Staff

Kaitlin Banner

Kaitlin Banner

Staff Attorney

Kaitlin Banner is a staff attorney in the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track program.  Prior to joining Advancement Project, Kaitlin was Clinical Instructor at the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law.  Students and professors in the clinic (among other things) represent families in special education and school discipline cases, and advocate for policies that promote positive interventions and enable students to continue their education.  From 2008 - 2010, Kaitlin was the Crowell & Moring Equal Justice Works Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital, where she founded the Fair Discipline Project and began working on school-to-prison pipeline issues.  Kaitlin is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law School Juvenile Justice Clinic and George Washington University Law School Scholarly Writing Program.  Kaitlin received her B.A. from Villanova University, her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School, and her LL.M. in clinical pedagogy and systems change from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

*Kaitlin Banner is admitted in New York and Washington, D.C.

Projects: Buffalo, Chicago, Florida

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Judith Browne Dianis

Judith Browne Dianis

Co-Director

Judith Browne Dianis has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing, and employment.  She has protected the rights of people of color in the midst of some of the greatest civil rights crises of our modern times, including in Florida after the 2000 election and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. 

Dianis is also a pioneer in the movement to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in school districts.  Dianis has authored groundbreaking reports on the issue including:  Opportunities Suspended (2000) and Derailed:  The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, detailing the unnecessary criminalization of students by their schools. Working closely with grassroots organizations, Advancement Project’s work has significantly decreased student suspensions and arrests in Denver, Baltimore and Florida.  Additionally, Advancement Project has worked to build and support a growing national movement on this issue. Dianis’ commitment to racial equity in public schools carries over to her positions on the Board of FairTest, and she is a founding Convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy.   In recognition of Dianis’ work on these issues, she was recently named a Black Male Achievement Social Innovator by the Leadership & Sustainability Institute.

Dianis’ efforts to protect voters of color spans years of dedication.  From filing one of the first-ever lawsuits to enforce the “Motor Voter” law to litigating on behalf of Black Floridians after the 2000 election, Dianis has established herself as an expert in voting rights.    She continued her litigation efforts in 2004, stopping the Republican National Committee from engaging in voter suppression in Ohio and requiring Virginia in 2008 to ensure equitable allocation of voting machines.  As Advancement Project has continued its aggressive voter protection efforts effectively blocking voter suppression efforts in 2012, Dianis has also been leading an effort to develop a campaign to secure an explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.  In 2013, she was awarded a Prime Movers Fellowship for trailblazing social movement leaders to further develop this campaign.  

Dianis joined Advancement Project at its inception in 1999, after serving as the Managing Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.  She is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, was awarded a Skadden Fellowship, served as a Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University Law School, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.   She was named one of the “Thirty Women to Watch” by Essence Magazine and has written and commented extensively in the media about race, voting rights, and education issues, appearing often on MSNBC, CNN, BET, TVOne and various radio shows.

Jennifer Farmer

Jennifer Farmer

Managing Director of Communications

Jennifer R. Farmer joined Advancement Project in 2012, bringing ten years of strategic communications experience. With a sharp understanding of the intersection of organizing, policy and media, she has successfully directed both national and state campaigns that have advanced issues, changed the national discourse and effected social change.

Farmer most recently served as Communications Director for the labor table which was housed at the AFL-CIO, where she developed and managed the public messaging and communications strategies of workers’ rights campaigns in several states. As the former Deputy Director of Communications of SEIU, she orchestrated multi-pronged communications projects, including rapid response implementation, media outreach and building strategic partnerships, which secured high-profile visibility for the union on multiple media platforms. Farmer has also lent her expertise to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus, and the Center for Progressive Leadership. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from the University of Rochester.

Projects: Denver, Mississippi

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Caitlin Swain

Caitlin Swain

Skadden Fellow

Caitlin Swain joined Advancement Project in 2012 as a Skadden Fellow after serving as a law intern in the summer of 2011. Through her work with the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, she supports grassroots efforts to end the over-criminalization of youth and advocates for students' rights to quality education.

Swain is a recent graduate of Duke University School of Law where she received the Public Service Award, the Justin Miller Leadership Award, and the Duke Bar Associations’ Student Leader award for her work as both the co-chair of the human rights law society and the student director of the Innocence Project. In 2011, she worked on international human rights issues, including Guantanamo Bay advocacy, as an Ella Baker fellow with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.

Before law school, Swain worked on issues of educational equity, voting rights protection, and anti-discrimination with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and McSurely & Osment, a civil rights law firm. In 2005 she graduated with honors from Wesleyan University where she studied American Studies/Ethnic Studies. Caitlin is thrilled to re-join the AP team and return to a job she loves.

Projects: Denver, Georgia, North Carolina

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Dwanna Nicole

Dwanna Nicole

Policy Advocate

Dwanna Nicole is the Policy Advocate for the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track program. Prior to joining the Advancement Project, she served as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Young Women’s Project, where she worked with local elected officials and government agencies to design and implement youth led campaigns, including those focused on health, education, and child welfare.

Dwanna has held policy positions at nonprofits, within school systems, and at the local government level. She has coordinated legislative activities for various organizations and coalitions, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, and has developed legislation for the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County Public Schools Boards of Education.

Dwanna is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, where she received her B.A. in African American Studies/Public Policy. She is currently pursuing her law degree.

