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Event | Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM ET | Virtual & In-Person (Washington, DC)

Speaker Information

Putting People First: People-Centered Justice at Home and Abroad

In Order of Appearance

Scott Carlson

ABA Associate Executive Director of the Center for Global Programs

Scott’s legal career spans over 30 years and includes over 20 years in the international development and rule of law fields. He began his work in rule of law in the early 1990s, as a pro bono Rule of Law Liaison for the ABA. In the years since, he has worked in both field-based and headquarters settings. Currently, he is Associate Executive Director of the ABA's Center of Global Programs, previously the Senior Director for Programs and Strategic Initiatives at ABA ROLI. In this capacity, he oversees the design, management, and evaluation of ABA ROLI’s complex international legal assistance programs. He brings experience working with a variety of donors and international organizations, including USAID, UN, European Union, ILAC, African Union, U.S. Department of State, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, and International IDEA.


Over the course of his career, Scott has worked on both the donor and implementer sides of international development. On the donor side, he has served as Senior Rule of Law Advisor for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and Senior Rule of Law Advisor at the Rule of Law Center for Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). As an implementer, he has worked with various companies and organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), New-Rule LLC, ABA, and Chemonics International.


When not doing international development, Scott practiced as a lawyer in the public and private sectors. In the public sector, he worked with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in the Honors Program, drafting regulations and rulings, as well as litigation at Tax Court. He also served in the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP); he was a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow; and he worked as an Assistant General Counsel for the United States Sentencing Commission. In the private sector, he worked for a large international law firm in their European offices. Each of these engagements in the practice of law shaped and informed his understanding of rule of law.


Before recently rejoining ABA, Scott served in ABA’s Washington Offices, as the Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Judicial Reform from 1999-2003. He designed and managed multiple international legal reform programs and supervised over 80 employees in offices across Eastern Europe. He also led the implementation of ABA ROLI’s first assessment tool, the Judicial Reform Index. Scott has published regularly on rule of law, human rights, anti-corruption, and other legal fields.


Scott holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a J.D. from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University. He speaks Albanian and French.

Alan B. Morrison | Increasing Access to Justice in the US: Some Better Options

Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law & Professorial Lecturer in Law, GWU Law

Alan B. Morrison is the Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest & Public Service at GW Law. He is responsible for creating pro bono opportunities for students, bringing a wide range of public interest programs to the law school, encouraging students to seek positions in the non-profit and government sectors, and assisting students find ways to fund their legal education to make it possible for them to pursue careers outside of traditional law firms. 

For most of his career, Dean Morrison worked for the Public Citizen Litigation Group, which he co-founded with Ralph Nader in 1972 and directed for over 25 years. His work involved law reform litigation in various areas including: open government, opening up the legal profession, suing agencies that fail to comply with the law, enforcing principles of separation of powers, protecting the rights of consumers, and protecting unrepresented class members in class action settlements. 

He has argued 20 cases in the Supreme Court, including victories in Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar (holding lawyers subject to the antitrust laws for using minimum fee schedules); Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council (making commercial speech subject to the First Amendment); and INS v. Chadha (striking down over 200 federal laws containing the legislative veto as a violation of separation of powers). 

He currently teaches civil procedure and constitutional law, and previously taught at Harvard, NYU, Stanford, Hawaii, and American University law schools. He is a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and was its president in 1999–2000. Among other positions, he served as an elected member of the Board of Governors of the District of Columbia Bar, a member and then senior fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a member of the American Law Institute, and a member of the Committee on Science, Technology & Law of the National Academy of Science. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, served as a commissioned officer in the US Navy, and was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York.

