THE ADVISORY BOARD
Sophie Bryan - Board Co-Chair
Sophie Bryan is the Executive Director of Philadelphia VIP, the hub of pro bono legal volunteering in the greater Philadelphia region and the pro bono arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Leveraging the power of volunteerism, VIP volunteers and staff assist thousands of clients and families annually in important civil legal matters impacting shelter, employment, family composition, and financial stability. Prior to joining VIP in June 2017, she was the Program Director at Reinvestment Fund for the Invest Health initiative, an effort to improve health and well-being in low-income neighborhoods in 50 mid-sized U.S. cities through better integrating community development, local government, and health sectors; training teams of cross-sector leaders; and attracting new sources of capital. Prior to joining Reinvestment Fund, Sophie held a series of positions at the School District of Philadelphia, most recently the Chief External Relations Officer, where she was responsible for developing and implementing strategic advocacy, government relations, external engagement, and communications plans to support the School District’s strategic priorities. Sophie’s prior experience includes serving as Chief of Staff to Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green, in which role she focused on budgetary issues, tax policy, ethics and campaign finance reform, and reforming the City’s real estate assessment and taxation system. Before joining local government, Sophie practiced law for eight years, primarily in the legal services field where she represented low-income clients, first in Boston and then in Philadelphia. Sophie served for five years as an adjunct professor at the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, teaching an upper-level writing course. A native Philadelphian, Sophie graduated with honors from Harvard College, with a BA in History and Science, and from Harvard Law School.
Tremaine Johnson - Board Co-Chair
Tremaine (Tre) Johnson is originally from Trenton, NJ. He was a 2001 Teach For America Houston corps member, where he taught HS English for two years. After teaching in Houston, Tre went on to teach in Howard County, Maryland and later worked for the Urban Alliance Foundation in Washington, D.C. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2006, he served in grant-writing and admissions roles for the Mariana Bracetti Academy and Freire Charter School and then joined the Teach For America Philadelphia staff as the director of community and district partnerships in 2010. During his 4-year tenure with the organization, Tre led the region’s alumni affairs team before stepping into the role of executive director, overseeing the 26-member staff, roughly $6 million dollar fundraising budget and overseeing the organization’s strategic plan. After serving the last two years as the Senior Manager of the District Advisory Board and Strategic Partnerships, working closely with the Superintendent’s Office and District Divisional Teams to ensure policy engagement, investment and alignment with the nine member Advisory Board and key city stakeholders, Tre became the Deputy Director of Policy and Advocacy for JerseyCAN. His work was concentrated in Camden, NJ, working with local leaders, community organizations and families to advocate for quality education across the city. Tre is a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Atlanta Black Star, The Grio, and Vox, among other outlets. He graduated from the University of Maryland.
Zachary Epps is a dynamic facilitator, analytical thinker and servant leader committed to producing measurable improvements in the lives of children, youth, and families. Throughout his emerging career, Zachary has committed to elevating youth voice and agency, led efforts to establish a shared, cross-sector vision for improving collaborative impact and has worked directly with domestic and international organizations to empower communities and leaders to implement results-based and data-driven decision making. A lifelong learner and avid competitor, Zachary enjoys spending time in one of Philadelphia’s many parks with his wife, Phylicia and their terrific toddlers, Carter and Micah.
