speaking” on WURD, where she connected community leaders and helped to develop and support the implementation of a consensus agenda for change and progress. Among other things, she serves on the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Federal Judicial Advisory Panel for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Tobey started volunteering for PLSE in the summer of 2017, and was appointed Interim Executive Director in January 2018. A 1979 graduate of Harvard University’s Law School and Kennedy School of Government, his Philadelphia legal career includes seventeen years in private practice, five as Chief Deputy City Solicitor, and six as General Counsel of Drexel University. He has a long record of public service, including twenty years as a trustee of Community Legal Services and leadership in creating three other non-profits providing free legal services to low-income Philadelphians: Philadelphia VIP, the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, and the Homeless Advocacy Project. He began the Pardon Project in the fall of 2018, and became its Director in October 2019.
Rachel Miller, Esq., Director, Criminal Records Expungement Project
Rachel Miller joined PLSE as a staff attorney in October 2018 and became the Director of the Expungement Project in May 2019. She is a 2012 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she earned the Exemplary Pro Bono Service Award and the Public Interest Legacy Award, and co-published an article with leading practitioners on implementing Youth Courts in the Philadelphia area. While at Penn Law, she volunteered at some of the earliest Criminal Record Expungement Clinics ever offered by PLSE. Her first six years of practice were spent at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, most recently as Mitigation Specialist with the Juvenile Lifer Unit. Through her service, she knows firsthand how important an expungement is for those seeking employment and facing insurmountable barriers on top of already difficult circumstances, which often include extensive childhood trauma, addiction, and mental health.
Katherine M. Zuk, Director, Communications & Outreach
Katherine first started volunteering for PLSE in July 2017 as a researcher and volunteer coordinator, after relocating to Philadelphia from Washington, DC. In recognition of her many skills and her passion for community empowerment and organizing to promote racial and economic justice, she was appointed PLSE’s Communications and Outreach Coordinator in January 2018. In addition to managing all technological communications (including social media and website), Katherine will be developing and leading a comprehensive and innovative community outreach plan targeting communities with need, helping to identify and mobilize former clients and others with lived experience to become volunteers at clinics, program speakers, and advocates for reform, and identifying and coordinating with community partners relevant to PLSE’s strategic priorities and projects through ongoing research and evaluation. Katherine has served as a program assistant at the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Georgetown University, which presented her with a fellowship for graduate study. She received her Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Political Science, and is seeking a dual masters degree in public health and social work at Temple University.
Taylor E. Pacheco, Esq., Staff Attorney
Taylor is a 2016 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she was Senior Editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change, an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Summer Fellow, and a volunteer with the UPenn Criminal Records Expungement Clinic run in partnership with PLSE. She also interned with Community Legal Services in the Housing Unit and the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office. Her career after law school included positions with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender and the Support Center for Child Advocates. She is a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association and Barristers Association of Philadelphia, which is partnering with PLSE in providing pardon-related services at Bebashi-Transition to Hope. Fluent in Spanish, Taylor is barred in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
Sarah Marie Coyle, Esq., Staff Attorney
Sarah joined PLSE in September 2019 from Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP), where she had been a staff attorney for over two years and ran the Media office. After receiving her JD in 2016 from Savannah Law School, she worked in a private firm concentrating in criminal defense before joining LASP, where she developed a program assisting victims of domestic/sexual violence under a program funded by the Victims Of Crime Act (VOCA). While at law school, she had internships in the Women’s Law Project here in Philadelphia, and in both Georgia Legal Services and the Savannah Justice Law Center, where she first worked on expunging criminal records and helping clients obtain identification cards. Sarah is barred in New Jersey as well as Philadelphia.
Robin Wynne joined PLSE in May 2019 as our first full-time paralegal. She is a graduate of the Community College of Philadelphia, receiving her Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies with Highest Honors, and a recipient of the Paralegal Studies Award. It was at CCP that she participated in an expungement clinic hosted by the Defender Association, and first learned about the difference that expungements can make in people’s lives. Before receiving her degree, she worked with Children’s Choice, Inc., as a case aid. She is an active member of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church. Keenly aware of the social structures that support and promote racial and income-based disparities in the law, she believes everyone is entitled to a second chance.
