EXECUTIVE BOARD (2021-2022)
Jonathan Roberts (he/they) is a 3L originally from Southern California. He studied Organizational Behavior at Harvard College, where he was actively involved in housing and labor advocacy on campus. In between college and law school, Jonathan lived and worked in Detroit, advocating for minimum wage increases and organizing against tax foreclosures and water shutoffs in the city.
Jonathan spent his 1L summer working remotely for the Federal Defenders Program based in Chicago. Jonathan split his 2L summer clerking remotely for the Public Defenders Service for the District of Columbia and working at the Urban Farming Institute, an urban farm in Mattapan.
As President, Jonathan builds on the anti-racist initiatives created by his predecessor. He is working with the board and staff to develop an abolition working group, which will push the boundaries of traditional client representation and examine the “attorney-client” relationship as a function of the carceral state. The Defenders community (which comprises both students and clients) is predominately black and brown; is multilingual; and encompasses various migration statuses, incarceration histories, and identities. He hopes to provide students with the resources to hold these realities.
Laura (she/hers) is a 3L with roots in Chicago, Miami, and New Orleans. In 2015, she received her B.A. in Latin American Studies and International Development from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. After graduating from Tulane, Laura stayed in New Orleans working at the Orleans Public Defenders in both their Conflicts Division, and later as a Staff Investigator.
Laura spent her 1L summer at the MacArthur Justice Center in Chicago working on wrongful conviction, police conduct, and pre-trial detention reform litigation. She spent her 2L summer interning with the Bronx Defenders in their Criminal Defense Practice. At the Bronx Defenders, she helped represent low-income clients accused of crimes and therefore facing multisystem involvement (i.e., housing, immigration, and family regulation).
At HLS, Laura is also a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB). As an HLAB student attorney, she represents clients experiencing wage theft, housing insecurity, and family regulation/separation.
Olivia is a 2L and the Community Director of Harvard Defenders. She is also a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and she is the Public Interest Committee Chair for the Black Law Students Association. Last summer, Olivia worked with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, and before law school, she interned with the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Olivia attended Georgia State University for undergraduate, where she graduated with a B.A in Political Science in 2020.
CASE ASSIGNMENT DIRECTORS
Isa (she/hers) is a 2L who now returns to Massachusetts for law school after spending the past 8 years in California. She received a B.S. and M.S. in environmental science at Stanford University, and spent the years before law school alternating between environmental justice work and helping self-represented litigants in Family Court as an AmeriCorps fellow.
At HLS, she is also a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and a member of the Harvard Black Law Students Association. During her 1L summer, Isa worked at the Detroit Justice Center and deepened her commitment to movement lawyering.
Alisha (she/hers) is a 2L from the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas. She received a B.A. in government from Cornell University, where she developed a strong interest in juvenile justice and youth advocacy.
Alisha spent her 1L summer at the ACLU of Missouri and worked on cases involving possible First, Fourth, and Eighth Amendment violations. At HLS, Alisha is also a member of the South Asian Law Students Association, the Prison Legal Assistance Project, and the Harvard Mediation Program.
CORI SEALING DIRECTORS
Apoorva (she/her) is a 2L originally from Singapore, with roots in Colorado. She received a B.A. in Political Science and Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Chicago, where she was an abolitionist student organizer with #CareNotCops.
Apoorva spent her 1L summer interning at the Federal Defenders of New York, where she helped represent low-income clients facing federal criminal charges.
At HLS, she is an organizer with the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign and remains committed to movement-informed and client-centered lawyering.
Chloe (she/hers) is a 3L from Texas. She majored in Public Policy Studies at Duke University. Prior to law school, Chloe worked at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., doing criminal justice policy research.
During law school, she has interned at the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Texas and the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York. She also serves as a Parole Hearing Coordinator for the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and Co-President of the Texas Club.
GENERAL BOARD (2021-2022)
Lydia (she/hers) is a 2L from Cincinnati, Ohio. She studied English and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Missouri, where she was also involved in organizing community teach-ins focused on racial justice and healing from racial traumas. It was in Missouri that Lydia gained her first exposure to movement lawyering, which occurred when she witnessed grassroots organizing during the Ferguson Uprisings.
Since her time at the University of Missouri, Lydia has been committed to building community care, crafting joy, and building a strong movement lawyering and abolitionist practice. She spent her 1L summer at the Community Justice Project, a movement lawyering organization based in Miami, Florida that allowed her to further these goals.
