National Black Law Student Association National Convention 2017

Houston TX

Mar 7 - 12, 2017

Join us for the 49th Annual National Black Law Students Association ("NBLSA") National Convention from March 7-12, 2017 featuring a week of informative and engaging panels, national elections, oral advocacy competitions, networking receptions and more. You don't want to miss this memorable convention!

We are excited to use Whova as our event management solution.

Attendees please download the Award-winning Whova event app to access:

  • Interactive agenda
  • Logistics
  • Shared Documents
  • Event Announcements
  • Attendees Profiles
  • Attendee Interactions
Click here to check all Whova's benefits.

Powered by Whova Agenda Center
Update once, sync up everywhere


Powered by Whova Speaker Hub
Update once, sync up everywhere

AJ Cooper

Founder, Black American Law Students Association

Bio: In 1968, Algernon Johnson (“AJ”) Cooper, former mayor of Prichard, Alabama, founded the first Black American Law Students Association (“BALSA”) at the New York University Law School. In 1983, BALSA revised its name, and the word “American” was deleted to encompass all Blacks, including those not of American nationality. Later, the word “National” was added to reflect the organization’s national expansion, which now includes representation in the law schools of nearly every state in the nation and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Today, National Black Law Students Association (“NBLSA”), is a national organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of Black law students to effectuate change in the legal community. As one of the largest student-run organizations of its kind in the United States for Black law students, NBLSA has thousands of members across America and is also comprised of more than 200 chapters and affiliates from six countries, including the Bahamas, Nigeria, and South Africa. NBLSA is organized into six regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Midwest, Southwest and Western Region. With its headquarters located in Washington, DC, NBLSA encourages the development of talented and socially conscious lawyers of tomorrow. Each year, the organization holds an annual convention to engage in legal activism to prepare new generations of Black lawyers to effectuate change. Additionally, the Frederick Douglass Moot Court , Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial, and Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Competitions are held during NBLSA’s annual convention. Notably, NBLSA assisted in the formation of the Black Law Students Association of Canada (BLSAC), the National Latino/Latina Student Association (NLLSA), National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (NALSD), and the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA).

Ann Williams

Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Bio: In 1999, Ann Claire Williams was the first judge of color appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She was elevated from the U.S. District Court in Chicago where, at 35, she had been the youngest woman to serve on the federal bench. Williams was the first judge of color to serve as Court Administration and Case Management Committee Chair for the U.S. Judicial Conference and as president of the Federal Judges Association. She co-founded Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organizaton (JTB-APO), Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Chicago (BWLA), and Minority Legal Education Resources Inc. (MLER). In 1991, she also created the post-graduate legal fellowship program for Equal Justice Works. She has traveled and continues to travel throughout the United States and to Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda, and Uganda to train judges and lawyers on topics such as gender violence, judicial ethics, and trial advocacy, and has served on international training teams teaching trial and appellate advocacy at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. Among other honors, In 2012 Williams was named one of 150 Fearless Women in the World by Newsweek Daily Beast and the BWLA Pioneer Award she also received the 2009 American Judicature Society’s Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award. Williams serves on the boards of the Carnegie Foundation, the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Notre Dame, National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Advisory Committee of JTB –APO. She began her career as a music and third grade teacher in Detroit after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wayne State University, where she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta. She received her master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Michigan and law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Before joining the bench, she was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago and Chief of the Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force. Before that she was a law clerk to Seventh Circuit Judge Robert A. Sprecher who sat on the court where she now serves.