Clara joined PLSE in the spring of 2019 through Drexel ’s co-op program. Over the course of her internship, Clara has been instrumental in upgrading PLSE’s organizational systems, collecting and analyzing data, and managing the post-expungement process, including handling follow-up with clients. A rising senior, Clara has been honored for her academic excellence by admission to the Psi Chi International Honor Society and with an A.J. Drexel Merit Scholarship. Clara is studying towards her B.S. in Psychology and hopes to pursue a J.D./Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology.
Jarue Lawson became the first Mike Lee Fellow on October 1, 2018. Named in honor of one of PLSE’s co-founders and long-time Executive Director, the Fellowship is awarded to individuals who were formerly incarcerated and have a strong interest in criminal justice reform and community organizing. Jarue is a Philadelphia native and graduate of Bartram Motivation High School, where he was an honors student, and he spent time studying business management at Community College of Philadelphia and nursing administration at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. During his 20 years of consecutive incarceration, Jarue became passionate about criminal justice reform, social justice activism, mentorship, and the understanding of one’s identity as a preventative and restorative tool. He will be a liaison between PLSE and low income/high arrest communities, and hopes to use his Fellowship to host a new expungement clinic in his neighborhood, begin mentoring others with similar life experiences, and help individuals and communities combat the damage caused by misinformation about criminal records.
Jeffrey Eberly, Chief Financial Officer
Jeff Eberly started volunteering with PLSE in October 2017 as the Chief Financial Officer. His finance career spans over 25 years primarily working in higher education and non-profit institutions. During the last 12 years, he has led and managed numerous financial and operational functions within those institutions. Today he is the Executive Director, Fiscal Operations, for the Gene Therapy Program of the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Financial Accounting from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and his Master’s in Business Administration from Drexel University through its executive MBA program.
Plus all of the interns & volunteers!
Ryan Hancock is Of Counsel and chair of Willig, Williams & Davidson’s Employment Group where he counsels and represents clients in all matters related to their employment. Prior to joining Willig, Williams & Davidson, he served as Assistant Chief Counsel with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), the Commonwealth’s civil rights enforcement agency. While there, he successfully litigated a wide range of discrimination matters including but not limited to claims of: sexual orientation, religious accommodation, disability, race, sex and denial of employment based on a criminal record. Mr. Hancock is the author of The Double Bind: Obstacles to Employment and Resources for Survivors of the Criminal Justice System, 15 U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 515 2011-2012 and the principal author of the PHRC policy entitled Disparate Impact Discrimination Implications Related to a Denial of Employment Based on a Criminal Record. Ryan received his law degree from Rutgers School of Law and clerked in Camden County Superior Court, Criminal Division, for the Honorable David G. Eynon. He was one of PLSE’s co-founders and has served on the Board ever since.
Judge Karen Simmons has served on the Philadelphia Municipal Court since January 2006, and was recently retained for her third term, which will end in 2023. In her career as a judge, she has held thousands of hearings in criminal matters and has firmly established her reputation as a “tough but fair” judge. Judge Simmons was recently appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to the initial Continuing Judicial Education Board of Judges, and she co-chairs the Municipal Court Judicial Education and Conference Planning Committee and serves on its Criminal Rules Committee. Judge Simmons began her legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in the office of the Defenders’ Association of Philadelphia; served as an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia in the areas of labor and employment law; and was Chief Legal Counsel to the Philadelphia Police Department and Police Commissioners before her election to the bench. For her exemplary service to the legal profession and to the public, she has received many recognitions including the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia’s Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Award and Woman of Distinction Award, the Rutgers Law School Black Law Students Association’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion of Social Justice and Equality Award, and Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church’s Saints of Valor Judiciary Award. Her long list of service currently includes the Philadelphia Police Athletic League Education Committee, National Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges, Philadelphia Criminal Law Inn of Court, Philadelphia Bar Association, Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia, and the Bright Hope Baptist Church.
