Our Team

Abbey McHugh

Abbey McHugh

Digital Fundraising Coordinator

Abbey McHugh

Abbey McHugh

Digital Fundraising Coordinator Development

Abbey McHugh

Digital Fundraising Coordinator Development

Abbey McHugh joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as the digital fundraising coordinator. She helps to cultivate the Innocence Project’s online presence in order to grow and engage our community. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Abbey worked as a voting rights organizer with Common Cause New York and on various campaigns in the Midwest and Northeast. She is a graduate of Boston College. When Abbey is not working, she can be found playing soccer at a park or reading a fantasy series at home.

Adnan Sultan

Adnan Sultan

Staff Attorney

Adnan Sultan

Adnan Sultan

Staff Attorney Staff

Adnan Sultan

Staff Attorney Staff

Adnan Sultan is a staff attorney at the Innocence Project. He litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful convictions. He also instructs law students as part of the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, he worked as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders, where he represented thousands of clients charged with misdemeanors and felony crimes from arraignments to trial. In addition, he was a member of the Bronx Defenders’ Forensic Practice Group, where he consulted with attorneys and conducted trainings on DNA evidence. Before working at the Bronx Defenders, Adnan was a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law School, where he both represented clients charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes in D.C. Superior Court and supervised third-year law students in Georgetown’s Criminal Justice Clinic. He graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Alicia Cepeda Maule

Alicia Cepeda Maule

Digital Engagement Director

Alicia Cepeda Maule

Alicia Cepeda Maule

Digital Engagement Director Communications

Alicia Cepeda Maule

Digital Engagement Director Communications

Alicia Cepeda Maule is the Innocence Project’s first digital engagement director and, since 2015, has led the organization in exponential audience growth, revenue, and advocacy. She developed and led the digital strategy that helped stop the executions of Rodney Reed in Texas and Pervis Payne in Tennessee.

She and her team have won more than 10 awards including Webbys, Shortys, Tellys, the Clarence Jones Impact Award, and more.

Previously, Alicia was a social media and community editor at msnbc.com and a digital organizer on President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

Alicia graduated from Brown University in 2011 with a B.A. in Africana studies.

Alyxaundria Sanford

Alyxaundria Sanford

Digital Engagement Specialist

Alyxaundria Sanford

Alyxaundria Sanford

Digital Engagement Specialist Communications

Alyxaundria Sanford

Digital Engagement Specialist Communications

Alyxaundria Sanford joined the Innocence Project in 2024 as the digital engagement specialist.

Alyxaundria has a distinguished career in local and national news at organizations like ABC, NBC, CBS, New York Daily News, and City & State Magazine. She most recently held the role of audience engagement producer at The Intercept. Alyxaundria brings an extensive background in digital engagement strategies, storytelling, and advocacy. A graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and the Engagement Journalism program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, she also holds a master’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Alyxaundria has been a New York City resident since 2009. Beyond her professional life, you can catch her at the latest Broadway show, restaurant hopping on the weekends, or exploring the newest exhibit at Brooklyn Museum.

Amanda Wallwin

Amanda Wallwin

State Policy Advocate

Amanda Wallwin

Amanda Wallwin

State Policy Advocate Policy

Amanda Wallwin

State Policy Advocate Policy

As a state policy advocate, Amanda lobbies for state level policy changes to prevent and correct wrongful convictions. She joins the Innocence Project after over a decade as chief of staff to New York State Assemblymember Dan Quart. In that role, she drafted and passed legislation to decriminalize pocket knives and face masks, as well as to prevent the automatic fingerprinting of foster youth. She also worked to initiate the first public hearings into sexual harassment of New York legislative staffers in over 25 years, and to force NYPD to comply with federal standards in reporting sexual assault statistics. Amanda is a graduate of Vassar College and also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College.

Ana Marie Diaz

Ana Marie Diaz

Case Associate

Ana Marie Diaz

Ana Marie Diaz

Case Associate Staff

Ana Marie Diaz

Case Associate Staff

Ana Marie Diaz joined the Innocence Project in November 2007 as a case assistant. Ms. Diaz has always had a passion for forensic science. Before joining the Innocence Project, Ana Marie worked in several fields, including social work and medicine.

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Staff Attorney

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Andrew Lee

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Angie Louie

Angie Louie

Senior Staff Attorney

Angie Louie

Angie Louie

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Angie Louie

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Angie is a senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, she was a supervising attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau, where her practice encompassed court-appointed appeals and post-conviction matters in state and federal courts. She has also worked as a staff attorney at the Office of the Appellate Defender and The Center for Appellate Litigation. She began her legal career as a litigation associate at Milbank LLP and clerked for the Honorable Andre M. Davis on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where she was an articles editor for the Law Review, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ava Lopez

Ava Lopez

Policy Assistant

Ava Lopez

Ava Lopez

Policy Assistant Policy

Ava Lopez

Policy Assistant Policy

Ava Lopez joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as a policy assistant. She provides administrative support to our team of state policy advocates so that they can effectively prevent and correct wrongful convictions.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Ava worked at an urban planning and management consulting firm as an analyst, providing support to senior staff. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in political science and completed internships with a state senator, a nonviolence advocacy NGO, a healthy housing nonprofit, and a gubernatorial campaign.

When she’s not mingling with her fellow political theory enthusiasts, you can find her at the movies.

Ava Master

Ava Master

Assistant Director of Individual Giving

Ava Master

Ava Master

Assistant Director of Individual Giving Staff

Ava Master

Assistant Director of Individual Giving Staff

Ava Master joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as the assistant director of individual giving. She is responsible for creating and maintaining meaningful connections with donors and advocates to further the organization’s mission to free wrongly convicted people and reform the system. Previously, Ava spent a decade leading fundraising initiatives at the Sikh Coalition — the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights nonprofit — including cultivating individual donor relations and exponentially growing the budget. She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. When Ava is not working, she can be found reading or catching a Broadway show.

Ava Pacchiana

Ava Pacchiana

Exoneration Innovator

Ava Pacchiana

Ava Pacchiana

Exoneration Innovator Post-conviction Litigation

Ava Pacchiana

Exoneration Innovator Post-conviction Litigation

Ava Pacchiana joined the Innocence Project as a Weil Legal Innovator in the summer of 2023 to further her involvement in the movement to create a more just and equitable criminal legal system.

While completing her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University, Ava co-led a local clemency campaign for a Nashville native, organized a community-based Court Watch program, and planned weekly dinners to bring together previously incarcerated individuals and Vanderbilt students. Ava will be matriculating to Harvard Law School in the fall of 2024 where she plans to pursue a career in capital cases and post-conviction litigation.

Barry C. Scheck & Peter J. Neufeld

Barry C. Scheck & Peter J. Neufeld

Co-founders and Special Counsel

Barry C. Scheck & Peter J. Neufeld

Barry C. Scheck & Peter J. Neufeld

Co-founders and Special Counsel Staff

Barry C. Scheck & Peter J. Neufeld

Co-founders and Special Counsel Staff

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld are co-founders and special counsel at the Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. In February 2000, Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted, written by Peter, Barry, and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer, was published by Doubleday. This non-fiction book grew out of the cases and stories of the Innocence Project.

In 1988, Peter and Barry became involved in studying and litigating issues concerning the use of forensic DNA testing. Their work not only shaped the course of case law across the country but helped lead to an influential study by the National Academy of Sciences on forensic DNA testing, as well as important state and federal legislation setting standards for the use of DNA testing. They both serve as members of the New York State’s Commission on Forensic Science, a body that regulates all crime and forensic DNA laboratories in the state.

Peter and Barry have litigated and taught extensively in both the “hard” and behavioral forensic sciences. Their trials frequently redefine and expand the parameters of permissible defenses involving forensic psychiatry and laboratory science. Most of this work is pro bono and of public interest. Their cases often result in enhancing public awareness of systemic problems, improving the criminal justice system, and legislative reform.

Bay Scoggin

Bay Scoggin

State Policy Advocate

Bay Scoggin

Bay Scoggin

State Policy Advocate Staff

Bay Scoggin

State Policy Advocate Staff

Bay Scoggin believes in America’s promise of justice for all. That’s why he joined the Innocence Project in its mission to free wrongly convicted people and reform the system. As state policy advocate, he is responsible for working with exonerees and network organizations to make our state’s justice systems more just, equitable, and science-based. A gregarious policy wonk, Bay is inspired to fight for justice every day. Bay previously worked at the Texas Public Interest Research Group, where he was the director. He is a graduate of Emerson College. In his free time, Bay enjoys traveling, going on adventures around New York City, playing board games and games of skill with friends, and keeping up with the news.

Bhavan Sodhi

Bhavan Sodhi

Chief Program Officer

Bhavan Sodhi

Bhavan Sodhi

Chief Program Officer Executive

Bhavan Sodhi

Chief Program Officer Executive

Bhavan K. Sodhi is the chief program officer at the Innocence Project. In this capacity, she is responsible for the oversight, management, and supervision of all six programmatic departments: client intake and evaluation, post-conviction litigation, data science & research, strategic litigation, social work, and public policy reform.

