There are twelve 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

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).

Paul B. DeWolfe

Mr. DeWolfe has practiced in the area of criminal defense since 1980. Most of his practice has been as a public defender in the State of Maryland. In 2009, Mr. DeWolfe was appointed by the Board of Trustees as the Public Defender of Maryland, the fourth attorney to hold this position in the agency’s history. In this capacity, he leads an office of 570 attorneys and 344 support staff. He first joined the Montgomery County office in 1981 as an Assistant Public Defender before leaving the office for private practice in 1989. He returned to the office in a leadership role in 2000 serving as District Public Defender for Montgomery County, Maryland and overseeing a staff of 34 lawyers. During his career, Mr. DeWolfe has tried criminal jury trials in cases ranging from misdemeanors to capital murder in both state and federal court. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2005, Mr. DeWolfe formerly served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a former President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association and a former President of the Bar Association of Montgomery County Maryland. Currently, he is the Immediate Past Chair of the National Association of Public Defenders and an ex officio member of the Criminal Law Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association. Mr. DeWolfe is a 2008 recipient of the Joseph P. Curran Award for Distinguished Public Interest Lawyers from the Maryland State Bar Association. In 2019, Mr. DeWolfe was awarded the Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award for “Exemplifying the Highest Professional Standards and Achievement During his Distinguished Career” from the Maryland State Bar Association.

Rodney Ellis

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

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

Attorney, former General Counsel, National Association for Public Defense; 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, former 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
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 Chief Defenders.

Lori James-Townes

Lori James-Townes is the Executive Director of the National Association of Public Defense. Lori has over twenty-five years of clinical practice, leadership, and management experience. Lori’s prior experience includes serving as the Director of Social Work, Leadership, and Program Development at Maryland Office of Public Defender (which has more than eight hundred employees). For the past two years, she has led the planning of NAPD’s Women’s Conference each year attracting over eight hundred women who work in every area of public defense.

Twyla Carter

Twyla Carter (she/her) serves as the Attorney-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of The Legal Aid Society, becoming the first Black woman and first Asian American to lead the organization in its 145-year history. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Carter was the National Director of Legal and Policy at The Bail Project (TBP), a national nonprofit organization that pioneered a national movement to bring free bail assistance and pretrial support to thousands of low-income people every year. At TBP, Carter created the department’s strategic mission and directed the legal, policy, and advocacy efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. Carter has also served as a senior staff attorney in the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national office, where she litigated local and state bail inequities and right-to-counsel protections in the federal courts and designed alternative bail and representation policies and procedures for targeted jurisdictions. Prior to working at the ACLU, Carter was a public defender for ten years. She was the Misdemeanor Practice Director for the King County Department of Public Defense in Seattle, where she oversaw all misdemeanor casework across the four divisions of the department. As a Staff Attorney at The Defender Association, Carter handled felony and misdemeanor trial caseloads, represented juveniles, and appealed misdemeanor convictions. She won a published decision from the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One, in State v. Green, which affirmed the due process rights of parents accused of trespassing in public schools. Against the backdrop of the legislative attacks against the teaching of white supremacy and anti-Black racism in schools, Carter serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of The Who We Are Project. Founded by Jeffery Robinson, a renowned expert on the role of racism in the criminal legal system, the project aims to correct the social, legal, political, and economic aspects of racism in the United States through educational materials, including through a feature-length documentary entitled Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. Carter is admitted to practice law in New York, Washington State, and numerous federal courts. She is a nationally recognized expert on bail reform and is a frequent speaker on all aspects of the criminal legal system, including police reform, right-to-counsel issues, and how to incorporate race and culture into criminal, death penalty, and civil cases. Carter received an associate degree from Seattle Central Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Seattle University, summa cum laude, and a J.D. from the Seattle University School of Law.

Chanta Parker

Chantá Parker is a Partner with the Management Center where she helps social justice leaders learn how to build and run organizations effectively, equitably, and sustainably so that they deliver exceptional results toward their missions. Prior to joining the Management Center, Chantá served as the founding Managing Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit, where she stood up an entire office of 50+ employees from scratch, developed an inaugural training program for all staff, and cultivated a robust leadership team for the organization. Chantá has over fifteen years of criminal defense experience, having worked as a supervising attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice of the Legal Aid Society’s Brooklyn office, and as a felony trial attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders. Chantá also served as the Special Counsel for New Initiatives at the Innocence Project, helping the organization address racial bias and the crisis in indigent defense.

Chantá is nationally recognized for her expertise regarding training, management, and supervision of public defenders. Chantá is a faculty member for Gideon’s Promise and for the National Association of Public Defense’s Executive Leadership Institute. Chantá also serves as the Board Secretary of the Essie Justice Group, a sisterhood of women with incarcerated loved ones, where she has shepherded the growth of Essie from its inception and shares its commitment to justice, Black liberation, and women’s leadership. Chantá is a Women’s Media Center SheSource expert and a 2015 Council of Urban Professionals Fellow. In 2020, Chantá was named one of Crain’s Detroit 40 Under 40 for her work establishing NDS Detroit. Chantá holds a BA in African American History from Spelman College and a JD from the New York University School of Law.

Hilary Potashner

Hilary Potashner is a partner at Larson LLP, having previously served as the former Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California. As the chief defender, she was responsible for leading the largest defender’s office in the country and overseeing the representation of thousands of individuals facing federal charges in magistrate and district court. Now in the private sector, Hilary defends individuals facing charges in both state and federal court in a wide range of matters, including conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, healthcare fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and other complex cases. She earned her J.D. from UC Hastings College of Law and her A.B. from Duke University. A Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and the recipient of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Criminal Justice Section’s “Defense Attorney of the Year” award for 2020, Hilary is an active member of several impactful committees, including the Ninth Circuit Trial Improvement Committee; the Systems Builders Committee of the National Association for Public Defense; and the Local Rules Advisory Committee of the Central District of California. She is on the Board of Directors for and the former president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, is a member of the Chancery Club of Los Angeles, and serves on the Steering Committee of Just the Beginning—A Pipeline Organization, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the advancement of young adults from underrepresented backgrounds in the legal profession.

Lindsay Wiskirchen
Executive Director

A lifelong resident of Missouri. Holds a B.S. in Organizational Management and a M.S. in Accountancy. In the past has worked for non-profits, CPA firms and Fortune 500 companies.