Staff

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Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.

President & CEO

Phone: 973-755-9887

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @RyanPHaygood

Ryan P. Haygood is a nationally respected civil rights lawyer.

As President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Ryan leads a team of advocates who harness community engagement, research, writing, public education, policy and litigation to build reparative systems that create wealth, justice and power for Black, Brown and other people of color.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Institute’s advocacy has become a model for states as places to build community power from the ground up.

While Jim Crow-like voter suppression has swept across America in recent years, Ryan and his team successfully championed the restoration of the vote to 83,000 people on probation and parole, a right denied since 1844; the establishment of online voter registration and early voting; and the end to prison-based gerrymandering. Ryan also led the Institute’s litigation efforts to defeat the Trump campaign’s challenge to New Jersey’s voting accommodations during the COVID pandemic and to ensure that voters’ ballots would not be rejected for signature mismatch reasons.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Institute has also become a leader on New Jersey’s racial wealth gap, publishing original racial wealth data and championing policies to close the state’s vast wealth disparities, including the $15 minimum wage. Ryan oversees the Institute’s advocacy to expand homeownership opportunities; establish fair appraisal policies; and cancel student loan debt – as well as the Institute’s first-of-its-kind Say the Word: Reparations campaign for a state reparations task force.

Ryan has also led the Institute to the forefront of creating solutions to reduce the footprint of law enforcement and help keep communities safe.

Following Darnella Frazier’s courageous recording of George Floyd’s murder, the Institute championed the call for a statewide First Amendment policy to protect the right to record police conduct without intimidation, a policy subsequently established by the Attorney General. The Institute’s advocacy also led to the historic closure announcement for two of New Jersey’s youth prisons and an $8.4 million investment in youth restorative justice hubs in communities most impacted by youth incarceration.

Ryan has also spearheaded the Institute’s membership on the Independent Monitoring Team overseeing the Newark Police Division’s Consent Decree with the Department of Justice. In that role, the Institute centered community engagement in the development of 16 new policies designed to bring about the transformation in policing that Newark residents have urged since the 1967 Newark Rebellion. The Institute and partners also championed the passage of an independent prosecutor bill to address police misconduct.

Prior to leading the Institute, Ryan served as Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he worked for more than a decade and 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 before the United States Supreme Court. He also led LDF’s successful challenge to Texas’ racially discriminatory photo ID law, leading to the first ruling of its kind when a federal district court struck down Texas’s photo ID law as intentionally racially discriminatory, a violation of the Voting Rights Act and an unconstitutional poll tax.

Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, social justice, democracy and power. 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 a Rhodes Scholarship and earned academic and athletic All-American and hall of fame honors as a football player. Ryan is a Trustee and Vice-Chair of the Board of Colorado College and a member of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.


Harbani Ahuja

Associate Counsel, Economic Justice Program

Phone: 973-755-9885

Email: [email protected]

Harbani Ahuja is an Associate Counsel with the Economic Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Prior to joining the Institute, Harbani served as Senior Legislative Counsel to the New York City Council, where she led and facilitated the legislative process for the Committees on Civil and Human Rights, Immigration, Health, Hospitals, and the Subcommittee on COVID Recovery and Resiliency. Harbani drafted and negotiated several critical bills that were passed into law, including a historic package of legislation addressing significant disparities in maternal health, mortality, and morbidity. Harbani was formerly an Agency Attorney with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, where she investigated claims of discrimination.
Harbani holds a J.D. with a concentration in Constitutional Law and Rights from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she served as Notes Editor for the Cardozo Law Review, and a Public Service Scholars Fellow. Harbani also holds a B.B.A from Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Baruch College. She is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Harbani’s creative work can be found in Her Name is Kaur: Sikh Women Write about Love, Courage, and Faith. She is currently working on her latest project, entitled Dicta, as an Artist in Residence with ICAAD. Dicta, featured in the ABA Journal and Law360, seeks to unearth the essence of decisions by courts of law in order to illuminate the broader societal context in which they were written.

Jazmyne McNeese

Laurie Beacham, Esq.