Prior to this role, she served as the IP’s director of intake & case evaluation. Bhavan comes to the IP with deep experience in innocence work, having served as the legal director at Innocence Canada, where she is now a member of its case review committee and executive board. She was also the executive director of the Osgoode Innocence Project in Toronto and an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, teaching wrongful conviction and forensic science. Bhavan also co-founded and instructed the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law for many years.

Bhavan has served as a board member of the international Innocence Network and has experience working as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in Toronto. Bhavan has written extensively about criminal justice and wrongful convictions and regularly presents on these topics. She is deeply passionate about and committed to addressing injustice and the systems that foster it.

Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez

Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez

Paralegal

Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez

Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Cait Murray

Cait Murray

Assistant Director of Network Stakeholder Engagement

Cait Murray

Cait Murray

Assistant Director of Network Stakeholder Engagement Network Support Unit

Cait Murray

Assistant Director of Network Stakeholder Engagement Network Support Unit

Cait Murray joined the Innocence Project as manager of Network stakeholder engagement in January 2020. In this role, she works to strengthen the 68 organizations that comprise the Innocence Network by planning and executing high-quality events, facilitating priority partnerships, and ensuring effective stakeholder communication. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, she worked in education, social services, community organizing, and policy advocacy. She earned a B.A. in English and Hispanic studies from Boston College in 2011 and concurrent graduate degrees in social work (M.S.W.) and public administration (M.P.A.) from Columbia University in 2019. She is passionate about criminal justice reform and is thrilled to support Innocence Network organizations in their mission to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

Carrie Baker

Carrie Baker

Assistant Director of Learning and Development

Carrie Baker

Carrie Baker

Assistant Director of Learning and Development Staff

Carrie Baker

Assistant Director of Learning and Development Staff

Carrie Baker joined the Innocence Project in 2022 as the assistant director of learning and development on the HR team. She has a decade of HR experience working in academia and in the nonprofit sector. She is excited to take on a new role at the Innocence Project, focused on areas of staff growth and development, staffwide-trainings and education, and generally supporting the IP staff.

Cecily Burge

Cecily Burge

Paralegal

Cecily Burge

Cecily Burge

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Cecily Burge

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Cecily Burge joined the Innocence Project’s post-conviction litigation team in 2021.

Prior to working at the Innocence Project, Cecily was a fellow at the Frederick Douglass Project for Justice, where she helped launch the organization’s cornerstone Prison Visitation Program. Cecily graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in government. In college, she helped individuals returning from incarceration find employment, produced an award-winning documentary about an innocent man behind bars, and was the teaching assistant for a class known as “Making an Exoneree,” where she oversaw the reinvestigation of wrongful conviction cases and advocated for exoneration.

Celeste C. Vargas

Celeste C. Vargas

Case Analyst

Celeste C. Vargas

Celeste C. Vargas

Case Analyst Staff

Celeste C. Vargas

Case Analyst Staff

Celeste joined the Innocence Project as a case analyst in November 2020. Helping others has always been her passion. Prior to joining our team, she worked at the Winston-Salem Police Department in North Carolina for seven years. Her career began in crime-scene investigation with the forensic services division. She also worked with the WSPD Training Division, followed by the Victim Assistance Unit, where she reviewed cases and provided services to crime victims including survivors of domestic violence. Celeste graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in crime, law, & justice. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is happy to be back home in Brooklyn, New York, where she was born and raised.

Chloe Hughes

Chloe Hughes

Director of Individual and Major Giving

Chloe Hughes

Chloe Hughes

Director of Individual and Major Giving Staff

Chloe Hughes

Director of Individual and Major Giving Staff

Chloe serves as the director of individual and major giving at the Innocence Project. Before coming to the Innocence Project, she worked with generous contributors at the RAND Corporation, New York Public Radio and a number of off-Broadway theatre companies. Chloe is passionate about helping organizations find and raise funds from philanthropists with a shared vision, and she loves building relationships with people who are committed to making a difference in their communities and the world.

Christa Alexander

Christa Alexander

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow

Christa Alexander

Christa Alexander

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Christa Alexander

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Christa Alexander joined the Innocence Project as a post-conviction litigation fellow in the fall of 2023.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Christa attended St. John’s University School of Law. While at St. John’s, she worked as an intern at the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Practice, Appellate Advocates, New York County Defender Services, Federal Defenders Western District of Missouri Capital Habeas Unit, and her law school’s Defense and Advocacy Clinic. She is also the founding member of her law school’s first criminal public defense organization, SJU Defenders. Prior to attending law school, she worked for two years at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice on the implementation of the NYS Bail Reform Law, supervised release, and alternatives to incarceration.

Christa graduated summa cum laude from Binghamton University in 2018 with a B.A in political science and sociology. She is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Christa is passionate about disrupting cycles of incarceration and providing zealous advocacy in her legal career.

Christina Swarns

Christina Swarns

Executive Director

Christina Swarns

Christina Swarns

Executive Director Staff

Christina Swarns

Executive Director Staff

Christina Swarns is the executive director of the Innocence Project. She previously served as the president and attorney-in-charge of the Office of the Appellate Defender, Inc. (OAD), one of New York City’s oldest institutional providers of indigent appellate defense representation; as the litigation director for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice; as a supervising assistant federal defender in the capital habeas corpus unit of the Philadelphia Community Defender Office; and as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense division in New York. Christina argued, and won, Buck v. Davis, a challenge to the introduction of explicitly racially biased evidence in a Texas death penalty case, in the United States Supreme Court. Christina was the only Black woman to argue in the 2016 Supreme Court term, and is one of the few Black women to have argued before the nation’s highest court. Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.

Corinne Padavano

Corinne Padavano

Director of Human Resources

Corinne Padavano

Corinne Padavano

Director of Human Resources Staff

Corinne Padavano

Director of Human Resources Staff

As the director of human resources, Corinne Padavano oversees the organization’s compensation and benefits, recruitment and hiring practices, diversity and inclusion initiatives, employee relations and engagement, policies administration, and related organizational compliance issues. Corinne joined the Innocence Project in April 2006 after working in non-profit finance, human resources, and operations support roles with organizations such as the American Institute of Architects and the Brain Injury Association of New York State. She also owned and operated a storefront arts business for several years in Queens.

Crystal Ortiz

Crystal Ortiz

Assistant Director of Special Events

Crystal Ortiz

Crystal Ortiz

Assistant Director of Special Events Staff

Crystal Ortiz

Assistant Director of Special Events Staff

Crystal Ortiz is passionate about how her commitment to building community and justice can contribute to the mission and impact of the Innocence Project. As the assistant director of special events, Crystal is responsible for planning the annual gala and stewardship events.  Crystal’s ability to project manage and align events with the mission of the IP helps her carry forth these efforts each day. Crystal previously worked at The Cooper Union, where she managed the events program. She is a graduate of the University of Florida. In Crystal’s spare time, she enjoys traveling and watching movies!

Debra Fulton

Debra Fulton

Intake Assistant

Debra Fulton

Debra Fulton

Intake Assistant Intake

Debra Fulton

Intake Assistant Intake

Debra joined the Innocence Project as an intake assistant in March 2022.

Debra became interested in the wrongful convictions field like many others, by listening to the Serial podcast. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Vermont University in professional studies with a focus on preventing injustice. Debra formerly held positions as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and administrative assistant, and previously volunteered as a paranormal investigator and a case review manager for a wrongfully convicted advocacy group.

Debra also researched, wrote, recorded, and produced a podcast about wrongful conviction cases, which urges people to ask, “What if they really are innocent?”

Dominique De.Lisle 

Dominique De.Lisle 

Gift Processing Associate

Dominique De.Lisle 

Dominique De.Lisle 

Gift Processing Associate Development

Dominique De.Lisle 

Gift Processing Associate Development

Dominique De.Lisle joined the Innocence Project as a gift processing associate in 2023.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Ithaca College. Her longstanding interest in — and support of — non-profit and community based organizations has been realized in her career as an experienced administrative professional and in her demonstrated history of working in the social service industry.

With deep ties to music and arts advocacy, supportive resources, and civic engagement, Dominique is most passionate about empowering others to discover and pursue their purpose. She seeks to create environments that holistically foster equity across all socioeconomic backgrounds. As a Brooklyn born-and-raised black woman of faith, she is very active in her church ministry on the weekends.

Dominique values creativity, integrity, trust, and building meaningful relationships through thoughtful and compassionate communication. At her core, she operates with love, grace, excellence, wisdom, and humility. She loves to laugh, travel, and make refreshingly new memories with her loved ones — and she’s a foodie!

Donald Katz

Donald Katz

Intake Assistant

Donald Katz

Donald Katz

Intake Assistant Intake

Donald Katz

Intake Assistant Intake

Donna Kenton

Donna Kenton

Volunteer Coordinator

Donna Kenton

Donna Kenton

Volunteer Coordinator Human Resources

Donna Kenton

Volunteer Coordinator Human Resources

Donna Kenton graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in English. She taught junior high school English then studied music and acting, singing briefly with an R&B band. For 31 years, she worked on Wall Street, mostly for Merrill Lynch, focusing on municipal bonds. In her retirement, she has been privileged to volunteer for this wonderful organization, acting as the volunteer coordinator. It is her joy to match someone who is passionate about giving their time to ensure justice for all with a department in need of their skills.

