The Leadership Conference Education Fund Staff

Vanita Gupta
President & CEO

Vanita Gupta is an experienced leader and litigator who has devoted her entire career to civil rights work. Most recently, from October 15, 2014, to January 20, 2017, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division.

Under Gupta’s leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise. She regularly engaged with a broad range of stakeholders in the course of this work.

Selected high profile matters during her tenure included the investigations of the Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago police departments; the appeals of the Texas and North Carolina voter ID cases; the challenge to North Carolina’s HB2 law and other transgender rights litigation; enforcement of education, land use, hate crimes, and other statutes to combat Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination; the issuance of statements of interest on bail and indigent defense reform, and letters to state and local court judges and administrators on the unlawful imposition of fines and fees in criminal justice system; and the Administration’s report on solitary confinement.

Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She joined the ACLU in 2006 as a staff attorney, where she subsequently secured a landmark settlement on behalf of immigrant children from around the world detained in a privately-run prison in Texas that ultimately led to the end of “family detention” at the facility. In addition to managing a robust litigation docket at the ACLU, Gupta created and led the organization’s Smart Justice

Campaign aimed at ending mass incarceration while keeping communities safe. She worked with law enforcement agencies, corrections officials, advocates, stakeholders, and elected officials across the political spectrum to build collaborative support for pretrial, drug, and sentencing policies that make our federal, state, and local criminal justice systems more effective and more just.

Gupta began her legal career as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, where she successfully led the effort to overturn the wrongful drug convictions of 38 individuals in Tulia, Texas, who were ultimately pardoned by Governor Rick Perry. She then helped negotiate a $6 million settlement on behalf of her clients. She also consulted with European civil society organizations working to advance the rights of the Roma.

Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where later she taught a civil rights clinic for several years.

She is married to Chinh Q. Le and they have two young sons.

Kristine Lucius
Executive Vice President for Policy

Kristine Lucius is executive vice president for policy at The Leadership Conference. Lucius is well known in Washington government and policy circles having worked in all three branches of the federal government, including 14 years with the Senate Judiciary Committee as then-Chairman Leahy’s top legal and policy advisor. She is an expert on judicial and executive nominations and many other complex legislative issues including comprehensive immigration reform, online privacy, cyber security, criminal justice reform, civil justice reform, bankruptcy, antitrust and prescription drug pricing. Lucius is skilled at forming effective bipartisan coalitions to get a wide range of legislation signed into law. Among those successful efforts were the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization Act, the FOIA Improvement Act, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, the USA FREEDOM Act, and the Justice for All Act. In 2015, she was named by the National Journal as one of the 20 Most Powerful Women Staffers on Capitol Hill. Before working for the Senate, Ms. Lucius worked in private practice with Jenner & Block, clerked for judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and served in the Office of Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Justice. Lucius is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Ashley Allison
Senior Advisor and Acting Executive Vice President for Field

Ashley Allison is senior advisor and acting executive vice president for field at The Leadership Conference. Allison brings over a decade of outreach, community organizing and campaign experience, along with an expertise in crisis management, coalition building, and strategic planning. From July 2014 to January 2017, she was the deputy director and senior policy advisor under Valerie Jarrett in the White House Office of Public Engagement. Her portfolio included managing a team that worked with the LGBTQ, Muslim, faith, African-American, disability, and entertainment communities. Allison’s primary policy focus at the White House was criminal justice and policing reform. Prior to joining government, she worked on healthcare enrollment and partner engagement at the non-profit Enroll America and on President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign doing statewide African-American voter outreach in Ohio. Allison is a graduate of Ohio State University. She also spent seven years in New York earning her Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School and Masters in Education from Long Island University while she working as a high school special education teacher in Brooklyn.

Allyn Brooks-LaSure
Vice President for Communications

Allyn Brooks-LaSure is vice president for communications for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. Brooks-LaSure most recently served in domestic and overseas assignments as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer. As UK Desk Officer, Brooks-LaSure supported U.S. policymakers in strengthening the U.S.-UK diplomatic, economic, and defense partnership. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Brooks-LaSure served as deputy associate administrator for external affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency, served as spokesman for two U.S. senators, the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, and the Save Darfur Coalition – where he led media relations, marketing, and digital engagement. A New Jersey native, Brooks-LaSure is a graduate of The Citadel, where he served as Regimental Public Affairs Officer, President of The African-American Society, and cadet member of the Title IX Subcommittee on Women and Sports.

Rebecca Van Voorhees
Administrative Assistant for the Executive Office

Hannah K. Fried
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Lynda Garcia
Policing Campaign Director

Sarah Edwards
Senior Writer
Karely Hernandez
Communications Manager
Shin Inouye
Director of Communications and Media Relations
Tyler Lewis
Director of Messaging and Project Management
Patrick McNeil
Digital Communications Manager
Alicia Smith
Communications Assistant

Jamal Chevis
Development Assistant
Bethany Criss-June
Managing Director of Development
Joshua Gerras
Development Associate for Program Operations
Lisa Haywood
Director of Membership Services

Jordyn Bussey
Field Associate
Cedric Lawson
Field Manger
Katherine Lemus
Administrative Assistant for Field and Policy
Sergio Lopez
Field Manager
Anjali Thakur-Mittal
Deputy Director for Field Operations &
Director, Communities Against Hate Initiative
Jheanelle Wilkins
Senior Field Manager

Craig Ashby
Grants Accounting Manager
Ron Bigler
IT Director
Herlyth Clark
Accounting Manager
Constance Dennard
Finance Associate
Charlene Dillard
Receptionist & Office Coordinator
Andy Meruvia
IT Manager
Donaldson Smith
Payroll Staff Accountant
Crystal Smith-Hunt
Director of Human Resources & Administration

Gisela Ariza
Policy Analyst
Arielle Atherley
Policy Associate
Josh Boxerman
Policy Assistant
Emily Chatterjee
Senior Counsel
Sakira Cook
Senior Counsel
Elizabeth King
Senior Policy Analyst and Director of Education Policy
Leslie Lina Paluch
Law and Public Policy Fellow
Rob Randhava
Senior Counsel & Senior Policy Analyst
Corrine Yu
Senior Counsel and Managing Policy Director
Mike Zubrensky
Chief Counsel and Legal Director