Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.
President and CEO
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 23
Ryan Haygood is a nationally-respected civil rights lawyer. He became the third president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in 2015.
In this role, Ryan leverages his national legal expertise to advance the Institute’s work in empowering New Jersey’s urban communities where residents are connected to full-time, meaningful jobs, have access to affordable housing, credit, and the democratic process, and are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
Prior to leading the Institute, Ryan served as the deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc. (LDF), where he worked for more than a decade. At LDF, Haygood litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our time. In two of those cases, he defended a core provision of the Voting Rights Act, widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest pieces of civil rights legislation, before the United States Supreme Court.
A passionate advocate, Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, social justice, and democracy. He is frequently interviewed by media outlets, including: the Star Ledger, WBGO, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, and the New York Times. Prior to joining LDF, Ryan was a litigation associate in the New York office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, and was a recipient of the prestigious LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship. At Fried, Frank, Ryan represented clients in a variety of complex commercial and civil rights matters before federal courts.
Ryan received his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and B.A. in American History and Political Science cum laude from Colorado College, where he was nominated for the Rhodes scholarship and earned academic and athletic All-American and hall of fame honors as a football player. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Colorado College in 2011.
Click here to read Ryan's work.
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 27
Teresa Brown is the Administrative Director for the Institute. Teresa is responsible for the Institute's administrative services, including information technology, facilities and operations, office services, and Board governance.
Before joining the Institute, Teresa worked for various major law firms, managing legal support services, training, and information technology globally in US, European and Asian offices. Teresa has extensive legal management experience; she introduced and implemented process innovation and best practices across multiple service departments, increasing efficiency, productivity, and profitability margins.
Teresa is a Leadership Newark Fellow, Class of 2016. Teresa has a BA in Business Administration & Management (Concentration in Organizational Leadership) from Pillar College graduating Magna Cum Laude. She also has certificates in Business Analysis and Project Management. Teresa serves in various leadership and administrative positions in local churches and youth development organizations.
Chief Operating Officer
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 16
Demelza Baer, Esq.
Senior Counsel & Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 32
Demelza Baer is Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Demelza is the author of the groundbreaking report, Bridging the Two Americas: Employment & Economic Opportunity in Newark & Beyond, which has been cited in the New York Times and The Guardian. Her writing on racial and economic justice has been published in the Star Ledger, Asbury Park Press, and Next City.
She previously worked as a Policy Counsel for the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she worked on racial justice, women’s rights, disability rights, human rights, and criminal justice reform through advocacy before the U.S. Congress and Administrative Agencies. Before working at the ACLU, Demelza served as an Assistant Counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, where she worked both on civil rights issues for the Subcommittee on the Constitution and on oversight for the full Committee. Demelza also served as an appellate law clerk for the Honorable Maria M. Cabret of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands, and before attending law school, as a researcher at the Justice Policy Center of the Urban Institute. She received her LL.M. from Columbia Law School, graduating as a James Kent Scholar. Demelza received a Dean’s Scholarship to attend Tulane Law School, where she graduated with her J.D. magna cum laude. During law school, Demelza served as the Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board and as a member of the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property. She graduated from Northwestern University with her B.A., double-majoring and receiving Honors in both Political Science and Sociology.
Click here to read Demelza's work.
Andrea McChristian, Esq.
Director of Criminal Justice Reform Initiative
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 35
Andrea McChristian is Associate Counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice ("NJISJ"). Andrea is the primary author of Bring Our Children Home: Ain't I A Child, which forms the basis of the 150 Years is Enough campaign. Andrea's writing on juvenile justice and racial justice has been published in the Star Ledger, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, and NJ Spotlight.
Before joining the Institute, Andrea served as a litigation associate at the New York office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson ("Fried Frank"). During her time at Fried Frank, Andrea worked on complex commercial litigation and pro bono cases.