Chief Communications & Marketing Officer

Phone: 973-755-9885

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @LaurieBeacham

Laurie Beacham is the Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Laurie began her career practicing law, followed by ten years as a television producer at Court TV where she covered trials of well-known figures including Jack Kevorkian, Michael Jackson, and President Bill Clinton (for impeachment). After working in television, Laurie moved to non-profit work, first serving as Communications Director at the Center for Justice & Democracy, an organization devoted to protecting the civil justice system. After that, Laurie headed up the Media Relations Department at the national ACLU, where she garnered coverage of the organization’s work in major print, TV and radio outlets, and worked on issues including racial justice; immigration; voting rights; reproductive freedom; and national security. Before joining the Institute, Laurie led the Strategy & Campaigns Department for the national ASPCA where she oversaw animal welfare campaigns that incorporated communications, marketing, legislative, regulatory and litigation initiatives.

Laurie also served as Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, a grassroots organization that advocates for constituents of the 11th Congressional District.

Laurie received a B.A. degree in sociology with a minor in women’s studies from Brandeis University, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.


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Teresa Brown

Chief Administrative Officer

Phone: 973-755-9886

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @brown7_tb

Teresa Brown is the Chief Administrative Officer at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. 

Teresa is responsible for the Institute's administrative services, information technology, facilities, operations, office services, and Board governance.  

Before joining the Institute, Teresa worked for various major law firms, managing legal support services, training, information technology, and telecom 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, and is on the New Jersey Black Issues Convention Board (NJBIC).  Teresa has served in various board trustee and senior leadership positions in churches and youth development organizations. 

Teresa has a B.A. in Business Administration & Management (Concentration in Organizational Leadership) from Pillar College graduating Summa Cum Laude.  She also has certificates in Business Analysis and Project Management.  Teresa is pursuing an EMPA (Executive Masters in Public Administration) at the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University.


Teresa.jpgJean-Pierre Brutus

Senior Counsel, Economic Justice Program

Phone:  973-755-9896

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @J_P_Brutus

Jean-Pierre Brutus is a senior counsel in the Economic Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Prior to joining the Institute, Jean-Pierre worked at Bronx Legal Services, where he represented indigent Bronx tenants facing eviction in various courts and administrative proceedings.

Jean-Pierre is a 2007 graduate of Georgetown University, graduating with a major in Sociology and a minor in African American Studies. As a graduate of the JD/PhD program at Northwestern University, Jean-Pierre is a graduate of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and he earned his PhD in African American Studies from The Graduate School at Northwestern University. As a law student, Jean-Pierre served as a senior articles editor for the Journal of Law and Social Policy. As a PhD student, he also served as an assistant editor of the Journal of Africana Religions. Jean-Pierre wrote a dissertation that examined the origins of black politics outside of the traditional public sphere to conceptualize the counterpublic of black politics as bifurcated into a civil and uncivil black politics.


Nuzhat Chowdhury

Senior Counsel, Democracy & Justice Program

Email:  [email protected]

Twitter@nuzhatjc

Nuzhat Chowdhury is a Senior Counsel with the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Nuzhat comes to the Institute from the Brennan Center for Justice, where she worked as a legal and legislative consultant on projects to reform elections administration in New York and to increase election security across the country. Prior to the Brennan Center, Nuzhat worked at the New York City Council, where she was legislative and committee counsel to the committees on Aging, Civil Service & Labor, and Veterans. At the Council, Nuzhat helped draft and pass laws meant to protect marginalized New Yorkers, including the City's first ever package of legislation addressing age discrimination in the workplace.

Originally from the center of the Midwest--Columbia, Missouri--Nuzhat is a 2015 graduate from Columbia Law School. During her time in law school, Nuzhat participated in the Columbia Human Rights Clinic, interned with the Legal Resources Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and was a Teaching and Writing Fellow with the Columbia Foundations Moot Court Program. She was also the Executive Production Director for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, in which she had her student note on the Civil Rights Violations of the NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program published. After law school, Nuzhat held a fellowship at the Center for Appellate Litigation, doing criminal appellate defense work. She also has a B.A. in Political Science and Communications from the University of Missouri.

Nuzhat will be serving on the Government Ethics and State Affairs Committee for the New York City Bar Association for the upcoming 2022-2025 term.

Jake Girard

Communications & Design Associate

Phone: 908-217-5723

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JakeGirard

Jake Girard is the Communications and Design Associate at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Before joining the Institute, Jake worked with a number of international and domestic brands as a freelance illustrator & designer. He studied design at the Paris American Academy in Paris, France, and illustration at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, where he received his BFA.


