NJDC Staff

Mary Ann Scali serves as the executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) where she works with juvenile defenders and advocates dedicated to promoting justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense. After working as a summer law clerk for NJDC in 1996, Mary Ann became the deputy director in 2000 and the executive director in 2017.

In partnership with the NJDC team and juvenile defense leaders, Mary Ann delivers juvenile defense training and technical assistance, conducts state level juvenile defense assessments, and facilitates cross-disciplinary reform efforts aimed at developing resources and policies to strengthen juvenile defense and access to justice for all youth.

Prior to joining NJDC, Mary Ann defended youth in the juvenile division of the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore City, MD; spent two years teaching high school in Pohnpei, Micronesia; served in the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome, Italy; and taught Baltimore City boys at the Baraka School in Nanyuki, Kenya. Mary Ann holds a JD and MSW from Loyola University Chicago where she was a CIVITAS Childlaw Fellow.

Click here to email Mary Ann.       

Sonia joined the National Juvenile Defender Center in 2009. As the Director of Operations, Sonia works to ensure that NJDC is maximizing its functional potential and effectively implementing its strategic goals. She is responsible for leading the organization in the areas of financial and operational management, as well as in human resources and development.
Prior to working at NJDC, Sonia worked in an expansive range of financial and operational roles across various professional sectors that include HBO Latin America, La Perla, and Aviation Sales Inc.
Sonia is a graduate of the University of Phoenix where she earned a B.A. in Business Administration and Management, as well as a master’s degree in Business Administration with summa cum laude honors. Click here to email Sonia.

Ebony is the Deputy Director for NJDC. In this role, she works to serve youth defenders and advocates so that they may seek justice for children and adolescents and provide excellence in juvenile defense.  

Prior to joining NJDC, Ebony was a Senior Supervising Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she developed, implemented and managed litigation and policy campaigns to combat injustice and systemic racism in the criminal and youth justice systems.  Ebony also defended individuals charged with federal crimes in District Court as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of Alabama. Currently, Ebony serves on the boards for the National Juvenile Justice Network and Youth Towers – a Birmingham, Alabama based organization dedicated to supporting homeless youth ages 19 to 26. 

Ebony graduated from Howard University Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science, and attended the Georgetown University Law Center (GULC). While at GULC, Ebony was a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic where she represented young people before the District of Columbia Superior Court. Click here to email Ebony.

Amy is the Justice Systems Manager at The Gault Center where she works to analyze and improve the wide range of systems that interact with NJDC’s mission and programs, from NJDC’s internal systems that manage the organization’s work, to statewide juvenile defense delivery systems that impact youth, families, and defenders. 

Prior to joining NJDC, Amy worked as a juvenile defense consultant, spent 13 years at the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, where she led the agency’s Policy & Outreach Division and managed its legislative and media efforts; and worked at the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio General Assembly. 

Amy graduated magna cum laude with college and departmental honors with a BA in political science from the University of Toledo. Click here to email Amy.

Eva Chaves is The Gault Center’s Operations Assistant, where she is responsible for coordination and logistics related to trainings, meetings, and special events. She provides administrative support and assistance on a wide range of juvenile defense projects and initiatives.

During undergrad, Eva interned with NJDC and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Eva graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Justice Studies with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a minor in Spanish. Click here to email Eva.

Prior to joining The Gault Center, Kirstin was the Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Lawrence V. Hill, Jr. in Prince George’s County, Maryland Circuit Court. During law school, Kirstin served as the Editor-in-Chief of the North Carolina Central University Law Review and was a student attorney in the Juvenile Law Clinic, providing legal representation to youth involved in various juvenile court matters. 

Prior to law school, Kirstin spent a year in Shenzhen, China teaching English as a second language. Upon her return to the United States, she accepted a school leadership role at a founding charter elementary school in Camden, New Jersey, a city that is making strides to revitalize its underserved neighborhoods and struggling school system. In this role Kirstin gained a passion for education law, policy, and reform. 

Kirstin graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Spelman College in 2013 and received her J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law. While in law school, she obtained her Justice in the Practice of Law Certification and was the recipient of the Justice Robert Glass Award for her outstanding service to the NCCU Law Review. Kirstin is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Click here to email Kirstin.

As Senior Youth Policy Counsel at The Gault Center. Christina works to build the capacity and quality of the juvenile defense bar through national, state, and local advocacy. She provides outreach, training, and technical assistance to justice system stakeholders, conducts policy advocacy, is involved in assessment of state juvenile justice systems, and participates in various other aspects of juvenile indigent defense advocacy and reform efforts. 

Christina became a staff attorney at NJDC in 2016 after initially joining the organization in 2012 to direct the Equity Project, a collaborative initiative that focused on ensuring fair, equitable and dignified treatment LGBTQI-GNC youth in delinquency courts. In 2015, she also took over managing NJDC’s Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling (CAIJS). Before joining NJDC, Christina worked with a variety of advocacy organizations, educational institutions, and state government.

Christina holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and a B.A. in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also a certified Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Trainer. Click here to email Christina.

Kristina Kersey received a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ, in 1998. She received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2001. From 2001-2002, she was a judicial clerk to Lawrence M. Lawson, A.J.S.C. (retired). Following her clerkship, Kristina answered her calling to the Office of the Public Defender. Kristina was a 1st Assistant Deputy Public Defender with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, where she supervised a spirited and dedicated group of youth defenders in Essex County, New Jersey. Kristina has specialized in juvenile delinquency representation her entire career. Kristina was the trial attorney in State in the Interest of N.H., in which the Supreme Court held that youth are entitled to full and complete discovery prior to a waiver/transfer hearing to adult court. Click here to email Kristina.

HyeJi Kim is Youth Defense Counsel at The Gault Center, where she works to strengthen access to counsel for all children and youth through customized training, technical assistance, and policy advocacy. 

Prior to joining The Gault Center, HyeJi worked as an Attorney for the Child (AFC) in child welfare and juvenile delinquency proceedings at the Legal Aid Society in New York City. As an AFC, HyeJi worked on an interdisciplinary team to directly advocate for the expressed wishes of children and youth in fact-finding, dispositional, and post-dispositional hearings. In this role, HyeJi utilized a client-centered approach in conducting investigations, interviews, and document review to ensure that her clients’ voices were elevated in and outside of the courtroom. HyeJi also led trainings on the role of an AFC, best practices around interviewing adolescents, and disproportionate minority representation in systems involving children and youth. 

Before working at the Legal Aid Society, HyeJi worked as a fellow at the Gault Center where she focused on national reform efforts around supervision fees and youth probation orders. 

HyeJi graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and summa cum laude from the George Washington University. Click here to email HyeJi. 

Patricia Puritz, Justice and Policy Consultant, can be reached at ppuritz@gmail.com202-359-5684.