Elena Aviles

Elena Aviles

Document Manager

Elena Aviles

Elena Aviles

Document Manager Staff

Elena Aviles

Document Manager Staff

Elena Aviles has worked at the Innocence Project since its inception. She started working on a full time basis for the Project in 1997 as a case assistant and managed the bulk of the administrative functions of the evaluation process.  In September 2007, she became the Innocence Project’s first document manager and is responsible for acquiring documents and information in cases where more information is needed to complete our review.

Elizabeth Vaca

Elizabeth Vaca

Executive Assistant to Co-founders

Elizabeth Vaca

Elizabeth Vaca

Executive Assistant to Co-founders Staff

Elizabeth Vaca

Executive Assistant to Co-founders Staff

Elizabeth Vaca is the Innocence Project’s executive assistant to the co-founders. She has worked for the Innocence Project since its inception in 1992. Her duties are various.

Mrs. Vaca received her paralegal degree from Long Island University, C. W. Post.

Emilie Winter

Emilie Winter

Case Analyst

Emilie Winter

Emilie Winter

Case Analyst Intake

Emilie Winter

Case Analyst Intake

Emilie joined the Innocence Project in September 2023. Prior to working at the Innocence Project, Emilie was a language access specialist at Vermont Immigrant Assistance, where she provided Portuguese interpretation and translation services for clients seeking asylum. Emilie was a summer fellow with Fair and Just Prosecution; she developed several policy reform projects with Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office, including a policy guiding prosecutors to send case referrals to local restorative justice programs. She earned her M.A. in restorative justice from Vermont Law School in 2022 and a double B.A. in psychology and geography from DePaul University in 2016. Emilie is currently completing her JD degree at Brooklyn Law School.

Emmanuela Santos

Emmanuela Santos

Receptionist and Office Assistant

Emmanuela Santos

Emmanuela Santos

Receptionist and Office Assistant Finance

Emmanuela Santos

Receptionist and Office Assistant Finance

Erika Lago

Erika Lago

Assistant Director of Benefits, Compensation & Compliance

Erika Lago

Erika Lago

Assistant Director of Benefits, Compensation & Compliance Staff

Erika Lago

Assistant Director of Benefits, Compensation & Compliance Staff

Erika joined Innocence Project in September 2014. She previously worked with community nonprofits (Henry Street Settlement and University Settlement) in the Lower East Side. She also had the opportunity to work for Project Hope, the FEMA-funded program created after Hurricane Sandy.

Fiona Guthrie

Fiona Guthrie

Chief Communications Officer

Fiona Guthrie

Fiona Guthrie

Chief Communications Officer Staff

Fiona Guthrie

Chief Communications Officer Staff

Fiona Guthrie is a storyteller, strategist and a leader in the communications sector, working at an array of legacy organizations and media outlets over the course of her career. For more than a decade, she worked at the Ford Foundation, where she directed media and, later, public engagement strategy. She served as the foundation’s acting vice president of global communications and, most recently, as its director of story leading a high-performing, creative team of storytellers and strategists. Before joining Ford, Fiona had a long and successful career in broadcast media. She was a producer for BBC World Service and BBC TV in London, a supervising producer and radio host for ABC Australia, and a producer with the BBC’s New York bureau in the aftermath of 9/11. She also served as media relations chief at the Australian Mission to the UN in New York.

Gabriel Lopez

Gabriel Lopez

Case Management Database Coordinator

Gabriel Lopez

Gabriel Lopez

Case Management Database Coordinator Information Technology

Gabriel Lopez

Case Management Database Coordinator Information Technology

Currently serving as the case management database coordinator at the Innocence Project, Gabriel brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role.

Prior to joining the IT department in 2024, Gabriel worked in the intake department, first as a case analyst (2018-2023) and then as a senior case analyst (2023-2024). During his time in intake, Gabriel evaluated hundreds of cases at varying stages, hired and trained new case analysts and interns, and led seminars on the intake department and its evaluation process. Gabriel contributed to the intake evaluation and presentation memo of Leonard Mack, whose case was accepted by the post-conviction litigation department. This case resulted in the longest exoneration based on new DNA evidence in the Innocence Project’s history.

Before coming to IP, Gabriel worked as an intake paralegal at Brooklyn Legal Services in the Tenant Rights Coalition, where he advocated for New Yorkers facing evictions and unfair housing practices.

Driven by curiosity and a desire to expand his skill set, Gabriel developed a keen interest in cybersecurity and ethical hacking. He has earned various certifications, including the CompTIA Network+ and Security+. With a solid foundation in both investigative work and computer systems, Gabriel transitioned to the Innocence Project’s IT department. In his current role, he brings his prior experience in the intake department to bear on the development and management of FileVine, the organization’s new case management system. He is also learning the ins and outs of traditional IT support and help desk-related tasks.

Gabriel holds a B.A. in psychology from Hunter College and an M.A. in forensic psychology from John Jay School of Criminal Justice.

Gisele Rentas

Gisele Rentas

Administrative Assistant

Gisele Rentas

Gisele Rentas

Administrative Assistant Staff

Gisele Rentas

Administrative Assistant Staff

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Staff Attorney

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Staff Attorney Staff

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Staff Attorney Staff

Hannah joined the Innocence Project as a staff attorney in 2023. Before the Innocence Project, Hannah worked at Justice 360, a non-profit organization in her home state of South Carolina, where she represented men facing the death penalty and children facing death-in-prison sentences. Hannah has also worked as an adjunct clinical professor at Cornell Law School. She began her legal career as a law clerk, first to Justice Harold Eaton on the Vermont Supreme Court and later to Judge Richard C. Wesley on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to law school, Hannah served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay. She is a graduate of Cornell Law School and Duke University.

Ira Rollins

Ira Rollins

Assistant Director of Employee Relations

Ira Rollins

Ira Rollins

Assistant Director of Employee Relations Human Resources

Ira Rollins

Assistant Director of Employee Relations Human Resources

Ira Rollins (he/him/his) is the assistant director of employee relations. His goals are to ensure that the Innocence Project’s internal community remains heard, seen, and prioritized, and to ensure that they can focus on the intricate work they do to assist those in need of the Innocence Project’s services. Previously, Ira worked as a psychotherapist, life coach, and project manager in HIV research. He holds a M.A. in counseling for mental health and Wellness from NYU Steinhardt and a B.A. in the psychology of race, gender, and sexuality from the interdisciplinary CUNY BA program.

Isabel Vasquez

Isabel Vasquez

Communications and Speakers Bureau Coordinator

Isabel Vasquez

Isabel Vasquez

Communications and Speakers Bureau Coordinator Staff

Isabel Vasquez

Communications and Speakers Bureau Coordinator Staff

Isabel joined the Innocence Project in June 2016. Prior to joining the Innocence Project team, Isabel worked at a personal injury law firm for five years. Isabel graduated from John Jay College with a B.S. in criminal justice. She also volunteers at Sanctuary for Families, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence, translating documents from Spanish to English.

Isabelle Cohn

Isabelle Cohn

Forensic Science Policy Associate

Isabelle Cohn

Isabelle Cohn

Forensic Science Policy Associate Staff

Isabelle Cohn

Forensic Science Policy Associate Staff

Isabelle Cohn is passionate about the equitable implementation of forensic science in the criminal legal system. That’s why she joined the Innocence Project in its mission to free wrongfully convicted people and prevent further injustice. Isabelle first joined the Innocence Project in June 2021 with the data science and research team, before transitioning into the policy department. As the forensic science policy associate, Isabelle provides support to all federal and state initiatives to improve the scientific rigor, quality management, and error management responses of forensic science systems. She also coordinates the Innocence Project’s participation in the development of forensic science standards. Isabelle graduated from Syracuse University in 2020, where she earned her B.S. in forensic science and psychology.

Jaime S. Henderson

Jaime S. Henderson

Director of Data Science and Research

Jaime S. Henderson

Jaime S. Henderson

Director of Data Science and Research Data Science & Research

Jaime S. Henderson

Director of Data Science and Research Data Science & Research

Dr. Jaime S. Henderson joined the Innocence Project in August 2022. As the director of data science and research, she leads an innovative and exciting department that strives to deepen the understanding of wrongful convictions, and determines the organization’s research strategy while fostering an ethical and responsible data culture. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Dr. Henderson was immersed in criminal legal system transformation in the Philadelphia courts for over a decade where she led data-driven efforts to decrease the local jail population and reduce racial and ethnic disparities. She earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an M.A. in forensic psychology at Castleton College, and a PhD in Criminal Justice at Temple University. Dr. Henderson is an avid Philly sports fan and takes great pride in reminding the office of it.

Jane Pucher

Jane Pucher

Senior Staff Attorney

Jane Pucher

Jane Pucher

Senior Staff Attorney Staff

Jane Pucher

Senior Staff Attorney Staff

Jane litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful convictions. She also instructs law students as part of the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo Law School. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Jane worked for five years as a public defender with The Bronx Defenders, representing thousands of individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes from arraignment through trial. She also served as a supervising attorney, training newer attorneys who were just beginning to represent clients charged with felonies, and mentoring them in all areas of practice. Jane graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011, where she was a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic, and where she volunteered at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, at the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office, at the Public Defender Service of D.C, and at the Southern Center for Human Rights. She graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in political science in 2008.