Barbara Beck is a co-founding principal of Sage Communications, which partners with nonprofit, foundation and public agency leaders to help them think about new ways to advocate, influence and accelerate social impact. Beck previously worked as a public affairs officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts. She also worked at the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as director of news and public affairs. In addition, Beck has two decades of experience in the news business at The Philadelphia Daily News and The Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
Earthen E. Johnson is the Associate General Counsel and Vice President of Legal at Macquarie Investment Management, a global asset manager overseeing approx. $300 billion for both institutional and retail clients. Earthen’s responsibilities involve counseling multi-series and multi-class mutual funds, reorganizing and forming funds, preparing registration and proxy statements, and handling various securities filings for both open-end and closed-end funds. She also assists the boards of directors/trustees on fund governance and fiduciary duty issues. Prior to joining Macquarie, she was a senior associate in Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP’s nationally ranked Investment Management Practice Group. Earthen earned her J.D., cum laude from Drexel University School of Law, where she was a Dean’s Scholar, senior member of the Drexel Law Review, and participant in the Civil Litigation clinic. She received her B.A. in history and American studies from the University of Virginia, where she was a Merit Scholar, on the Dean’s List, recipient of the Longevity of Excellence Award and a member of the Phi Sigma Pi Honor Society. Between college and law school, Earthen taught third grade in Camden, NJ through Teach For America and then led an educational non-profit organization in Philadelphia. In 2013 and 2016, she was recognized as a Pennsylvania Lawyer on the Fast Track by The Legal Intelligencer and in the Top 40 Under 40 by the National Black Lawyers, respectively.
Harper Seldin is an associate at the law firm of Cozen O’Connor. His practice focuses on business litigation and complex commercial disputes. His pro bono work includes civil rights litigation in federal court on behalf of transgender public school students. Harper is a Buchholz Fellow for the Committee of Seventy, and independent and nonpartisan advocate for better government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the Toll Public Interest Center Advisory Board and the Law Alumni Society Board of Managers at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. His published legal scholarship focuses on child welfare. Prior to joining Cozen O’Connor, Harper was federal law clerk for the Honorable Stewart Dalzell (ret.) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Harper graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as an articles editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. He received a B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from the University of Pennsylvania.
Alexandre Turner is a graduate of Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He dedicated the first seven years of his legal career to representing low-income clients accused of crimes, first at the Miami-Dade Public Defender, and subsequently at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Mr. Turner has tried hundreds of criminal matters before judges and juries. He has obtained favorable results in numerous serious cases, including where his clients were charged with firearm possession, arson, and attempted murder. Prior to opening his own practice, Mr. Turner was associated with the law firm Ballard Spahr LLP, where he litigated complex matters on behalf of local and national businesses. While at Ballard Spahr LLP, Mr. Turner participated in several internal investigations for high-profile clients facing potential government prosecution.
Bradley S. Bridge is an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Philadelphia. Mr. Bridge graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Psychology in 1976 and from Harvard Law School with a J.D. in 1979. From 1979 to 1983 he worked in the State Appellate Defender in Chicago, Illinois representing indigent defendants in their appeals to the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Court and in federal habeas corpus cases in the Northern District of Illinois and the Seventh Circuit. From 1983 to the present he’s worked with the Defender Association of Philadelphia. His responsibilities have included representation of indigent defendants in Municipal Court, the Court of Common Pleas (waivers and jury trials, homicide and non-homicide cases), Juvenile Court, Mental Health Court, Pennsylvania Superior Court and Supreme Court, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in the Third Circuit. His current assignment is with the homicide and appeals units. In connection with that, he is currently challenging in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Superior Court and in Courts of Common Pleas the constitutionality of sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole. Other responsibilities include evaluation of cases that should be reopened in light of police corruption. He was involved in litigating issues arising out of the 39th District scandal as well as the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations and others. This has led to well over 450 cases being reopened and vacated from 1995 to the present.
Lisa Campbell has been a public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia since 2004. She is currently the Assistant Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association. After graduating cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she went on to clerk for the Hon. Mary A. McLaughlin on the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As a public defender, Ms. Campbell has handled countless adult and juvenile cases during rotations through the various trial units. She has experience handling complex and serious juvenile cases, as well as leading and training teams of attorneys in the Juvenile Unit. Ms. Campbell has provided trainings for her office as well as attorneys across her state on a variety of issues. She currently is researching and presenting on the issue of collateral consequences of juvenile adjudications and the need for expungements of juvenile records.
