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 Analyst at NJDC, 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 NJDC’s Project 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 NJDC, 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 Staff Attorney and Policy Counsel for the National Juvenile Defender 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.

Lily Miller is a Staff Attorney at NJDC, where she supports NJDC’s efforts to strengthen youth defense across the country through training, technical assistance, and policy reform. 

Prior to joining NJDC, Lily spent five years as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she represented both children and adults in DC Superior Court, litigating cases ranging from complex homicides to possessory offenses while employing a team defense model. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine and as the foreign coordinator for an education nonprofit in Central America. 

Lily earner her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her J.D. from Berkeley Law with a Public Interest and Social Justice Certificate. At Berkeley Law, Lily served as Co-Director of the Foster Education Program and Recruitment Chair for the La Raza Law Students Association.  Click here to email Lily.

Sherika Shnider is a Staff Attorney at NJDC where she works on legal and policy initiatives related to juvenile defense, including reducing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile legal system. She is also a certified Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) trainer. During law school, she was a student attorney in the Youth, Education and Justice Clinic, earning the Clinical Legal Education Association Outstanding Team Award for her representation of youth who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and students in school disciplinary proceedings. She also served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class.

Prior to law school, Sherika worked at a national nonprofit where she managed a network of grassroots organizers focused on ensuring youth
in underserved communities have access to safe places to play. She also worked in donor development at a D.C. based non-profit and served as a rape crisis counselor.

Sherika graduated with a B.A. from George Washington University in 2012 and received her J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law where she was the recipient of the William P. Cunningham Award for exceptional achievement and service to the law school. Click here to email Sherika. 

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