Jeffrey Johnson

Jeffrey Johnson

Office Manager

Jeffrey Johnson

Jeffrey Johnson

Office Manager Staff

Jeffrey Johnson

Office Manager Staff

Jeffrey Johnson joined the IP in September 2007 as the office manager. Prior to that, he worked for corporate companies in accounting, banking, and asset management. Born and raised in New York City, Jeff enjoys basketball, fishing, and traveling. He looks forward to assisting those who are part of this extraordinary staff in helping to exonerate innocent people.

Jessica Diaz

Jessica Diaz

Document Manager

Jessica Diaz

Jessica Diaz

Document Manager Staff

Jessica Diaz

Document Manager Staff

Jessica Diaz joined the Innocence Project as an intake assistant in April 2016. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Jessica worked at the Foundation Center, where she served in various roles to help strengthen the knowledge of philanthropy. She received her B.A. in media studies from Hunter College.

Jessica Rawlins Smith

Jessica Rawlins Smith

Chief Development Officer

Jessica Rawlins Smith

Jessica Rawlins Smith

Chief Development Officer Development

Jessica Rawlins Smith

Chief Development Officer Development

Jessica Rawlins Smith is the chief development officer at the Innocence Project. She has over a decade of experience in fund development, using public and private philanthropy, and strategic planning, to bring high-impact resources to organizations eliminating the inequitable outcomes of systemic oppression. With a B.A. in religion from Dartmouth College and an M.S. in fundraising management from Columbia University, Jessica has built an impressive record as a fundraising specialist supporting some of the most transformative education, arts, and justice-oriented initiatives. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Jessica served as chief development officer at Partnership with Children, leading the critical growth of private fundraising in support of school-based mental health supports. In addition, she served as the senior director of development at All Our Kin, overseeing a broad portfolio of philanthropic, public, and corporate funding in support of high-quality family child care programming. Jessica also served as director of institutional giving at the Harlem Children’s Zone, supporting a broad range of early education, K-12, postsecondary and family-based programs. Jessica serves on the board of directors of Fiver Children’s Foundation.

Jessica Spencer

Jessica Spencer

Staff Attorney

Jessica Spencer

Jessica Spencer

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Jessica Spencer

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Jessica Spencer joined the Innocence Project in 2023, after spending eight years as a trial attorney at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender. At the OPD, Jessica served as sole counsel on hundreds of felony cases, worked with experts on DNA and fingerprint evidence, and had an undefeated trial record. She also litigated the first motion to compel discovery related to facial recognition technology in the state of New Jersey and led the digital evidence team of the statewide Forensic Working Group for five years. Before joining the OPD, Jessica clerked on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She graduated from Stanford Law School in 2013 and received a B.A. in religious studies from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010.

Jever Mariwala

Jever Mariwala

Paralegal

Jever Mariwala

Jever Mariwala

Paralegal Strategic Litigation

Jever Mariwala

Paralegal Strategic Litigation

Ji-hye Rhee

Ji-hye Rhee

Paralegal

Ji-hye Rhee

Ji-hye Rhee

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Ji-hye Rhee

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Joanne Joseph

Joanne Joseph

Human Resources Manager of Recruitment

Joanne Joseph

Joanne Joseph

Human Resources Manager of Recruitment Human Resources

Joanne Joseph

Human Resources Manager of Recruitment Human Resources

Joanne Joseph strongly believes in helping others who may not have the same opportunities or who have been deprived of basic needs.

Joanne is the HR manager of recruitment at the Innocence Project. She has approximately 20 years of experience in HR and spent most of that time working in recruitment leadership and operations. She worked for various non-profit and healthcare organizations, especially in hospice care, where she helped to find the right people and fulfill operational goals necessary to provide compassionate care to individuals in need.

When not working, Joanne spends a lot of time serving as the Brooklyn representative of HOPEww (Helping Other People Everywhere), her church ministry. She is also a foodie, loves to travel, and loves horror movies.

Joe Donato

Joe Donato

Director of IT

Joe Donato

Joe Donato

Director of IT Information Technology

Joe Donato

Director of IT Information Technology

With over 27 years of dedicated experience in the realm of information technology, Joe Donato brings a wealth of expertise to his role as director of IT at the Innocence Project. Having spent the last 7 years as director of technology at the Osborne Association, a prominent New York-based criminal legal agency, Joe has honed his skills and deepened his understanding of the intersection between technology and justice. Prior to Osborne, Joe worked as a full stack developer and project manager for organizations ranging from startup dot coms to Fortune 100 companies.

Over the years, Joe held a myriad of certifications in IT service management, cybersecurity, software/system engineering and various other platforms, reflecting his commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements. His comprehensive knowledge and strategic approach to IT infrastructure have been instrumental in enhancing operational efficiency and fostering innovation within the organizations he has served.

As the director of IT at the Innocence Project, Joe remains steadfast in his dedication to leveraging technology as a force for positive change, supporting the organization’s mission to exonerate the wrongly convicted and reform the criminal legal system.

Joseph Martinez

Joseph Martinez

Data Solutions Manager

Joseph Martinez

Joseph Martinez

Data Solutions Manager Staff

Joseph Martinez

Data Solutions Manager Staff

As the data solutions manager, Joseph Martinez manages the Innocence Project’s Salesforce instance and donation processes. Joseph is passionate about criminal justice reform, studying criminal justice in college before moving into tech. His ability to adapt and problem-solve allows him to handle a complex Salesforce environment with the aim to have an accurate and clean data tool for the Innocence Project to be able to see and measure its impact. Joseph previously worked at Ennube Solutions, where he led implementation projects for other nonprofits as a project manager and consultant. When he isn’t working, you can find him kickboxing or watching a scary movie!

Joseph Thompson

Joseph Thompson

Chief Financial Officer

Joseph Thompson

Joseph Thompson

Chief Financial Officer Finance

Joseph Thompson

Chief Financial Officer Finance

Joseph Thompson joined the Innocence Project in 2018 as the chief financial officer. Before joining the Innocence Project, he worked at the Legal Action Center — a law and policy non-profit organization — for over six years. Mr. Thompson’s career path has led him through the nonprofit arena including a stint at the Fortune Society. Mr. Thompson acquired a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from his native Ghana’s University of Cape Coast. He holds a Master of Business Administration in accounting from St. John’s University. He also holds a CPA license.

Jule Hall

Jule Hall

Assistant Director of Ambassadors and External Programs

Jule Hall

Jule Hall

Assistant Director of Ambassadors and External Programs Staff

Jule Hall

Assistant Director of Ambassadors and External Programs Staff

Jule Hall is passionate about social justice. As assistant director of ambassadors and external programs, Jule collaborates with Innocence Ambassadors in order to leverage their platforms to free the innocent, exonerate the wrongly convicted and transform the criminal legal system. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Jule was a campaign coordinator with Picture Motion, LLC, where he worked on award-winning documentaries examining prisoner reentry, gun violence and racial inequality in the U.S. In 2017, he became the first formerly incarcerated person to work full time at the Ford Foundation, where he provided data analysis and strategy development for its work on gender, racial, and ethnic justice. In 2019, Jule was a program officer for the Ascendium Education Group, Inc., where he provided strategic funding to nonprofit, postsecondary educational programs, operating in jails and prisons across the U.S. In his spare time, Jule enjoys gardening and bike riding.

Julia Boland

Julia Boland

Paralegal

Julia Boland

Julia Boland

Paralegal Strategic Litigation

Julia Boland

Paralegal Strategic Litigation

Julia Lucivero

Julia Lucivero

Senior Media Strategist

Julia Lucivero

Julia Lucivero

Senior Media Strategist Staff

Julia Lucivero

Senior Media Strategist Staff

Julia Lucivero joined the Innocence Project in February 2017, with over eight years of experience in political communications. Prior to joining our team, she worked in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for a state legislator, whose primary policy work surrounded progressive reforms for the DOC, prisoner mental health services and female offenders and their children, particularly being shackled during and after pregnancy. She began working in press and politics as a student, interning for then U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, working directly under her press secretary. Julia graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2007 with a degree in communication arts and a double minor in International relations and political science.

Julia Moran

Julia Moran

Policy Research Associate

Julia Moran

Julia Moran

Policy Research Associate Policy

Julia Moran

Policy Research Associate Policy

Julia is a policy research associate at the Innocence Project and is responsible for conducting research and analysis on core policy issues related to the team’s state-based advocacy work. Prior to the Innocence Project, Julia worked for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) investigating allegations of police misconduct. She graduated from Macalester College with a B.A. in political science and holds a master’s degree in criminology and sociolegal studies from the University of Toronto.

Justin Chan

Justin Chan

Assistant Director, Editorial

Justin Chan

Justin Chan

Assistant Director, Editorial Communications

Justin Chan

Assistant Director, Editorial Communications

Justin Chan joined the Innocence Project in 2021. He comes with more than a decade of experience in journalism, having written for Law.com, Mic, Forbes, HuffPost, Time Out New York, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo.

