Our TeAM



Alec graduated from Yale College in 2005 with a degree in Ethics, Politics, & Economics and Harvard Law School in 2008, where he was a Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review.  Before founding Civil Rights Corps, Alec co-founded Equal Justice Under Law, a non-profit organization dedicated to systemic litigation challenging injustices in the American criminal legal system.  Alec was also a civil rights lawyer and public defender with the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and a federal public defender in Alabama, representing impoverished people accused of federal crimes. 

Alec is interested in ending human caging, surveillance, the death penalty, immigration laws, war, and inequality.  He is the author of The Human Lawyer, 34 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 563 (2010); Protecting Corporations Instead of the Poor, 121 Harv. L. Rev. 275 (2007); and Civil Disobedience: The Role of Judges, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 1988 (2007).  His most recent article is Policing, Mass Imprisonment, and the Failure of American Lawyers, 128 Harv. L. Rev. F. 253 (2015).

Alec was recently awarded the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year by Public Justice for his role in bringing constitutional civil rights cases to challenge the American money bail system and the 2016 Stephen B. Bright Award for contributions to indigent defense in the South by Gideon’s Promise. You can read a recent profile about Alec's work with Civil Rights Corps in Harvard Magazine here.

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eric halperin, CEO

Eric has more than 20 years of experience as a civil rights attorney and working with social justice non-profits, including senior positions at the Open Society Foundations, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Center for Responsible Lending. Prior to joining Civil Rights Corps Eric was a senior advisor to Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Program where he directed the foundation’s efforts to promote economic justice in the United States.

From 2010 - 2014 Eric served in leadership roles in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, including as Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General overseeing the Division’s fair housing, fair lending, and employment non-discrimination enforcement programs.  While at the Justice Department, Eric oversaw the filing of a record number of fair lending cases, including the 3 largest residential fair lending settlements in history and the Department’s first ever enforcement actions for illegal foreclosures against members of the military.  

Prior to that, Eric was Director of the Center for Responsible Lending's Washington office, where he managed the litigation program and CRL's advocacy on policy issues.  Earlier in his career, Eric served as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division and on the staff of a community-based organization that provided job training and transitional housing for homeless people.

Eric received his B.A. from Wesleyan University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.


PREMAL DhARIA, director of litigation

Premal comes to Civil Rights Corps after nearly fifteen years of representing people charged with crimes in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and the military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She began her career as an attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she practiced for nine years. While at PDS, Premal represented hundreds of people charged with a wide variety of offenses, tried many of their criminal cases, and closely supervised trial attorneys at all levels of practice.  She served as a member of the Forensic Practice Group and specialized in working with experts and the litigation of forensic issues.  Premal also represented multiple clients on direct appeal. From PDS, Premal went to the Federal Public Defender (FPD) in the District of Maryland, where she represented people charged with a broad range of crimes in federal court. At the FPD, Premal litigated dispositive pretrial motions, conducted jury trials and engaged in complex sentencing advocacy and litigation.  Most recently, Premal was defense counsel in the military commission at Guantanamo Bay, where she represented clients actively charged with alleged terrorism and law of war offenses, including those brought as capital offenses.  Prior to becoming an actual attorney, Premal was a college intern at the Neighborhood Defender Service in Harlem and a law student intern at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender in Philadelphia, and PDS.  


A. Dami Animashaun

Dami is a graduate of Rutgers University and Harvard Law School. In law school, he represented indigent defendants in criminal hearings and tenants in eviction proceedings as a student practitioner at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Prior to joining Civil Rights Corps, he was the Marvin M. Karpatkin Fellow at the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.

You can reach Dami at dami@civilrightscorps.org.


KATIE CHAMBLEE-ryan, attorney* and coordinator of The prosecutor project

Katie Chamblee-Ryan joined Civil Rights Corps after four years as a staff attorney in the Capital Litigation Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights. At the Southern Center, Katie represented indigent defendants on death row in Georgia and Alabama in both state and federal courts. In 2015, Katie represented Timothy Tyrone Foster as co-counsel in Foster v. Chatman at the U.S. Supreme Court, which resulted in a 7-1 opinion reversing Foster's conviction and death sentence because of racial discrimination in jury selection. Katie is the author of Innocence and Override, 126 Yale L.J. F. 118 (2016) (with Patrick Mulvaney), which argued that Alabama's practice of judicial override violates the Eighth Amendment because it increases the risk that innocent people will be executed, and was the subject of a New York Times Editorial advancing this argument; and Litigating Race Discrimination Under Batson v. Kentucky, ABA Criminal Justice Magazine, V. 32 (2017-2018) (with Stephen B. Bright). 

Katie was a law clerk for Hon. Myron H. Thompson in the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she received the Chubb Prize for Excellence in Legal Draftsmanship. 

You can reach Katie at katie@civilrightscorps.org.

*Admitted to practice in New York, Georgia, and Alabama. Not admitted in the District of Columbia; practice limited pursuant to D.C. App. R. 49(c)(8), with supervision by Premal Dharia and Alec Karakatsanis, members of the D.C. Bar.



Quinita is the Office Administrator for Civil Rights Corps. As a formerly incarcerated person, she has first-hand experience dealing with America's criminal legal system. Quinita believes strongly in the work that Civil Rights Corps is doing to challenge the unjust aspects of this system, particularly its unfair treatment of poor people and minorities, and she is excited to now be part of the solution. She previously worked as a GED/ESL tutor and an Administrative Clerk. When not busy with work, Quinita is busy spending time with her family and enjoying the simple, beautiful pleasures in life, such as her grandson or any movie starring Kevin Hart.

