governance

There are eight members of the NAPD Fund for Justice, Inc. Board of Directors. All have devoted their careers to advancing the right to counsel for those accused of a crime and those convicted of a crime. Norman Lefstein, Attorney and Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis, and author of American Bar Association’s Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense (2011) which is the seminal work on defender workloads, was a founding Director until his death in 2019.

Jim Bethke
Director and Secretary


Attorney; Director, Justice Administration Department in Harris County, Texas; formerly Executive Director Lubbock Private Defender Office, a 501(c) non-profit corporation; Adjunct Professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law. He serves on the following boards: NAPD Fund for Justice, Inc, the Indigent Defense Research Association, the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit, and Remember Our Heroes Lubbock. He is a U.S. Army veteran from the 101st Airborne Division and former Executive Director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.

Cait Clarke
Director


Attorney and Chief of the Defender Services Office in the Administrative Office of US Courts, Washington, DC; formerly staff at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and director of federal programs at Equal Justice Works. Cait was a law professor at Loyola Law School, New Orleans, before earning her doctorate of law (SJD degree) at Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, she taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in the Program in Criminal Justice, Policy and Management and ran the “Executive Session on Public Defense” to explore improvements to the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Cait was also the founding director of the National Defender Leadership Institute (NDLI).

Rodney Ellis
Director


Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis was born and raised in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood. The proud son of a yardman and a maid, Ellis attended Texas public schools from grade school through law school. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Commissioner Rodney Ellis currently represents the diverse communities of Harris County Precinct One in Houston, Texas. He believes the role of government is to guarantee that all people have the opportunity and ability to build a better future for themselves and is committed to delivering responsive public services to his constituents while advocating for policies that advance fair opportunity and equal justice for all people. He began his career as a public servant working as Chief of Staff for the late Congressman Mickey Leland and served 3 terms on the Houston City Council before joining the Texas Senate, where he served for more than 25 years before being elected to his current position in 2016. During his tenure in the Texas Senate, he successfully passed more than 630 pieces of legislation championing criminal justice reform, civil rights, education, health care, economic opportunity, fair elections and many other vital issues impacting underserved communities. His top Precinct One priorities include developing inclusive economic growth policies that lift up all communities; increasing access to parks and greenspace in underserved neighborhoods; implementing a mobility plan that connects families to safe, affordable transportation options; and advancing criminal justice reforms that protect the rights of all people while making communities safer.

Fred T. Friedman
Director


Public Defender since 1973. Chief Public Defender Minnesota Sixth District 1986-2014. Associate Professor University of Minnesota, Duluth 1975-present. Chair NAPD Strike Force Committee.

Stephen F. Hanlon
Director


Attorney, General Counsel, National Association for Public Defense, McLean, VA; former partner at Holland and Knight; Past Chairman, The Florida Bar, Public Interest Law Section; Past President, Florida Legal Services; Past Chair of the Executive Council, American Bar Association, Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section; Past Chair, American Bar Association, Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project; Chair, Indigent Defense Advisory Group, Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense, American Bar Association.

Ernie Lewis
Director, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer


Attorney, Executive Director National Association for Public Defense, former Public Advocate, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, Frankfort, KY; KY Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers president and lobbyist, chair of NLADA American Council of Chief Defenders.

Edward C. Monahan
Executive Director and Treasurer


Attorney, former Public Advocate, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, Frankfort, KY; KY public defender for 34 years; Director of Catholic Conference of Ky for 4 years; member of a KY legal services board and board’s fundraising chair, chair of NLADA American Council of Chef Defenders.

Mark Stephens
Director


Attorney, District Defender, Knox County Public Defenders Community Law Office, Knoxville, TN; Stephens served as President of the Tennessee District Public Defender’s Conference, Chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Defense Commission, and Chairman of the National Association for Public Defense. He served eight years as a member of the Board of Directors for Gideon’s Promise.