Brandi Holmes

Program Director, Lazarus Energy Empowerment Program

Bio: Brandi Holmes, 33, is native Houstonian that left the city for 8 years due to a career opportunity with Ford Motor Company in Memphis, TN. She held a variety of different roles at Ford including Business Development Specialist and Marketing Manager. While in Memphis she mentored young high school students and volunteered with several community focused organizations. She travelled throughout the South and it was a trip to a local plantation in Louisiana that challenged her to think more deeply about her contribution to the movement. Feeling called to contribute in a more meaningful way, she relocated back to her hometown of Missouri City, Texas. Since her return in 2014, she has dedicated her time, focus, and energy to theliberation of people of the global majority. She is a Program Director for the Lazarus Energy Empowerment Program (LEEP), which is designed to expose underserved high school students to personal development, financial literacy, college and career readiness, and the energy industry. She is an Activist, Community Organizer, and Strategist dedicated to policy and criminal justice reform and community empowerment. She is a proud member of Truth 2 Power and she also serves as the Director of Strategy and Community Organization in BLMHTX. When she isn’t fighting for justice, she also volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House at Texas Children’s Hospital. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Handle - @yobholmes

Bruce Dick

Partner, Perkins Coie LLP

Bio: Bruce Dick has been practicing business law for more than 30 years, with a focus on companies involved in energy or technology industries. His experience across this blend of industries helps his clients stay abreast of the most relevant legal topics for their business. Representing independent power producers and utilities in the United States and internationally in the energy sector, Bruce’s experience involves counseling clients regarding conventional and renewable energy projects, including geothermal, recovered energy, solar and wind projects. In addition, his energy industry work includes drafting and negotiating: - Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts - Power purchase agreements - Operation and maintenance agreements - Project finance agreements - Project development contracts - Energy project purchase and sale agreements - Turbine and other equipment purchase contracts - Geothermal lease and well drilling agreements Bruce has advised numerous clean technology, cloud computing, computer hardware, e-commerce, energy, medical device, software as a service (SaaS), software application, voice recognition and other technology clients. His cleantech and technology industry experience includes the following: - Intellectual property acquisition and sales - Development, distribution, e-commerce, hosting, license, OEM and SaaS agreements - Strategic alliances and joint ventures - M&A intellectual property diligence and contracting issues Bruce also has extensive experience in the formation of corporations, LLCs and joint ventures as well as handling M&A transactions.

Capt. Dave Wilson

Inspector General for the Office of the Judge Advocate General and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command

Bio: Captain Wilson is the Inspector General for the Office of the Judge Advocate General and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command. He most recently served as the Commanding Officer of Region Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia. Captain Wilson received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Delaware, his Juris Doctorate degree from Widener University School of Law, and his Master of Laws degree in International and Comparative Law from The George Washington University School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. After receiving his commission through the Judge Advocate General’s Corps Student Program and graduating from Naval Justice School in 1992, Captain Wilson reported for duty at Naval Legal Service Office, Jacksonville, Florida where he served as Senior Defense Counsel, and Head of Claims and Legal Assistance. In 1995, he transferred to Naval Legal Service Branch Office Earle, New Jersey as Officer-in-Charge and Trial Counsel. In July 1997, Captain Wilson reported to Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia as Staff Judge Advocate. He was next assigned as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate to Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. In August 2000, Captain Wilson reported to Carrier Strike Group Ten (formerly Cruiser Destroyer Group Two) as the George Washington Strike Group Staff Judge Advocate. He made two deployments to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, and the United Nation’s Maritime Interception Operation in the Arabian Gulf. After his operational sea tour, in October 2002, Captain Wilson was selected to serve as the military legal advisor to the Director, Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In August 2004, Captain Wilson transferred to Region Legal Service Office, Naval District Washington, D.C. where he served as Executive Officer, Senior Trial Counsel and Head, Command Services Attorney. From August 2006 to May 2007, he attended The George Washington University School of Law for his post-graduate studies. Upon graduating, he reported to Commander, U.S. Second Fleet as the Numbered Fleet Judge Advocate. Captain Wilson next deployed to Djibouti, Africa in January 2010 where he served as the senior legal counsel to Commander, Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa. From July 2010 until December 2010, he was the Staff Judge Advocate to Commander, Naval Air Forces, Atlantic. Captain Wilson then transferred to U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Virginia where he served first as Deputy Fleet Judge Advocate, and then as Fleet Judge Advocate. In September 2011, he assumed command of Naval Legal Service Office Northwest, Bremerton, Washington. Upon the JAG Corps realignment of legal services in October 2012, he served as the first-ever Officer-in-Charge, Defense Service Office West, Detachment Bremerton, Washington. Captain Wilson’s awards include the Legion of Merit (three awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and several campaign and unit awards. His article, Interdiction on the High Seas: The Role and Authority of a Master in the Boarding and Searching of his Ship by Foreign Warships was published by the Naval Law Review in 2008.

