NASAMS Executive Committee

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Founded in 1992, the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates & Mitigation Specialists (NASAMS) is the only national organization devoted to the educational and professional development of sentencing advocates and mitigation specialists. Contact the NASAMS Executive Committee to learn more about our organization and our profession.

Lori James-Townes

Lori James-Townes, MSW, LCSW

NASAMS Chairperson
State of Maryland Office of the Public Defender
Baltimore, MD
[email protected]

James-Townes joined Towson (Family Studies and Community Development) in 2017. Professor James-Townes’ has over 20 years of clinical practice, leadership and management experience. Prior to joining the Towson family, her most recent position, was Director Social Work, Leadership and Program Development @ Maryland Office of Public Defender which as more than 800 employees. While in this position, she demonstrated her ability to help others grow in the areas of teamwork, leadership and management. She also led the agency’s social work staff, consultants, and interns.

Lori is also President of Expand-Now, through this entitiy she is able to fulfill her lifelong passion of adding value to others. Professor James-Townes’ passion is adding value to others. She has focused her attention on personal and professional development. Professor James-Townes has developed programs that are now national models for other agencies. In 2015, The Daily Record Newspaper named her as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women. As a speaker, her presence is requested both nationally and internationally to speak about: Mitigation, Storytelling, Leadership, Team Building, Implicit Bias in the Criminal Justice System, Secondary Trauma, and other clinical areas.

Professor James-Townes’ has held various leadership positions on national organizations and Boards of Directors. Her commitment to growth has been recognized as organizations have appointed her to serve as Conference Chair for several national conferences and training programs.  Lori also serves as a faculty member for the following national and regional leadership development, trials skills, and/or trainings, including but not limited to: Gideon’s Promise, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Administrative Offices of the Courts (Training Branch), YMCA of Central Maryland and The National Association of Public Defenders. 

Betsy BibenBetsy Biben, MSW, LICSW, ACSW

NASAMS Vice Chairperson
Office of Rehabilitation & Development, Public Defender Service for D.C.
[email protected]

A Forensic and Clinical Social Worker, Betsy Biben is the Chief of the Office of Rehabilitation and Development (ORD) where she has served her clients and PDS since 1982. Betsy has dedicated her life to empowering people arrested in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Throughout her career, she has prepared sentencing reports and/or testimony before courts in Washington, D.C. (local and federal), Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama and has trained judges, attorneys, and law and social work students on a national and local basis. Betsy is a founding member currently on the Executive Committee of NASAMS, a member of the NLADA Defender Counsel and the Client Council, and. She also serves as a board member for the Southern Center for Human Rights and Voices for a Second Chance in D.C. Betsy is also a former consultant for The Sentencing Project and the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA). She has worked in the criminal justice system since 1974.

Betsy received her Master in Social Work from the University of Connecticut and a postgraduate certificate from the Washington School of Psychiatry. She is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) and is a licensed social worker in D.C. (LICSW).

Betsy BibenTerri L. Collins, LCSW-C

Terri earned a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland in Baltimore and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Towson University. She is currently the Acting Chief of the Social Work Division at the Office of the Public Defender and Regional Social Work Manager. Her teaching experience includes the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners- approved as a supervisor, and adjunct faculty in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Coppin State University and Morgan University, as well as Salisbury University. 



Betsy BibenSamuel Dworkin, M.A.

Samuel earned a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University. He is currently an investigator and mitigation specialist for Dworkin Investigations. He is an adjunct professor at Marymount University and has worked as an investigator/mitigation specialist at the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office. He has conducted numerous presentations regarding mitigation and criminal defense. Samuel has received the Marie Deans Award and the Distinguished Alumni's Award from Marymount University Forensic Psychology Department.



Rebecca Bowman-Rivas, MSW, LCSW-C

NASAMS Treasurer
Bowman-Rivas Consulting, LLC
Columbia, MD
[email protected]

Rebecca holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MSW from the University of Maryland-Baltimore.  She worked with homeless individuals with serious and persistent mental illness after college.  As a social work student, she trained in a maximum security forensics hospital and a treatment-oriented prison.  She worked for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender for several years after graduate school, doing mitigation and alternative sentencing with felony defendants in Baltimore City.  Since 2002, she has worked at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, running the Law & Social Work Services Program, providing social work services for Law Clinic Clients and training graduate student interns.  The scope of practice at the Clinic is broad and includes immigration cases, services to persons living with HIV/AIDS, tax and consumer advocacy clinic, and a number of criminal justice-related clinics.  Students also provide brief advice and referrals to a twice-a-week walk-in legal clinic, staffed by law students and volunteer attorneys.  Since January, 2013, she has supervised the “Unger Project”, which provides release planning and post-release case management for individuals who served 35-50 years in prison. Since 2004, she has maintained Bowman-Rivas Consulting, LLC, a private practice focusing on forensic social work in state and federal cases.  Services are provided in adult and juvenile courts, at all stages of a case, from pretrial to post-conviction, and include evaluation and assessment, release planning, sentencing advocacy, mitigation and expert testimony.  Types of matters range from misdemeanors to felonies, including capital cases.  

