NLADA Staff

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Working with NLADA offers the opportunity to work with a staff with a diverse talents and backgrounds.  Learn about individual members of our team below.

Meet our Staff

Vernina Ali

Executive Assistant

Vernina Ali is an executive assistant with over 20 years of experience, who supports the President and CEO. Prior to joining NLADA, Vernina has worked with senior leadership at companies like Equifax, Kimberly-Clark, and American Express. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Walden University along with certifications in OBM and Project Management.

Alison Bloomquist

Vice President, Strategic Alliances & Innovation

She has been a committed public defender for nearly 20 years. Alison served six years as the Director of Training and Education for the Connecticut Public Defender Service. Through her alliances with defenders and leaders from across the country, she launched several new programs like Dialogues for Change, an intensive multi-week anti-racism course, and Defender Lab, a week-long trial skills program where new and experienced defenders can test and try on innovative approaches to litigation. Before moving to Connecticut, Alison served for over ten years as a staff public defender in greater Boston, and two years as Attorney-in-Charge of the Norfolk Superior Court office at the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services. She has tried numerous felony cases to verdict across eastern Massachusetts and Connecticut and has appeared before the Massachusetts Appeals Court. She is a published author on trial skills and is faculty at the National Criminal Defense College. Alison is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Boston University. She currently lives in West Hartford with her wife, three children, and their silver lab Cooper.

LuTisha Buckner

Senior Program Associate, Strategic Alliances & Innovation

LuTisha Buckner, MPA is dedicated to public service working in nonprofits, education, and local government. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville’s School of Urban & Public Affairs, with a master's degree in public administration. She is the vice chair of the Kentucky Health Justice Network, an organization focused on reproductive justice through direct support, education, and outreach for Kentuckians.

Christopher Buerger

Chief Counsel, Civil Legal Services

Chris Buerger is NLADA’s Chief Counsel for Civil Legal Services. In this role, he advises programs on regulatory and compliance matters, particularly as they relate to LSC restrictions and requirements. He also assists members on emerging issues in legal aid related to technology. Prior to joining NLADA, Chris spent most of his career fighting on behalf of low-income parents in the family courts of New York City, first at The Center for Family Representation and then with The Bronx Defenders. Before that, he worked and interned in New York, Louisiana, Oregon, and Ghana. Chris is a graduate of Columbia Law School. During law school, he participated in the Human Rights Clinic and the Community Defense Externship. He received an M.P.P from Oregon State University, where his research focused on quantitative methods, rural communities, and child welfare policy. He also holds a B.A. from American University with a major in literature and a minor in chemistry.

Cherise Burdeen

Vice President, Mission Support

Cherise Fanno Burdeen has spent more than 25 years working to improve public safety policies and practices across the country. After earning a bachelor’s in public administration from Miami University (Ohio) and a master’s in criminal justice from Indiana University, she began her career with the Department of Justice. After fieldwork that included time with the Safer Foundation in Chicago and post-9/11 federal service with the Department of Homeland Security, Cherise spent fifteen years with the Pretrial Justice Institute. Her work included the development of innovative strategies to raise awareness of justice issues, amassing a broad constituency of criminal justice stakeholder groups, providing technical assistance and training on policy reforms, and engaging in communications and media efforts. She has extensive experience with strategic planning, initiative management, and change efforts across both organizations and within the criminal justice system. Her commitments are to advancing laws and policies that center equity and well-being, operationalizing the vision of those closest to problems, and unlearning white supremacy culture.

Rabiah Burks

Vice President, Communications & Team Building

Rabiah Alicia Burks, Vice President, Communications & Team Building, is a strategic communications executive who has dedicated her career to educating the public about criminal justice reform issues through traditional and non-traditional methods. She has led communications at FAMM Foundation and the ABA Criminal Justice Section and is a member of a several organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, Washington Association of Black Journalist and the National Press Club. Rabiah earned her Bachelor of Arts in History & African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Journalism from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Hazie Crespo

Deputy Director, Technology Infrastructure

Hazie Crespo oversees various technology related projects to better support NLADA members and staff. As a seasoned project manager, she has managed the implementation of NLADA's new association management system, Impexium, and NLADA's Learning Lab, Elevate. Prior to joining the team, Hazie served as a school administrator supporting culture and developing multi-tiered systems of support for all students and families. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience at Wheaton College, MA and her MEd from Boston University. She loves to travel and bike with StreetsCallingDC biking group.

Katherine Denman

Deputy Director, Development

Kate, Deputy Director, Development, has been with NLADA since 2018 as a member of the Development team, working on fundraising campaigns- including our Annual Exemplar Gala, spearheading sponsorships for our annual conferences, working on projects with our Corporate Advisory Committee and partnering closely with the Membership team as well. Prior to joining the non-profit world, she spent 10 years working on the Hill in a Congressional office as Deputy Chief of Staff, where during her tenure she handled various policy areas including education, healthcare and equal justice issues. After graduating from law school, she spent a year working with the AmeriCorps-AVAP program in NH as a Victim Advocate, helping victims of domestic and sexual violence deal with the court system. She is a native of West Virginia. She received her B.A. from Wittenberg University and her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati.