Christina Swarns

Litigation Director, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Bio: As the Litigation Director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., Christina Swarns oversees all aspects of LDF’s litigation in its four key practice areas: economic justice, education, political participation and criminal justice. In that capacity, Christina conceptualizes and evaluates new cases and campaigns, reviews and edits all substantive briefs, assists with preparation for oral arguments, and provides overall supervision for the legal staff. Christina also strategically engages the media through the development of messaging themes, press releases, talking points, letters to the editor, op-eds, and other communications vehicles. Christina has served as Lead Counsel in the litigation of significant impact cases, including Texas v. Duane Buck (challenging a Texas death-sentence that was the product of explicit racial bias), Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Secretary (Pennsylvania death sentence for “world’s most famous death row prisoner” vacated based on improper instruction to sentencing jury), Rosales v. Quarterman (Texas capital murder conviction and death sentence vacated based on intentional discrimination in jury selection by Harris County District Attorney’s Office), Commonwealth v. Whitney (Pennsylvania death sentence vacated based on finding of “mental retardation”), Roper v. Simmons (amicus brief addressing racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty for child offenders to support abolition of such sentences) and Wilson v. Horn (Pennsylvania capital murder conviction and death sentence vacated based on intentional discrimination in jury selection by Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office). Christina was previously the Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project, where she analyzed, developed and implemented litigation, organizing, public education, communications and other advocacy strategies to ensure that the American criminal justice system is administered fairly and without regard to race such that all communities receive fair and appropriate police protection and that all individuals charged with or convicted of crimes are afforded the safeguards guaranteed by the constitution. As a nationally recognized expert on issues of race and criminal justice, Christina participates in committees, advisory panels, strategic convenings, conferences and national media interviews (including PBS News Hour (and here), MSNBC, and Democracy Now). She was profiled by the ABA Journal (Terry Carter, Lady of the Last Chance: Lawyer Makes Her Mark Getting Convicts Off Death Row, The ABA Journal, August 1, 2012), the Washington Post (Lonnae O’Neal Parker, Defense Lawyer Fights Racism in Death Row Cases, The Washington Post, January 31, 2013), and in “Ces Femmes Qui Portent La Robe – Femmes Engages, Femmes de Réseau” (“These Women Who Wear the Robe – Women Engaged, Women Networking”), a 2013 book by Christiane Féral-Schuhl, Immediate Past President of the Paris, France, Bar Association, for her successful representation of condemned prisoners. In 2014, Christina was selected by the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School to be an Honorary Fellow in Residence, an honor given to an attorney who makes “significant contributions to the ends of justice at the cost of great personal risk and sacrifice.” During her tenure as Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project, Christina litigated other such significant impact cases as Davis v. NYC (challenging the New York City Police Department’s unlawful pattern and practice of indiscriminately stopping, questioning and arresting Black and Latino New York City Housing Authority residents and guests for purportedly trespassing), State of Mississippi v. Brister (life without parole sentence for child offender vacated), Miller v. Alabama (amicus brief addressing racial discrimination in the origins of juvenile life without parole sentencing to support abolition of such sentences), Maples v. Thomas (amicus brief urging a constitutional right to effective assistance of post-conviction counsel in capital cases), Graham v. Florida (amicus brief addressing the challenges faced by children navigating the criminal justice system to support abolition of juvenile life without parole sentencing for non-homicide offenders), and Berghuis v. Smith (amicus brief addressing requirements for jury fair cross-section challenge). Christina conceptualized and implemented an expansion of the Criminal Justice Project to include organizing capacity in order to deepen LDF’s capacity to achieve long term systemic change and more effectively engage the African-American community in identifying problems and developing/implementing reforms. She developed public education events and materials including LDF’s Annual Capital Punishment Training Conference (“Airlie”), the LDF/Columbia Law School 2007 Symposium, Pursuing Racial Fairness in Criminal Justice: 20 Years After McCleskey v. Kemp, multiple informational fact-sheets, and LDF’s authoritative report, No Chance to Make it Right: Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentencing in Mississippi. Prior to joining LDF, Christina served as a Supervising Assistant Federal Defender and Assistant Federal Defender at the Capital Habeas Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Federal Court Division. While there, Christina represented numerous death-sentenced prisoners whose convictions and/or death-sentences were reversed, including Nicholas Yarris, the first death row prisoner in Pennsylvania to be exonerated by DNA evidence. She was also a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in New York. Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.

