Project

Civil Legal System Modernization

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Meet the Team

Lester Bird Manager

Lester Bird manages Pew’s civil legal system modernization project, where he works with state courts and legal organizations throughout the U.S. on reforming how millions of people without a lawyer navigate the civil legal system each year. His focus includes encouraging data-driven reforms of court policy. Bird previously worked on the voting information project at Pew, where he helped voters find their polling place and ballot information. Before joining Pew, he worked in state and local governments in Florida and Washington, D.C.

Casey Chiappetta Senior Associate

Casey Chiappetta conducts research on debt and evictions and manages projects related to court openness and modernization. Before joining Pew, they worked as a senior associate 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. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in justice, law, and criminology from American University.

Natasha Khwaja Associate

Natasha Khwaja works at the intersection of Pew’s policy research and technical assistance to modernize the civil legal system. Before coming to Pew, she managed randomized control trials at the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School and has held internships at a variety of domestic and international public sector organizations and research groups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and anthropology from Tufts University. 

Amie Lewis Senior Associate

Amie Lewis works to make the nation’s civil legal system more accessible and affordable by implementing the most promising technologies and tools to assist self-represented litigants and improve state court efficiency. Formerly at Equal Justice Works, Lewis managed groups of legal fellows and various private and federal grants. At the Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women, she trained attorneys, judges, and court personnel and assisted domestic violence survivors nationwide in obtaining legal representation. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from McKendree University and a master’s in women’s studies from Texas Woman’s University.

Qudsiya Naqui Officer

Qudsiya Naqui leads Pew’s research at the intersection of technology and civil legal system reform. In this role, she evaluates and tests new technologies to ensure that these interventions further efficiency, equity, and transparency in the legal process. Before joining Pew, Naqui designed and implemented immigration, housing, and disaster recovery legal services programs at Equal Justice Works and the Vera Institute of Justice. She began her legal career representing immigrant women and girls seeking relief from deportation. Naqui holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and human rights from Barnard College and a Juris Doctor from Temple University.

Erika Rickard Project Director

Erika Rickard leads Pew’s civil legal system modernization project, an effort to update the nation’s civil legal system by leveraging technology innovation, policy reform, and process improvement to better serve people navigating courts without a lawyer.

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Charlotte Stewart Principal Associate

Charlotte R. Stewart’s work supports courts’ efforts to deliver a more efficient, equitable, and transparent civil legal system. Stewart’s background before joining Pew included civil litigation, housing policy, pro bono project management, access to justice for veterans, election protection, adult literacy, disability rights, and homelessness advocacy. She is an AmeriCorps alum and holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and philosophy, a master’s degree in education, and a Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Darcy White Senior Officer

Darcy White leads the project’s research on civil court modernization and lawsuits affecting family and economic stability. 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.