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Defender Council

The Defender Council advises the Board of Directors regarding policy and programs relating to the provision of defender legal services. It reviews matters of interest to defender organizations, recommends policy statements and public positions to the Board of Directors, as well as reviewing requests for participation in amicus curiae on defender related issues in the name of NLADA. Those elected or appointed to the Defender Council must maintain current individual NLADA membership throughout their terms on the council.


Click Here for Defender Council Materials


  • Aisha McWeay, Chairperson
    Tulsa, OK
  • Danny Engelberg, Vice Chairperson
    New Orleans, LA
  • Kevin D. Coker
    Houston, TX
  • Kenneth Days III
    Atlanta, GA
  • Eddie Ellis
    Washington, DC
  • Robyn Hasan-Simpson
    Atlanta, GA
  • Stan Hickman
    New York City, NY
  • Martesha Johnson Moore
    Nashville, TN
  • Angela Kilpatrick
    Chicago, IL
  • Stacey Lannert
    St. Louis, MO
  • Katherine Mayer
    Austin, TX
  • Ellen McDonnell
    Martinez, CA
  • Jeffrey Wright
    Des Moines, IA

Defender Council Committees

These committees advance the objectives and help fulfill the duties of the Defender Council, especially by making recommendations to the group on specific areas.      

Executive Committee
The Executive Committee serves as a steering committee for the Defender Council coordinating and providing oversight of NLADA’s defender work and sections and represents the Defender Council in between meetings.

Training & Leadership Development
The Training & Leadership Development Committee identifies and addresses training and leadership development needs in the defender community, including identifying and recruiting a broad array of effective and diverse trainers.

Standards & Best Practices 
The Standards & Best Practices Committee identifies and develops indigent defense related standards, guidelines, opinions and best practices to ensure that indigent clients in the criminal justice system receive high quality legal representation.

The Amicus Committee writes or recruit writers to compose appellate briefs that promote law reform on indigent defense and related legal matters.

Defender Sections

Defender sections provide members with an opportunity to focus on specialized skills and topics, enhance communication and information sharing among occupational and other affinity groups, and issue policy statements and take public positions on relevant issues on behalf of the section. Defender sections include:

American Council of Chief Defenders

The American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD) is a national community of public defense leaders dedicated to securing a fair justice system and ensuring high quality legal representation for people facing loss of life, freedom, or family.  A practice section of NLADA, ACCD draws from NLADA’s network of defenders to bring together chief and deputy chiefs of diverse indigent defense programs,  including public defender offices, assigned counsel systems, and contract systems. ACCD members collaborate through a listserv and annual conferences.  Learn more about ACCD.


The Appellate Section provides a forum for attorneys who handle criminal appeals to keep up to date on legal developments and obtain case-related assistance. 

Black Public Defender Association

The Black Public Defender Association (BPDA) is a new section within the NLADA defender community, and it is dedicated to the recruitment, support and development of Black defenders that advocate on behalf of indigent populations in the legal system. We recognize the extreme over-representation of low-income Black people in the legal system, and the under-representation of Black advocates in the public defense profession. Our goal is to promote diversity and inclusion within the public defender community.  Learn more about BPDA

Death Penalty Litigation Section

The Death Penalty Litigation Section provides a forum for mitigation specialists, defense investigators, and defense attorneys who handle capital cases to keep up–to-date on legal developments and obtain case-related assistance.  Each year the section sponsors Life in the Balance, a nationally renowned capital defense training program that gathers the leading practitioners and experts from across the country. Section members regularly teach at Life in the Balance and other training programs for the death penalty defense community.

National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists

The National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists (NASAMS) is the only national organization devoted to the educational and professional development of mitigation specialists and sentencing advocates. NASAMS offers national and regional trainings, individual consultation, an internet forum and listserv, and other member services designed to support and enhance an effective mitigation practice.  Learn more about NASAMS

National Alliance of Indigent Defense Educators 

The National Alliance of Indigent Defense Educators (NAIDE) brings together indigent defense training directors and professionals to create premier programs in continuing legal education. NAIDE members share the latest legal developments, adult learning techniques, and breakthroughs in web-based and other distance-learning technologies through a listserv and Train-the-Trainers sessions at NLADA conferences.  NAIDE also advises other NLADA sections, such as the American Council of Chief Defenders, on best practices in defender training. Learn more about NAIDE.