Cornell Brooks

President and CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Bio: Cornell William Brooks is the 18th President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a civil rights attorney, social justice advocate, fourth generation ordained minister, and coalition builder, Brooks exemplifies the mission of the NAACP to secure political, educational, social and economic equality for all American citizens.Working with the whole of the NAACP, his vision is an NAACP that is multiracial, multiethnic, multigenerational, and millions of members strong. A graduate of Head Start and Yale Law School, Brooks considers himself “an heir” of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Born in El Paso, TX, and raised in Georgetown, SC, he went on to earn a B.A. with honors in political science from Jackson State University, a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar; and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law and Policy Review. Brooks served a judicial clerkship with then-Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin III on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He also worked as a staff attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington. In 1998, honoring his grandfather’s 1946 bid for Congress, Brooks ran as the Democratic Nominee for Congress for Virginia’s 10th District – advocating for public education, affordable healthcare, and fiscal responsibility. During his four years as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Brooks worked to secure the then-largest government settlement for victims of housing discrimination and filed the government’s first lawsuit against a nursing home alleging housing discrimination based on race. Brooks also worked for eight years as special and senior counsel to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); and also directed the Office of Communication Business Opportunities – working to increase financing for small and minority- and woman-owned businesses. Immediately prior to joining the NAACP, Brooks led the Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Social Justice as president and CEO. Within a mere five years, the Institute passed a constitutional amendment, bail reform, “Ban the Box,” foreclosure reform, and prison re-entry legislation, which The New York Times hailed as “a model for the rest of the nation.” Brooks also produced an award-winning documentary on criminal justice. During his tenure as president and CEO of the NAACP, with renewed visibility and voice, Brooks has passionately led the Association in legislatures, courts, and the community, against racial profiling, police misconduct, and the full range of the NAACP’s civil rights agenda. With leadership from branches to the Board, Brooks has mobilized the fight against voter suppression with victories in the courts, the 1002-mile America’s Journey for Justice, and Democracy Awakening, what The Nation called, “The Most Important Protest of the 2016 Election.” The NAACP has broadened, renewed, and initiated partnerships and coalitions, including building critical support for the passage of major education reform, criminal justice regulatory reform, and expanding support for voting rights. Additionally, membership activity and social media followers have increased annually by more than 25 and 20 percent, respectively. The NAACP is visible, vocal, effective, and growing. Brooks lives with his wife, Janice, and two sons, Cornell, II and Hamilton. They are members of Turner Memorial A.M.E. Church.