Frank Cervone is the Executive Director of the Support Center for Child Advocates, the lawyer pro bono program for abused and neglected children in Philadelphia. Previously, he was a staff attorney at Delaware County Legal Assistance Association and adjunct clinical professor at Villanova University School of Law, where he instructed law students in domestic abuse and child support litigation, and served as counsel for Saint Gabriel’s System, an agency providing treatment services for juvenile offenders. He serves as chair of the Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund, and chaired the Advisory Committee on Child Welfare Services, served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Adoption Law, of the Joint State Government Commission, the research arm of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He also serves as a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee. He is also a member of the board of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and a member of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee Working Group. He is a founder and co-director of the National Children’s Law Network. Frank is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University School of Law, and he has a master’s degree in theology and ministry from LaSalle University. He lectures and trains both lay and professional audiences in child abuse and child advocacy.
Dana Cook is the Deputy Director for the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation (ACCR), a death penalty resource center that provides trial level consultation and training in capital cases in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Prior to that, she worked at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, both as a social worker and a mitigation specialist. She began in the Juvenile Special Defense Unit representing Direct File Juveniles. After working in this unit for two years, she worked in the Homicide/Special Defense Unit as a mitigation specialist. There she represented capital and non-capital clients charged with homicide. Over the past several years, Dana has become a trainer and presenter at death penalty conferences. She has presented on various topics including client relationships/team building; storytelling/presenting mitigation; age as a mitigator and poverty as a mitigator. Prior to working at the Defender, she was an investigator in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Defender Office in Philadelphia. She began her career as an investigator at the Post-Conviction Defender Office in Nashville, TN. She received her B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration in 1996 from Middle Tennessee State University and her Masters of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003.
Edwin Desamour was born and raised in North Philadelphia. Edwin’s life experiences have inspired him to pursue a career serving the youth in his community. When Edwin was 16 years old he was convicted of 3rd degree murder, and spent over 8 years in prison. When he returned to the community he felt a sense of urgency to prevent young people from making the same decisions. He also wanted to demystify conceptions about prison, and the lifestyle he formerly lead. When Edwin first came home from prison he was tempted to return to life on the streets. At a critical moment, he was offered an opportunity to provide crisis intervention and conflict resolution through the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network (PAAN). Edwin worked for PAAN for 6 years. Following his work with PAAN, he worked for 3 years as an Education Specialist at Women Organized Against Rape, raising awareness about violence and sexual assault. Edwin also worked at Congreso as the Latino Juvenile Justice network Coordinator. His work in this position was guided and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change project. In this position he educated community members about juvenile justice issues specific to the Latino community. Most importantly he provided group presentations, and mentoring relationships that offered youth opportunities to improve self esteem, learn good decision making, and experience positive lifestyle options. Edwin’s passions to make a positive impact on the community lead him to found MIMIC: Men in Motion in the Community. Edwin is currently the director of MIMIC, an organization made of up men from the community who have transformed their lives, and who are passionate about decreasing violence in the community. In addition to directing MIMIC, Edwin also serves as a motivational speaker, educator and mentor, teaching youth about healthy relationships, and making healthy life choices. Edwin also serves on numerous committees and coalitions that serve the community.
Arlene Rivera Finklestein
Arlene Rivera Finkelstein is Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She directs the Law School’s wide array of public interest programming, which includes one of the first mandatory pro bono programs in the country. TPIC supervises 26 student pro bono groups, advises students on how best to prepare themselves for public interest careers, and oversees the school’s public interest scholarship program. Finkelstein also teaches Legal Interviewing and Client Counseling at the Law School. Before coming to Penn Law, she was the inaugural director of the Public Interest Resource Center at Widener Law School. Finkelstein began working at Widener as a professor of legal research and writing, where she also taught interviewing and counseling, and public interest law. Finkelstein serves on a number of legal services boards including Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Friends of Farmworkers, and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. She received her JD from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and her BS from Cornell University. She began her legal career as an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she focused primarily on the defense of juveniles.