Justin’s work frequently touches on issues impacting marginalized communities, including racism, immigration, and economic disparities. He holds a master’s degree in magazine journalism from Columbia Journalism School and a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Macaulay Honors College. He also holds a certificate in digital marketing from Columbia Business School Executive Education. 

Justin previously volunteered at Reading Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth improve their literacy.

Justin Rodriguez

Justin Rodriguez

Assistant Director of Institutional Giving

Justin Rodriguez

Justin Rodriguez

Assistant Director of Institutional Giving Development

Justin Rodriguez

Assistant Director of Institutional Giving Development

Justin Rodriguez joined the Innocence Project as assistant director of institutional giving in 2024.

He has over 10 years of experience in corporate engagement, philanthropy, international development, and nonprofit management, with a significant focus on racial equity, diversity, inclusion, and education initiatives. Most recently, he was at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as the manager of corporate engagement, managing corporate advocacy and employee engagement events. Before the ACLU, Justin was a program analyst at Open Society Foundations, and led a portfolio on police reform and community-led solutions to policing. Prior to his work at OSF, Justin worked in international development with a focus on global education, both for the Fulbright Program at the Institute of International Education and at the United Nations. His work served racially-marginalized and politically-underrepresented populations in the Global South, with a particular emphasis on the Afro-Latin American experience.

Justin is a native New Yorker. He is a proud Latinx American and is fluent in Spanish.

Kaila Johnson

Kaila Johnson

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow

Kaila Johnson

Kaila Johnson

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Kaila Johnson

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Kaila Johnson joined the Innocence Project as a post-conviction litigation fellow in the fall of 2023. Prior to her arrival, she attended the University of California Los Angeles School of Law within the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law & Policy Program and specialized in critical race studies. While at UCLA Law, Kaila served for two years as the prison law & policy fellow, bringing community leaders and legal scholars together on campus to foster discussions and hold events centered on addressing and combating the far-reaching effects of the American carceral system. At UCLA Law, she also helped found and served as a co-chair of Law Students for Decarceration, a student group devoted to abolition efforts on campus and within the larger southern California region. Kaila graduated from Brown University in 2019 with B.A’s in political science and English. She looks forward to a long legal career rooted in service and hopes to help build a more humane and restorative criminal legal system in her lifetime.

Kaleena Aviles

Kaleena Aviles

Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director

Kaleena Aviles

Kaleena Aviles

Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director Staff

Kaleena Aviles

Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director Staff

Kaleena Aviles joined the Innocence Project in January 2020. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Kaleena worked at the Center for Disability Advocacy Rights (CeDAR), a nonprofit organization that  provided legal assistance for persons with disabilities. After leaving CeDAR she worked as manager for Element Beauty Lounge and Blackstones Hairdressing, where she cultivated her knowledge of the beauty industry. During that time, she realized her passion was working for non-profit organizations and helping those in need.

Kanani Schnider

Kanani Schnider

Paralegal

Kanani Schnider

Kanani Schnider

Paralegal Staff

Kanani Schnider

Paralegal Staff

Kanani joined the Innocence Project as a paralegal in July 2022. Prior to joining the IP, Kanani worked as a resource coordinator at the Center for Court Innovation, where she supported clients charged with misdemeanors in New York; as a research consultant for Kaunalewa, a nonprofit pursuing environmental justice in Hawai’i; and as a Stanford Human Rights Fellow at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Kanani graduated from Stanford University with her B.A. in international relations and a minor in German studies in 2019, where she focused on the relationship between history, human rights, and racial justice.

Keenan Pace

Keenan Pace

Director of Institutional Giving

Keenan Pace

Keenan Pace

Director of Institutional Giving Development

Keenan Pace

Director of Institutional Giving Development

Keenan Pace joined the Innocence Project in 2023.

As director of institutional giving, Keenan is responsible for building relationships with foundations and corporate philanthropies to support the Innocence Project’s work to restore freedom, transform systems, and advance the movement for a more just criminal legal system. For over a decade, she was a fundraiser at the Osborne Association, a nonprofit serving New Yorkers at every stage of the criminal legal system. She holds a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s in political science from Fordham University.

Keli Young

Keli Young

State Policy Advocate

Keli Young

Keli Young

State Policy Advocate Policy

Keli Young

State Policy Advocate Policy

Keli Young joined the Innocence Project in 2024 as a state policy advocate. In this capacity, she works with exonerees and network organizations lobbying for state level policy changes to prevent and correct wrongful convictions. Keli has a decade of experience in local and national criminal justice policy. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Keli was the civil rights campaign coordinator at VOCAL-NY working alongside formerly incarcerated New Yorkers on legislative and budget campaigns to end mass incarceration.

Keli was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn and earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. in psychology from Tufts University. She is deeply passionate about living out her faith and advocating for actual justice and Black liberation. When Keli is not plotting the fall of capitalism and white supremacy, you can find her on a plane, at the movies, or out and about with her husky, Riley.

Kenya Williams

Kenya Williams

Gift Processing Associate

Kenya Williams

Kenya Williams

Gift Processing Associate Development

Kenya Williams

Gift Processing Associate Development

Khaled Zayed

Khaled Zayed

IT Manager

Khaled Zayed

Khaled Zayed

IT Manager Information Technology

Khaled Zayed

IT Manager Information Technology

Khaled Zayed joined the Innocence Project as its IT manager in 2023.

Khaled has more than 15 years of experience in various fields of technology and management. He has been responsible for leading teams; managing IT projects; collaborating with coworkers, vendors, and other departments; and making important decisions to improve technology and align IT with organizational goals. Khaled has a background in teaching IT-related courses, such as information security, CompTIA A+, ITIL, IT management, and data privacy.

Khaled holds a college degree in computers and networking technology, as well as an MBA and PhD in international business management. He has earned various IT certifications, including ITIL v3, ITILv4, AWS, CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, DCSE, and customer service. Apart from his professional life, Khaled enjoys playing soccer and cycling along the Raritan River Trail in central New Jersey on weekends. Khaled also volunteers some of his spare time helping a nonprofit organization and refugees in Central Jersey.

Kyana Champion

Kyana Champion

Social Worker

Kyana Champion

Kyana Champion

Social Worker Staff

Kyana Champion

Social Worker Staff

Before joining the Innocence Project in 2020, Kyana held various positions with non-profit agencies in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Working with individuals and families from diverse backgrounds, she became aware of the negative impact that the justice system and incarceration can have on communities. As a social worker for New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC), she assisted justice-involved and recently released clients as they navigated a maze of systems to reclaim and rebuild their lives. Kyana attended William Paterson University, earning her B.A. in African studies and a second B.A. in sociology, and Rutgers University School of Social Work, where she obtained her M.S.W and became a licensed social worker (LSW). Kyana is excited to contribute her experience and dedication to social justice and criminal justice reform to the Innocence Project.

La-Trinnia Braxton

La-Trinnia Braxton

Director of Development Operations and Data Systems

La-Trinnia Braxton

La-Trinnia Braxton

Director of Development Operations and Data Systems Development

La-Trinnia Braxton

Director of Development Operations and Data Systems Development

Lauren Gottesman

Lauren Gottesman

Staff Attorney

Lauren Gottesman

Lauren Gottesman

Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Lauren Gottesman

Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Lauren Gottesman joined the Innocence Project’s strategic litigation department as a staff attorney in May 2020, where she focuses on suggestive identification practices and police interrogation. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Lauren was a public defender at the Legal Aid Society’s Manhattan Criminal Defense Practice. During her last year at the Legal Aid Society, Lauren worked in their Decarceration Project, where she provided consultation, training, and direct advocacy regarding pre-trial detention issues. Before her work at the Legal Aid Society, Lauren clerked for two years for the Honorable James L. Dennis on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana. During law school, Lauren interned with the Innocence Project’s post-conviction litigation unit for a full academic year. Lauren graduated from Cardozo Law School in 2013, and from Trinity College in 2008.

Lauren Schlansky

Lauren Schlansky

Case Analyst and Investigator, Intake Strategic Initiatives

Lauren Schlansky

Lauren Schlansky

Case Analyst and Investigator, Intake Strategic Initiatives Intake

Lauren Schlansky

Case Analyst and Investigator, Intake Strategic Initiatives Intake

Lauren joined the Innocence Project as a paralegal in June 2020. Prior to joining the IP, Lauren was an investigator at Brooklyn Defender Services, where she helped defend hundreds of individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes. During college, Lauren conducted research for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, interned with several organizations including the Legal Aid Society and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and spent time in Germany researching its prison system and history of punishment. Lauren graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in philosophy and political science in 2019.

Leland Hurley

Leland Hurley

Administrative Assistant

Leland Hurley

Leland Hurley

Administrative Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Leland Hurley

Administrative Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Lo Harris

Lo Harris

Lead Creative

Lo Harris

Lo Harris

Lead Creative Communications

Lo Harris

Lead Creative Communications

Lo Harris is passionate about how her commitment to empowerment and joy can contribute to the mission and impact of the Innocence Project.

As the lead creative, Lo uses the power of art and design to champion a more just and kind world. Lo‘s background in storytelling, branding, and animation helps her carry forth these efforts each day.