Curtis T. Haynes

Volunteer Income Tax Assistant - Advanced Certification , Internal Revenue Service

Bio: Curtis T. Haynes was raised in Brandon, Mississippi where he spent most of his childhood life with his parents and twin sister, Andrea Haynes. Curtis was a scholar athlete, and he attended Northwest Rankin High School where he graduated in the top 5% of his graduating class. In 2013, Curtis T. Haynes graduated, cum laude, from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. During his college years, he was very active in his school and community. Curtis was a Jackson Heart Study Scholar, and he spent a considerable amount of time exploring his options in public health, medicine, and research. He was a Student Academics Success Tutor for two programs on his college campus, and he also received a Volunteer Education Award from AmeriCorps Corporation for National & Community Service for 300+ volunteer hours accumulated in one year of college. In the fall of 2010, Curtis was initiated into the Gamma Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and he is still an active member of the fraternity. Upon graduation from college, Curtis briefly attended medical school, but then he decided he wanted to pursue a law degree. Curtis is a first year law student at Roger Williams University (RWU) School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island. He has learned a lot during his journey from medical student to law student, and he has channeled those experiences into a platform of success for law students with a background in the sciences. Curtis is an active member of his law school class, and he is the 1L Representative of the Black Law Student’s Association (BLSA) at RWU Law. Curtis is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) through the Business & Tax Law Society, and he is also a law student member of the American Bar Association, Phi Alpha Delta, and the Sports & Entertainment (SPENT) Law Society at RWU School of Law. Curtis’s professional experiences are mainly in the area of medicine and scientific research. Curtis has experience as a Research Assistant with Brown University Emergency Medicine Department in Providence, Rhode Island, and he has also interned for several nationally recognized internship programs such as the Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) at the University of California San Francisco and the Summer Training in Academic Research and Scholarship (STARS) Program of Harvard Medical School/ Brigham &Women’s Hospital. While he was applying to law school, Curtis served on staff as a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M) Instructor for the Mt. Hope Learning Center in Providence, Rhode Island and prior to that as a hard-working Package Handler for United Parcel Services. After law school, Curtis hopes to further his legal career in the area of business law and counsel individuals and organizations on the legal issues generated by their business dealings; however, Curtis plans to explore the other areas of RWU School of Law courses offer. He is also interested in exploring intellectual property because of his science background and real estate law because of his interest in economic development. Curtis will spend his spring break with the Rhode Island Center for Justice in Providence, Rhode Island, and he is currently actively pursuing a summer internship. Curtis enjoys sports, music, traveling, exercising and reading. He is a major sports fan, and the Dallas Cowboys are his favorite football team.

James Crawford III

Judge Advocate General, United States Navy

Bio: Vice Admiral James W. Crawford, III is the Judge Advocate General of the Navy (JAG). Crawford is the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and chief of Naval Operations, and serves as the Department of Defense representative for Ocean Policy Affairs (REPOPA). He also leads the 2,300 attorneys, enlisted legalmen and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community. Crawford was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Belmont Abbey College in 1979. He was commissioned through the JAG Corps Student Program, and, in 1983, graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. He later earned a Master of Laws degree (Ocean and Coastal Law) from the University of Miami (Florida) School of Law and a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. Crawford served from 2012-2015 as the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command. As commander, Naval Legal Service Command, he led the judge advocates, enlisted legalmen, and civilian employees of 14 commands worldwide, providing prosecution and defense services, legal assistance services to individuals, and legal support to shore and afloat commands. Crawford served from 2007-2011 as Legal Counsel to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. From 2011-2012, he served as the Commander, NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission/Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan. Before his appointment to flag rank, he served as Special Counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations, the senior Staff Judge Advocate for Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, and as the Fleet Judge Advocate for U.S. Seventh Fleet. In command, he served as Commanding Officer, Region Legal Service Office Southeast. Crawford also served at Navy Personnel Command, the Office of the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Naval War College, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, the Naval Justice School, and Cruiser-Destroyer Group Eight. He began his legal career as a defense counsel at the Naval Legal Service Office, Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Crawford’s personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal (three awards), the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Jasmine Crockett

