Zane Johnson, Esquire, Managing Attorney
Zane is a graduate of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, where he was named an Eve Biskind Klothen Law Student Award winner in recognition of his commitment to pro bono service. He began his legal career with PLSE as one of just thirty-three Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellows nationwide. During his time with PLSE, Zane has represented over 1,000 Philadelphians seeking a fresh start, while informing thousands more on the harmful stigma that accompanies criminal history record information. As Managing Attorney, Zane directs the implementation of PLSE’s services, manages relationships with partner organizations, and assists in the development of new initiatives and programming. In addition to his work with PLSE, Zane is a workshop facilitator and volunteer mediator with the Good Shepherd Mediation Program, is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute, and sits on the boards of the non-profit organizations Art for Justice and Equal Access Legal Services.
Tobey Oxholm has been a fixture of Philadelphia’s pro bono legal community for decades, having been a Trustee of Community Legal Services for twenty years and a co-founder of Philadelphia VIP, the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, and the Homeless Advocacy Project. He began his service with PLSE as a volunteer staff attorney in September 2016 and was appointed its Interim Executive Director in January 2018. Within the Philadelphia Bar Association, he served for a decade as an Officer and member of the Board of Governors, chaired the Delivery of Legal Services Committee, and helped create the Public Interest Section. Following graduation from Harvard Law School in 1979, his career as a civil litigator began at Dechert LLP, included service in the Philadelphia Office of the City Solicitor and partnership in Fox Rothschild, and ended as General Counsel of Drexel University, after which he went on to senior administrative leadership positions in three area universities and one community college.
Rachel Miller, Esquire, Staff Attorney
Rachel Miller joined PLSE as a staff attorney in October 2018. 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 setting up 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 have been spent with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, first as a trial attorney, working her way through rotations in Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, felony bench trials and major felony jury trials. Most recently she worked as a Mitigation Specialist with the Juvenile Lifer Unit, which represents adults who were sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed while they were children. Through her work she was able to see those who never believed they would be released after decades of incarceration return home and start new lives as returning citizens, with the support of their families and communities. Through her service, she has gained invaluable experience developing these relationships, and 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 issues.
Katherine M. Zuk, Director of 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.
Jarue Lawson, Inaugural Mike Lee Fellow
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.
Emily Jarin, Administrative Assistant
Emily Jarin is the first ever Drexel Co-op student interning with PLSE. She is a sophomore in Drexel’s Department of Psychology with an interest in the criminal justice system. The co-op position began in late September 2018 and will continue until March 2019. Some of her duties at PLSE include: data entry, management and analysis for the Pardons Project; conducting follow-up interviews with clients; assisting with community education and outreach activities; and ensuring that clients’ expungements are fulfilled in a timely manner. Emily’s interest in criminal law piqued last year following her involvement with the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab, which focuses on policy change and administrative improvements within the juvenile justice system. The combination of her work in the lab and with PLSE has led Emily to a new perspective on social change and justice, and she is now motivated to becoming part of the movement. She is inspired by PLSE’s work and is striving to contribute in any way possible.
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.
Michael Hardiman, Esquire, Of Counsel
Michael Hardiman brings decades of experience with employment and civil rights litigation to PLSE. He began his employment with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in January 1979 as an Assistant General Counsel in the Commission’s Harrisburg Regional Office. In July 1982 he was promoted to supervising attorney and moved to the Philadelphia Regional Office. In June 2005, Mike was appointed its Chief Counsel and he spent the last seven years of his career in that position. In June 2016, Hardiman returned to the PHRC as a Commissioner, legislatively appointed to serve a five-year term; and in January 2018 he was appointed to serve as the Commission’s interimExecutive Director. His primary work concentration centered on employment discrimination litigation. In addition, he was directly involved in the litigation of a wide range of issues, including urban area school district desegregation and educational equity, sex equity in athletic program, physical disability/accessibility, age discrimination (pensions), and access to private clubs. Mike received his undergraduate degree from Moravian College and graduated cum laude from the William Mitchell College of Law.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ryan Allen Hancock, Esquire, Board Chair
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.
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.
Hillary Weinstein found her passion for criminal and social justice 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 (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands. After graduation, she started 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. After a stint with a small firm specializing in providing advice and representation to clients in the non-profit sector, she joined Anapol Weiss in 2017, where she now focuses on plaintiff’s appellate advocacy, consumer class actions, and complex commercial and personal injury litigation. Hillary joined PLSE’s Board in 2017.
Jeffrey N. Brown
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.
Lisa Campbell, Esquire
Ms. Campbell has been a public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia since 2004. Currently, she is 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 has handles countless adult and juvenile ceases 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.
Russell Craig is a painter whose work has been exhibited both locally and nationally. Combining realistic portraiture with political statements, his work was part of the “Truth to Power” exhibition during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where he displayed a self-portrait on his own court documents, reasserting his ability to define himself rather than being defined by systems of power. Russell is an alumnus of the Mural Arts Guild program who taught himself to read, write, and draw while incarcerated. He was one of the inaugural fellows for Right of Return, a program of the Open Philanthropy Foundation awarding formerly incarcerated artists $20,000 for a project addressing mass incarceration. He has also worked on “Voices,” a mural arts project within the Restorative Justice Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections that humanizes and empowers the voices of those who are or were recently jailed on criminal justice issues through creative expression, and the “Making Time: Prison Arts and Activism” Conference organized by the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University. Russell learned about PLSE by obtaining an expungement through our Criminal Records Expungement Project.
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.
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.
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.
Jennifer H. Sperling, Esquire
A proud PLSE board member since PLSE’s founding, Ms. Sperling is currently the Impact Litigation & Policy attorney for Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a public interest law firm that provides free, expert legal advice and representation to low-income residents of Los Angeles. Before moving to California, Ms. Sperling was a Visiting Professor at Villanova University School of law where she taught the Civil Justice Clinic. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable Anita B. Brody in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2008-2009, and a Staff Attorney for the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2009-2011. Ms. Sperling has also worked for Latham & Watkins LLP in New York and Greenpeace USA in Washington, DC. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2005.
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.