Conference Speakers

The following speakers will be featured at the 2013 National Law-Related Education Conference. Page will be updated as additional speakers are confirmed.

Stephen Knadler
Spelman College

Professor Knadler studies the transnational framework of the 19th century and early 20th century African-American literature to recover its complicated re-imagining of democracy and citizenship. His writings include Remapping Citizenship and the Nation in African-American Literature.


Rogers Smith
University of Pennsylvania

Professor Smith centers his research on constitutional law, American political thought, and modern legal and political theory, with special interests in questions of citizenship, race, ethnicity and gender.  His writings include Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History and "The Strangers in Ourselves: The Rights of Suspect Citizens in the Age of Terrorism," in Law and the Stranger.



Peter Spiro
Temple University Beasley School of Law

Professor Spiro specializes in international law, the constitutional aspects of U.S. foreign relations, and immigration and nationality law. Spiro is the author of Beyond Citizenship: American Identity after Globalization. He has contributed commentary to such publications as Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic, and is frequently quoted in the media on international and immigration law issues.  His second book, Here and There: Dual Citizenship in America and the World, is under contract to New York University Press.


Mary Beth Tinker
Tinker Tour

Mary Beth Tinker was one of the main defendants in the case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which eventually went to the Supreme Court.  In 1969 the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that students in public schools do have First Amendment rights.

Mary Beth continues to educate young people about their rights and is active in directing the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project at American University, which mobilizes law students to teach courses on constitutional law and juvenile justice at public schools. An advocate for the rights of youth, particularly in the areas of health and education, she is a pediatric nurse who is active in her union and holds masters degrees in both public health and nursing. In 2006, as a tribute to Tinker's devotion to the rights of young people, the ACLU National Board of Directors' Youth Affairs Committee renamed its annual youth affairs award, the "Mary Beth Tinker Youth Involvement Award."


Elizabeth Cohen
Syracuse University

Elizabeth Cohen is an Associate Professor specializing in contemporary and modern political theory, history
of political thought, and immigration and citizenship. Cohen teaches courses in political construction of identity,
contemporary normative political philosophy, the politics of citizenship, and civil society and democracy. Cohen is author of Semi-Citizenship in Democratic Politics. Her research examines how variables of date and time serve a role equal to that of place and lineage in the assignment of citizenship.


Marshall Croddy 
Constitutional Rights Foundation

Marshall Croddy assumed the position of President of CRF in February 2013 after previously serving as Vice President. Croddy is a nationally recognized leader in the field of law-related and civics education. He has designed, edited, and co-written most of CRF's educational texts and publications including the Law in the Social Studies series, Criminal Justice in America, Letters of Liberty, Foundations of Freedom, Reviewing the Verdict, Active Citizenship Today, The W.M. Keck Foundation Challenge Series, CityWorks, and Bill of Rights in Action, a nationally distributed curricular newsletter. In 2000, he received the American Bar Association's Isidore Starr Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education, and in 2007, he was awarded the Roy Erickson Civic Education Leadership Award by the California Council for the Social Studies.


Michelle Herczog
LA County Office of Education

Michelle Herczog is the History-Social Science Consultant for the Los Angeles County Office of Education and is President- Elect of the National Council for the Social Studies.  Dr. Herczog also serves on the California Task Force for Civic Learning and participated in the development of the "College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards" as a member of the Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction Committee of the Council for Chief State School Officers.  She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration from University of California, Los Angeles.


Diana Hess
Spencer Foundation

Diana E. Hess is Senior Vice President at the Spencer Foundation and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hess is the author of Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion which received the 2009 exemplary research award from the National Council for the Social Studies. Hess earned her PhD in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on constitutional law at the University of Washington in Seattle.


Deborah Richardson
National Center for Civil and Human

Deborah J. Richardson is the Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. She was Chief Program Officer at Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco, CEO of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation, Director of Program Development for Fulton County Juvenile Court, and founding Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Fund (now Youth Spark). She is a nationally recognized leader on social justice for women and girls and an advocate to end child sex trafficking.


Bennett Singer
Electoral Dysfunction

Bennett Singer is an award-winning producer, director, and writer. He recently was part of the team that created, Electoral Dysfunction, a feature-length documentary film which takes an irreverent and nonpartisan looks at voting in America. It premiered at both the 2012 Republican and Democratic National conventions. Electoral Dysfunction won the American Bar Association’s 2013 Silver Gavel Award for Television and a Silver Telly Award in the Politics/Commentary category at the 34th Annual Telly Awards.


John StremlauCarter Center

Dr. John Stremlau is vice president for peace programs at The Carter Center. He oversees the Center's programs to advance human rights, democracy, and conflict resolution globally; regional cooperation in the Americas; and promotion of grassroots democracy, rule of law, and social justice in China. He was previously the founding director of the Centre for Africa’s International Relations at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. 


Natsu Taylor Saito
Georgia State University Law School

Professor Saito teaches international law and human rights, race and the law, immigration, criminal procedure, and professional responsibility, and is an advisor to the Asian American Law Student Association and the Hispanic Student Bar Association. Professor Saito’s scholarship focuses on the legal history of race in the United States, the plenary power doctrine as applied to immigrants, American Indians, and U.S. territorial possessions, and the human rights implications of U.S. governmental policies, particularly with regard to the suppression of political dissent.

Jerry Gonzalez
Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials

Jerry Gonzalez is the founding and current Executive Director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. GALEO was founded in 2003 and is a statewide nonprofit and non-partisan organization with a mission to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia.


Mike Hiestand
The Tinker Tour

Mike Hiestand is the attorney and driver of the Tinker Tour.  The goal of the Tinker Tour is to bring real-life civics lessons to schools and communities across the country and to promote youth voices, free speech, and a free press. Mr. Hiestand previously served as the staff attorney for the nonprofit Student Press Law Center and worked full-time as the Center’s sole consulting attorney until 2012. He continues to assist student media and work with the SPLC on special projects affecting the student press community. Over the years, Mr. Hiestand has provided legal assistance to nearly 15,000 high school and college student journalists and their advisers.

Laughlin McDonald
American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project

Laughlin McDonald is Director of the ACLU Southern Regional Office, where he has worked since its inception in 1965. The office has provided representation to minority plaintiffs, primarily in the South, in civil rights litigation, including school desegregation, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, jury discrimination, and voting rights. McDonald has testified before Congress on civil rights and, in particular voting rights since 1981. He is the author of several articles and books including American Indians and the Fight for Equal Voting Rights (2010), A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia (2003).

Azedah Shahshahani
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia

Azadeh Shahshahani currently serves as the Director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. The project is aimed at bringing Georgia and its localities into compliance with international human rights and constitutional standards in treatment of refugee and immigrant communities, including immigrant detainees. Ms. Shahshahani is the recipient of the of the American Immigration Lawyers Association 2012 Advocacy Award and the 2009 Equal Justice Foundation Public Interest Practitioner Award from the University of Georgia Law School.

Chris Taylor
Taylor, Lee & Associates, LLC

Chris Taylor has practiced law in the areas of immigration, personal injury, wrongful death, workers compensation and criminal law. He has handled a wide variety of both civil and criminal appellate cases in both state and federal courts, including cases that have been featured in the national news. He is admitted to the state and federal courts of Georgia, including the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Georgia Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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