Tara Grove is the education editor at The New Press, where she acquires for the press’s celebrated list of progressive education titles and also edits books about race, gender, justice, and inequality. The New Press publishes books that promote and enrich public discussion and understanding of the issues vital to our democracy and to a more equitable world. Underlying the press’s editorial program are three aims: to broaden the audience for serious intellectual work, especially by reaching out to audiences intellectually redlined by commercial publishers; to bring out the work of traditionally underrepresented voices; and to address the problems of a society in transition, highlighting attempts at reform and innovation in a wide range of fields. Tara is also a member of the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity, an emerging think and do tank based at New York University. Before transitioning to book publishing, Tara worked with young mothers in Philadelphia’s homeless shelter system as a case manager and trauma recovery facilitator.
Reuben Jones is a community activist and social justice advocate who serves as Executive Director of Frontline Dads, Inc. where he provides transitional services to men and women returning from incarceration, mentoring for “at-risk” youth, and social justice advocacy. Reuben is a trauma-informed clinical therapist who obtained his Masters Degree with honors in Human Services from Lincoln University. His social justice advocacy work has included “Ban The Box,” bail reform, voter education, voter registration and voting rights advocacy for returning citizens, juvenile lifers with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, and prison decarceration. Reuben is an active member of the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, the NO215Jails Coalition, the South Philly Prevention Coalition, and the Philadelphia Anti-Violence Coalition. Reuben served on the Mayor’s Transition Team (Public Safety Committee) and on the Universal Pre-K Commission. Reuben is a National Institute of Corrections-trained facilitator for the “Thinking For a Change” cognitive skills development program in the Philadelphia County prisons where he works with men preparing for release. Additionally, Reuben is the founder of “Peacemakers,” a violence prevention initiative that teaches conflict resolution skills and mediation to “at-risk” youth. For his humanitarian efforts, Reuben was awarded the Presidential Service Award from President Obama in 2016 and is a 2017 Just Leadership Fellow.
Umi Howard is the Director of The Lipman Family Prize at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.Umi has spent the past fifteen years working in the social sector. His experience includes direct service, program development & management, consulting, board service and organizational leadership in the nonprofit sector. During this time he served in various roles at the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania for over eight years. Umi and his wife, Sylvie, also ran a sustainable travel business based in Ecuador called Solidarity Travels. Umi has traveled extensively and lived abroad for more than 6 years. He brings an intense passion for the community empowerment and educational opportunity embodied in the Lipman Family Prize and hopes this work will help bring recognition to the University of Pennsylvania as a hub of learning for the social sector.
Sara Jacobson is Director of Trial Advocacy and an Associate Professor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. Since joining the law school in 2008, Jacobson has written and worked on issues surrounding teen sexting and juvenile life without parole (JLWOP). She also volunteers with the ACLU. Before coming to Temple, Jacobson was an assistant public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia for nine years, where she spent much of her time working with juveniles. At the Defender Association Jacobson served as the Assistant Chief of the Juvenile Unit and taught a Criminal Defense Clinic for the University of Pennsylvania Law School. As Assistant Chief, she helped create the Juvenile Defender Association of Pennsylvania (JDAP), and directed three annual statewide trainings for juvenile defenders across Pennsylvania. Before joining the Defender Association, she worked as a public defender in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Jacobson is a graduate of the Temple Law LLM in Trial Advocacy Program, Temple Law School, and Ursinus College. She is also a graduate of the National College of Criminal Defense Trial Practice Institute and the teacher training program of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA).
Decker Ngongang is a Senior Fellow at Frontline Solutions and an independent consultant providing advisory services to individuals and institutions in the social sector. Along with formal engagements, Decker has written and speaks extensively on the non-profit sector, education and social justice issues. Prior to Frontline, Decker launched and managed the Black Male Achievement Social Entrepreneur Fellowship Program at Echoing Green. Before Echoing Green, Decker served as Director of Community Outreach with Communities for Teaching Excellence, a project of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and as Vice President of Programs at Mobilize.org. Decker’s career began at Bank of America where he was a Global Markets and Investment Banking Compliance Risk Manager. Along with formal engagements, Decker has written and speaks extensively on the non-profit sector, education and social justice issues.