Justice Stephen Breyer | Opening Remarks

ABA ROLI’s Board Chair and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. from 1994 to 2022

Hon. Stephen Breyer was born in San Francisco, California, August 15, 1938. He married Joanna Hare in 1967, and has three children—Chloe, Nell, and Michael. He received an A.B. from Stanford University, a B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, and an LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Justice Arthur Goldberg of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1964 Term; as a Special Assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Antitrust, 1965–1967; as an Assistant Special Prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973; as Special Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 1974–1975; and as Chief Counsel of the committee, 1979–1980. He was an Assistant Professor, Professor of Law, and Lecturer at Harvard Law School, 1967–1994; a Professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, 1977–1980; and a Visiting Professor at the College of Law, Sydney, Australia and at the University of Rome. From 1980–1990, he served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as its Chief Judge, 1990–1994. He also served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990–1994; and of the United States Sentencing Commission, 1985–1989. President Clinton nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat August 3, 1994. He retired in 2022.

Elizabeth Andersen | What is People Centered Justice?

Executive Director, World Justice Project

Elizabeth "Betsy" Andersen is Executive Director of the World Justice Project, leading its global efforts to advance the rule of law through research, strategic convenings, and support for innovative programs. Ms. Andersen has more than 20 years of experience in the international legal arena, having served previously as Director of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and its Europe and Eurasia Division (previously known as the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative or ABA CEELI), as Executive Director of the American Society of International Law, and as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia Division.  


Ms. Andersen is an expert in international human rights law, international criminal law, and transitional justice, and she has taught these subjects as an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Williams College as well as on the governing and advisory boards of several international non-profit organizations. She is the recipient of a number of awards for her work in the international rule of law field, including a Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the American Society of International Law Prominent Woman in International Law Award, and the Case Western University Law School Humanitarian Award.


Ms. Andersen began her legal career in clerkships with Judge Kimba M. Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and with Judge Georges Abi-Saab of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Ms. Andersen received a B.A. from Williams College, an M.P.A. from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. 

Rachel Rossi | Office for Access to Justice

Director of the Office for Access to Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

President Joseph R. Biden and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the appointment of Rachel Rossi as Director of the Office for Access to Justice in May 2022.


Prior to her appointment, Director Rossi served as Deputy Associate Attorney General in the Office of the Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta.  In that role, she also served as the inaugural Anti-Hate Coordinator for the Justice Department.  


Director Rossi began her career as a public defender in Los Angeles for almost a decade.  She practiced in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office, and the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California, where she vigorously defended hundreds of low-income clients in state and federal courts.  


Director Rossi then served as Counsel to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Richard J. Durbin (Illinois), where she was the lead staffer on the First Step Acta major U.S. federal criminal justice reform bill signed into law in 2018 that created comprehensive sentencing and prison reforms.  She then transitioned to the role of Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, working for then Crime Subcommittee Chair Karen Bass (CA-37).


In 2020, Director Rossi was the first former public defender to run for the nonpartisan seat of District Attorney of Los Angeles County, where she was only five points shy of qualifying for the runoff election, receiving almost half a million votes.  She then served as the Legal Director for the REFORM Alliance, where she launched the development of a litigation program for direct representation in criminal cases and in civil litigation matters surrounding issues of probation, parole, supervised release, and community supervision.


Director Rossi received her law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law, where she won the International Moot Court Competition, in Grays Inn, London, and served as Student Articles Editor for the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal.  She received the Pepperdine University School of Law Larry D. Kimmons Racial and Social Justice Award, was named one of the National Bar Association’s Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers, and was recognized as an Influential Capitol Hill Staffer by Lawyers of Color.  Director Rossi grew up in Los Angeles, California.  She is the daughter of immigrant parents born in the Dominican Republic and Greece.

Honorable M. Margaret McKeown | Democracy, Rule of Law, and People-centered Justice

ABA ROLI’s Vice Board Chair and Senior Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Hon. M. Margaret McKeown was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Clinton and was confirmed by the United States Senate in 1998. A graduate of the University of Wyoming and Georgetown University Law Center, she received an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University in 2005. Judge McKeown was a White House Fellow in 1980-1981, and in 1993, she served as a Japan Society Leadership Fellow. Judge McKeown is immediate past President of the Federal Judges Association, and she serves on the Council of the American Law Institute, the Executive Council for the American Society of International Law, the managerial board of the International Association of Women Judges, and the Editorial Board of Litigation Journal. She is vice-chair of the Georgetown Law Board of Visitors and Jurist-in-Residence at the University of San Diego Law School. She is an adviser on the ALI Restatement of the Law, Copyright. 