Attorney, Crockett Law, PLLC

Bio: Attorney Jasmine Crockett is the managing partner at the Merritt & Crockett Law Firm and is licensed to practice law in both the states of Arkansas and Texas.Known for both her legal acumen and political prowess, Attorney Crockett has emerged as a regional leader in the legal community. She currently serves as the Region V Director of the National Bar Association which covers the States of Texas, Arkansas, & Louisiana, is a former member of LeadershipSBOT (State Bar of Texas), and has participated in countless Texas Young Lawyer Association projects such as the Texarkana Affiliate, the Vote America Project. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, an international public service volunteer organization.As a former candidate for District Attorney in Bowie County and the current elected chair of the Democratic Party, Attorney Crockett focuses on mending the disconnect in relating to young voters by introducing high schoolers to the democratic process.Ms. Crockett believes in the power of the informed citizen, so she works tirelessly to educate people on their voting rights and constitutional rights as it relates tocriminal accusations and the justice system.The majority of Attorney Crockett’s day-to-day practice is criminal defense work which is often paired with her client's civil rights issues. She worked, for example, to end the aimless criminal investigation of Mark and Cory Hughes after they were wrongfully linked to the Dallas Sniper attacks. As her firm worked to secure the civil liberties of Jacqueline Craig, she skillfully dispelled of the underlying criminal accusations.In bringing her unique skills to Dallas, Attorney Crockett finds the most reward with bringing purpose to her passion of providing quality, competent criminal defense representation to the indigent population there.Attorney Crockett's dedication to seeking social justice and equality is manifested through her personal and professional commitments.

Jay Jenkins

Project Attorney, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

Bio: Jay Jenkins works as a Project Attorney for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition in Houston, where he heads TCJC's Harris County Criminal Justice Project. Since his start in 2014, he has worked to amplify the community’s voice in criminal justice policy, including supporting the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, where he has focused on interactions between citizens and law enforcement, while also mobilizing a diverse group of faith leaders in support of criminal justice reform in Harris County. Jay has also authored and edited numerous policy papers and comprehensive reports supporting broader criminal justice reforms throughout the county. Jay continues to advise policy makers at every level of government, serving on Harris County’s MacArthur Grant Planning Committee, Mayor Turner’s Criminal Justice Transition Committee, and the State of Texas Judicial Council’s Advisory Council on Pretrial Justice. Jay graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law, where he worked at the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center focusing on a number of juvenile justice issues. In his third year, Jay was the lone law student at the newly-formed Juvenile Post-Dispositional Clinic, where he promoted policy reform throughout Chicago while also advocating on behalf of juvenile clients. After graduating in 2009, Jay was admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and worked as a civil litigator in the private sector for three years. Most recently, Jay worked in Washington, DC, for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, assisting the United States Department of Justice in their evaluation of claims and implementation of federal legislation passed in 2010.

Mishonda Mosley

Command Judge Advocate, United States Navy

Bio: LCDR Mosley is currently assigned on board the USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH(CVN 77) as the Command Judge Advocate. Her educational background includes a Bachelors of Science in Human Development and Family Relations from the University of Connecticut in 1994; a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University in 2003; a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law with a concentration in business law and government and public service in 2004; a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in urban ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2008; and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2012. She was commissioned in October 2008 through the Direct Accession program. She was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 2004. Before entering the Navy, she served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County Maryland from January 2007 until October 2008. She enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1989 and subsequently deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm with the Connecticut Army National Guard in 1990 as a combat medic. In 1994 she was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Connecticut as a Regular Army Intelligence Officer. She attended the Intelligence Officer Basic Course in 1995 and was selected to attend the Counterintelligence Officer Course that same year. She was stationed at Fort Meade Maryland, where she served as Bravo Company’s Executive Officer, First Platoon Leader, Group Executive Officer and Counterintelligence Special Agent. In 1998 she was promoted to the rank of Captain. During law school she served as a County Commissioner and was elected the National Chair of the National Black Law Students Association for two terms. She traveled to Egypt and Jordan as a United States Delegate in 2005 with the American Council of Young Political Leaders. After graduation from Naval Justice School in 2009, her first duty assignment was at Naval Legal Service Office North central in Washington DC. She served as Defense Counsel, Legal Assistance Attorney, Physical Evaluation Board Attorney and Branch Head onboard the National Naval Medical Center. Her second tour was at Region Legal Service Office Southeast in Meridian Mississippi as the Installation SJA. Her next assignment was as Defense Counsel in Yokosuka Japan where she was selected into the Military Justice Litigation Career Track. She was awarded the 2012 Naval Legal Service Command's Junior Officer of the Year. Her awards and decorations are the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 1 gold star, Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 1 gold star, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3 bronze stars, Kuwait Liberation Medal and the Kuwait Liberation Medal(K).

