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Re-Entry Issues: Overcoming Employment and Housing Challenges Due to a Prior Arrest or Conviction 2013


Speaker(s): Adam Poe, Craig Davis, Donté Blue, Dorsey E Nunn, Eliza Hersh, Meredith Desautels, Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, Paul R. Chavez, Tanya Koshy
Recorded on: Aug. 16, 2013
PLI Program #: 43401

Michelle Natividad Rodriguez
Senior Staff Attorney, National Employment Law Project (NELP)

Michelle works with state and local advocates across the country in their efforts to reduce barriers to employment for people with arrest and conviction records, with a focus on California.  She is also leading NELP’s efforts to promote fair chance hiring campaigns nationally and co-authored 65 Million “Need Not Apply”: The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment (2011).  Before joining NELP, Michelle was a Senior Staff Attorney at Public Advocates, a non-profit law firm and advocacy organization in San Francisco.  She serves on the board of Common Counsel Foundation.


Dorsey E. Nunn, Executive Director for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, is the co-founder of All of Us or None, a civil and human rights organization comprised of formerly incarcerated people, prisoners and their allies. He is also a formerly-incarcerated person. He is a former co-chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Services For Prisoners for the State Bar of California. He is a former co-chair of the Institution and Alternative Section for the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association. He has been on the board of Legal Aid Association of California. He is the former chair of the Criminal Justice Consortium. He is a member of the National Organizing Committee for Critical Resistance and a founding member of Critical Resistance. He is the co-founder of Free at Last, a community based recovery and rehabilitation center. He hosted a radio program (KPFA in San Francisco) on criminal justice related issues. He has spoken extensively on issues relating to prisoners, their children and family members at numerous conferences, workshops and demonstrations.

Mr. Nunn has won numerous awards including, The Human Excellence Award presented by the San Francisco Muslim Community Center, Certificate of Appreciation presented by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. He was a 1996-1998 California Wellness Fellow. Most recently Mr. Nunn was awarded the prestigious Fannie Lou Hamer award from the African American Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley.


Tanya Koshy is a supervising attorney and clinical instructor at the East Bay Community Law Center in its Clean Slate Practice. Previously, she worked at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she helped to coordinate its Second Chance Legal Clinic, which assists people with criminal records in removing barriers to employment and housing. Prior to law school, Tanya was a paralegal at Neufeld Scheck and Brustin, LLP a civil rights law firm in New York City that focuses on litigation involving wrongful convictions and police brutality.

Tanya Koshy has a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Africana Studies from Wellesley College.


Adam Poe earned his Bachelor's Degree from Michigan State University and his Juris Doctorate degree from DePaul College of Law in Chicago, IL. Mr. Poe represents low-income and disabled clients in Unlawful Detainers and administrative hearings at Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) in Richmond, CA. He also represents the formerly and currently incarcerated to reduce civil legal barriers to reentry and is engaged in policy advocacy to increase employment and housing opportunities.  Mr. Poe supervises legal clinics and regularly provides trainings for attorneys, advocates and community members on the housing rights of individuals with criminal records.


Craig Davis is a consumer protection attorney based in San Francisco, CA. He has worked on several cases involving claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and California's Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA), including a pending Ninth Circuit appeal defending the constitutionality of ICRAA. Before starting his own practice, Craig was an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP and regularly volunteered with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a graduate of NYU School of Law.


Eliza Hersh is a graduate of Boalt Hall. While in law school Eliza interned at EBCLC, in the Boalt Death Penalty Clinic, and in the offices of the Alameda County and Contra Costa County Public Defenders. She joined EBCLC’s staff following a clerkship with Chief Judge Martha Vázquez, United States District Court, District of New Mexico. Prior to law school Eliza worked as a capital case investigator at the California Appellate Project and the Habeas Corpus Resource Center. She has also worked as a victim liaison in the field of Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach (DIVO), which offers a platform for survivors of capital murder to get their needs met by the criminal process while maintaining the integrity of the defense.


Meredith Desautels is a staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. With a focus on advancing racial justice and civil rights in the criminal justice system, Meredith directs Lawyers’ Committee’s Second Chance Legal Clinic, which provides free legal services to people with past arrests and convictions to help them overcome the barriers to successful community reintegration. Meredith also engages in community outreach and education, policy advocacy, and impact litigation to promote reentry and criminal justice reform. Before joining Lawyers' Committee, Meredith clerked for Judge Noonan on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and worked as a supervising attorney in the Clean Slate Practice at the East Bay Community Law Center. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall.


Paul Chavez joined the Lawyers' Committee as the Senior Attorney & Pro Bono Coordinator in May 2010.  He directs all of the organization’s pro bono programs, overseeing the recruitment, training, and mentoring of pro bono attorneys taking on cases in the areas of racial, economic, and immigrant justice.  Paul also directs the law clerk program, and maintains an active impact litigation docket.  Previously, Paul worked for Centro Legal de la Raza where he litigated worker's rights cases, representing low wage workers primarily in the areas of wage and hour law, unlawful termination, and discrimination.  Paul recruited pro bono representation for Centro Legal's clients and managed the organization's co-counsel relationships.  Previously, Paul was a litigation associate at Donahue Gallagher Woods LLP where he was a member of the firm's commercial litigation and employment law groups.  A Colorado native, Paul was a fire fighter in the United States Navy prior to receiving his BA in Political Science from the University of Colorado.  Paul earned his JD from the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of law.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Centro Legal de la Raza, and as Co-President of the Board of Directors of the East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association.


A Bay Area native, Donté Blue worked on reentry and reintegration issues across the state of California for the past six years. For three years, in partnership with A New Way of Life, Donté was a Co-Chair of the Reentry Legal Clinic, the largest of its kind in southern California. After graduating from UCLA Law School, he began his legal career with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area where he assisted clients from the organization's Second Chance Legal Clinic with criminal record remedies, and in their pursuit of occupational licenses. Currently as a Staff Attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid, he has continued his commitment to helping individuals remove barriers to their full reintegration back into their communities. In this role, he has been able to help individual with a wide range of civil legal issues including the protection of housing rights, family reunification, and overcoming driver's license suspensions.