Ashanti Jones

Policy Analyst, Criminal Justice Reform Program

Phone: 973-755-9909

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @vibeswithfreedom

Ashanti is a Policy Analyst in the Criminal Justice Reform Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

As a masters level policy and planning social worker, Ashanti empowers communities to seek systems level change to reduce the impact of inequitable social institutions on people’s everyday life. 

A passionate advocate for mitigating adverse childhood experiences, slowing the school to prison pipeline and overall abolition, Ashanti’s work is rooted in African studies, social work pedagogy and psychology. She currently works as the 150 Years is Enough Campaign Manager at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice - working in tandem with communities and decision makers to close New Jersey’s youth prisons and establish a community-based continuum of care that priorities youth and reduces our reliance on incarceration. 

She is also a professor of Africana Studies at William Paterson University. Ashanti holds a MSW from Columbia University and is currently a doctoral candidate at Drexel University.

Rupa Motwani

Director of Development

Phone: 973-755-9901

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MotwaniRupa

Rupa is the Director of Development at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Rupa comes to the Institute with a broad range of skills and experiences. Before joining the Institute, Rupa spent five years successfully directing and consulting on New Jersey municipal political campaigns where she oversaw everything from strategy, fundraising, messaging and organizing. She has extensive experience in leading data driven process improvement projects to drive efficiencies in both the private and public sector and launched and built a successful small business that partnered with NGOs and local organizations promoting women’s education and financial independence.

Rupa holds degrees in Economics and English Literature from NYU and Rutgers.


Lloyd Nelson

Communications & Digital Media Associate

Phone: 973-755-9918

Email: [email protected]rg

Twitter: @LloydJNelson

Lloyd Nelson is the Communications and Digital Media Associate at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. 

Lloyd started his career as a government reporter in Thibodaux, Louisiana for a New York Times Company paper covering issues of access and equity. After leaving Louisiana, he continued to report at news organizations in Cook County, Illinois as well as his home state of New Jersey. After leaving journalism, Lloyd moved to the nonprofit sector. He worked as the Digital Media Manager for a NJ based child welfare agency where he oversaw a team of graphic designers and videographers. He also served on the organization's public policy committee which focused on providing more educational opportunities for youth in foster care.

Lloyd received his B.S. degree in Print and Multimedia Journalism at Emerson College.


Henal PatelHenal Patel, Esq.

Law & Policy Director

Phone: 973-755-9897

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @henal214

Henal Patel is Law & Policy Director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. 

Before joining the Institute, Henal was an associate at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.  

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 an Eagleton Institute of Politics fellow, participated in the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and served as an assistant to the Chairman of the New Jersey Redistricting Commission.  Henal received her J.D. from the Rutgers University School of Law – Newark and B.A. from Rutgers University.

Henal serves on the Board of Directors at the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.


ron-headshot-(2).jpgRon Pierce

Policy Analyst, Democracy & Justice Program

Phone: 973-755-9898

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @rwp46

Ron Pierce is a Policy Analyst in the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

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 Truthdig. Ron graduated from Rutgers University-Newark Summa Cum Laude in 2018 and was a recipient of the Vera Institute Scholarship.


Milady Ramos

Program Assistant

Phone: 973-755-9899

Email: [email protected]

Milady Ramos is the Program Assistant at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Milady is a New Jersey native with a background in operations at nonprofits with missions rooted in human rights work. Milady has previously worked in the Administrative and Communications department at a Milwaukee-based organization that provided support to families and children in the child welfare system. She has also managed operations for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ while assisting with legislative research, advocacy programs and political outreach.

Milady is a graduate of Rutgers University and holds a B.A. in English and Sociology.


Nadia N. Rush

Administrative & Development Manager

Phone: 973-755-9899

Email: [email protected]

Nadia N. Rush is the Administrative & Development Manager at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Before joining the Institute, Nadia worked as Director of Career Services assisting a diverse community of students in obtaining employment in their fields. Nadia guided students to meet their career and life goals. As Director of Career Services, Nadia assisted with coaching students and graduates on career search strategies, personal branding, interview skills, and self-promotion methods. Nadia also worked as a Professional Development Instructor and as an advisor for different committee meetings within local educational organizations. Nadia has a B.S Degree in Business Administration Management and Entrepreneurship from Berkeley College, New Jersey.  Nadia has a wide range of administrative and management experience; Nadia also has certificates in Business Administration, Accounting, and QuickBooks. Additionally, Nadia holds a New Jersey Substitute Teacher license as well as a New Jersey Notary Public credential.


