NLADA Mourns the Passing of Greg Knoll, Former Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego 

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Release Date: 
Friday, October 6, 2023

Washington (October 6, 2023) - The National Legal Aid & Defender Association joins the legal community in honoring the life and legacy of Greg Knoll, former executive director of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, who died on August 27. Knoll’s celebration of life will take place on Saturday, Oct. 7 in San Diego.  Knoll served as the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego (LASSD) for 50 years, helping hundreds of thousands of people during his lifetime.  

The headline of Knoll’s obituary in the San Diego Union-Tribune read, “He saved so many lives of San Diegans.” There could be no truer statement, and the NLADA and civil legal communities are deeply saddened by his death. 

Knoll was widely admired and respected by his peers in California and across the country, known especially for his innovations in partnership with community to revolutionize the delivery of public health care to low-income people. In its statement on Greg’s passing, LASSD noted his leadership in founding the Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy in 1999 and service as Chair and Co-Chair of the Joint Professional and Consumer Advocacy (JPCA) Committee for the Healthy San Diego program. 

But Knoll did not only partner with other human services providers. At the heart of everything he did was a strongly held commitment to servant leadership, and he poured his heart and soul into serving clients and staff, alike. His life was defined by his selfless devotion to fighting for equity and equality, and he was a committed advocate, servant, and mentor. 

In addition to his leadership in California and the national legal aid community, Greg was a great friend of NLADA. He was always a go-to source for us on so many issues and served on the Board of Directors of the NLADA Service Corporation.

Jo-Ann Wallace, President and CEO of NLADA Mutual Insurance Co., RRG shared:  

“Greg was the personification of what it means to advance equity and justice – it came through every day in how he treated and supported people, as well as through his passionate, effective, leadership and advocacy.  Greg understood the role that insurance plays in the lives of clients and equal justice professionals alike; his expert leadership has made an indelible mark on the NLADA Insurance Program, in the equal justice community and for countless people across the country.”  

April Frazier Camara, NLADA President and CEO stated:  

“Greg was a legendary member of our community who passionately served under-resourced clients and communities through his leadership at Legal Aid Society of San Diego for nearly 50 years.  His contribution to the national community of equal justice is immeasurable.”  

Greg was also a dear friend for his colleagues at NLADA: 

Radhika Singh, NLADA’s Vice President of Civil Legal Services and Strategic Policy Initiatives, said of Greg: 

“He embodied so many ideals. He gave selflessly, and he was kind. As a woman of color, entering any leadership position in the legal space is challenging, but I knew I always had Greg’s support, and that meant the world to me. He’d show it in subtle ways – a smile, a giggle, a kind email, the first to laugh at a joke. Greg was always the first to celebrate accomplishments and victories, and there was a twinkle in his eye and brightness in his smile – you just knew he was genuine.” 

Don Saunders, former NLADA Vice President of Policy, who worked with Greg for more than 30 years, noted: 

“What always struck me about Greg was his unfailing devotion to ensuring that he and his colleagues gave voice and power to the clients and communities they serve in the San Diego area.  He could bring a bit of Jersey flavor to his work there, with the hard edges not always softened by SoCal’s laid-back atmosphere.  I think that part of his personality made him all the more effective in his life’s. work.  He was a true trailblazer in ensuring access to health care for all Californians.  What better tribute to a life well spent than to see so many families enjoy healthy lives because Greg passed their way.  "He was such a delightful guy to be around - you always felt he had your back if you ever needed support.  I miss him deeply.” 

Greg Knoll leaves an incredible legacy as an advocate and colleague. How lucky we have been to have known him. 


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America's oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state, and local levels, playing a leadership role in the creation of public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training, and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.