Andrea is a 2008 graduate of Yale University, graduating with distinction in the major of Political Science. At Yale, Andrea served as co-President of the Yale NAACP, co-reactivating the chapter after a years-long absence from campus. After graduation, Andrea joined Teach for America, teaching Head Start for two years in the Las Vegas Valley. Andrea then attended Columbia Law School where she participated in the Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic, interned in Auckland, New Zealand as part of the law school's Human Rights Internship Program, and interned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. After graduating from Columbia Law School in 2013 as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Andrea clerked for Chief Judge Petrese B. Tucker of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Click here to read Andrea's work.
Scott Novakowski, Esq.
Director of Civic Engagement Initiative
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 30
Scott Novakowski is Associate Counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the Institute’s inaugural Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise Social Justice Legal Advocacy Fellow. Scott is the primary author of We Are 1844 No More: Let Us Vote, a report on New Jersey's disfranchisement law. Scott is leading the Institute's campaign to restore voting rights to people on parole, probation, or in prison for a felony. Scott's writing on voting rights and racial justice has been published in the Star Ledger, NJ Spotlight, and the Asbury Park Press.
Before joining the Institute, Scott was a voting rights attorney at the New York-based policy organization Demos working to eliminate barriers to civic participation faced by low-income communities and people of color. Through advocacy and litigation, his work at Demos focused primarily on enforcing the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law that requires voter registration services to be provided by state public assistance agencies and departments of motor vehicles, and protecting voters from being unlawfully removed from the registration rolls.
Prior to law school, Scott was a Policy Analyst at Demos for five years, performing data analysis and writing reports and articles on various aspects of voting rights. While in law school, Scott worked with the Innocence Project and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and served as Submissions Editor of the Cardozo Law Review. Scott holds a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a M.S.W. and B.A., both from the University of Connecticut.
Click here to read Scott's work.
Human Resources & Benefits Associate
Phone: (973) 624-9400 ext. 25
Jeanette Tindel is the Human Resources and Benefits Associate for the Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Jeanette worked for corporate organizations in Banking, Global Shipping, and Financial Services. As a member of Society for Human Resources Management, Jeanette leverages a broad and diverse knowledge base of current and topical Human Resources and Benefits issues, across multiple industries.
Retha Onitiri, PMP
Director of Community Engagement
Phone: 973-624-9400 ext. 19
Retha Onitiri is the Director of Community Engagement at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. She leads the 150 Years is Enough campaign which seeks to transform New Jersey's youth incarceration system into a community-based system of care by closing youth prisons and reinvesting in a community-based system of care.
Retha is also responsible for building a coalition for change on issues pertaining to criminal justice, economic mobility, and civic engagement. She lead efforts to establish local advocacy coalitions in major cities across New Jersey, host community events, and identify issues and community-based solutions.
Prior to joining NJISJ, Retha worked in the private sector and was responsible for Readiness Project Management of complex telecommunications High Leverage Networks and Services and Training and Skills Development projects for a Software Integration organization. Retha is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has a Masters of Science Degree in Management from Stevens Institute of Technology.
Democracy and Justice Fellow
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 24
Ron Pierce is the inaugural Democracy and Justice Fellow at the Institute.
The Fellowship, which is awarded to an advocate who has been formerly incarcerated, focuses on restoring voting rights to people with criminal convictions. Ron is a frequent commentator and lecturer on issues related to voting rights, reentry, and the human rights of the incarcerated. His writing has been published in NJ Spotlight and Truth Out. Ron graduated from Rutgers University-Newark Summa Cum Laude in 2018 and was a recipient of the Vera Institute Scholarship.
Brooke Lewis, Esq.
Trustee Social Justice Legal Advocacy Fellow
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 38
Brooke is the Trustee Social Justice Legal Advocacy Fellow at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Throughout law school, Brooke gained significant experience working in public interest law, with a particular focus on areas related to criminal justice. As a certified legal intern at the Rutgers Children’s Justice Clinic, she represented New Jersey children facing delinquency charges in Camden’s juvenile court and provided post-disposition representation to youth at several of New Jersey’s secure facilities. In addition to working as a legal intern at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender and in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
As a graduate of the Rutgers B.A./J.D. Dual-Degree Program, Brooke received a B.A. in Political Science Summa Cum Laude from Rutgers University—Camden, and a J.D. and Certificate in Criminal Law & Procedure Cum Laude from Rutgers Law School. Following graduation, Brooke served as a law clerk in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Patricia D. Williamson
New Jersey Counts Project Director
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 26
Patricia D. Williamson is the New Jersey Counts Project Director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Patricia will be leading the Institute’s work to ensure that is a complete and accurate count of New Jersey’s urban communities in the 2020 Census.
