Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In
Board and Staff
Share |


Serving on NYSDA's Board of Directors are prominent lawyers and leaders in New York's criminal justice and family court communities. For the Board's meeting schedule, see below. The Association's staff are experienced and dedicated professionals with diverse backgrounds in criminal law, family court practice, criminal justice, information technology, and a variety of other skills.

John C. Turi, President
Public Defender, Rensselaer County
Troy, NY

Norman P. Effman, Vice President
Executive Director, Wyoming County-Attica Legal Aid Bureau, Inc.
Wyoming County Public Defender
Warsaw, NY

Thomas N.N. Angell, Vice President
Dutchess County Public Defender
Poughkeepsie, NY

Merble H. Reagon, Secretary
Executive Director, Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement
New York, NY

Richard A. Rothermel, Treasurer
Private Attorney (Otsego County Public Defender- retired)
Oneonta, NY

Cynthia H. Conti-Cook
Staff Attorney, Special Litigation Unit, The Legal Aid Society
New York, NY

Andrew D. Correia
Public Defender, Wayne County
Lyons, NY

Richard M. Greenberg
Of Counsel, Romano & Kuan PLLC (Attorney-in-Charge, Office of the Appellate Defender- retired)
New York, NY

Susan R. Horn
Private Attorney (President & CEO, Hiscock Legal Aid Society- retired)
Syracuse, NY

Steven J. Hyman
Partner, McLaughlin & Stern
New York, NY

Magdalena Hale Spencer
IP Litigation Counsel, Sandoz Inc.
Princeton, NJ

Seth Steed
Managing Attorney, Criminal Defense Practice, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
New York, NY

Jared Trujillo
President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW Local 2325)
New York, NY

Marsha Weissman
Sr. Policy Fellow, Center for Community Alternatives
Syracuse, NY

NYSDA Board of Directors Meeting Schedule 2019-2020
November 1, 2019 (Albany)
January 31, 2020 (New York City)
May 1, 2020 (Albany)
July 26, 2020 (NYSDA Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2020, Saratoga Springs)


Dawn Allert, Senior Contact Manager, has worked at NYSDA since 1994.  She is responsible for updating and maintaining NYSDA’s extensive mail database and provides NYSDA staff with datasource information which fulfills their outreach needs.  She also manages and supports NYSDA’s membership program and develops strategies for pursuing membership growth. She oversees everyday office operations and maintains office equipment and supply inventory.


Dave Austin, Director of Information Technology, has worked at NYSDA since 1991. He is responsible for the procurement, installation, configuration, and operations of NYSDA’s network and computer systems. Additionally he develops and implements the IT budget, manages crisis situations and IT setups for new projects, and maintains the website. Previously, he was a GS-12 Information Systems Implementation Specialist at the U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal. A graduate of Condie College in San Jose, CA with an A.A.S. in Computer Science, Dave bought his first IBM PC from ComputerLand in San Mateo in December of 1981 (a month after they first hit the market) and in his off hours stacks tracks in Cubase with several hundred VST instruments at his disposal. The 8Dio Epic Taiko Ensemble is his current goto drum set.

Stephanie Batcheller, Senior Staff Attorney, has worked at NYSDA since 1998. She provides Backup Center Direct Defender Services, responding to requests for legal assistance and research. Her professional practice interests include trauma-informed advocacy and secondary trauma. She has lectured on these and other topics along with assisting in NYSDA’s continuing development of client-centered representation training strategies. For over thirty years, she has practiced privately and as a public defender in the state and federal courts of New York and Georgia, and the federal courts of Maryland. She has extensive specialized training in criminal defense litigation including from the National College for Criminal Defense Trial Practice Institute and American Bar Association Appellate Advocacy Training program. She received the President’s Commendation from the NYS Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for her work on amici briefs filed on behalf of NYSDA, NACDL, and others. She received her J.D. from Mercer University and her B.A. in Economics from Wells College, and she is a graduate of The Emma Willard School.

Kimberly Bode, Family Court Staff Attorney, joins NYSDA after 17 years of exclusive practice in the public interest sector. More than a decade of her career has been spent as a family court attorney with the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, where she fought every day to preserve her client’s parental rights. She has represented litigants in virtually all types of family court matters, including neglect proceedings, custody and visitation matters, termination of parental rights, child support violations, and family offense proceedings.