Lo is an accomplished artist who has independently collaborated with dozens of global brands and organizations, such as the United Nations, the NAACP and The Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

She is also a published children’s book illustrator, and has distributed her books and merchandise at major retailers in the U.S., the UK, and Canada. Lo is a graduate of Northwestern University.

In Lo’s spare time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, and spending her time with Potato, her 15-pound tabby cat from Brooklyn.

Lora Napier

Lora Napier

Administrative Assistant

Lora Napier

Lora Napier

Administrative Assistant Executive

Lora Napier

Administrative Assistant Executive

M. Chris Fabricant

M. Chris Fabricant

Director of Strategic Litigation (Joseph Flom Special Counsel)

M. Chris Fabricant

M. Chris Fabricant

Director of Strategic Litigation (Joseph Flom Special Counsel) Strategic Litigation

M. Chris Fabricant

Director of Strategic Litigation (Joseph Flom Special Counsel) Strategic Litigation

As the director of strategic litigation (Joseph Flom Special Counsel), Chris Fabricant leads the Innocence Project’s strategic litigation department, whose attorneys develop and execute national litigation and public policy strategies to address the leading causes of wrongful conviction. Chris is one of the United States’s leading experts on forensic sciences and scientific litigation. He is a former longtime public defender and law professor, frequently serves as a public speaker on law reform issues, and is widely published in both legal scholarship and in mainstream media. In his new book, Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System, Chris examines the role that faulty scientific evidence has in continuing and strengthening an unjust and racial biased criminal legal system.
Marc Vega

Marc Vega

Senior Case Analyst

Marc Vega

Marc Vega

Senior Case Analyst Staff

Marc Vega

Senior Case Analyst Staff

Marc Vega joined the Innocence Project in April 2004 as a case assistant. Mr. Vega believes strongly in the organization’s mission and is happy to be a member of the team. Before joining the Innocence Project, Mr. Vega worked in several fields, including social work and medicine.

Mary Jane Builes

Mary Jane Builes

Development Assistant

Mary Jane Builes

Mary Jane Builes

Development Assistant Development

Mary Jane Builes

Development Assistant Development

Drawing from her diverse background and commitment to making a positive impact, Mary Jane serves as the Innocence Project’s development assistant. She holds a B.A. in international studies from American University and a certificate in community-based participatory research methods. Previously, Mary Jane worked as a tenant organizer in Washington, D.C., where she navigated complex landlord-tenant housing cases. Her professional experiences include youth victimization, food insecurity, and accessibility to higher education, which showcase her ability to problem-solve and collaborate with community stakeholders. With familial roots in Colombia, Mary Jane is proud to be a first-generation Colombian American.

Matthew Wasserman

Matthew Wasserman

Staff Attorney

Matthew Wasserman

Matthew Wasserman

Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Matthew Wasserman

Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Matthew Wasserman is a staff attorney in the Innocence Project’s strategic litigation department, focusing on law reform efforts around eyewitness identification evidence.

Before joining the Innocence Project, Matt was a staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders, where he represented hundreds of people accused of crimes ranging from misdemeanors to violent felonies. He also has worked as an appellate public defender at the Office of the Appellate Defender and as an associate at a civil rights firm. Matt clerked for the Honorable Allyne R. Ross of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and the Honorable Jane B. Stranch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He has a J.D. from New York University School of Law, a master’s from the Sorbonne, and a B.A. from Reed College.

Megan McIlroy

Megan McIlroy

Strategic Communications Director

Megan McIlroy

Megan McIlroy

Strategic Communications Director Communications

Megan McIlroy

Strategic Communications Director Communications

Meghan Nguyen

Meghan Nguyen

Digital Associate

Meghan Nguyen

Meghan Nguyen

Digital Associate Communications

Meghan Nguyen

Digital Associate Communications

Meghan Nguyen joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as a digital associate. Prior to joining the team, she used her skills with digital strategy, community engagement, and social media to develop narratives and messaging for organizations such as BerlinRosen, United We Dream, SEIU, One Fair Wage, Liberate Abortion, and the Food Network. She holds two bachelors’ degrees and a certificate in human rights/social justice from the University of Texas, where she triple majored in journalism, sociology, and African and African diaspora studies. Ultimately, Meghan’s professional trajectory, creative practice, and aspirations are grounded in the idea that we must (and can) radically reimagine and rebuild a world made for us.

Meredith Kennedy

Meredith Kennedy

Director, Innocence Network Support Unit

Meredith Kennedy

Meredith Kennedy

Director, Innocence Network Support Unit Staff

Meredith Kennedy

Director, Innocence Network Support Unit Staff

Meredith Kennedy joined the Innocence Project as director of the Innocence Network in 2012. She provides the nearly 70 Network member organizations with coaching on various aspects of nonprofit management and organizational development, and works closely with the Network Executive Board and its committees. Previously, she managed 80 chapters of the US Green Building Council and served as the PlaNYC Coordinator for the City of New York and as the Special Projects Manager at Friends of the High Line, where she was responsible for community outreach and public programming for the park. Meredith earned her B.A. from the University of Central Florida and her M.S. in urban affairs from Hunter College. She also holds the C.V.A, a professional credential in volunteer management.

Michael Coleman, Jr.

Michael Coleman, Jr.

Staff Accountant

Michael Coleman, Jr.

Michael Coleman, Jr.

Staff Accountant Staff

Michael Coleman, Jr.

Staff Accountant Staff

Michael Coleman, Jr. joined the Innocence Project in December 2010. As a finance associate, he supports the finance department in processing cash receipts and performing monthly reconciliation of accounts. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, he interned for the National Arts Club and Harlem United, providing similar services. Michael graduated from Lehman College, with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and passed the CPA exam.

Mitha Nandagopalan

Mitha Nandagopalan

Staff Attorney

Mitha Nandagopalan

Mitha Nandagopalan

Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Mitha Nandagopalan

Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Mitha Nandagopalan joined the Innocence Project’s strategic litigation department as a staff attorney in February 2023 to work on the Neighborhood Project, focusing on the community impacts of racialized police surveillance and mass misdemeanor arrests. Before joining the Innocence Project, Mitha represented individuals facing criminal charges as an assistant public defender at the Law Offices of the Public Defender of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Prior to that, they clerked for Justice Susan Carney on the Alaska Supreme Court in Fairbanks. They graduated in 2018 with a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where their clinical work focused on representing indigent tenants facing eviction and housing discrimination, and they hold a master’s from Hunter College and a B.A. from NYU.

Mónica González

Mónica González

Individual Giving Coordinator

Mónica González

Mónica González

Individual Giving Coordinator Development

Mónica González

Individual Giving Coordinator Development

Mónica González Martínez joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as the individual giving coordinator. She is responsible for creating and maintaining connections with donors and keeping them updated on the Innocence Project’s work.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Mónica worked as an operations & development coordinator at Youth Represent. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. When Mónica is not working, she can be found baking or catching a Broadway show.

Natasha Jhala

Natasha Jhala

Director of Marketing and Brand Partnerships

Natasha Jhala

Natasha Jhala

Director of Marketing and Brand Partnerships Communications

Natasha Jhala

Director of Marketing and Brand Partnerships Communications

Nate Hutchinson

Nate Hutchinson

Research Data Manager

Nate Hutchinson

Nate Hutchinson

Research Data Manager Data Science & Research

Nate Hutchinson

Research Data Manager Data Science & Research

Nate Hutchinson is a data scientist and policy analyst. He joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as research data manager after earning his master’s in public policy from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. Prior to that, he worked for seven years as an analytics consultant, leading initiatives for data visualization, predictive modeling, and strategy. Nate also has an MS and BA in economics from Lehigh University.

Ngozi Ndulue

Ngozi Ndulue

Special Advisor on Race and Wrongful Conviction

Ngozi Ndulue

Ngozi Ndulue

Special Advisor on Race and Wrongful Conviction Executive

Ngozi Ndulue

Special Advisor on Race and Wrongful Conviction Executive

Ngozi Ndulue is the Innocence Project’s special advisor on race and wrongful conviction. In this role, Ngozi provides leadership and expertise on racial justice, equity, bias and discrimination and their impact on the functioning of the criminal legal system and, particularly, wrongful conviction. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Ngozi was the deputy director of the Death Penalty Information Center where she conducted original research, supervised data collection and analysis, and led organizational development initiatives. Throughout her legal career, Ngozi has focused on the intersection of racial justice and the criminal legal system, engaging in litigation, policy research, coalition building, and advocacy. From 2016 to 2018, Ngozi served as senior director of criminal justice programs at the national NAACP. She also worked at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC) in Cincinnati and as an assistant federal public defender in the Arizona Capital Habeas Unit. Ngozi has a law degree from Yale Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati.

Olivia Barnes

Olivia Barnes

Policy Administrator

Olivia Barnes

Olivia Barnes

Policy Administrator Staff

Olivia Barnes

Policy Administrator Staff

As the policy administrator, Olivia directly supervises innocence-related reforms and policy accomplishments, along with developing systems to ensure policy goals are met. Olivia is passionate about her commitment to racial equality and policy reform. She previously worked at one of the most prestigious law firms in New York City, where she assisted in corporate law and DEI. Olivia is a graduate of Caldwell University, where she revitalized and served as president of the Black Student Union. She also earned her M.P.A. in public policy & law from Liberty University. When Olivia isn’t working, she loves to travel and enjoys vinyasa yoga at her local studio.