Patricia is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, where she is currently the New Jersey Coordinator for the Eastern Region Social Action Committee. As the State Social Action Coordinator, Patricia leads the advocacy arm of the New Jersey-based sorority chapters.
Prior to this position, Patricia worked for over 20 years as a systems engineer in the optical networking field. She is also an adjunct professor at Bloomfield College.
Patricia is a lifelong resident of Central New Jersey. She earned a BA in Mathematics from Hampton University, an MS in Computer Science from Howard University, and an MA in Education and Human Development in the Educational Technology Leadership Program at George Washington University.
Chané Jones, Esq.
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 33
Chané Jones is an Associate Counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Prior to joining the Institute, Chané served as a law clerk in the Criminal Division for the Hon. Siobhan A. Teare, J.S.C. In 2017, she clerked in the Family Division of the Essex Vicinage for the then newly-appointed Hon. Sharifa R. Salaam of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Chané received her law degree from Seton Hall University, School of Law in 2017. While in law school, Chané was elected as the Regional Vice Chair of the Northeast Black Law Students’ Association and President of the local chapter. She also served on the Jessup International Moot Court Board and the Dean Hobbs Interscholastic Mock Trial Board, and was a Comments Editor for the Seton Hall Circuit Review. Chané gained significant experience in public interest during her time in law school. As a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic, she represented minors charged with criminal offenses in the juvenile courts of Essex County. Additionally, Chané interned at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division and completed a judicial internship with the Hon. Joseph A. Greenaway of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
In 2013, Chané graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Science in Diplomacy & International Relations and minors in Economics and Creative Writing.
Chané is a Newark native and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 37
Tiara Moultrie is the Program Associate at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Before joining the Institute, Tiara worked in education, volunteer management and healthcare. While pursuing her BA in History at St. John’s University, Tiara was an active Ronald E. McNair Fellow and member of Phi Alpha Theta. She received her MA in History from Stony Brook University in 2014. Tiara serves as an executive member of the NYC Health+Hospitals Corporation Gotham/Morrisania Community Advisory Board.
Lynda C. Seward
Director of Development
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 39
Lynda Seward is the Director of Development planning and directing the NJ Institute of Social Justice’s fundraising initiatives including managing individual, foundation and corporate donations as well as annual giving campaigns.She is formerly the Grants Manager for the NAACP managing compliance for the national advocacy program initiatives which included managing relationships with funders, writing proposals, narrative reports, budget development as well as identifying new prospective funders. During her 6 year tenure, she managed approximately $35m in grants and written nearly $25m in proposals. She brings over ten years experience in grant writing and administration having previously worked with the YWCA of Bergen County in Ridgewood, NJ as well as the City of Newark Prosecutor’s Office.
As the grants administrator with the YWCA, she served as a member on the search committee for the YWCA Northeast Regional Council in the selection of a regional grant consultant. She has also served as a grant reviewer for the Division of Criminal Justice State Office of Victim Witness in Trenton NJ.
She managed the overall administrative and program responsibilities for the Newark Victim Witness Advocacy Program funded by the State of NJ Attorney General’s Office of Victim Witness. During this time she administered the grant as well as monitored staff providing crisis intervention counseling and making recommendations to the Court on the victim’s behalf. She assisted Prosecutors in preparation for trial as well as resolving issues in moving cases forward with judges, prosecutors, public defenders, private attorneys and court administrators. She implemented several new citywide initiatives in Newark by facilitating the first Evening with the Community Panel Discussion on victimization (later adopted in the Department of Justice/Office of Victims of Crime resource manual). She also initiated a Dating Violence Mobile Clinic to Newark high school seniors and an Elder Crime and Victimization Mobile clinic into senior citizen complexes in Newark.