Natalie Brocklebank, Staff Attorney, joins NYSDA after recently serving as Assistant Counsel on the Statewide Team of the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services where she worked to implement the expansion of the Hurrell- Harring Reforms to all counties. Prior to that appointment, she was an Attorney and Investigations Supervisor at the Bronx Defenders. Natalie began her legal career at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and subsequently selected as a partnership lawyer on rotation to New Orleans, post Katrina. She has also run a private practice in New Orleans, LA and Saratoga County, NY. Prior to practicing law, she was a defense investigator for the former law office of Mark J. Rochon, Michele A. Roberts and Jonathan Stern in Washington, DC. Natalie has served as an Adjunct for SUNY Empire State College teaching Media Ethics and the Law. She is a graduate of Siena College and the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law.

Susan C. Bryant, Executive Director, has worked at NYSDA since 2007. After working as a NYSDA staff attorney for several years, she became Special Counsel, was appointed Deputy Director in July 2017, and became Executive Director in May 2019. As Executive Director, she manages the operations of the Association, the Public Defense Backup Center, and NYSDA's special projects. Previously, she clerked for the then-Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, worked as an honors program attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, and was in private practice. In 2012, she received the Kevin M. Andersen Award from the Genesee County Public Defenders Office. She served on the New York State Judiciary’s Task Force for Voluntary Reform of Justice Courts from 2012 to 2015 and is a member of the Criminal Defense Advisory Group for the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services. She received her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and an M.S. in Information Science from the University at Albany.

Sandra Cassidy is a Staff Attorney in the Batavia office of the Veterans Defense Program. Her criminal law credentials include graduating from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College and serving as an adjunct professor of criminal law and a prosecutor. She attended Medical School for Lawyers and obtained a UB School of Management certification in Bioinformatics; she has practiced medical malpractice law specializing in brain and birth injury and authored a manual on vaccine litigation to provide guidance to parents. Sandy assisted in a publishing project for People Inc. which is now carried at the Museum of DisAbility History. She also served as corporate counsel in the financial services sector where she was responsible for risk analysis, ethics, and business expansion. A Rochester native, and graduate of Northern Arizona University and the University of Buffalo Law School Cum Laude, she is admitted to practice in all New York State Courts; the Federal Court Western District of New York; the United States Court of Federal Claims; and the United States Supreme Court. She enjoys music and volunteers each year as a jazz performer for Buffalo Lawyers for the Arts.

Mardi Crawford, Senior Staff Attorney, has worked for NYSDA since 1996. She writes NYSDA’s materials on public defense issues, edits the Backup Center REPORT, and responds to Direct Defender Services requests and other inquiries. Other responsibilities include working with the NYS Indigent Legal Services Office on standards development. Mardi began her public defense career at Michigan's State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit, representing clients in state appellate courts and remand proceedings in trial courts. In 1987, she moved to Washington, DC to become a staff attorney at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) and helped draft NLADA standards, including the Performance Guidelines for Criminal Defense Representation published in 1995. She has a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School and a B.A. from Western State College. Outside the office she participates in grassroots coalitions and collaborations on justice issues including the NYS Prisoner Justice Network. Being married to an artist helps keep her connected to a broad range of human endeavors.

John Cutro, Restorative Practitioner, has worked at NYSDA since 2012. He conducts restorative practice trainings and collaboratively constructs processes to empower those most affected to restore humanity in challenging situations. He is a certified trainer with the International Institute for Restorative Practices and has presented at many national and international conferences. Using restorative and trauma informed practices, he has helped interrupt deadly inner-city violence and has trained and coached many communities and schools in shifting conversations from problems to the possibilities of community. He has trained the Community Accountability Boards of the Albany County District Attorney's Office, Albany County Probation, Schenectady Center for Community Justice, University at Albany, and Newburg, NY. Previously, he was a capital case investigator, mitigation specialist, and victim liaison for the NYS Capital Defender Office, and used restorative practices in death penalty cases. For the past ten years, he has been a licensed private investigator. He graduated from SUNY Albany with a B.S. in Physics, attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and taught biostatistics and scientific research methods while on the faculty of Albany Medical College.

