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Board and Staff
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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.

Edward J. Nowak, President
Private Attorney (Monroe County Public Defender- retired)
Penfield, NY
Norman P. Effman, Vice President
Executive Director, Wyoming County-Attica Legal Aid Bureau, Inc.
Wyoming County Public Defender
Warsaw, 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
Thomas N.N. Angell
Dutchess County Public Defender
Poughkeepsie, NY
Cynthia H. Conti-Cook
Staff Attorney, Special Litigation Unit, The Legal Aid Society
New York, NY
Alice P. Green
Executive Director, Center for Law and Justice, Inc.
Albany, NY
Richard M. Greenberg
Private Attorney (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
Rick Jones
Executive Director, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
New York, NY
Magdalena Hale Spencer
IP Litigation Counsel, Sandoz Inc.
Princeton, NJ
John C. Turi
Public Defender, Rensselaer County
Troy, NY
Marsha Weissman
Sr. Policy Fellow, Center for Community Alternatives
Syracuse, NY
Deborah L. Wright
President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW Local 2325)
New York, NY
NYSDA Board of Directors Meeting Schedule 2018-2019
November 2, 2018 (Albany)
January 18, 2019 (New York City)
May 10, 2019 (Albany)
July 21, 2019 (NYSDA Annual Meeting, July 21-23, 2019, Saratoga Springs)


Dawn Allert, Office Coordinator, has worked at NYSDA since 1994. She is responsible for coordinating support staff work, overseeing operations, maintaining office equipment and supply inventory, and managing day-to-day office facilities. In addition, she coordinates and supports NYSDA’s membership program and its development.

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, 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.

Susan C. Bryant, Deputy Director, has worked at NYSDA since 2007. After working as a staff attorney for several years, she became Special Counsel and became Deputy Director in July 2017. She assists the Executive Director in managing the operations of the Association, the Public Defense Backup Center, and NYSDA's special projects. She is also co-editor of the Backup Center REPORT. 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. 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.

Captain Art C. Cody, USN (Retired), Deputy Director of the Veterans Defense Program, combines his long military career experience with a legal focus on criminal mitigation in his work with the VDP. After his graduation from West Point, he served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Germany, transitioned to the Navy Reserve, and flew with a Special Operations/Strike Rescue Squadron. His deployments include serving aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in the response to 9/11 and as Staff Director of the Interagency Rule of Law Section at the U.S. Embassy, Kabul from 2011 to 2012. As a civilian lawyer, he represented criminal defendants for nearly 20 years, specializing in mitigation in death penalty appeals. He is the Chair of the Capital Punishment Committee of the New York City Bar Association and a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award for Capital Representation. Art graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law School and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Southern California.

Jay Coleman, Client Coordinator, conducts training and advocacy on client-centered criminal justice initiatives with the NYSDA Client Advisory Board, of which he serves as Chairman. He developed and implemented the Prisoner Pre-Entry Mentoring Project to help pre-entry prisoners set goal-oriented plans for a productive, educational life in prison and plan for successful reentry. A formerly incarcerated individual, he previously worked at Re-entry Opportunities & Orientations Towards Success, Center for Employment Opportunities, and St. Charles Lwanga Homeless Shelter. He is a Certified Legal Researcher and is on the Board of the Prison Families of New York.

Mardi Crawford, Staff Attorney, has worked for NYSDA since 1996. She writes NYSDA’s materials on public defense issues, co-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.

Darlene Dollard, Director of the Public Defense Case Management System (PDCMS), has worked at NYSDA since 1996. She has been instrumental in the development of the 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.

Diane Geary, Training Coordinator, has worked at NYSDA since 2005 coordinating NYSDA’s statewide program of continuing legal education trainings. Previously, she worked for United Urban Ministry in Troy where she organized a court watching program and a revolving bail fund and co-developed an Inmate Services Program. As a member of the Troy Human Rights Commission, she secured passage of the first gay rights ordinance in a New York municipality. She also was Assistant Director of the New York State Coalition for Criminal Justice, Production Assistant for Inside Albany, and Special Projects Coordinator for the Alliance for Quality Education. Between 1983 and 1999, fortunate to be a homemaker for her three sons, she was involved with the school activities of her children, worked on PTA and PTO projects, and co-founded Averill Park Save our Schools, a grassroots organization working on school budget issues. She graduated with a B.A. in Urban Studies from Temple University.

