Courts & Communities
Project

Courts & Communities

Sections

Meet the Team

Lester Bird Senior Manager

Lester Bird is a senior manager for Pew’s courts and communities project, providing technical assistance to state courts and legal organizations throughout the U.S. to reform how millions of people, especially those without representation, navigate the legal system. His focus includes encouraging data-driven reforms of court policy by using research to identify problems and solutions in the legal system. Bird previously worked on the voting information project at Pew, where he helped voters find their polling place and ballot information. Before joining Pew, Bird worked in state and local governments in Florida and Washington, D.C., and he holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Florida.

Casey Chiappetta Principal Associate

Casey Chiappetta is a principal associate for Pew’s courts and communities project, where she works with states to identify data-informed solutions to improve how debt collection lawsuits are adjudicated, supports court openness initiatives, and researches how courts can more effectively resolve legal issues. Before joining Pew, they worked at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, leading research on online dispute resolution and providing technical assistance to civil legal aid organizations about federal funding. Chiappetta holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in justice, law, and criminology from American University.

Giulia Duch Clerici Senior Associate

Giulia Duch Clerici is a senior associate with Pew’s courts and communities project, providing policy analysis and technical assistance to courts and state partners. Before coming to Pew, Duch Clerici worked at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, where she managed a legal orientation program for detained immigrants in deportation proceedings. Before that, she was the field coordinator for the InterEuropean Human Aid Association in northern Greece, supporting refugees with material aid, education, and information as they navigated the complex European asylum process. Duch Clerici holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Tulane University and a master’s in criminology from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

Shun Feng Senior Associate

Shun Feng is a senior associate with Pew’s courts and communities project, working primarily on technical assistance and data support related to courts. He has also worked on projects aimed at improving outcomes for individuals on probation and parole. Before joining Pew, Feng worked in research and academia at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Feng holds bachelor’s degrees in criminology/criminal justice and psychology from the University of Maryland, and a master’s in criminal justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is a doctoral candidate in criminal justice at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Cynthia Foy Associate

Cynthia Foy is an associate in Pew’s safety and justice portfolio. In that capacity, she supports the courts and communities and the mental health and justice partnerships projects by cultivating funded partnerships, streamlining the execution of grants and contracts, and providing project management expertise. Foy previously supported the state fiscal health, Health Impact Project, and safe food projects at Pew. Before joining Pew, Foy served as executive director for a small nonprofit that supported children with social developmental disabilities. Through this experience, she acquired expertise in strategic, analytical, and data-driven leadership and developed, implemented, and evaluated innovative programming for marginalized groups. Foy holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from Saint Joseph’s College and is pursuing a master’s degree in political science and psychology from the University of Maryland.

Sarah Godfrey Senior Officer

Sarah Godfrey is a senior officer in Pew’s safety and justice portfolio. She provides writing, publication development, and strategic outreach support to the courts and communities and the mental health and justice partnerships projects. Before joining Pew, Godfrey led case research and storytelling initiatives at Families Against Mandatory Minimums, where she worked with people in federal prison and their loved ones to advance sentencing reform. She has also worked as a reporter for national and local media outlets and as a government communicator. Godfrey holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Trinity University.

Eshaan Kawlra Associate

Eshaan Kawlra is an associate with Pew’s courts and communities project, providing analysis and technical assistance to practitioners on evidence-based policy solutions. He previously worked on state campaigns to improve outcomes for youth, families, and communities affected by the juvenile and criminal legal systems. Kawlra holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan.

Breana Lamkin Officer

Breana Lamkin is a program officer in Pew’s safety and justice portfolio. In that capacity, she supports the courts and communities and the mental health and justice partnerships projects by managing partner relationships and ensuring that grants and agreements are strategic and effectively implemented. Lamkin previously led partnerships for Pew’s public safety performance project. Before joining Pew, Lamkin worked for the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, where she collaborated with advocates and organizers across the nation to examine the connection between racial injustice and mass incarceration. Lamkin holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University and a master’s degree in public administration and policy from American University.

Erika Parks Manager

Erika Parks manages the policy team on Pew’s courts and communities project. Her team provides technical assistance and policy expertise to states and localities, with the goal of helping their courts operate more effectively, prioritize work appropriately, and produce better outcomes for communities. Parks previously worked on Pew’s public safety performance project, where she led state campaigns to reduce the footprint of the juvenile and criminal legal systems. She has also worked in policy research for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the Child and Family Research Partnership, and the Urban Institute. Parks holds a bachelor’s degree in math and sociology from Pomona College and a master’s in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.

Erika Rickard Director

Erika Rickard oversees researchers, policy experts, and organizational partnerships that support Pew’s work on safety and justice, including efforts to unpack, understand, and explain the role of court administration in key policy areas that affect people’s lives.

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April Rodriguez Associate

April Rodriguez provides research and technical assistance for Pew’s courts and communities project. She previously contributed research and writing support for Pew’s mental health and justice partnerships and public safety performance project. Before joining Pew, Rodriguez served in several research positions, including one at a nonprofit organization working alongside incarcerated individuals, assisting with advocacy work and policy issues. Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a double major in criminal justice from Florida International University and a master’s in forensic and legal psychology from Marymount University.

Ruth Rosenthal Project Director

Ruth Rosenthal oversees Pew’s courts and communities project, which is focused on the profound impact that state and local courts have on people’s lives. The project helps these courts examine current practices and implement new procedures to improve how these institutions interact with and serve their communities.

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Michelle Russell Manager

Michelle Russell is a manager with Pew’s courts and communities project, leading projects related to research and technical assistance. She previously worked on Pew’s public safety performance project, where she led state campaigns to safely reduce jail and prison populations. She has provided technical assistance and data analysis for projects in Louisiana, South Carolina, Michigan, and North Carolina, including managing large sensitive datasets from throughout the criminal justice system. Before joining Pew, Russell worked as a research and policy analyst at the Crime and Justice Institute. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Isabel Shapiro Senior Associate

Isabel Shapiro is a senior associate with Pew’s courts and communities project. She supports the project’s research, policy analysis, and technical assistance efforts to advance data-driven criminal and civil legal system reforms. She previously worked on Pew’s public safety performance project. Before joining Pew, Shapiro managed a transitional residency program for people on parole in New York state. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University and a master’s in public policy from Duke University.

Mara Weinstein Senior Manager

Mara Weinstein is a senior manager in Pew’s safety and justice portfolio. Weinstein and her team support the courts and communities and the mental health and justice partnerships projects to cultivate funded partnerships, streamline the execution of grants and contracts, align strategic outreach efforts, and ensure consistency in safety and justice publications. Weinstein previously worked on the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, providing technical assistance to state and county jurisdictions. Before joining Pew, Weinstein worked in juvenile justice and child welfare with the New York Foundling, leading the implementation and operation of several evidence-based programs across the city and supervising the agency’s educational services department for youth in foster care. Weinstein holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy and a master’s degree in criminal justice policy and administration from Boston University.

Darcy White Senior Officer

Darcy White is a senior officer with Pew’s courts and communities project, developing and leading the research agenda for improving how courts are administered so that they work more efficiently and effectively for the millions of individuals and families who interact with the system each year. White previously worked on the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, leading research to advance evidence-based policymaking in state and local government. Before joining Pew, she was a research associate at the Public International Law & Policy Group and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. She holds a a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Iowa and master’s in international peace and conflict resolution from American University's School of International Service.