Roy M. Diehl, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired), has recently been named as the new Deputy Director of the Veterans Defense Program of the New York State Defenders Association. Roy joined the Army in 1984, was commissioned in 1998 and retired in 2015. Roy graduated from Albany Law School in 1992. His military career spans over 31 years, which included tours to Ground Zero in 2001, Iraq in 2005 with the NY Army National Guard 42nd Infantry Division, and he served at the Pentagon for several years. His military awards include New York Defense of Liberty “with WTC Device,” Army Meritorious Medal (2), Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal (4). Upon his return from Iraq, Roy held various positions including Senior Defense Counsel, International Law Officer, Officer in Charge, Team Chief, Domestic Support and Operational Law Attorney.

Darlene Dollard, Director of Software Development, has worked at NYSDA since 1996. She has been instrumental in the development of the Public Defense Case Management System (PDCMS). She has traveled across the state to install PDCMS in 70 public defense offices, perform live data conversion, and help with on-site training. She works closely with NYSDA programmers to ensure that new functionality meets the needs of end users, and supervises the PDCMS support team. She received the Center for Digital Government’s Best of New York Leadership Award for Demonstrated Excellence in IT Operations, Support & Service in 2006. Previously, she was General Manager of Legi-Tech legislative tracking system. She has a B.S. in Political Science from SUNY Plattsburgh. She is involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and was an ESL tutor for Literacy Volunteers. She and her husband Gary have two grown children.

Diane DuBois, Executive Assistant, has worked at NYSDA since 2008. She is involved in organizational management and program coordination. Previously, she was the Assistant to the NYS Defenders Justice Fund Campaign Manager and worked on the Campaign for an Independent Public Defense Commission. Prior to that, she worked for The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group as Manager of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, and later as Lead Coordinator of the Client Support Center. Diane graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology and Women Studies from SUNY Albany.

Richard Henry (USMC), Veterans Defense Program Case Manager works in the Batavia office of our Veterans Defense Program (VDP). He provides direct support to attorneys, staff, and veteran clients of the VDP. He separated as a corporal (E-4) after serving four years in the Marine Corps as a Motor Transport Operator. During his time in service he provided training for Marine Corps Lieutenants, along with officers from other nations, in convoy operations during Logistics Officer Course field exercises. He was also attached to a small group in charge of training an advisory team prior to a deployment to Iraq. Upon separation from the USMC, he enrolled at SUNY Brockport College and is currently pursuing a double major in Criminal Justice and Political Science and is completing a work study for Veterans Affairs, advising veterans and dependents on educational benefits. He is hoping to attend law school next fall.

Blair Hill is a Staff Attorney with the Veterans Defense Program in the Long Island office. She is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law, and graduated summa cum laude as a Psychology Major, Pre-Law Minor from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Before attending Hofstra, she was employed at Sunrise House Foundation’s Non-Profit as a recreational therapist working with vulnerable adults suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction. At Hofstra, she focused on Public Interest Law, interning with NYSDA-VDP and Mercy Haven in Islip Terrace. Throughout her attendance in law school she was a member of the Veteran Law Student Association and part of the team responsible for implementing the Veteran Legal Assistance Program, a bi-annual clinic that assists Long Island Veteran’s with their legal needs. Upon her graduation, she joined Nassau/Suffolk Law Services to implement and develop the Veterans Rights Program, serving the civil legal needs of Long Island’s veterans. Her most immediate employment prior to joining the VDP was at Brooklyn Legal Services Corp., representing low-income tenants of Brooklyn in landlord tenant disputes.

Gary A. Horton, Director of the Veterans Defense Program, has worked at NYSDA since 2013. He directs and manages this NYSDA program, providing training, support, and legal assistance to justice-involved veterans and service members, and the public defense attorneys representing them. Previously, his legal practice centered on public defense for over 30 years, serving as Public Defender of Genesee County for the last 20 years. He is a founding member and past President of the Genesee Veterans Support Network, and served on NYSDA’s Board of Directors for 12 years, including as Board Vice President. He received the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York Special Service Award in 2005, the NYS Bar Association Criminal Justice Section David S. Michaels Award in 2006, NYSDA’s Wilfred R. O’Connor Award in 2011, and the 2016 Criminal Justice Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness-NYS. He has a J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from Hobart College.

