Racial Justice Training Institute Director:

Ellen Hemley brings over 30 years of experience in the equal justice community to her role as Vice President of Training Programs at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Prior to joining the Shriver Center, Ellen served as executive director of the Center for Legal Aid Education, which provided training and leadership development programs to equal justice advocates nationally. Previously, Ellen was Director of Training at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute where, among other things, she oversaw CLAE's predecessor, the Legal Services Training Consortium of New England. She also served for many years as an independent consultant; her clients included the American Bar Association, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the Florida Bar Foundation, the Washington Access to Justice Commission, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, and scores of other legal aid networks, bar foundations and justice-related programs across the country.


Racial Justice Training Insitute Advisory Committee Members:

Aneel Chablani serves as Director of Advocacy at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) in Toledo, Ohio.  ABLE is an unrestricted poverty law firm serving low-income individuals and groups in Northwest and West Central Ohio.  As Director of Advocacy, Aneel oversees impact litigation and broad based advocacy in ABLE's practice groups covering Housing and Community Economic Development, Healthcare and Public Benefits, Migrant Farmworker Rights, and Education.  Prior to joining ABLE, Aneel worked with the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans representing inmates on Louisiana's death row.  Aneel began his legal career with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.  He is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the University of Notre Dame.


Anita Earls is the founder and Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a non‐profit organization in Durham, North Carolina. A civil rights attorney with over 25 years’ experience, her work has involved addressing structural racism, protecting minority voting rights and furthering community empowerment. She was appointed by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court to the Equal Access to Justice Commission for which she serves as Secretary. For two years she was a member of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Anita has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences at Duke University, and has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and the UNC School of Law. She has also taught several undergraduate courses in the African and African‐American Studies Department at Duke University.

Ms. Earls was appointed by President Clinton to the post of Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she had responsibility for the Division's Voting, Educational Opportunities, Disability Rights and Coordination and Review sections from April, 1998 to August, 2000. Anita also worked for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C., as Director of the Voting Rights Project.

For ten years, Anita litigated civil rights cases as a partner with Ferguson, Stein, Wallas, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter in Charlotte, North Carolina. In private practice, her work involved voting rights, police misconduct, school desegregation, employment discrimination, public accommodations, disability rights and first amendment cases.

Ms. Earls graduated from Yale Law School, where she was a Senior Editor for the Yale Law Journal and published a student note entitled Petitioning and the Empowerment Theory of Practice. She received her undergraduate degree from Williams College, and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study cooperative work organizations and the role of women in Tanzania, Italy and England. She was also chosen to receive the first Robert Masur Fellowship in Civil Liberties from the Nation Institute in 1987; and most recently, received a Civil Rights Champion Award from the National NAACP Office of the General Counsel.

Anita’s volunteer service includes work with the Women’s Center of Chapel Hill, the Durham Economic Resource Center and the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro. Anita is married to Charles Walton, and has two sons, Dylan and Chad. She was raised in a mixed‐race family in Seattle, Washington and has made North Carolina her home for nearly 20 years.


Dorcas GilmoreDorcas R. Gilmore is an Assistant General Counsel in the NAACP Office of the General Counsel. As advocacy and corporate counsel, she represents the National Office of the NAACP and its over 1,200 branches nationwide to advance the NAACP's racial justice mission and protect its brand. Her advocacy work at the Association focuses on issues of economic justice, including fair housing and community benefits agreements, as well as redistricting and environmental justice. She also directs the NAACP's Community Economic Development Program to combat racial inequities in small business development, individual savings, and economic development.

Prior to the NAACP, Ms. Gilmore was a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney at the Community Law Center. In this capacity, she created a youth entrepreneurship legal services project to represent low-income youth entrepreneurs and youth-led organizations, social ventures, and coalitions seeking to promote racial and economic equity in their local communities.

Ms. Gilmore earned her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. The 2004 Gilbert & Jaylee Mead Public Interest Scholar, Ms. Gilmore received numerous awards recognizing her commitment to service and the public interest, including the NAACP LDF's Earl Warren Scholarship. Ms. Gilmore graduated magna cum laude from Rollins College with an Honors Bachelor of Arts.

Ms. Gilmore is a member of the Governing Committee of the ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law and a founding member of its Young Lawyers Network. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Women's Law Center of Maryland. Ms. Gilmore is the author of several articles and book chapters on law and leadership, youth entrepreneurship legal services, and community lawyering. She is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.


Luz María Henríquez is a staff attorney at the Children’s Legal Alliance Unit at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), a nonprofit law firm. She handles educational law matters within the City of Saint Louis and St. Louis County.

Through her practice, Luz works to combat the systemic issues that underlie punitive disciplinary practices, which have racially disparate effects, and to tackle the barriers which prevent children from receiving the appropriate educational services. Luz advocates for children and youth seeking access to special education services and represents children and youth facing school disciplinary proceedings, as well as those who have already been suspended or expelled. Luz is currently litigating a matter in state court in which she is representing the plaintiffs who are challenging the lack of due process afforded in disciplinary school transfers to alternative placements.

Luz has presented on the School-to-Prison Pipeline in the St. Louis area on numerous occasions. She was appointed to, and currently serves on, the Juvenile Subcommittee of the Missouri Supreme Court’s Racial and Ethnic Fairness Commission. She also currently serves on the Advisory Board of the SoulFisher Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to respond to the needs of youth with incarcerated parents as well as to respond to the needs of those currently and formerly incarcerated. Luz is a member of the second cohort of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s Racial Justice Training Institute.

Prior to joining LSEM, Luz served as a litigation associate at Hogan Lovells, US LLP in New York for five years handling complex commercial litigation matters. Luz was awarded the firm’s 2013 Pro Bono Associate of the Year award for her Pro Bono work involving fair housing litigation and the representation of a death penalty defendant in post-conviction appeals. Luz has a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where she was a member of the California Law Review and the Executive Editor of the La Raza Law Journal. In addition, Luz was a visiting law student at New York University School of Law. She also has a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in International Migration Studies from the University of California, San Diego.


 Alvaro HuertaAs a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Alvaro M. Huerta works to defend and advance the rights of low-income immigrants and their family members through litigation, administrative advocacy, and community education. His practice includes litigation on due process, equal protection, and other civil rights, and he is currently co-counsel on cases challenging anti-immigrant state legislation. Before joining NILC as a Skadden Fellow in 2011, Mr. Huerta clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Alvaro participated in the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s Racial Justice Training Institute in 2016, and strives to incorporate a racial equity frame throughout his work. Mr. Huerta holds a B.S. from Yale College and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. He is the son and grandson of Mexican immigrants to the United States.


 Terry KeleherTerry Keleher is the Program Director of the Applied Research Center's Racial Justice Leadership Action Network. With over 30 years of experience in leadership development, community organizing, popular education, and strategic coaching, he provides racial justice training and consulting to organizations around the country. He has authored several reports and resources on racial equity, including Leadership & Race, the Racial Equity Impact Assessment Toolkit, Facing the Consequences: An Examination of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Public Schools, and the Illinois Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity. He is a a contributing writer at Colorlines.com, the online daily news site on race, politics, and culture, and he is a lead presenter for ARC's racial justice webinar series. He serves on the leadership team of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national network of white people organizing for racial justice. He coordinated the national ERASE initiative (Expose Racism and Advance School Excellence), has served on the Illinois Editorial Forum and the Human Relations Advisory Committee for the 2040 Chicago Regional Plan. He is a co-founder of the National Organizers Alliance and a certified coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. He has testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was a national recipient of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's Push for Excellence in Education Award. 


 Bill KennedyBill Kennedy is the Managing Attorney of the Sacarmento office of Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC), a position he has held since 1990. He has a 38-year history of advocacy in legal aid programs. Bill is a litigator and has tried cases in 23 county courts, federal courts, and state and federal appellate courts. His legal work has focuses primarily on civil rights, housing policy, and the nexus between the two. In recent years, he has moved his office to a community lawyering approach to delivery of services. He counseled local community groups on economic development including development of affordable housing, jobs, child care, and transportation.

In Sacramento, he has provided the legal support for the development of more than 500 units of single-family homes affordable to families earning as little as $20,000 per year; the creation of eight child care centers in low-income neighborhoods; the creation of the most successful welfare-to-work one-stop centers in the region, placing participants into jobs averaging $9.50 per hour with benefits; the creation of highly successful community Earned Income Tax Credit projects linked to Individual Development Accounts; and the development of more than 290 transitional hosuing units, in some cases leveraging surplus federal properties to do so. He is one of the founding board members of Quinn Cottages, a transitional hosuing program designed by the homeless that has in the past five years successfully moved sixteen families from homelessness to home ownership. Mr. Kennedy is also one of the architects of the Race Equity Project, which seeks to put tht tools of race conscious advocacy into the hands of community-level activists.


Chinh Q. Le is the Legal Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and currently serves as Co-Chair of the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers, a coalition of roughly 30 D.C.-based legal services programs. Immediately prior to joining Legal Aid in 2011, he was the Director of the Division on Civil Rights in the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, where he led the state’s enforcement of state and federal civil rights and family leave laws. Between 2001 and 2006, Chinh served as a Skadden Fellow and then Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. in New York. He spent the 2008-2009 academic year as a practitioner-in-residence at Seton Hall Law School and an adjunct associate research scholar at Columbia Law School, where he was affiliated with the Center for Institutional and Social Change. Chinh has also worked as a litigation associate at Jenner & Block LLP and started his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Walter K. Stapleton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.


 Maria MartinezMaria Martinez Sanchez is a staff attorney at the ACLU of New Mexico. Her work focuses on protecting the civil and constitutional rights of New Mexicans. Before becoming an attorney for the ACLU, Maria was a staff attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty where she used systemic advocacy to improve the living and working conditions of New Mexico’s agricultural workers.

Maria is the board president of Encuentro, a non-profit organization in Albuquerque that serves central New Mexico’s immigrant population. The organization provides educational opportunities for immigrants with the end goal of engaging and organizing its members around social and economic issues that affect their community.


Kimberly Jones Merchant is the director of education and the managing attorney of the Delta Office for the Mississippi Center. As the director of education, she leads the Center’s vision for quality and equitable education for all children. She also serves on her school board, which allows for a unique opportunity to play an importance role in the quality of education in her local community.

She attended the University of Southern Mississippi where she received a Bachelor of Science in English, and the University of Mississippi School Law where she received her Jurisprudence Doctorate. In September 1997, she was admitted to the Mississippi Bar.

After graduation, she moved to Mississippi Delta and began her law career in civil litigation for nine years. She then moved her focus to the criminal sector serving as assistant district attorney, where she served for five years fighting for the rights of domestic violence victims.

Merchant was recently selected as a Mississippi cohort in the Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network.


 john powellAs of January 1, 2012, Professor john a. powell is Director of the Haas Diversity Research Center (HDRC) and Robert D. Haas Chancellor's Chair in Equity and Inclusion at the University of California. From 2003 to the end of 2011 he was executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University and Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law. Under his direction, the Kirwan Institute has emerged as a national leader on research and scholarship related to race, structural racism, racialized space, and opportunity. He has been a leader in developing an "opportunity-based" housing model that provides a critical and creative framework for thinking about affordable housing, racialized space, and the many ways that housing influences other opportunity domains including education, health, health care, and employment. Professor powell is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties and the intersection of race with a wide range of issues including hosuing, education, poverty, democracy, and identity. He has written extensively on a host of topics related to race, including structural racism, social justice, corporate power, implicit bias, regionalism, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, opportunity-based housing, integration, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa, and Brazil, racial identity, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is a highly regarded public speaker.

Previously, Professor powell founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. He also served as the Director of Legal Services of Greater Miami and was National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory. He has taught at numerous law schools including Ohio State University, Harvard University, and Columbia University. He earned an undergraduate degree in psychology at Stanford University and a J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall).

Professor powell has worked and lived in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa. He has also lived and worked in India and has done work in South America and Europe. He is one of th co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) and serves on the board of several national organizations.


Mona Tawatao is a Senior Litigator with Western Center on Law & Poverty. She has 23 years of legal services experience pursuing health, housing, land use and civil rights litigation and advocacy throughout California.  Her focus is on health law litigation to ensure that low income people have access to quality health care.  She was a regional counsel for 12 years with Legal Services of Northern California where she oversaw its major land use and housing litigation and advocacy and was co-creator and co-coordinator of its Race Equity Project.   In her decade at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Mona focused on affordable housing development and preservation.  Mona received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 1986 after which she clerked for the Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.  Mona has been a visiting professor at UC Davis School of Law and serves on the boards of the Equal Justice Society, Public Interest Law Project, and the Advisory Editorial Board of the Clearinghouse Review.


 Ada Shen-JaffeAda Shen-Jaffe currently serves as Professor from Practice at the Seattle University School of Law. She teaches a 1L elective, "Lawyering for a More Just and Humane World," a capstone course, the "Advanced Civil Equal Justice Seminar," and will teach "Poverty Law" in the fall of 2012. She also serves as senior advisor to the dean, helping the law school to strengthen its partnerships with the equal justice community, and to establish leadership development and support infrastructure models for the legal education and equal justice communities in ways that ensure inclusion, diversity, and cross-difference competence as justice imperatives.

Ms. Shen-Jaffe was director of Columbia Legal Services and Evergreen Legal Services, both statewide civil legal aid programs, from 1986 through 2004. She served from 1981-86 as Deputy Director of Evergreen Legal Services, and as a staff attorney from 1975 through 1981. The sizes and staffing of these organizations has varied from 1981 to the present, based on availability of funding sources, as well as reconfigurations to strengthen client service. The annual budgets managed by Ms. Shen-Jaffe have ranged from $7 million to $12.8 million, at staffing levels between 90 and 135 in 11 to 24 office and special project locations throughout Washington State. Ms. Shen-Jaffe helped to establish the state supreme court-created Access to Justice Board, the Alliance for Equal Justice, state funding for civil legal aid, and Legal Aid for Washington Fund, the statewide collaborative fundraising umbrella organization. She has championed initiatives to further the goal of equal justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities, and fostered strong equal justice commitments by the judicial, executive, and legislative entitites and the justice system as a whole.