David Rudovsky is a founding partner of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, LLP. He has practiced in the civil rights and criminal defense fields for over forty years, including cases on police and governmental misconduct, prisoners’ rights, first amendment freedoms, and racial discrimination. Mr. Rudovsky has argued two significant civil rights cases in the United States Supreme Court: Mitchell v. Forsyth (1985) (immunity of Attorney General for illegal electronic surveillance) and City of Canton v. Harris (1989) (liability of municipalities for civil rights violations by police). He has also prepared numerous amicus briefs in civil rights cases in the Supreme Court and has argued scores of civil rights and criminal law cases in the federal and state courts. Since 1987, Mr. Rudovsky has been a Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law where he teaches courses in Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, and Evidence. Mr. Rudovsky has written a number of practice books for civil rights and criminal cases. These include Police Misconduct: Law & Litigation and The Law of Arrest, Search and Seizure in Pennsylvania. In addition, Mr. Rudovsky has written a number of scholarly articles in law reviews on civil rights and the criminal justice system. Mr. Rudovsky is President of the Board of Directors of the Defender Association of Philadelphia and is Vice President of the Board of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. In 1986, Mr. Rudovsky was a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his work in Criminal Justice. He has also been honored by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation with the Judge Gerald F. Flood Award for Public Interest Accomplishments, the ACLU Civil Liberties Award, and the Philadelphia Bar Association Cesare Beccaria Award for Criminal Justice.
Robert Schwartz co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975 and was its executive director from 1982-2015.In his career at Juvenile Law Center, Schwartz has represented dependent and delinquent children in Pennsylvania juvenile and appellate courts; brought class-action litigation over institutional conditions and probation functions; testified in Congress before House and Senate committees; and spoken in over 30 states on matters related to children and the law. Schwartz’s career has not been limited to Pennsylvania, but has included fighting nationally and internationally for juvenile rights. Schwartz chaired the American Bar Association’s Commission on Youth at Risk from 2011-2013. From 1992-98 and 2006-08, he was chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section. In 1993 he also co-authored the American Bar Association’s report,America’s Children at Risk; and in 1995 he helped author a follow-up report on youth’s access to quality lawyers,A Call for Justice. In 1993 he visited South Africa to help develop a legal system for children, and was invited to China in 2010 to speak to judges and lawyers about sentencing of youth. From 1996-2006, Schwartz was a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. As part of the Network, he co-edited Youth on Trial: A Developmental Perspective on Juvenile Justice (University of Chicago Press: 2000). From 1996-99 he was a gubernatorial appointee to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. From 1991 to 2012, he was a gubernatorial appointee to the Commission’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee, which is the State Advisory Group that distributes federal funds in Pennsylvania and advises the governor regarding juvenile justice policy. Schwartz in 2005 became chair of the Advisory Committee to the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. From 2003-2012, Schwartz chaired the Board of the Philadelphia Youth Network. Schwartz is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Andrew Hamilton Award, presented by the Philadelphia Bar Association “for exemplary service in the public interest,” the Reginald Heber Smith Award, presented by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Livingston Hall Award, presented by the American Bar Association, and the Stephen M. Cahn Award, presented by the National Association of Counsel for Children for career achievement. Schwartz is a graduate of Temple University School of Law and of Haverford College, which in 2011 also awarded him an honorary degree.
Jeffrey Shook is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work and an Affiliated Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh. He received a PhD in social work and sociology and an MSW, both from the University of Michigan; a JD from American University; and a BA in economics from Grinnell College. His primary appointment is in the School of Social Work and he holds affiliated appointments in the School of Law and Department of Sociology. His research examines the intersection of law, policy, and practice in the lives of children and youth. Specifically, his research focuses on the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system, the administration of juvenile justice, the movement of youth across child and youth serving systems, and the experiences of youth “aging out” of the child welfare system. Jeff also is involved in efforts to end the sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without the opportunity for parole both in Pennsylvania and nationally.