K.J. has worked as a Program Assistant since June 2019. In 2018, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from SUNY Albany. She has a long history of promoting political engagement with inner-city youth and has an interest in prison reform. She has plans to attend law school in the near future.


Asaph Ko came onboard NYSDA in March 2019 and is an Information Systems Specialist for our Public Defender Case Management System (PDCMS) in our Albany office. Asaph has a BS in Physics from Siena College with a minor in Math. Has taught and mentored with the Urban Scholars Program at Siena. Co-taught classes at Loudenville Elementary School in computers. Interned at XOS and has worked with Habitat for Humanity and volunteered at the Salvation Army and for NYSDA's Basic Trial Skills Program (BTSP).

Barbara Lombardi joined NYSDA in October 2018 and is the Assistant Program Coordinator in the new Long Island VDP office. Barbara has extensive experience working for non-profits and various businesses in administrative roles. She has expert knowledge in Section 8 HUD-VASH Housing for homeless veterans and a desire to assist all who served. She lives on Long Island with her four children, husband, and various pets. She enjoys volunteering at the local animal rescue groups, hiking, and camping.

Mike Mayer, Systems Administrator, has worked at NYSDA since 2013. He provides training, support, and development for NYSDA’s Public Defense Case Management System. He is a highly trained IT support specialist and holds many industry certifications on client applications and server infrastructure. Previously, he was a project manager and support technician for companies ranging from small regional businesses to global corporations such as GE. He lives in Altamont, NY with his wife and three children. He is very involved in local schools and colleges, promoting the advancement of technology education through local Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) programs.

Deanne Quinn Miller, Program Coordinator of NYSDA’s Veteran’s Defense Program, has worked at NYSDA since 2013. She has extensive knowledge of veteran issues and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) health and education benefits. She navigates both the VA and Department of Defense systems to collect pertinent client military history information for veteran cases, assists with trainings, and provides counseling and referrals. Previously, she was Executive Director of the Genesee Veterans Support Network. She received the VA of Western New York’s Women Veterans in the Justice System Award for her work with veterans. She is a spokesperson and Director of the Forgotten Victims of Attica. She graduated cum laude from the University of NY at Buffalo with a B.S. in Consumer & Family Studies. She and her husband have two daughters, Aubrey and Cassidy.

Rebecca Murphy, Legal Research Librarian, joined NYSDA in September 2019. Before signing on with NYSDA, she was the Technical Services Librarian at Albany Law School for 16 years, providing systems and software support and legal reference assistance. Prior to that she was a Law Librarian at the firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP for 5 years, supporting over 50 attorneys with legal research. She will be overseeing the NYSDA library operations and providing legal research for the association community. Rebecca received her Masters of Library Science from the University at Albany.

Megan (Meegan) O’Toole, Training Manager and Operations Specialist, joins NYSDA after working in the association realm for nearly 14 years, primarily with the New York State Bar Association as Associate Director, Member Outreach and Development. Megan worked on the development and execution of an annual five-day trial academy, young lawyer and law student engagement, content and program development, and various events. She also worked closely with practice area Sections to provide growth opportunities for newly-admitted attorneys and law students. At NYSDA, Megan works with staff attorneys on the criminal and family court training programs, as well as helping to improve and streamline training planning, outreach and other processes. Megan lives locally with her husband Tom, and springer spaniel, Tilly. She has a grown son, Ian, and two grandchildren, Kaelyn and Eamon. Megan skis with her granddaughter and coaches girls’ softball. She loves travel, photography, knitting, and bird watching the 12 feeders in her back yard. Megan attended the Junior College of Albany and SUNY Empire State College.