Judge McKeown has been an advisor on several international projects of the American Law Institute: Intellectual Property: Principles Governing Jurisdiction, Choice of Law, and Judgments in Transnational Disputes (2008); International Commercial Arbitration (ongoing); and Foreign Relations Law (ongoing). She is also an advisor on the Restatement of the Law, Copyright. Judge McKeown has lectured and taught extensively on intellectual property, international law, litigation, ethics, judicial administration, and constitutional law in Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Judge McKeown has received a number of prestigious awards, including the American Bar Association Margaret Brent Women of Achievement Award.

Andrew Solomon | Moderator

Senior Rule of Law Advisor at USAID

Andrew Solomon is a Senior Rule of Law Advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in its Center of Excellence on Democracy, Rights, and Governance (DRG). Previously USAID’s first Transitional Justice Advisor, in his current role, Mr. Solomon contributes technical expertise and leadership in the design and evaluation of rule of law programming that serves to strengthen justice and security systems, increase access to justice, and promote and protect human rights around the world.


Interagency collaboration is vital to his role, and Mr. Solomon interacts frequently with different actors at USAID, the State Department (INL and DRL), and the Department of Justice (OPDAT). Similarly, he interacts with a number of international and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the OECD. These collaborations, he believes, are essential to successful assistance programs and effective use of available funding and resources.


Throughout his 20 year career, Mr. Solomon has served in an advisory capacity with a variety of international organizations and U.S. government agencies and has conducted field-work in developing, conflict, and post-conflict environments throughout Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.


Prior to joining USAID, Mr. Solomon was a Director in the Security and Justice Practice at BlueLaw International and served as senior technical advisor on rule of law and citizen security projects funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and USAID. He has also served as a Foreign Policy Fellow and Deputy Director of the Brookings Institution’s Project on Internal Displacement, where he formally supported the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internal Displacement.


In addition, Mr. Solomon has held senior positions related to the rule of law at the American Society of International Law (ASIL), American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI), Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR). He also has extensive experience in electoral administration and has worked for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) as a legal analyst and election observer in more than fifteen missions throughout Europe and Eurasia. He also sits on the Council of Experts for the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL) and is a past Co-chair of the Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law.

Malia Brink | Panelist

ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense; Senior Policy Attorney, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center, SMU Dedman School of Law

Malia N. Brink has spent more than 20 years working in criminal justice research and reform advocacy. She currently serves as Senior Policy Attorney at the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Law School, where she directs the projects on initial appearance and charging times. Prior to joining the Deason Center, Brink served as the Counsel for Indigent Defense to the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (ABA SCLAID).  While at the ABA, Brink served as Deputy Director for the ABA SCLAID’s Public Defender Workload Study Projects and the Misdemeanor Court Observation Projects. Brink has taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, American University School of Public Affairs and Georgetown Law Center. 


Brink served as the Public Defense Project Director at the Justice Programs Office of American University and as the Director of Institutional Development and Policy Counsel at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Brink began her legal career as the Jerome J. Shestack Public Interest Fellow at Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, LLP and a Staff Attorney at the ACLU in Philadelphia. Brink clerked for the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Honorable Maria Lucy Armendariz | Panelist

Judge, Superior Court of Los Angeles County

Judge Lucy Armendariz was appointed to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County in 2018. She currently serves as assistant supervising judge of criminal division (Traffic). She was first appointed to the bench in 2007 at the State Bar Court where she served as Supervising Judge and maintained a heavy docket of cases that included trials, motion hearings and settlement conferences.


Judge Armendariz has extensive experience in the other two branches of government. She served as Chief of Staff to the Senate Majority Leader and gained extensive experience at the Capitol in Sacramento through her service as Counsel to both the Senate and Assembly Committees on Public Safety. Governor Gray Davis appointed Judge Armendariz as the first Ombudsman for women’s prisons in California.