Otisa Dozier

Senior Program Associate, Finance & Operations

Otisa currently oversees the smooth administration of NLADA’s offices while also serving as amember of the Racial Equity Initiatives (REI) team. Her areas of responsibility include coordination of Board events for both NLADA and NLADA’s Insurance Program as well as REI events. More recently, Otisa held a key role as a member of NLADA’s Finance team. Prior to joining NLADA, she was at the American Society of Landscape Architects, where she was responsible for all aspects of membership correspondence and data fulfillment and provided assistance with the implementation of the recruitment and retention programs. Otisa also worked at The American Society of Association Executives as an administrative assistant and later as administration coordinator in its Education Department, working with human resources, membership, and marketing departments.

Dr. Patricia Foxen

Director of Community Research

Dr. Foxen is an accomplished researcher and anthropologist, bringing extensive experience from academic, policy, and program environments. Her expertise spans various areas, including immigrant and refugee well-being, Latino youth and families, culture and mental health, youth justice, Indigenous communities, and Central American migrations.

Having served as the Deputy Director of Research at UnidosUS for 14 years, Dr. Foxen oversaw policy-oriented research and contributed significantly to the well-being of Latino children and families. Her anthropological research, focusing on the generational impact of violence and displacement on Indigenous migrants from Guatemala to the U.S., has resulted in influential publications, including the book "In Search of Providence: Transnational Mayan Identities."

In addition to her academic achievements, Dr. Foxen has taught Medical and Cultural Anthropology at prestigious institutions such as Vanderbilt University and the University of Toronto. Her dedication to public service is evident through her work on various boards and advisory bodies, including the Population Reference Bureau, Child Trends Hispanic Institute Advisory Council, the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, and the Alianza for Latino Youth Justice.

Dr. Foxen holds a doctoral degree in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology from McGill University, a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Bryn Mawr College.

April Frazier Camara

President & CEO

April serves as President & CEO of NLADA. She has been a champion for equal justice for two decades. A graduate of Howard School of Law, she worked as a public defender in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee and at the Public Defender Service (PDS) for the District of Columbia before joining NLADA. She has been a part of the NLADA leadership team for the past five years, most recently serving as Vice President for Strategic Alliances & Innovation and prior to that Chief of Lifelong Learning. She is a co-founder of NLADA’s newest section, the Black Public Defender Association (BPDA), which aims to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in public defense and promote racial equity in criminal legal systems.  As the 2020 Chair of the American Bar Association’s influential Criminal Justice Section, she led the adoption of important ABA policy on race equity and prosecution, raising the age for juvenile prosecutions, reparations, abolition of private prisons, and other complex criminal legal issues. In addition to her J.D. from Howard University, she holds a B.A. in from Tennessee State University.

Yvette Hatcher

Director, Finance

Yvette Hatcher is the Director of Finance at NLADA with over 15+ years of experience with the organization.  Prior to joining NLADA she worked for Hudson Cook, LLP, and attended Jacksonville State University where she studied Accounting/Finance.  Yvette supports the organization in directing budget and cost controls, and accounting analysis and procedures. She maintains the relationship with external auditors and prepares detailed account analyses. Yvette implements policies related to financial reporting, budgeting, accounting, and payroll activities.

Abdul-Hamid Kiawen

Deputy Director, Finance

Abdul-Hamid Kiawen, Deputy Director of Finance at NLADA, enhances the Finance Department's capabilities by collaborating with the Director of Finance and the Vice President of Mission Support to establish and implement financial goals and policies. His expertise spans financial reporting, grant management, budgeting, accounting, and payroll.

Before NLADA, Abdul managed payroll and data at the Jewish Council for the Aging, ensuring timely payments and grant compliance. He also held roles at Morgan State University and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, where he oversaw administrative and finance functions, including budget management.

Beginning his career at J-mart Inc., Abdul served as an Accountant and Chief Accountant, overseeing financial matters. With over 15 years of experience following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and multiple degrees, Abdul is a seasoned professional with a strong problem-solving ability. His collaborative approach supports NLADA's mission.

David Miller

Director, Policy

David Miller works to promote state and federal policy that expands access to justice for those who cannot afford to pay for legal counsel. He represents civil legal aid and public defender organizations in national conversations and manages NLADA’s advocacy across a range of issues of importance to the equal justice community, including federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation, state and local pretrial reform, and the preservation and implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. David is the author of NLADA’s 2018 report PSLF and the Justice System: How Eliminating PSLF Would Harm American Communities.

Prior to joining NLADA in 2013, David worked at LandAid, a foundation in the UK focused on supporting young people who are homeless. David has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nottingham and an M.Sc. in Democracy and Comparative Politics from University College London.

