a forum for ideas, opinions, and strategies on justice policy and practice
a forum for ideas, opinions, and strategies on justice policy and practice
Nicholas Turner joined Vera as its fifth president and director in August, 2013. Prior to joining he was a managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. Nick was previously vice president and chief program officer at Vera.
At the Rockefeller Foundation, Nick was a member of the foundation’s senior leadership team and a co-leader of its global urban efforts. He provided leadership and strategic direction on key initiatives, including transportation policy reform in the U.S. to promote social, economic, and environmental interests, and redevelopment in New Orleans to advance racial and socioeconomic integration.
At Vera, which he first joined in 1998, Nick developed ideas for demonstration projects aimed at keeping troubled youth out of the justice system and easing reentry for adult prisoners. He also guided the expansion of Vera’s national work, launching and directing Vera’s state sentencing and corrections initiative, while supervising Vera’s domestic violence projects and the creation of its youth justice program. As vice president and chief program officer, Nick was responsible for the development and launch of the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program and the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons.
Prior to his work with Vera, Nick was an associate in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York from 1997 to 1998. He was a judicial clerk for the Honorable Jack. B. Weinstein, Senior United States District Judge in Brooklyn from 1996 to 1997. Before attending law school, Nick worked with court-involved, homeless, and troubled young people at Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, DC youth services organization, from 1989 to 1993.
He has published a number of articles on criminal justice, including Politics, Public Service, and Professionalism: Conflicting Themes in the Invention and Evaluation of Community Prosecution (with Chris Stone, 2001) and The Cost of Avoiding Injustice by Guideline Circumventions, in Federal Sentencing Reporter (with the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein, 1997).
Nick has served on the boards of Eno Center for Transportation, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Living Cities, Center for Working Families, and St. Christopher’s Inc.
Nick received his BA from Yale College and his JD from Yale Law School.
Vidhya Ananthakrishnan is a project director in Vera’s Center on Youth Justice. In this role, she designs and manages an array of projects aimed at reforming juvenile justice systems. In recent years, her work has included planning and conducting diagnostic assessments of juvenile justice systems; reviewing promising programs, policies, and funding mechanisms for serving youth at different system points; and providing implementation assistance to government partners pursuing new initiatives. Currently, she is leading two key projects within the Center: the implementation of Youth Futures, a multi-site initiative funded by the Department of Labor that aims to improve the labor market and education prospects of juvenile justice-involved youth in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, and the launch of the Status Offense Reform Center, an online resource center designed to help jurisdictions respond to youth who commit status offenses—problematic behaviors, such as skipping school or running away, that are prohibited by law only because of their minor status—outside of the formal court system. Before joining Vera in 2008 as a senior program associate, Vidhya worked as a senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where she conducted evaluations of different federal workforce and transit programs. Earlier in her career, she served as a youth policy advocate at the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, where she directed a campaign to secure funding for summer jobs in New York City. Vidhya has a bachelor's degree in economics and international studies from Northwestern University and a master's degree in public policy from George Washington University.
Marina joined Vera in November 2011 to work on the Legal Orientation Program (LOP). Marina provides technical assistance to LOP program sites in the form of on-site training programs, conference calls, and site visits. She also develops and reviews legal orientation materials in English and Spanish. Before joining Vera, she worked as a program coordinator for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, where she conducted workshops about orders of protection, and immigration forms of relief for survivors of domestic violence. She also volunteered at the Immigrant Defense Project, participating in Know Your Rights workshops at Rikers Island and conducting intake interviews to evaluate the impact of criminal convictions on the immigration status of noncitizens. During law school, Marina was a student attorney for the University of St. Thomas immigration law clinic, a senior editor for the Journal of Law and Public Policy, and a summer associate at Leonard, Street and Deinard. Before law school, she was a community organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, working on local and federal organizing issues. Marina earned her JD from the University of St. Thomas School of Law and a BA in political science and international studies from the University of Richmond.
Pradine joined Vera in March 2011. Previously, she was a postgraduate public interest fellow at the Legal Action Center (LAC). While at LAC, Pradine did research on the potential effect of a job applicant’s inaccurate disclosure of criminal history and on trends in medical marijuana legislation. During law school, Pradine completed legal internships with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and with Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a union of sex workers in Kolkata, India. Before law school, Pradine was an investigator at New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board and served as a youth community advocate at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis. Pradine earned her JD from Cornell Law School and her BA in English literature with creative writing from Dartmouth College.
Christine Leonard joined Vera as the director of the Washington DC Office in July 2011. Prior to joining Vera, she was the associate director of legislative affairs for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for the Obama administration. In that capacity, Christine developed and implemented strategies to advance key legislative priorities with relevant congressional committees. She also led and oversaw all communications with members of Congress, as well as hearing participation and confirmation of agency nominees.
Previously, Christine served as senior counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In this role, she worked on a range of criminal justice issues, including legislation relating to juvenile justice, sentencing reform, prison conditions, and national security. She also advised Senator Kennedy on these and other matters within the jurisdiction of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Prior to her work in the Senate, Christine served as a counsel to Rep. William D. Delahunt, working on matters pending before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Previously, she worked in the Boston office of Holland & Knight LLP. Earlier in her career, Christine also served on the staff of Rep. James P. McGovern during his first term in Congress.
Christine holds a BA in international studies from Boston College and a JD from the college’s Law School.
Mike joined Vera in 2012 as a Senior Program Associate in the Legal Orientation Program (LOP). Prior to joining Vera, Mike worked as the Asylum Advocacy Associate at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in Washington, DC, where he led efforts to enact reforms to the asylum and immigration detention systems, co-authored a report on the use of segregation and solitary confinement in immigration detention, and trained doctors who performed forensic evaluations of asylum seekers on immigration law. Mike came to PHR from the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles, where he worked as a staff attorney on Esperanza’s LOP team, conducted CLEs on asylum law, and represented detained immigrants on a range of matters. Mike received his BA from the George Washington University, an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, from which he also received a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies and served on the staff of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. During law school, Mike worked in Vera’s Washington, DC office as a staff member of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons.
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(The following blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Vera Institute of Justice.)
California Correctional Crisis
Center for Court Innovation
Global Youth Justice
Grits for Breakfast
NCCPR Child Welfare Blog
Policy for Results
Prison Law Blog
Reclaiming Futures Every Day
Restorative Justice Blog
Sentencing Law and Policy
The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog
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