Rudy Metayer

Member, Board of Directors, State Bar of Texas

Bio: Rudolph “Rudy” Metayer is an experienced attorney who loves the courtroom and legal profession. He has represented both public and private entities on a plethora of matters ranging from Bankruptcy, to Medicaid fraud, to multi-million dollar tax disputes. The son of two Haitian immigrants, Rudy has been recognized as one of the top rising attorneys in the Country and one of the most influential young professionals in the State of Texas. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas and is Past President of the Austin Black Lawyers Association. He has been a tireless advocate in the community speaking and working on a host of issues ranging from teaching at-risk children to co-authoring an honor code for the University of Texas. Rudy is also a committed community servant who has served on city economic development boards, Fire and EMS districts, School Board Trustees, soccer clubs, Catholic Church groups, and helped in the creation of pro bono legal advice clinics for U.S. Military Veterans. Most recently, Rudy has been named as a Fellow in the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) 2017 McBee Program and was recognized for his role in co-creating the Texas Young Lawyers Association program “Strength In Unity,” a program specifically designed to bridged the gap between law enforcement and the community that it serves. He is married to his amazing wife Letisha, who is the rock by which he can succeed, and lives in Pflugerville with his three, yes three, daughters: Celeste, Arielyn, and Brooklyn. Definitely pray for him.

S. Lee Merritt

Partner, Merritt & Crockett

Bio: S. Lee Merritt, Esq. is a civil rights attorney, social justice activist and partner at the Merritt Crockett law firm with offices in Philadelphia, PA, Camden, NJ, Dallas, TX and Texarkana, AR. Mr. Merritt is emerging as an influential new voice in the fight for Civil Rights throughout the country by bringing a passion for social reform and a commitment to speaking out on inequities while practicing law.Merritt is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia and Temple University Law School in Philadelphia. He began his legal career as an associate of the Cochran Law firm before launching his independent practice. Before practicing law Lee worked as a school teacher and basketball coach in Camden, NJ and Atlanta Georgia. Lee leads a high profile practice with several international cases spanning the July 7th shootings, corporate discrimination, police brutality and wrongful death matters. His practice focuses on social justice first over litigation outcomes and he enjoys a reputation for dogmatic determination and ensuring a just outcome for his clients.While a trial attorney with particular knack for evidentiary rules and courtroom presentation; Merritt is also a poet, a motivational speaker, a teacher, a coach and a father. His commitment to social justice is born out of his own experiences as the son of a repeat felon and a teenage mom in Los Angeles California. Merritt is committed to the reform of the justice system in America and to using his practice to effect lasting change for underserved and underrepresented communities.