Sarah ForteSarah Forte

NASAMS Secretary
Southern Center for Human Rights
Atlanta, GA
[email protected]

Sarah Forte, paralegal/investigator, joined SCHR in June 2006 upon graduating from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. At SCHR, Sarah investigates death penalty cases, at the trial level and in post-conviction proceedings. Prior to joining SCHR, Sarah worked for the Medill Innocence Project investigating possible wrongful murder convictions and other miscarriages of justice. In July 2015, Sarah became a member of the Executive Committee of the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists, a branch of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association.

James TibenskyVivianne Guevara, MSW

Vivianne earned her Master of Science in Social Work at Columbia University School of Social Work in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at New York University. She is a licensed by the State of New York with a Master of Social Work. She is the Director of Client Resources and Mitigation Services with the Federal Defenders of New York in Brooklyn. Vivianne has been a presenter, panelist and faculty member at a variety of conferences and workshops regarding social work, restorative justice, non-capital sentencing mitigation, and other topics.





Lisa AndreasLisa Andreas, MSW

NASAMS Corresponding Secretary
Andreas Associates, LLC
Madison, WI
[email protected]

In 2004, Ms. Andreas founded the sentencing consulting firm of Andreas Associates, LLC and opened an office in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.

Ms. Andreas has been an active member of the National Association of Sentencing and Mitigation Specialists (NASAMS) since 2002. She has served on both the Annual Conference Committee and the Executive Board, and has facilitated the organization’s listserv.  Ms. Andreas has presented at many different local and national conferences sharing her knowledge of successful sentencing strategies and other related topics.

Besides her work as a sentencing consultant, Ms. Andreas also is a member of several different organizations that work towards lowering the prison population and reducing the racial disparity within the justice system.  Ms. Andreas also acts as an advocate judge for Dane County Youth Court.

Ms. Andreas is the recipient of the NASAMS 2009 Presidential Award in recognition of her “extraordinary dedication to the work of the Executive Committee and the Alliance.”

Jennifer KamorowskiCurt Watkins, MBA

Curt Watkins is the Chief of Adult Social Services at the Defender Association. With 24 years of experience and accomplishments in social services, Curt developed a broad range of innovative and award winning programs in criminal defense in Montgomery County and Philadelphia. Curt is a driven mentor and coach and is also an accomplished writer and public speaker who leads workshops and seminars around the country in criminal justice reform.

Curt’s innovative programs such as the Defender HUB, and his partnership with the amazing app DONAFY resulted in great advancements in the way Public Defenders connect clients to needed services. As Chief of Adult Social Services with the Defender Association, Curt’s mission is to end routine and unnecessary incarceration by blending elements of Social Work and Innovative Technology with Criminal Defense, helping to connect people to smart and effective community-based solutions.



Anna Bulkin, MSW, LICSW

 A. Bulkin Consulting.
 PO Box
 Newton, MA 02464
 [email protected]


Anna Bulkin (MSW, LICSW) has done defense based mitigation and sentencing work for over 20 years.  In 2018 she returned to private practice (which she had previously been in for 11 years) where she does death penalty mitigation work, primarily in the federal courts, and  sentencing advocacy in the state and federal courts. From 2014-2018 she was the Director of Social Work for the Youth Advocacy Division (YAD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Massachusetts’ statewide public defenders office, responsible for leading, supervising,  training, and evaluating the YAD Social Service Advocates (SSAs) in nine public defender offices across Massachusetts and serving as a core member of the division’s management team. She previously worked for YAD from 1997-2003 as the supervising social worker.  In this role,  she worked collaboratively with a multi-disciplinary legal team and supervised and trained social work students in sentencing advocacy. From 1994-1997, she assessed and helped determine the most appropriate treatment plans for juvenile males in a secure juvenile detention facility  who were among the most serious offenders in the state.

Michael Moore

Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland
Baltimore, MD
[email protected]

Michael Everett Moore has over 10 years of experience in forensic social work. He currently works as a Mitigation Investigator for the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the District of Maryland. He is responsible for developing mitigation reports that have had a positive impact in sentencing. He has successfully advocated for clients to get into alternative to incarceration programs and assisted in trial preparation. For the past three years, Michael has been the Field Instructor for the University of Maryland, School of Social Work. He supervised students’ training with the objective of developing a professional competent social worker. He was recognized for developing creative techniques in teaching his students how to effectively interview clients. Previously, Michael has worked at the Legal Aid Society in the Criminal Defense Division in Manhattan, NY as a Forensic Social Worker. He provided treatment recommendations to the Court by conducting a biopsychosocial assessment in efforts to prevent recidivism. Michael received a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Hampton University in May 1994. In June 1998, he received a Master of Social Work Degree at Hunter College - City University of New York.

Shannon Keyes Woodward Shannon Keyes Woodward, MSW, LCSW

SKW Consulting, LLC
[email protected]

Shannon Keyes Woodward, MSW, LCSW received her BA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and her MSW from the University of Maryland.  Her areas of specialization are capital mitigation development, mental health defense strategy, and community networking/ outreach. Ms. Woodward has previously held positions in the Maryland Public Defender’s Felony Trial Unit (Baltimore); Capital Trial Assistance Unit (Chicago); and the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission (Alexandria). Ms. Woodward was appointed to the NASAMS Executive Committee in 2014 and has presented at local and national conferences. After nearly 12 years in public service, Ms. Woodward started her own private practice in 2016 for mitigation and sentencing advocacy. She is currently working with public and private counsel in the development and integration of mitigation evidence and themes in several capital cases and JLWOP resentencings.