Patrick Morris

Patrick Morris

Staff Accountant

Patrick Morris

Patrick Morris

Staff Accountant Staff

Patrick Morris

Staff Accountant Staff

Patrick joined the Innocence Project in September 2016 as a temporary staff member and started working full-time in November 2016. Prior to that, he worked for various companies in the medical, education, banking and hotel industries within their accounting department. He is a certified accounting technician and level-two chartered accountant.

Phoebe Jones

Phoebe Jones

Case Analyst

Phoebe Jones

Phoebe Jones

Case Analyst Staff

Phoebe Jones

Case Analyst Staff

Phoebe Jones is a case analyst at the Innocence Project. Prior to joining in 2023, Phoebe worked as the investigator in the Criminal Appeals Bureau at The Legal Aid Society. As an investigator, she worked closely with clients pursuing both domestic violence resentencing motions and wrongful conviction claims by tracking down and speaking to witnesses and locating evidence. Phoebe is also a photographer and helps produce multimedia documentary projects outside of work. She earned her B.A. in history and human rights from Barnard College.

Prama Verma

Prama Verma

Manager, Development & Network Capacity Building

Prama Verma

Prama Verma

Manager, Development & Network Capacity Building Network Support Unit

Prama Verma

Manager, Development & Network Capacity Building Network Support Unit

Prama Verma joined the Network Support Unit as manager of development & network capacity building in 2023. In this role, she provides fundraising support to the 70+ organizations that make up the Innocence Network on strategy, facilitates working groups and discussions, and creates templates and resources. She has worked in nonprofit fundraising and communications for over seven years, most recently with the Center for Justice Innovation, and is thrilled to continue to contribute to work that is advancing criminal legal reform. She holds a B.A. in political science and economics from Rutgers University.

Rachel Gaudreau

Rachel Gaudreau

Paralegal

Rachel Gaudreau

Rachel Gaudreau

Paralegal Strategic Litigation

Rachel Gaudreau

Paralegal Strategic Litigation

Ricardo Hernandez

Ricardo Hernandez

Director of Digital Fundraising

Ricardo Hernandez

Ricardo Hernandez

Director of Digital Fundraising Development

Ricardo Hernandez

Director of Digital Fundraising Development

Ricardo Hernandez joined the Innocence Project in 2024 as the director of digital fundraising. He is responsible for leading the strategy, production, and execution of digital campaigns and initiatives to increase donor and prospect engagement in online giving.

Prior to the Innocence Project, Ricardo has held revenue-driven and marketing roles at Human Rights Watch, American Express, and Children’s Aid. Ricardo earned his M.S. in integrated marketing from New York University. He is also a graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he received a dual B.A. in political science and journalism.

Richard Washington

Richard Washington

IT Coordinator

Richard Washington

Richard Washington

IT Coordinator Staff

Richard Washington

IT Coordinator Staff

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Paralegal, Post-conviction Litigation Fellowship Program

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Paralegal, Post-conviction Litigation Fellowship Program Staff

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Paralegal, Post-conviction Litigation Fellowship Program Staff

Robyn Trent Jefferson enjoyed a diverse career as a litigation and real estate paralegal for more than 34 years before joining the Innocence Project.

A born advocate, she has always been passionate about effecting change for those who are and have been wronged and, in the last 10 years, has had more opportunities to dedicate more of her time in pursuit of much needed reform.

Rodney Roberts

Rodney Roberts

Re-entry Coach

Rodney Roberts

Rodney Roberts

Re-entry Coach Social Work

Rodney Roberts

Re-entry Coach Social Work

Rodney Roberts, a native of Newark, New Jersey, wrongfully served 18 years in Rahway State Prison as a result of being coerced into pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit.

In spite of struggling with the immense feeling that came with pleading guilty, Rodney pushed forward with studying law and pursuing a higher education while falsely imprisoned. In 2014, as a pro se litigant and with the assistance of counsels and support from the Innocence Project, he was exonerated via DNA evidence. Since then, he has been on the frontline advocating for a more just criminal legal system, offering peer support to exonerees and their family members, and lending his experience to help pass legislation that addresses wrongful conviction.

Proudly, in 2022, Mr. Roberts was hired as the Innocence Project’s first re-entry coach under the guidance of the organization’s social work department. In this role, he continues to provide necessary care to those impacted by wrongful imprisonment — and share insights related to wrongful conviction.

Sarah Jean-Charles

Sarah Jean-Charles

Legal Assistant

Sarah Jean-Charles

Sarah Jean-Charles

Legal Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Sarah Jean-Charles

Legal Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Shabel Castro

Shabel Castro

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow

Shabel Castro

Shabel Castro

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Staff

Shabel Castro

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Staff

Shabel has joined the Innocence Project as a post-conviction litigation fellow. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Shabel worked as a staff attorney with the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) at Brooklyn Defender Services, which is the first and largest public defender program in the country offering universal representation for low-income immigrants that are detained under ICE custody and facing deportation. Shabel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2019, obtaining both a Juris Doctor and a Master of Science in social policy. Shabel was part of the inaugural class of the Black Defender Leadership Institute, which trains emerging Black advocates and supports them in becoming the next generation of leaders who are equipped to dismantle systems of racialized oppression.

Shirley Wu

Shirley Wu

Innocence Network Coordinator

Shirley Wu

Shirley Wu

Innocence Network Coordinator Network Support Unit

Shirley Wu

Innocence Network Coordinator Network Support Unit

As the Network coordinator, Shirley administers Innocence Network membership, serves as a liaison to the Network Executive Board, assists the Networks’ committees and working groups, and supports the planning and implementation of the Network Conference.

Prior to joining the Network Support Unit in September 2021, Shirley planned events and coordinated pro bono projects at the Public Interest Law Center at the NYU School of Law. She is a proud graduate of Hunter College High School and holds a B.A. in government from Wesleyan University as well as an M.A. in politics from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. Her studies focused on reconstruction and restorative justice in the aftermath of genocide and ethnic violence, and she brings her passion for human rights to the fight to right the wrongs and prevent future abuses of the criminal legal system.

Shirley loves theatre, live music, and travel and spends most of her time baking, reading, and wandering.

Shoshanah Kennedy

Shoshanah Kennedy

Human Resources Manager of Events and Engagement

Shoshanah Kennedy

Shoshanah Kennedy

Human Resources Manager of Events and Engagement Staff

Shoshanah Kennedy

Human Resources Manager of Events and Engagement Staff

Shoshanah joined the Innocence Project in August 2012. In her role as events and special projects manager, she works with various departments in the organization including operations, Network Support Unit, and data science and research. Since 2015, she has helped plan the annual Innocence Network Conference, the major annual gathering of hundreds of people who have been exonerated and attorneys and advocates working on wrongful conviction. Shoshanah also coordinates in-house staff events for the Innocence Project and serves as the liaison to the Exoneree Advisory Council, a group of exonerated people who advise the organization on policy and outreach based on their experience. Shoshanah is a sought-out resource and mentor on event planning and organizational information for both staff and former clients. Before 2012, she followed in her grandmother and mothers’ footsteps and became a teacher, working in early childhood education as a preschool teacher and assistant director. When she is not planning an event for the Innocence Project, she’s probably writing, listening to music, or spending time with her family.

Simran Sohal

Simran Sohal

Senior Case Analyst

Simran Sohal

Simran Sohal

Senior Case Analyst Staff

Simran Sohal

Senior Case Analyst Staff

Simran joined the Innocence Project as a case analyst in November 2020. She returned to the organization after interning in the intake department the previous year. Graduating from Williams College in June 2020, she received a double B.A. in psychology and English with a concentration in justice and law studies. While at Williams, Simran conducted independent research on the relationship between procedural justice and jury nullification. Outside of the academic sphere, she volunteered as a responder to a hotline service for survivors of sexual violence and their allies and organized initiatives to prevent future instances of such harm.

Stacey Anderson

Stacey Anderson

Legal Policy Analyst

Stacey Anderson

Stacey Anderson

Legal Policy Analyst Policy

Stacey Anderson

Legal Policy Analyst Policy

Stacey is the legal policy analyst with the Innocence Project. In her role, she is responsible for legal research to support advocacy campaigns across the country.

Stacey is a proud 2017 graduate of Northeastern University, in Boston, and a 2020 graduate of the Delaware Law School. While in law school, Stacey served as the vice president of the DLS Black Law Students Association (“BLSA”) Chapter and later served as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chair of the National Black Law Students Association. Before joining the Innocence Project, Stacey was a Marciano Legal Fellow with the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (“RAINN”), where she did legal research and legislation drafting focused on sexual violence response, Title IX, and constitutional law.

Stacey is barred in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Stacey is a local to the greater Philadelphia area and naturally is a big fan of Joel Embiid.

Susan Hyon

Susan Hyon

Executive Manager and Board Liaison

Susan Hyon

Susan Hyon

Executive Manager and Board Liaison Executive

Susan Hyon

Executive Manager and Board Liaison Executive

Prior to joining the IP, Susan served as the interim director of strategic planning for Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ; as a consultant for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund’s Annual Capital Punishment Training Conference; and as a project manager for ID Media and Draftfcb (now, FCB). Susan has a B.A. in economics from Smith College and an M.F.A. in theater from Columbia University. She is currently a license-qualifying psychoanalytic candidate in training at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies.