Jeffrey N. Brown, Board Treasurer
A fourth-generation grocer, Jeff Brown is the founder, President & CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, Inc., a network of 11 ShopRite and 2 Fresh Grocer Supermarkets in the greater Philadelphia area. The company estimates that it employs 500 returning citizens, often providing them with their first jobs after being released from prison. He started this practice in 2008, making him one of the very first business leaders to act on the fact that it makes sense for society to employ former inmates so they can remain crime-free and contribute to the economy. This is not his only, or even his first, “win-win” business innovation with immense benefits for impoverished communities: he was the first to open a major grocery store in a low-income underserved neighborhood, often referred to as a food desert, in Philadelphia (in 2004), and he now operates seven of them. In recognition of his leadership in solving the “food desert” crisis, he was a guest of First Lady Michele Obama at President Obama’s first State of the Union address in 2010; and he was named 2014 Ernst and Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for his innovative work of meeting the needs of impoverished communities through holistic supermarket hubs. In addition to many other public service activities, Jeff chairs the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board and the Philadelphia Youth Network, and is a member of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Corporate Council. He is also the founder and chair of Uplift Solutions, a non-profit working to create sustainable access to healthy and affordable food, nutrition education, health care and workforce development for returning citizens to obtain opportunities in the food industry, all for underserved communities nationally.
Hillary Weinstein found her passion for social justice work while working as a paralegal with the Federal Defenders in the Southern District of New York. While at law school, she spent a semester as an extern with the prosecution team at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands. After graduation, she began her career with a one-year Philadelphia Bar Association Fellowship at the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Community Defender. For six years, she was a litigation associate with Morgan Lewis where she worked pro bono on a number of social justice matters, including volunteering with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, representing a criminal defendant in federal pre-trial proceedings, and representing an incarcerated client in his (eventually successful) adult adoption proceedings. Hillary also has experience at a small firm specializing in providing advice and representation to clients in the non-profit sector. Recently, Hillary and a colleague started their own law firm, First Law Strategy Group, LLC, specializing in representing plaintiffs in state and federal class actions, insurance bad-faith cases, and in appellate advocacy. Hillary joined PLSE’s Board in 2017.
Glenn Barnes has been volunteering with PLSE in various capacities since 2017. Receiving his JD in 1985, he began his legal practice in Boston as a commercial trial attorney, then moved to Philadelphia ten years later, thereafter practicing in the areas of business and employment law, personal injury and estate law. He began teaching undergraduate legal studies as an adjunct at Peirce College in May 2003, became a member of the full-time faculty in 2005, and a full professor in 2010, and continued to teach and mentor students until his retirement in 2016. For his unstinting commitment to his students, for whom a college education would make all the difference, he was presented with the faculty’s highest honor, the Hamilton Award for Academic Excellence and Integrity. Among other accomplishments, he is an award-winning poet and was a Pew Fellowship in the Arts finalist. His passion for social equity continues to be fueled by his experiences with apartheid in South Africa while a high school exchange student in 1972-73. His support for PLSE is a part of his continuing effort to make an “outraged difference” in our too often unjust world.
Marieke is the Director of Litigation for the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education (FIRE), a national advocacy organization protecting the individual rights of students and faculty at colleges and universities. A graduate of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, she clerked for Judge A. Richard Caputo in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. After her clerkship, she was a fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and then joined Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, where she continued to work on civil rights cases on a pro bono basis. Before joining FIRE, Marieke served as a Project Coordinator for the non-profit Resources for Human Development, where she ran the Philadelphia arm of a national fair housing study on discrimination against persons with disabilities and then helped organize and lead Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion community education and enrollment efforts in the greater Philadelphia area, aimed particularly at lower-income communities.