Sheila Jackson Lee

Representative, 18th Congressional District of Texas, United States Congress

Bio: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is an influential and forceful voice in Washington. She is serving her eleventh term as a member of the United States House of Representatives. She represents the 18th Congressional District of Texas, centered in Houston, which is the energy capital of the world. Considered by many as the “Voice of Reason”, she is dedicated to upholding the Constitutional rights of all people. During Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s tenure in Congress she has served on various Committees including the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, and Judiciary. In the 110th and 111th Congress, Congresswoman Jackson Lee served as Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection. As Chairwoman, Congresswoman Jackson Lee was a leader in support of enhanced technology, better intelligence, increased airplane cargo inspections, increased security for railroads, and implementation of the 9/11 Commission report. She has also served as the Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee. Congresswoman Jackson Lee is also a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee. She is now the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations – the first woman to ever hold that position on the Committee. She led the fight for passage of the Fair Sentencing Act and garnered unanimous support to amend the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill that created a day of honor for the return of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has authored several immigration bills, such as H.R. 750, the "Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act", which sets forth a comprehensive and humane solution to the immigration problem, introduced legislation to enhance federal enforcement of hate crimes with H.R. 254, the David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act, played a significant role in the renewal and reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, and contributed an amendment to the NASA reauthorization bill that will ensure equal access for minority and economically disadvantaged students to NASA’s education programs. In addition, Congresswoman Jackson Lee launched the Dr. Mae C. Jemison Grant Program to work with institutions serving minorities to bring more women of color in the field of space and aeronautics. Congresswoman Jackson Lee has received numerous honors during her career in public service, including the US Dream Academy Legacy Award, the National Bankers Association Foundation Excellence Award, the Martin Luther King National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. Champion of Courage Award, the Livingstone College Doctor of Humane Letters, the National Association of Negro Business Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award, the Award for Policy at the 16th Annual Phillip Burton Immigration & Civil Rights Awards, the Drum Major Award for Public Service by the Revelation Urban Development Institute, the National Minority Quality Forum Lifetime Achievement Award and the Houston Community College Joyce M. Reynolds award just to name a few. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to Science, the National Technical Association (NTA) of Scientists and Engineers honored the Congresswoman with its Top Women in the Sciences Award. She was also awarded the "Legislator of the Year" by the National Mental Health Association for her outstanding work on mental health legislation. Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a frequent guest on network and cable news including Face the Nation and MSNBC. She is a founder, member, and co-chair of the Congressional Children's Caucus and has served several years as a member of the Democratic Caucus Health Care Task Force. Additionally, she serves on numerous Caucuses including the Azerbaijan Caucus, the Pakistan Caucus, and the Afghan Caucus. She has been hailed by Ebony magazine as one of the "100 Most Fascinating Black Women." "Congressional Quarterly" named her as one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress and "U.S. News and World Report" named her as one of the 10 most influential legislators in the House of Representatives. Her hometown newspaper, the "Houston Chronicle" named her as one of the most influential and prolific legislators on Capitol Hill. Most recently, she was named the Member of Congress with the largest and most impressive vocabulary based on the words that may be found on the SAT. Congresswoman Jackson Lee has served in a number of positions in the Congressional Black Caucus including 1st Vice Chair, Chair of the Energy Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Redistricting Task Force for the 112th Congress. She also represents the Congressional Black Caucus on immigration reform issues. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee earned a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University with honors, followed by a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School. She is married to Dr. Elwyn Lee who is an Administrator at the University of Houston. She has two children Jason Lee a graduate of Harvard University and Erica Lee a graduate of Duke University and a Member of the Harris County School Board in Houston, Texas.

Chibundu Nnake

Manager of Policy and Advocacy, FOCUS

Christopher Hollins

Attorney, Hollins Law Group

Elizabeth Campbell

Partner and Chief Diversity Officer, Andrews Kurth LLP

Jeremy McLymont

legal Intern, Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office

Kashmire Terry

Programming Director, National Black Law Students Association

George Brauchler

Dean Sondra

Onyemma Obedika

Terrod Torrence

Attendees please download Whova event app, to access the information of all 24 speakers.

download whova event app on apple store download whova event app on Google Play

We are excited to use Whova as our event platform. Attendees please download Whova event app, to access the documents and handouts shared by the organizers.