Dennis Haskamp joined NYSDA in October 2018 and is the Veterans Case Manager in the new Long Island VDP office. Dennis enlisted the United States Army in 2005 as a field artillery man, which included a 15-month deployment to Iraq in 2007. In 2009, Dennis was reclassified as paralegal within UCMJ and deployed to Korea. Dennis provides his expertise in Operational Law and Military Justice as direct support to VDP attorneys, staff, and veteran clients. His passion for assisting fellow service members makes him a great addition to the VDP team.

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.

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, Information Systems Specialist, 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.

Charlie O'Brien, Executive Director, has worked for NYSDA for over 30 years. Previously NYSDA’s Managing Attorney, he became NYSDA's Executive Director on July 1, 2017. He has managed the organization's continuing legal education programs and criminal defense training, and directs much of the day-to-day work of the Backup Center. He is Managing Editor of the Backup Center REPORT and directs the implementation of NYSDA’s Public Defense Case Management System. He has served on numerous criminal law and public defense service committees, and currently serves on the Indigent Defense Organization Oversight Committee, Appellate Division, First Department; Office of Court Administration Advisory Committee on E-Filing in Criminal Court; and Advisory Group for the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services. The NYS Bar Association honored his work with a 2011 Award for Outstanding Achievements in Promoting Standards of Excellence in Mandated Representation.

Al O’Connor, Litigation Counsel, has worked at NYSDA since 1994. He coordinates NYSDA’s legislative work, litigation, and amicus filings, and provides Direct Defender Services to public defense attorneys. He has lectured on such topics as the right to counsel, search and seizure, criminal justice legislation, sentencing law, sex offender legal issues, and appellate practice. He is a long-serving member of the Chief Administrative Judge’s Advisory Committee on Criminal Law & Procedure. Previously, he was a trial and supervising appeals attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County. He has been a criminal defense lawyer since 1985. He received his J.D. from SUNY Buffalo Law School and a B.A. from SUNY Binghamton.

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.

Ken Strutin, Director of Legal Information Services has provided dedicated service to NYSDA's Public Defense Backup Center in various capacities from 1991 to 1993 and then from 1999 to the present.

Alexandra Walters, Program Assistant, a former NYSDA intern, provides administrative support to the NYSDA office. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Union College in 2015. She is involved in an array of nonprofit organizations in the Capital Region and is interested in justice reform.

Dandre Wheeler, Information Systems Specialist, currently works on NYSDA’s Public Defense Case Management System. Previously, he has 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 has earned a Batchelor of Science in Organizational Leadership, Communication, and Information Systems from Marist College and Associate Science 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 counselling and referrals. He is currently working on his Associate’s Degree in Human Services at Genesee Community College.

Jonathan E. Gradess was the Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Association from 1978 until June 30, 2017. He has worked as a criminal defense lawyer, a private investigator, and a law school professor. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award; Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union 2016 Carol S. Knox Award; National Legal Aid and Defender Association 2016 Reginald Heber Smith Award; New York Nonprofit Media's Cause Awards, 2016 Overall Sector Support; Capital Punishment Committee of the New York City Bar Association 2016 Norman J. Redlich Award for Capital Defense Distinguished Service; New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 2002 Gideon Award; and New York State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section 1991 award for Outstanding Contribution to the Delivery of Defense Services. The New York State Assembly honored him with a resolution in June 2017. He serves on the Restorative Justice Commission of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and the Board of Directors of Equal Justice USA. He was also the Executive Director of the New York State Defenders Justice Fund and managed its Campaign for an Independent Public Defense Commission. His career began as a paralegal, thereafter graduating cum laude in 1973 from Hofstra Law School's charter class.
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