Judge Armendariz currently serves as a commissioner on the California Commission on Access to Justice and on the Committee to Review the Operations and Structure of the Commission on Judicial Performance.  She has also volunteered her time as a commissioner to the Supreme Court Blue Ribbon Commission on Foster Care and as a Board Member of Leadership California, an organization dedicated to advancing the leadership role of women and girls. She is involved in many mentoring organizations and serves as an advisory board member to Latina Lawyers Bar Association, East Los Angeles Community College Pathway to Law, and Roosevelt High School Law and Public Service Magnet.

Judge Marcus DeLarge | Panelist

Judge, New Orleans Criminal District Court- Section K

Marcus DeLarge is a judge for Section K of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in Louisiana. He assumed office on January 1, 2021. His current term ends on December 31, 2026.


DeLarge was born on September 11, 1983, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana with a bachelor’s degree. He went on to obtain his J.D. from the Southern University Law Center. DeLarge’s professional experience includes working as a criminal defense attorney.

Blerta Picari | Panelist

Regional Director, Middle East & North Africa Division, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative

Blerta Picari joined ABA ROLI in August 2021 and oversees the Middle East and North Africa division. She is an experienced international development professional, skilled in economic governance, rule of law, and gender equity programming, working across Europe and Eurasia, Middle East and North Africa, Africa, and South Asia. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Blerta worked as a senior director at Chemonics International managing complex programs for USAID. She has worked as a faculty member at the Department of Political Science at the University of Tirana, Albania, with CSOs, European and global donors in gender equity research, training, and programming. She holds an M.A. in International Development from the University of Bologna, Italy, and a B.A. in Political Science from the Evergreen State College.

Dayna Bowen Matthew, JD, PhD | Introductions

GWU Law Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law

Dayna Bowen Matthew, JD, PhD, is the Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. A leader in public health and civil rights law who focuses on disparities in health, health care, and the social determinants of health, Dean Matthew joined GW Law in 2020. She is the author of the bestselling book Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care and the newly released Just Health: Treating Structural Racism to Heal America.


Dean Matthew previously served on the faculty of the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was Co-Founder and Inaugural Director of The Equity Center, a transdisciplinary research center that seeks to build better relationships between UVA and the Charlottesville community through community engaged scholarship that tangibly redresses racial and socioeconomic inequality.

Center for Civil Liberties | Honoree from Ukraine

2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

In 2007, democracy and human rights activists founded the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. In its early years, the organisation put pressure on the authorities to ensure that Ukraine developed into a full-fledged democracy and a state governed by the rule of law. A key objective was Ukraine’s accession to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.


When Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and supported the breakaway republics Donestsk and Luhansk, the center began to document cases of unlawful imprisonment and other abuses against the civilian population in these areas.


After Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, the CCL concentrated on documenting war crimes against the civilian population perpetrated by Russian soldiers in the occupied areas. This work was carried out in cooperation with bodies such as the International Criminal Court. The organisation also engaged in important efforts to document the forced relocation of civilians from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

Oleksandra Romantsova

Executive Director of the Center for Civil Liberties

Oleksandra Romantsova studied at the University of Economics and Law KROK in Kyiv, where she obtained a Master's degree in International Economics from the Faculty of International Relations, receiving a second Master's degree in Project Management after a couple of years, and at the end of 2021 obtaining a master's degree in conflict management and mediation. Since May 2014, She has pursued her professional career as a human rights defender at the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL). Oleksandra's first project there was monitoring and documenting human rights violations and political persecution in Crimea, where the Russian occupation was taking place. From May of 2014 until the end of 2016 Oleksandra has coordinated the project of mobile observation of human rights violations and war crimes in eastern Ukraine, and has continued monitoring political persecution in the occupied Crimea. Since September 2017, Oleksandra has been Executive director of the “Center for Civil Liberties”, and from February 24, 2022, she has also been coordinating the documentation of war crimes and advocacy on the basis of the results as part of the global initiative "Tribunal for Putin". Oleksandra Participates in field missions in the Kyiv region.

Memorial | Honoree from Russia

2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Memorial was founded in the former Soviet Union in 1987. Its initiators included the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina. The organisation documented the victims of the crimes committed during the Stalinist era.