Suzy Salamy

Suzy Salamy

Director of Social Work

Suzy Salamy

Suzy Salamy

Director of Social Work Social Work

Suzy Salamy

Director of Social Work Social Work

Suzy Salamy works as a social worker, both locally and nationally with Innocence Network partner organizations, helping clients in their transition to life outside prison after wrongful incarceration. Previously, Suzy worked at the NYC Anti-Violence Project as the senior manager of the Clinical and Advocacy Programs, providing crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy to LGBTQ and HIV affected survivors of violence. She received her B.A. from Bard College and master’s in social work from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Tania Brief

Tania Brief

Senior Staff Attorney

Tania Brief

Tania Brief

Senior Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Tania Brief

Senior Staff Attorney Strategic Litigation

Tania Brief is a senior staff attorney in the strategic litigation department, where she focuses on strategies to address the misapplication of forensic sciences as a leading cause of wrongful conviction. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Tania worked for nine years at The Bronx Defenders, where she represented clients charged with crimes in all stages of litigation. She was also a member of the Forensic Practice Group, where she consulted with attorneys and conducted trainings on digital forensics. Before working at The Bronx Defenders, Tania served as a law clerk to the Honorable William H. Pauley III, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, and as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Tania graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a student attorney in the D.C. Law Students in Court clinic, representing low-income clients in landlord-tenant court. She received her B.A. from Yale University.

Tebah Browne

Tebah Browne

Forensic Science Policy Specialist

Tebah Browne

Tebah Browne

Forensic Science Policy Specialist Staff

Tebah Browne

Forensic Science Policy Specialist Staff

Tebah Browne joined the Innocence Project in September 2022. As the forensic science policy specialist, she assists the policy department with policy work that focuses on the reliability, validity, and regulation of forensic science techniques and technology. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Tebah worked at the Legal Aid Society in its DNA unit as the in-house scientist and DNA analyst. Tebah graduated from John Jay College with B.S. and M.S. degrees in forensic science with concentrations in molecular biology and toxicology. Tebah is currently pursuing a PhD in forensic investigative sciences at Oklahoma State University, where her dissertation focuses on the implementation, regulation, and education of forensic science in developing nations.

Timothy Gumkowski

Timothy Gumkowski

Senior Staff Attorney

Timothy Gumkowski

Timothy Gumkowski

Senior Staff Attorney Staff

Timothy Gumkowski

Senior Staff Attorney Staff

Tim joined the Innocence Project and returned to New York in 2023, after spending over five years representing death-sentenced individuals in Texas. Tim’s work with Texas Defender Service and the Capital Habeas Unit of Federal Public Defender in Austin included leading interdisciplinary teams litigating post conviction matters in both state and federal courts. Before moving to Texas to represent clients convicted of capital offenses, Tim spent nearly a decade as a trial attorney with Brooklyn Defender Service, advocating for individuals charged with various crimes across the borough. Tim began his legal career as a staff attorney with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He maintains a commitment to fighting the injustices that permeate our criminal legal system and to furthering our mission. He brings compassion, humility, and resilience to the Innocence Project. Tim graduated from Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island, and received a B.A. in philosophy from Clemson University.

Ummer Ali

Ummer Ali

Social Worker

Ummer Ali

Ummer Ali

Social Worker Social Work

Ummer Ali

Social Worker Social Work

Vanessa Meterko

Vanessa Meterko

Research Manager

Vanessa Meterko

Vanessa Meterko

Research Manager Staff

Vanessa Meterko

Research Manager Staff

Vanessa Meterko is the research manager at the Innocence Project. She earned her M.A. in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York. Vanessa has conducted research and published on a variety of topics including health care, subtle discrimination, and wrongful convictions. She has also served as an advocate for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse in New York City.

Vanessa Ortiz

Vanessa Ortiz

Assistant Director of Organizational Development

Vanessa Ortiz

Vanessa Ortiz

Assistant Director of Organizational Development Staff

Vanessa Ortiz

Assistant Director of Organizational Development Staff

Vanessa joined the Innocence Project in 2023 as assistant director of organizational development. She provides high-level, customized facilitation services and assists individual Network members and the Network at large with the creation of strategies to grow their organizations to become stronger, impactful, and equitable. Previously, Vanessa worked with diverse international organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, specializing in supporting U.S.-based and international civic organizations and groups to effectively communicate their mission, expand their outreach, and apply critical organizational standards that support the goals of human rights, nonviolence, and justice. Vanessa holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the NY Institute of Technology. She’s a native of the Bronx and likes to spend her time assisting others to make their home (or apartment) beautiful and functional. She’s a dedicated yoga practitioner and loves nature and neighborhood walks.

Vanessa Potkin

Vanessa Potkin

Director of Special Litigation

Vanessa Potkin

Vanessa Potkin

Director of Special Litigation Post-conviction Litigation

Vanessa Potkin

Director of Special Litigation Post-conviction Litigation

Vanessa Potkin is the director of special litigation at the Innocence Project. She joined the organization in 2000 as its first staff attorney, and has helped pioneer the model of post-conviction DNA litigation used nationwide to exonerate wrongfully convicted persons. Vanessa has represented and exonerated over 30 innocent individuals, from Louisiana to Nevada, who collectively served over 500 years of wrongful imprisonment, five of whom were originally prosecuted for capital murder. Vanessa maintains a post-conviction docket, crafting litigation strategy, writing motions, and litigating in trial and appellate courts nationwide to secure post-conviction DNA testing and to obtain relief based DNA test results, and other exculpatory evidence in cases involving: false confessions, erroneous eyewitness identification, informant testimony, faulty forensics, prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. She works with a wide-range of forensic experts. She also trains and mentors other attorneys at the Innocence Project. Vanessa is a nationally recognized expert on wrongful convictions and the use of DNA to establish innocence — she is regularly consulted by attorneys, judicial and legislative committees, and media outlets. She was a member of an eight-person multidisciplinary technical working group that collaborated on a report for criminal defense attorneys published in 2012 by the National Institute of Justice to increase understanding of the science of DNA and its application in the courtroom (“DNA for the Defense Bar”). Vanessa is an adjunct professor of law at Cardozo School of Law and has co-taught the Innocence Project Legal Clinic since 2000.

William Woods

William Woods

Director of Intake & Case Evaluation

William Woods

William Woods

Director of Intake & Case Evaluation Intake

William Woods

Director of Intake & Case Evaluation Intake

Winnie Ye

Winnie Ye

State Policy Advocate

Winnie Ye

Winnie Ye

State Policy Advocate Policy

Winnie Ye

State Policy Advocate Policy

Winnie Ye is a state policy advocate at the Innocence Project, where she collaborates with exonerees and network members to change laws, policies, and practices to prevent wrongful convictions and free innocent people. Winnie joined the Innocence Project in 2024 after a decade working at the intersection of policy advocacy, culture change, coalition building, and health equity.

Yosha Gunasekera

Yosha Gunasekera

Staff Attorney, Intake Strategic Initiatives

Yosha Gunasekera

Yosha Gunasekera

Staff Attorney, Intake Strategic Initiatives Intake

Yosha Gunasekera

Staff Attorney, Intake Strategic Initiatives Intake

Yosha Gunasekera is the intake strategic initiatives attorney at the Innocence Project where she reviews cases for claims of innocence and then represents those individuals as they seek relief from wrongful convictions.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, she was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society where she represented hundreds of New Yorkers charged with misdemeanors and serious violent felonies from arraignment to trial. She was a Blume Public Interest Leader in Residence at Georgetown Law, where she advised law students on public interest careers. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she successfully advocated for an online bail payment system to reduce Philadelphia’s pretrial inmate population. She worked with and was funded by the City of Philadelphia to implement the online bail proposal. For nearly eight years, Yosha was an associate board member for the Women’s Prison Association, the nation’s oldest organization for women impacted by incarceration. She has been published in Marie Claire Magazine, Teen Vogue, The Hill, and more.

Ysabel Coss

Ysabel Coss

Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator

Ysabel Coss

Ysabel Coss

Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator Development

Ysabel Coss

Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator Development

Ysabel has experience in development from her time at Spark MicroGrants, Physicians for Human Rights, and Hamilton College where she also graduated with a B.A. in women’s and gender studies. As the donor relations and stewardship coordinator, she is involved in the data as well as the donor experience. A Bronx native, she often fosters dogs and can be found in any dog-friendly NYC establishment. Ysabel began her time at the Innocence Project in 2021.

Zeus Rivera

Zeus Rivera

Human Resources Manager of Candidate Experience

Zeus Rivera

Zeus Rivera

Human Resources Manager of Candidate Experience Human Resources

Zeus Rivera

Human Resources Manager of Candidate Experience Human Resources

Zeus Rivera joined the Innocence Project as an HR manager in May 2021. He has almost a decade of HR experience under his belt working in a few industries, including hospitality, architecture, and nonprofit. His nonprofit experience comes from working his way up in the HR department at HANAC, a social service organization in Astoria, Queens.

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