Emily Cader Schwartz

Senior Counsel, Criminal Justice Reform Program

Email: [email protected] 

Emily Schwartz is Senior Counsel for the Criminal Justice Reform Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Before joining the Institute, Emily was a public defender in both New Jersey and New York City. Most recently, she worked as an Assistant Deputy Public Defender for the Office of the Public Defender in Passaic County, NJ and previously as a Senior Attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services. 

Emily received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law and B.A. from the University of Vermont. 


Laura Sullivan, Ph.D.

Director, Economic Justice Program

Phone: 973-755-9916

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @DrLauraSullivan

Laura Sullivan is the Director of Economic Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Laura is an experienced policy researcher who specializes in analyzing the long-term financial well-being and vulnerabilities of households, with a particular focus on assets and racial wealth disparities.

She has co-authored and led the quantitative analysis of national survey data for a number of publications and policy briefs. Most recently, she was a Senior Research Associate at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. Her work exposing the trends and drivers of the racial wealth gap has been covered by major media outlets. Dr. Sullivan has also taught graduate-level quantitative methods and policy analysis courses at American University. Previously, she worked in policy advocacy for economic development in low-income communities and communities of color in California and served as an AmeriCorps member coordinating literacy programs in the Bay Area.

She holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.


Jeanette Tindel 

Human Resources & Benefits Associate

Phone: 973-755-9902

Email: [email protected]

Jeanette Tindel is the Human Resources and Benefits Associate at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Prior to joining the Institute, Jeanette worked for corporate organizations in Banking, Global Shipping, and Financial Services.  As a member of the 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.

 


Micauri Vargas

Associate Counsel, Democracy & Justice Program

Email: [email protected]

Micauri Vargas is an Associate Counsel of the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. 

Before joining the Institute, Micauri was a Deputy Attorney General in the 2020 New Jersey AG Honors Program. As an Honors Program Deputy, she was assigned to the Division of Law, Affirmative Civil Rights & Labor Section, which investigates civil rights, labor, and workplace violations and brings appropriate actions to combat those violations. 

In 2020, she graduated from Rutgers Law School Newark, where she served as the Business Editor of the Race and the Law Review and was Co-Chair of the American Constitution Society and National Lawyers Guild. In 2014, she graduated with a B.A. in Economics from New York University.


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Philip Webb, Ph.D.

Chief Financial & Operations Officer

Phone: 973-755-9903

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @PhilipWebb15

Philip Webb is the Chief Financial & Operations Officer at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

His career has moved between the academic work of research on urban social policy and the nonprofit world of management and planning in community and social justice organizations. Prior to the Institute, he was the Executive Director of Making It Possible to end Homelessness in Edison, NJ. He has taught on homelessness, urban social problems, and social justice at Emory University, Georgia Tech, DePaul, and the University of Oklahoma. He was a Fellow at Emory’s Center for Community Partnerships and a Foundation Fellow at the University of Georgia. His book Homeless Lives in American Cities: Interrogating Myth and Locating Community was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

Beyond this scholarly work, he has run homeless prevention, transitional housing, and affordable housing programs for homeless families in the Atlanta area and worked at a homeless advocacy agency in Boston. He has consulted with and trained nonprofit boards and staff in development, operations, and planning. Philip has a Ph.D. in urban studies and social theory from Emory University and a Master’s in Social Ethics from Harvard University.


Yannick Wood, Esq.

Director, Criminal Justice Reform Program

Phone: 973-755-9904

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @YannickWood

Yannick Wood is the Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

In this capacity, he manages the Institute’s efforts to transform New Jersey’s youth incarceration system as well as create initiatives to keep law enforcement accountable to the communities in which they serve.

Yannick was an assistant district attorney with the Queens County District Attorney for over five years. While leading prosecutions of simple offenses to violent felonies, he advocated for diversion programs, substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, and alternatives to incarceration. He has also been a voice for diversity and inclusion within the law enforcement community. Prior to working in the District Attorney’s office, he served as a fellow with Transform Johannesburg (now Neighbours), which is a community-based non-profit organization that focused on alleviating poverty, eliminating xenophobia, and promoting police accountability in inner-city Johannesburg, South Africa.

Yannick holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.