Anne Rabe, Organizing Coordinator, works on criminal justice advocacy and organizing, the Veterans Defense Program, communications, and fundraising. Previously, she was a Senior Legislative Assistant to NYS Assemblyman Richard Gottfried; Executive Director of NY Environmental Institute; Executive Director of Citizens' Environmental Coalition, a statewide grassroots environmental justice organization; and Campaign Coordinator for the national Center for Health, Environment & Justice. She serves on the Board of two community groups working to clean up toxic waste sites. She has received many national, state, and regional awards for her work on environmental justice and justice system issues, by entities including the NYS Council of Veterans Organizations, NYS Attorney General’s Office, NYS Department of Health, and NYS Senator Jesse Hamilton, who honored her with a Shirley Chisholm Women of Excellence Award in 2017. She graduated from SUNY Albany with a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism.

Joel Rosenberg, Business Manager, has worked at NYSDA since 2015. He directs and manages NYSDA’s financial and human resources programs. Previously, he was the controller at a variety of non-profit organizations and construction and manufacturing companies. For twelve years prior, he was a certified public accountant at an accounting firm. He has a B.S. in Accounting from SUNY Fredonia.


Juan Sosa (Army Reserves), Veterans Defense Program Case Manager, recently joined the Long Island Office of our Veterans Defense Program (VDP). Juan provides direct support to attorneys, staff, and veteran clients. Juan holds a Biology degree from Mercy College. In 1993, Juan joined the Army Reserves as a Motor Transport Operator and was deployed to Iraq in 2002 and 2006. Juan has witnessed the struggles of veterans and is committed to making a difference in the lives of those he helps. Juan is currently completing 20 years as an Active Army Reservist.


Dandre Wheeler, Information Systems Specialist, works on NYSDA’s Public Defense Case Management System. Previously worked at the Anderson Center for Autism, at Dutchess Community College and at the Ministry of Water, Work, Housing and Transportation in Kingston, Jamaica. He served as a Board member of the Mid-Hudson Coalition. He earned a BS in Organizational Leadership, Communication and Information Systems from Marist College and AAS degrees from both Dutchess Community College and Portmore Community College.


Michael White, USMC (Retired), Case Manager, provides direct support to attorneys, staff, and veteran clients of the Veterans Defense Program. Michael retired from the Marine Corps in 2014 with 22 years of military experience, including deployments to Haiti, Philippines, Korea, and Afghanistan. Michael has firsthand knowledge of the many issues that veterans face and extensive knowledge of military culture and health and education benefits. Michael will assist our clients with peer-to-peer support, counselling, and referrals. He is currently in his senior year at the University of Buffalo and will graduate in Spring 2020 with a Social Sciences Interdisciplinary BA in Health and Human Services, Community Mental Health Concentration.

Charlie O'Brien (1956-2020), was NYSDA's long-time Managing Attorney, and he became Executive Director in 2017. His leadership in many of the Backup Center's functions prepared him well for that task. For over 30 years he had been key in all aspects of NYSDA's work, including training; development and constant updating of the Public Defense Case Management System; publications; the virtual, physical, and staffing infrastructure of the office; and analysis of policy. Well-known despite his preference for keeping a low profile, he served on numerous criminal law and public defense committees and in 2011 was presented a New York State Bar Association award for Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Standards of Excellence in Mandated Representation. Soon after he became Executive Director, he became ill. He eventually stepped into the position of Senior Staff Attorney, continuing his work at NYSDA as long as he could. He died on March 26, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has delayed to date any opportunity to gather in observance of his death and celebration of his life. The obituary is here. A tribute by NYSDA Board Member Andy Correia is here.

Jonathan E. Gradess(1947-2019) was the Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association from 1978 to 2017. In that time he increased NYSDA's infrastructure, reputation, and influence tremendously, as was recognized in the numerous awards he received (see the Accomplishments & Awards page of this website). Jonathan left a legacy of client-centered advocacy for those following him to build on; details of that legacy, and links to several tributes that followed his death, are set out in the Aug.-Oct. 2019 issue of the Public Defense Backup Center REPORT (photo caption on p. 1, remembrance on p. 3). At the time of Jonathan's retirement, the NYSDA Board established the Jonathan E. Gradess Peace and Justice Fund to continue the fight for justice in which he had engaged so joyfully for so many years.
Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal