There are nine 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.

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.