In further demonstration of her commitment to social change she currently works with community committees and serves as Board President for the Fair Housing Council of Northern NJ located in Hackensack, NJ; and served as Chair of the Artist Selection Committee for the Martin Luther King Monument Committee in Bergen County.
Henal Patel, Esq.
The Honorable Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Legal Fellow and Associate Counsel
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 13
Henal Patel is as an Associate Counsel and Katzenbach Legal Fellow at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Before joining the institute, Henal was an associate at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, in the firm’s Labor & Employment practice group. While at the firm, she managed pro bono asylum cases and spearheaded the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. Previously, Henal had the honor of serving as a law clerk to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
While in law school, Henal was a Kinoy-Stavis Public Interest Fellow and an Eagleton Institute of Politics Henry J. Raimondo Legislative Fellow, participated in the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and served as an assistant to the Chairman of the New Jersey Redistricting Commission. She was awarded the Judge J. Skelly Wright Prize, honoring the graduate who contributed the most to the civil rights, civil liberties, and human affairs during their law school career.
Henal received her J.D. from the Rutgers University School of Law – Newark and B.A. from Rutgers University.
Jayne Johnson, Esq.
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 31
Jayne Johnson is Senior Counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Previously, Jayne was Counsel to the New Jersey Law Revision Commission, a State Legislative Commission tasked with proposing legislation to clarify and update existing New Jersey statutes.
On behalf of the Executive Director and the nine commissioners, who included elected officials, the deans of the NJ law schools and a former NJ Supreme Court Justice, Jayne authored reports, testified before the NJ Legislature, and conducted outreach to foster collaborative working relationships with organizations, members of the public and the bar.
Jayne lead the collective effort of advocates and nonprofit organizations in authoring a report recommending removal of pejorative terms regarding persons with disabilities and persons with substance use disorders from NJ statutes. The report resulted in an introduced bill which was later enacted by the NJ Legislature as P.L.2017, c.131.
Jayne worked extensively on a wide range of issues while with the Commission, including proposed revisions to NJ’s Underground Facility Protection Act, NJ laws governing notaries public, as well as recommendations to address public safety concerns and economic loss in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Later, as a public interest attorney, Jayne represented Hurricane Sandy survivors in consumer and housing law matters, including successful appeal of federal recoupment.
Following law school, Jayne was a judicial clerk and court mediator in the NJ Superior Courts. Jayne received a J.D. from Rutgers University Law School and a B.A. in International Studies summa cum laude from Oakwood University.
Youth Advocacy Coordinator
Phone: 973-624-9400 Ext. 11
Jazmyne McNeese is the Youth Advocacy Coordinator at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Jazmyne is currently a Ph.D. Student at Rutgers University-Camden with a focus on race and community economic development. Prior to working for the Institute, Jazmyne was the Kathleen Crotty Fellow for New Jersey Policy Perspective. There, she worked on issues of reproductive health and incarceration.
Jazmyne recently received her Master of Public Policy Degree from the Edward J. Bloustein School. In her master’s program, she served as the Vice President of Public Policy on the Board for Rutgers Association of Policy and Planning Students (RAPPS), a student run organization at Rutgers-New Brunswick. She was awarded 2nd place at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) annual conference in Washington D.C. As an Eagleton Fellow, Jazmyne has learned from some of the most influential advocates both inside and outside of her field.
Originally, from Los Angeles, California, she obtained her Bachelor’s in Sociology, with a minor in African American Studies from the University of California-Irvine. Jazmyne’s passion for advocacy reflects in her on and off campus experiences, where she developed an identity as a community organizer and researcher. Since relocating to New Jersey, Jazmyne has worked with various organizations and state agencies including, New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
Jazmyne identifies as a researcher, unapologetic advocate, social change architect and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.