Lisa Campbell, Esquire
Ms. Campbell worked as a public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia since 2004. Most recently, she was the Assistant Chief of the Juvenile unit of the Defender Association. After graduating cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law school, M. Campbell clerked for the Honorable Mary A. McLaughlin on the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As a public defender, M. Campbell handled countless adult and juvenile cases during rotations through the various trial units. She has experience handling complex and serious juvenile cases, as well as leading and training teams of attorneys in the Juvenile Unit. M. Campbell has provided training for her office as well as attorneys across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on a variety of legal issues. She currently is researching and presenting on the issue of collateral consequences of juvenile adjudications and the need for expungement of juvenile records.
Renee Chenault Fattah is one of Philadelphia’s best-known broadcast journalists, having served as the news anchor for WCAU-TV for 25 years. She began her career in law, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, working at Hughes Hubbard & Reed in New York City, and clerking for Judge Damon Keith on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Only then did Renee turn to journalism, earning a Masters of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri. Notable stories she covered in her broadcast career include the O.J. Simpson trial, several political conventions, and the massacre in Littleton, Colorado, her hometown. In 2009, Renee was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame. An active member of the community, she speaks at local schools, church congregations and civic organizations about journalism, law and ethics, and the importance of education. Chenault Fattah currently serves as a trustee of Johns Hopkins University and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and is a member of the advisory council to The Hastings Center, a bioethics research center. She is currently working on a documentary called In Search of Lost Time: Alzheimer’s and Dementia’s Impact on People of Color.
Stuart Davidson is one of the country’s leading labor law attorneys, having represented labor unions and employee benefit plans since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1982 and now a senior partner in the Philadelphia-based law firm that bears his name, Willig, Williams & Davidson. Keenly aware of how critical collectively bargained agreements are to the future well-being of families, Stuart has worked for both public and private-sector unions and played key roles in the development of new and progressive benefit structures in the pension and health and welfare plans he represents. Today he serves as chief counsel to large regional and local unions along the East and Gulf Coasts and in the Mid-West. Stuart is a frequent lecturer, teacher, and author on issues such as employment discrimination, drug and alcohol testing, and other labor and employment issues. He has served as a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, now known as the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He recently completed service as a member and Chair of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center; as a member and Chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners; and has served as a Commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority. Currently he serves on the Board of Advisors for the Workshop School in Philadelphia and “Our Generation Speaks,” a fellowship program creating cohorts of young Israeli and Palestinian community leaders who cooperate across ethnic and political lines to build shared prosperity within the region. For his exemplary, lifelong commitment to community service, Stuart has received the Jewish Labor Committee’s Humanitarian Award and the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope and the Tri-State Labor & Management Council.
Nicole Hunt is the President of UNITEHERE LOCAL 634, a union that represents over 2,000 public sector school cafeteria employees and student climate staff working for the School District of Philadelphia. Daughter of a devoted member of 1199C, Nicole began her public service in the School District in 2001 as a food service worker and volunteering in the Union’s offices where she rose to become the office manager. She was elected Secretary-Treasurer of Union 634 in 2010 and its President in 2017. In 2013, she was one of the eight protesters who fasted in front of Governor Corbett’s office seeking full funding for our public schools. Raising two sons, she has seen how easy it is for young black males to be arrested in what she has called “the school-to-prison pipeline”, and how arrests and convictions have severely limited the life choices of her sons’ friends who now, in their mid-20s, “have had all hope taken from them of being allowed to do what they are capable of doing.” She is passionate about helping people obtain expungements and pardons so that they get the second chances they have earned through their good works.