After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the organisation continued this work while also focusing on human rights violations in Russia. During the Chechen wars (1994-1996 and 1999-2009), Memorial gathered information on abuses and war crimes committed against the civilian population by Russian and pro-Russian forces. The head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was murdered because of her role in this work.


In 2016, the authorities declared Memorial to be a foreign agent, and in 2021 the Russian Supreme Court ruled that Memorial was to be liquidated because it had defended the rights of persons who allegedly had ties to terrorist organisations. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, the authorities declared Memorial to be illegal and took over the offices of the forcibly dissolved organisation.

Grigory Vaypan

Senior Lawyer at Memorial

Grigory Vaypan is a Russian human rights attorney and scholar. He is a Senior Lawyer at Memorial, Russia's oldest human rights group and laureate of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, he is also a Democracy Fellow with the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.

At Memorial, Grigory carries out litigation, legal research and legal advocacy on transitional justice in Russia. His work, including the high-profile “children of the Gulag” case, has been featured by The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, and other leading international media.

Grigory has more than a decade of strategic litigation experience before the Constitutional Court of Russia and the European Court of Human Rights, including as an amicus curiae. He is the recipient of the 2022 Moscow Helsinki Group Human Rights Award for defending human rights in court. Most recently, Grigory has been involved in the legal defense of Russian citizens prosecuted for protesting against Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Grigory holds his first law degree from Moscow State University, a LL.M. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. in International Law from Saint Petersburg State University. He is a former Galina Starovoitova Fellow on Human Rights and Conflict Resolution at the Kennan Institute in Washington, D.C.

Swati Mehta | Moderator

Program Director, Justice for All, Pathfinders Justice for All

Swati Mehta is the Program Director, Justice for All for Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies initiative. A passionate believer in law and justice as tools for empowering people, building trust and social change, Swati has worked on rule of law and access to justice for over 20 years.


Starting her career by providing legal aid for women, she soon moved on to systemic reform. More recently, her work has focused on legal empowerment as well as decentralization and democratization of justice, with people at the center of justice programming. Working with several CSOs, UNDP and other justice programs in South and Southeast Asia, Swati has provided technical advice and/or strengthened capacities of police organizations, prison officials, lawyers, legal aid institutions, judiciary, law schools, and CSOs in taking a people-centered and learning approach to justice. She has written/edited/reviewed several papers on legal empowerment, policing, legal aid and traditional, customary, and informal justice systems.


Swati is a Chevening Scholar and holds an LLM in International Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice from King’s College London. She loves to engage with young people, artists, and musicians on justice. She excels at building strong and productive cross-cultural teams.

Paulette Brown | Panelist

Former ABA President (2015-2016) and ABA Rule of Law Initiative Board Member

Paulette Brown is the first woman of color to lead the American Bar Association (ABA), as its president in its history.  Her presidential initiatives, through her Diversity & Inclusion 360 Commission, resulted in seven major policies developed and approved by the ABA, having a long lasting impact on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and the justice system. Brown simultaneously served as the first person of color to Chair the Labor & Employment Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association.


Brown is also a past president of the National Bar Association (NBA). Brown is a Partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Locke Lord LLP.  She is nationally recognized for her dedication and efforts relating to diversity, equity & inclusion, including the impact of implicit bias and is a frequent speaker and educator on both.   Brown  is the co-author of two ground-breaking Reports, “Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms” and “Left Out and Left Behind: The Hurdles, Hassles and Heartaches of Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women of Color”. 


Brown is a graduate of Howard University and Seton Hall University School of Law and has won numerous awards and honors, including the Margaret Brent Woman of Achievement Award from the ABA and the C. Francis Stratford Award, highest award conferred by the NBA.

Timothy Meyer | Panelist

Senior Program Manager, Africa Division, ABA Rule of Law Initiative

Timothy Meyer, Senior Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI in January 2015 and currently supports ABA ROLI programs in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Timothy previously led ABA ROLI programming in Somalia as part of the Expanding Access to Justice program. He has also managed programming in Liberia coordinating civil society groups to reduce instances of prolonged pre-trial detention, and was involved in strengthening statutory and customary justice systems through civic education, promotion of alternative dispute resolution, civil society development, capacity building for traditional leaders and support to national law reform processes. Timothy is admitted to the Illinois State Bar, holds a J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from Miami University in Ohio. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa, working to promote girls' education and empower women from 2005-2007.