Aileen Moffatt

Vice President, External Relations

Aileen is NLADA's Vice President for External Relations. She is a seasoned fundraiser and a problem solver with solid organizational skills. Prior to joining NLADA, Aileen opened her development consulting practice with a focus on helping organizations adjust or prepare for changing circumstances. She also served as Vice President of Development at Reading is Fundamental. Aileen holds a PhD in history from the University of Manitoba plus MA and undergraduate degrees from the University of Saskatchewan.

Michael Mrozinski

Legal Director, Defender Legal Services and Strategic Policy Initiatives

Michael Mrozinski is the Legal Director for Defender Legal Services and Strategic Policy Initiatives at NLADA. He supports the work of public defenders nationwide and improvements to public defense systems through research, policy, training and technical assistance, and development of resources and toolkits to assist defenders and their clients. Michael was formerly NLADA’s Staff Attorney for Defender Legal Services. Prior to joining NLADA, he was a legal consultant at the National Juvenile Defender Center (now The Gault Center). His experience also spans a broad range of other topic areas, including human rights, women’s rights, international law, racial and ethnic discrimination, LGBTQ+ rights, labor rights, and workers’ compensation and personal injury law. Michael received his B.A. degrees in Political Science and Linguistics from the University of Chicago and his J.D. and Certificate in Transnational Law from Georgetown University Law Center.

Keri Nash

Director, Racial Equity Initiatives

Keri A. Nash, Esq., Director of the Racial Equity Initiative/Racial Equity Institute. Prior to joining NLADA, Keri was a policy analyst at the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, a staff attorney at the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and the Counsel for the Racial Justice Initiative of TimeBanks USA. Before graduating summa cum laude from UDC David A Clarke School of Law, she worked at Housing Counseling Services, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Congressman Brad Carson (D-OK). Received her BA in Politics from New York University, she was raised in Brooklyn, NY, and is a first generation American from Grenada. Keri is an attorney who has spent her career focused on impacting policy on the federal, state, and local levels to improve the lives of people of color and other marginalized.

Chandra Nicholson

Deputy Director, Member Services

Chandra is the Deputy Director for Member Services focusing on member engagement support and overseeing the registration function for our conferences and trainings. Chandra provides stellar customer service for NLADA members, while also focusing on recruitment and retention, member section engagement, and maintaining NLADA’s Association Management System (AMS). Chandra has been with NLADA for 20+ years and has also held the roles of Sr. Program Assistant (Member Services) and receptionist/administrative assistant. She is a graduate of Prince George’s Community College.

Radhika Singh

Vice President, Civil Legal Services & Strategic Policy Initiatives

Radhika leads NLADA’s civil legal services and policy divisions. She represents the civil legal aid and public defense communities in advocacy and education efforts in national conversations and with government entities, advocating for federal policies to integrate civil legal aid into cross-sector collaborations that serve low-income and vulnerable populations and advance federal objectives. Her focus is both on substantive issues in the delivery of legal services and increasing resources to support legal assistance.

Radhika has served on various national task forces, including the American Bar Association Task Force on Legal Needs Arising out of the 2020 Pandemic and the Legal Services Corporation’s Opioid and Rural Justice Task Forces. She currently serves as a liaison to the ABA’s Standing Committees on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense and Pro Bono and Public Service, and its Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, and serves on the ABA’s Task Force on Eviction, Housing Stability, and Equity. Prior to her current role, Radhika served as NLADA’s chief of civil legal services. She previously worked in engagement and advocacy at Equal Justice Works and as a staff attorney at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, focusing on constitutional and civil rights litigation and advocacy. She received her B.A. from American University and her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

Maria Soto

SVP & Board Secretary

Maria serves as SVP and Board Secretary of NLADA. Prior to joining the NLADA staff Maria served on the NLADA Board of Directors. Maria’s civil legal aid experience includes service as the Director of Columbus Legal Aid Society and Deputy Director of Legal Services of Greater Miami. In addition to her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law, Maria holds a Master in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington and a B.A. from Barry University.

Luise Stone

Senior Program Associate, Civil Legal Services

Bianca Washington

Deputy Director, Digital Communications

Bianca Washington, Deputy Director of Digital Communications, supports NLADA’s digital communication strategy and execution. Prior to joining the NLADA family, Bianca supported other non-profits' fundraising and digital marketing efforts such as So Others Might Eat (SOME), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and No Kid Hungry. Bianca completed the Digital Marketing program at Full Sail University in 2017.

Liza Welch

Program Associate, Development and Membership

Liza is a Program Associate for NLADA's Development and Membership teams. Prior to joining NLADA, she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Forensic Criminology with minors in Victimology and Psychology from Anna Maria College.

Tiara Wood

Senior Program Associate, Communications

Tiara Wood is the Communications Senior Program Associate. For the past several years, Tiara has been creating and deploying NLADA’s content strategies and managing NLADA’s accounts across all channels. Prior to joining NLADA, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Furman University while playing on Furman’s Division I basketball team. A native of the DMV, she has enjoyed coaching the city’s youth in basketball for more than a decade.