Yvettee Jones-Sizer works in Philadelphia media. Ms. Jones-Sizer is also a case manager for The Montgomery County, PA Youth Aid Panel, a juvenile diversionary program that serves as an alternative to Juvenile Court or Magisterial District Court adjudication and provides the juvenile an opportunity to avoid a criminal record. She is an executive of the NAACP in Montgomery County, PA and has also served as Director for the NAACP Youth and College Division. While serving in both NAACP executive roles Yvettee has been a driving force in creating both successful youth diversionary programs and mentoring programs as well as working in areas that address civil engagement, healthcare, criminal justice, economic opportunities, and media diversity. Yvettee holds several board memberships and volunteer positions in Montgomery County, PA that serve/advocate for youth, women and minorities. Yvettee has a degree in Education.
Josie Reed is a lifelong Philadelphia resident with a deep desire to help people in need. This desire springs from her experiences rising from humble beginnings and overcoming adversity to create a better future for herself and her family. That pathway includes successfully obtaining, by herself, a pardon from Governor Tom Wolf for a crime she committed when she was a young woman. Free of the record that once haunted her, Josie has a fulfilling position with Campbell’s Soup Company and has completed her degree in Business Administration Concentration in Management from Peirce College of Philadelphia. After raising her own two children and sending them off to college, she has decided to become a foster parent to provide a loving home for kids caught in the child welfare system. She also volunteers at the South Jersey Food Bank through her employer and is a member of the Women’s Of Campbell which advocates for women of all races. She intends to use her knowledge and experience to help people facing the same barriers that she has, and to one day create her own nonprofit organization focused on helping women with the unique challenges they face when dealing with a criminal record. She hopes that her journey will serve as inspiration that if she can overcome her record, anyone can.
After personally experiencing the damaging effects of family poverty, drug addiction and incarceration, Akeem actively participates in many programs in impacted communities, including but not limited to: PRO-ACT (Prevention and Recovery Organization Achieving Community Together), a program that supports those struggling with addiction and their journey to sobriety; MENTOR (Mentors Empowering Now To Overcome Recidivism), a program established by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to reduce probation violation among black males between the ages of 18 and 30; and he is a core leader of the West Philly Participatory Defense Hub, a community collaborative with the Defender Association of Philadelphia that provides insight, perspective, and support to those being charged and their families as they navigate the justice system, for which he was honored by the Defender Association with a “Community Connector” award on February 27, 2019. Akeem works at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in hospitality services and serves on PLSE’s Pardon Project Steering Committee.
Michael Solomonov is the executive chef and co-owner of Philadelphia’s pioneering Israeli restaurant, Zahav. He is the 2011 James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic”, a 2016 James Beard Award winner for “Best International Cookbook” and “Book of the Year” for his and business partner/co-author Steven Cook’s first cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, and the 2017 James Beard Award’s “Outstanding Chef.” In addition to his duties at Zahav, Mike co-owns Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts, Dizengoff, Abe Fisher, Goldie, NYC’s Dizengoff, and the philanthropic Rooster Soup Company, which donates 100% of its profits to Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative that provides meals and essential services to individuals experiencing homelessness and hunger in Philadelphia. Mike is passionate about Philadelphia, and about giving a second chance to people who have demonstrably turned their lives around and are now giving back to their communities. He sees PLSE’s work as an economic development strategy that attacks root causes of the persistent poverty that afflicts so many inner-city neighborhoods.
Chris Woods is Executive Director of the National Union for Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE) and Executive Vice President of its affiliate in Philadelphia, District 1199C, which represents 15,000 health care workers at hospitals across Philadelphia and in surrounding counties. His career began as a field unionizer in 2007 and he rose to Organizing Director before being appointed Executive Vice President of 1199C’s Hospital Division in 2011. One of the youngest trustees to ever serve on the Philadelphia AFL‐CIO, and now a trustee of 1199C’s Training & Upgrading Fund, he was recognized by Billy Penn in 2015 as one of the outstanding “next generation” of labor leaders that are “representing, and changing, Philadelphia.” He is a co‐founder of the Thomas & Woods Foundation which, through donations of private funds, equipment and apparel, provides opportunities for inner city youth to participate in high quality athletic programs, which research shows lead to better academic success, discipline, self-confidence, and social skills.