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Thena Robinson-Mock

Thena Robinson-Mock

Project Director of the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign

Thena Robinson-Mock serves as Project Director of Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign. She is a civil rights attorney with over a decade of experience in racial and social justice advocacy.  Prior to joining Advancement Project, Thena served as Executive Director of Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools (The Rethinkers), a dynamic youth leadership organization dedicated to creating intentional spaces for young people to “rethink” the public school experience and advocate for educational equity in New Orleans.

Thena worked as a staff attorney for the New Orleans office of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) where she provided direct representation for youth in juvenile court and school discipline proceedings and handled civil rights litigation.  Her legal background also includes civil rights fair housing law and capital post-conviction representation.  Thena also has a passion for merging the arts with social justice and is an ensemble member of Junebug Productions, formerly known as the Free Southern Theater, which served as a cultural organizing arm of the Civil Rights Movement.

Thena is originally from Richmond, Virginia. She is a graduate of Hampton University and Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.  Thena is the recipient of the “40 under 40” award from Gambit Weekly in New Orleans and was named as a Women Rule! Leadership Honoree from Oprah Magazine and the White House Project. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband Brentin Mock and has a wonderful stepson, Justice Mock.

*Thena Robinson-Mock is admitted in Louisiana.

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Oscar Lopez

Oscar Lopez

Skadden Fellow Staff Attorney

Oscar Daniel Lopez joined Advancement Project in 2013 as a Skadden Fellow Staff Attorney. As a member of the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track program, he builds relationships with youth and parent led groups to fight against the over-criminalization of youth.

Oscar is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where he earned a B.A. in Psychology, and minored in Education Studies, Civic Engagement, and Chicana/o Studies. Oscar attended Columbia Law School, where he served as the Executive Articles Editor of Jailhouse Lawyers Manual, a publication of the Human Rights Law Review. Oscar taught for two years in the High School Law Institute program and coached the Latino/a Law Students’ Association moot court team.

During law school, Oscar spent his summers at Community Lawyers, Inc. in Compton, CA and the New York Lawyers for Public Interest. He also participated in the Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic and interned for the Honorable Ronald L. Ellis, Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York.

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Jadine Johnson

Jadine Johnson

Staff Attorney, Campaign for Quality Education

Jadine is a Staff Attorney in the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign and the Campaign for Quality Education. Prior to joining Advancement Project,  Jadine worked for over four years at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama. At SPLC, Jadine litigated several civil rights actions, including one in Mobile, Ala. that resulted in a settlement agreement that reduced the number of suspendable offenses, increased supervision of school administrators’ suspension decisions, and required mandatory training for school staff on discipline policies and alternatives to suspension. While at SPLC, Jadine also represented students in school suspension, expulsion and special education hearings. Jadine is passionate about using a multitude of tools, including litigation, policy, research, community advocacy and education, to advocate for and alongside students and families.

Jadine is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She received her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. At Georgetown, Jadine served as a student-attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic, a student-teacher in the Street Law Clinic, and an editor for the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy.

Before law school, Jadine served as a Policy Associate at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC and as a teacher at the School of Hope in Cape Town, South Africa.

*Jadine is admitted in Alabama.

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Jumoke Balogun

Jumoke Balogun

Senior Communications Associate

Jumoke Balogun joined Advancement Project as Senior Communications Associate in 2014.  In this role, Jumoke works on Ending the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Track team and supports students, grassroots organizations and community partners in Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and Chicago.  Jumoke previously served on the National Media Team at the Service Employee International Union (SEIU), where she helped to elevate issues facing rank-and-file members to the national debate. In this capacity, Jumoke helped drive day-to-day media relations and editorial work for several issue campaigns. Jumoke has worked at both the Missouri House of Representatives and the  United States House of Representatives, serving at legislative correspondent for Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO 1st District).

Born in Nigeria and raised in Kansas City, MO,   Jumoke received her Bachelors in Media Relations from the University of Missouri Kansas City and her Masters in International Affairs from American University. She is passionate and an advocate for gender equity, sustainable development , collective bargaining rights, immigrant rights and racial justice.

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Drew Ambrogi

Drew Ambrogi

Communications Associate

Drew Ambrogi joined Advancement Project in April 2015, after working as an outreach coordinator for the Fulbright Scholar Program. He graduated from American University in 2014, where his studies focused on racial and economic inequalities. Drew has experience in graphic design, web development and video production, and produced an independent documentary film about gentrification in Washington, DC. He has also served as a Research Assistant in Linguistic Anthropology and as an Assistant Director of MOMIES TLC’s summer cultural empowerment program.

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Thomas Mariadason

Thomas Mariadason

Staff Attorney

Thomas is Staff Attorney in Advancement Project's Ending to Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign. In that role, he collaborates with community groups, organizers, and youth to support their work in building collective power, resisting and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, and seeding a new vision for restorative justice.

Education and racial justice for youth of color have been central to Thomas’ work for more than a decade. Before law school, he examined police engagement with students in public schools as a researcher for the Vera Institute of Justice and later helped launch Esperanza NY, an alternative to incarceration program for young people in New York City’s juvenile system. He also organized for several years with the youth leaders from Desis Rising Up and Moving’s (DRUM) YouthPOWER program to wage a campaign to end police profiling in public schools and neighborhoods. After graduating from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law in 2009, Thomas clerked for one year in Brooklyn federal court. He then joined the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF) as a community lawyer in their Educational Equity and Youth Rights Program. In that role, Thomas worked directly with community partners in cities across the country to advocate for the rights of immigrant youth to  attend schools that have language access, are safe from racial violence, and free from unwarranted police surveillance.

Thomas and his family are from the Jaffna Tamil community in Sri Lanka, and he was raised in New York City.


 

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