Adonia Simpson | Panelist

Director of Policy and Pro Bono at the ABA Commission on Immigration

Adonia R. Simpson is the Director of Policy and Pro Bono at the ABA Commission on Immigration (COI).  Ms. Simpson has substantial experience in both private practice and legal services.  She started her legal career as the Fellow for the Center for Law and Social Responsibility providing representation on Special Immigrant Juvenile cases at Greater Boston Legal Services.  During her Fellowship, she also participated in a trial observation in Colombia with the support of Rights and Democracy and Lawyers without Borders of Canada.  Following her fellowship, Ms. Simpson worked in private practice providing representation on defensive immigration and criminal matters.  She returned to nonprofit work as the Managing Attorney at Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Immigration Legal Services at the Esperanza Center.  Prior to joining the COI team, Ms. Simpson spent five years developing and directing the Family Defense Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami, Florida. The program provided immigration education, screening, and representation to vulnerable immigrants throughout South Florida.  Her on-the-ground experience provides valuable insights on policy issues and pro bono engagement.  Ms. Simpson serves on various local and national immigration committees and working groups.  Ms. Simpson frequently lectures, writes, and gives interviews on immigration topics.

Matt Wechter | Panelist

San Diego Public Defender and Member of the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty

Matt Wechter is a Deputy Public Defender with the San Diego Office of the Public Defender. As a member of the Public Defender Homeless Court Team and Steering Committee, Matt acts as a liaison between the Superior Court, District Attorney, City Attorney, and Homeless Court Providers (HCPs); in this capacity, he represents San Diego's homeless population during monthly homeless court sessions and orchestrates and executes the annual Homeless Court @ Stand Down, San Diego's annual 3-day homeless veteran event.  Matt is also an active member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, which provides policy guidance and technical assistance to replicate the ABA/San Diego HCP model in jurisdictions across the country. At heart, Matt is a technology junkie - leveraging high-tech solutions where possible to support efficiencies with tight resources and to serve as many clients as possible.

Scott Carlson

ABA Associate Executive Director of the Center for Global Programs

See above, biography in opening remarks.

Dr. Sam Muller

Founding Director of The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law

Sam Muller is the founding director of HiiL. Its mission is to empower 150 million people to prevent or resolve their most pressing justice problems by 2030. An international lawyer by training, Sam works on justice strategy and innovation at the highest political levels, connecting knowledge about needs and what works with change processes that make a difference. The clients he has worked for include governments, international businesses and leading civil society organisations. Sam also led the setting up of the Justice Leadership Foundation and the Wildlife Justice Commission.


Before his work at HiiL he was closely involved in building the International Criminal Court.  He worked as legal adviser at UNRWA and the then newly established ICTY. He holds a law degree and a doctorate from Leiden University and taught there. He has published and spoken extensively on various topics: legal trends and strategy, justice leadership, justice innovation, and international justice issues. Sam has served on many boards. He is currently chair of the supervisory board of World Wildlife Fund – The Netherlands and a member of the International Board of WWF. He was chair of the supervisory board of the Wildlife Justice Commission until September 2021 and board member until April 2022. He served as Senior Adviser to the Task Force on Justice that published a ground-breaking report in July 2019. He was active within the World Economic Forum on the topics of rule of law and justice, chairing two agenda councils. Sam is an alumnus of the Future Leaders Programme of the French Foreign Ministry and of the High-Performance Leadership Programme of the IMD. He is also a facilitator of leadership retreats for the Foundation for Natural Leadership. In November 2022 he  was awarded the 2022 Tällberg-SNS-Eliasson Global Leadership Award “for his innovative work in creating and implementing new, concrete concepts and ways of working for law practitioners that focus on solving people’s real needs and thereby reinforce their commitment to democracy.”

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