At HLS, Lydia is also an organizer with the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign, a student in the Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinic and the Crimmigration clinic, and an executive board member of the HLS Film Society.
As one of Defender’s Training Directors, Lydia is eager to make the complicated world of public defense more approachable to student attorneys through helpful trainings and is looking forward to infusing more community centered, trauma-informed, and abolitionist focused principles into trainings.
Carlos is a 2L from San Diego, California. A first-generation college student, he graduated from Santa Clara University in 2015 with a B.S. in Political Science and minors in Music and Sociology. Prior to law school, he worked on death penalty appeals as a capital defense investigator for the Habeas Corpus Resource Center. He also did trial work as a criminal defense investigator for the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.
Carlos spent his 1L summer at the MacArthur Justice Center as a Supreme Court and Appellate Intern, where he worked on appeals involving juvenile life sentences, police misconduct, and prison conditions.
This year at HLS, Carlos will also participate in the Institute to End Mass Incarceration Clinic and the Crimmigration Clinic.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS DIRECTOR
Mina is a daughter of the Nigerian Diaspora, but spent her most formative years in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Duke University in 2017, where she focused her independent research on prison and police abolitionist movements in Durham, NC.
Before law school, she worked as a community organizer in Durham, building grassroots campaigns for various issues including prison and police abolition, voting rights, and affordable housing. She spent her 1L summer at the Public Defender’s Office in Boston with the Committee for Public Counsel Services. She’s also a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.
Outside of law school, she’s an astrologer and yoga teacher.
LITMAN FELLOWSHIP DIRECTORS
Marième (she/her) is a 2L from Dakar, Senegal. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish. After Swarthmore, she spent two years in Denver advocating for detained immigrants with disabilities. Marième spent this past summer working at the Federal Public Defender Office in Boston, helping represent low-income individuals charged with committing federal crimes. At Harvard, Marième is a member of the Black Law Students Association and will participate in the Crimmigration Clinic.
Andrew (he/him) is a 2L from San Francisco, California. He graduated from Cornell in 2013 with a B.A. in government. After Cornell, Andrew worked in various communications and political roles for Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, and Robert Reich. Last summer, he worked at International Rights Advocates, representing the survivors of human rights abuses around the world.
Client Engagement Director
Jessica is a 2L originally from Northern Indiana. In college, she studied Sociology and Education. After graduating, Jessica worked in research and advocacy for education, juvenile justice, and child welfare reform at Connecticut Voices for Children.
Jessica spent her 1L summer at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights where she helped enforce federal civil rights laws. She is also a member of the Harvard Law Review. For fun, Jessica likes to do yoga and make ice cream.
SENIOR CLINICAL INSTRUCTOR
Since 1980, Attorney John Salsberg has been the clinical instructor at Harvard Defenders. John is an experienced trial lawyer, focusing on state and federal criminal litigation and academic discipline cases. His legal career started at the Public Defender office in Boston, until he went into private practice. He was also a part time faculty member at Boston College Law School.
John was a founding member and chair of Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, a not-for-profit organization coordinating the provision of private assigned counsel to indigent criminal defendants charged with offenses in the Suffolk County Superior and District Courts. He was a Board Member, and then Chair, of the Criminal Justice Act Board, which is responsible for managing the selection and performance of private attorneys who take appointments in the First Circuit. John is experienced in handling high profile murder cases and has taught at continuing legal education seminars and authored articles in the area of criminal defense practice.
In 1998, John received the Edward J. Duggan Award for “zealous advocacy and outstanding legal services to the poor” from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and has been recognized by the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Lawyers Guild for his work as a criminal defense attorney.
Sama joined Harvard Defenders in 2021. Prior to working at Harvard Defenders, Sama worked at Harvard Medical School as an Events and Logistics Administrator. After two years, Sama joined the Alumni Center at Harvard Law School.
Sama earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Keele University in the United Kingdom. She earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Behavior from Murray State University and Master of Liberal Arts in Management from Harvard Extension School.
Sama is passionate about diversity and inclusion. She is the founder of the first HLS Staff cultural festival. She served as an advisory committee member on the HLS Dean’s Award for Excellence and Harvard Heroes. Sama is very committed to working with our General Board to help serve our clients effectively, while also supporting all members of Harvard Defenders.