You can reach Quinita at quinita@civilrightscorps.org. 


Charlie Gerstein, Attorney

Charlie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he won the Lee C. Bollinger Prize for Excellence in the Study of the First Amendment and was a contributing editor of the Michigan Law Review. He also served as a student attorney in the Federal Appellate Litigation Clinic, where he briefed and argued cases on behalf of the Federal Public Defender in the Sixth Circuit, the Northern District of Ohio, and the Ohio Court of Appeals. He is the author of The Prisoner's Lawyer's Dilemma, Criminal Justice Magazine, Spring 2017, at 33; Plea Bargaining and Prosecutorial Motives, 15 U.N.H. L. Rev. 1 (2016); Process Costs and Police Discretion, 128 Harv. L. Rev. F. 268 (2015) (with J.J. Prescott); Note, Plea Bargaining and the Right to Counsel at Bail Hearings, 111 Mich. L. Rev. 1513 (2013); Accomplicesin The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Dr. Jay S. Albanese ed., 2013); and Essay, What Can the Brothers Malone Teach us About Fisher v. University of Texas?, 111 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 1 (2012). After law school, Charlie clerked for the Honorable J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York and the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the Second Circuit. He is currently a Skadden Fellow.

You can reach Charlie at charlie@civilrightscorps.org.



Katherine is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Stanford Law School. While in law school, she represented people in misdemeanor criminal cases and sought resentencing for people sentenced to life without parole under California’s Three Strikes Law. An equal justice enthusiast, Katherine previously worked as a legal fellow at Equal Justice Initiative, where she represented people on Alabama’s death row and children sentenced to die in prison, and Equal Justice Under Law, where she worked on lawsuits challenging money bail and police misconduct. An Iowa native, Katherine loves rolling plains and fresh sweet corn. She also enjoys cheese, ballet, and Byzantine art.

You can reach Katherine at katherine@civilrightscorps.org.

*Admitted to practice law in California; not admitted in the District of Columbia. Practice is limited pursuant to D.C. App. R. 49(c)(3).



Clarissa graduated cum laude from Princeton University in the School of Public & International Affairs where she received the R.W. van de Velde award for her work on the juvenile interrogation process in New Jersey. She previously worked for the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender and served as an Oscar S. Straus II Fellow in the legal department of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. She is the former co-President of Students for Prison Education and Reform, through which she co-founded a career preparation program in three state prisons. She is originally from Whiskerville, Pennsylvania.

You can reach Clarissa at clarissa@civilrightscorps.org or at (202) 643-6241.



Marco spent his childhood in Fremont, California, where he and his best friend promised to build their babysitter a house when they grew up (an outstanding obligation owing to the fact that one of them has yet to grow up). He holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree from Princeton University, both in Philosophy, as well as a JD from Harvard Law School, where he was an Articles Co-Chair of the Harvard Law Review and a reliable eater of junk food. During law school he worked for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and the Civil Appellate Staff of the U.S. Department of Justice. Most recently he worked at Equal Justice Under Law, where he helped to challenge debtors' prisons and unconstitutional bail systems around the country. Marco enjoys swimming, listening to oral arguments, petting cats, and other good things.

You can reach Marco at marco@civilrightscorps.org or at (202) 643-9148.



Elizabeth is a graduate of Boston University School of Law, where she was a Dean's Public Interest Scholar, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  She received her Bachelor's degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has served as a law clerk to Judge Paul Barbadoro in the District of New Hampshire, and Judge Martha C. Daughtrey on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Before joining Civil Rights Corps, Elizabeth was a staff attorney in the appellate division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender and a Litigation Fellow with Equal Justice Under Law.  She is the author of Revisiting INS v. Lopez-Mendoza: Why the Fourth Amendment Exclusionary Rule Should Apply in Deportation Proceedings, 44 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 477 (2013), and A “Special Track” for Former Child Soldiers: Enacting a “Child Soldier Visa” as an Alternative to Asylum Protection, 31 Berkeley J. Int’l L. 392 (2013), and co-author of Playing Solomon: Federalism, Equitable Discretion, and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, 17 Roger Williams U. L. Rev. 106 (2014).

You can reach Elizabeth at elizabeth@civilrightscorps.org or at (202) 681-2721.

*Admitted to practice law in Maryland (active) and Massachusetts (inactive); not admitted in the District of Columbia. Practice is limited pursuant to D.C. App. R. 49(c)(3).


JONAS WANG, Attorney*

Jonas was born in China, grew up in Massachusetts, went to high school in South Dakota, and graduated from Harvard University and Yale Law School. During law school, Jonas participated in criminal justice reform work in policy practicums and academic research, and interned at the appellate division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Jonas was also a member in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic, participating in the briefing and oral argument of a clinic case before the Second Circuit. As a member of the OutLaws board, Jonas directed the writing and publication of a student guide for helping trans students and their allies at the law school. Jonas also served as Articles Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After working as a Liman Fellow at Civil Rights Corps, Jonas will clerk for the Honorable Analisa Torres in the Southern District of New York. Jonas is an avid, beginner rock climber and loves long hikes in nature.

You can reach Jonas at jonas@civilrightscorps.org.

*Admitted to practice law in New York; not admitted in the District of Columbia. Practice is limited pursuant to D.C. App. R. 49(c)(3).