Rising for Justice is staffed by a passionate and diverse group of lawyers, advocates and activists. Click on any name to see more details.


Chijioke has over 20 years of professional experience, with eight years in senior roles at Maryland Legal Aid and its subsidiary, the Maryland Center for Legal Assistance.

In these positions, he supervised and mentored more than 100 administrative and legal staff, and assisted thousands of pro se litigants. Among his many accomplishments was establishing an innovative self-help call center at MCLA and a centralized intake system for Maryland Legal Aid. In 2022, Chijioke was honored by the Daily Record and Maryland State Bar Association with a Leader in the Law award.

Earlier in his legal career, Chijioke managed his own law practice where he represented homeowner’s associations, small businesses, and immigration clients. He also served as a Fellow in the DC Office of the Attorney General. As a law student at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chijioke participated in the foreclosure mediation and immigration clinics that were instrumental in his educational experience and deepened his passion for serving low-income and disenfranchised communities.

(202) 570-7446

Lisa ALfred

Lisa Alfred has over 15 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector where she’s provided innovative operations, financial management, human resources, and logistics.  She draws on her interpersonal and communication skills to drive teams, consultants, and volunteers to achieve project and programmatic goals.  

Throughout her career, she has provided financial and administrative oversight that generates internal efficiencies, develops staff capacity, builds grassroots support, and advances mission objectives.

Lisa was born and raised in New Orleans, where she received her BA in Political Science and History from the University of New Orleans.  Before joining Rising for Justice, Lisa led the operation’s teams with organizations as diverse as the national Fight for $15 Campaign, Joe’s Movement Emporium, and the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

In her spare time, Lisa enjoys square dancing, RVing, and being outdoors with her dogs.

(202) 424-2265


Joseph is a Staff Attorney with the Tenant Justice Program at Rising for Justice. An alumnus of Rising for Justice, Joseph previously served as a Student Attorney in the Housing Advocacy and Litigation Clinic in 2023. 

Joseph is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School. Throughout law school, Joseph was the Experiential Lead on Ethical Tech for Ethical Tech@GW, an interdisciplinary collaboration that sought to use novel applications of technology to assist underserved populations. He was also the inaugural Access to Justice Tech Fellow from GW Law at the Self-Represented Litigation Network. 

In his free time, Joseph enjoys reading fantasy-fiction and daydreaming about the menu for his future food truck.

(202) 991-0928, ext. 148

Salina Chaney

Salina Chaney was born and raised in Washington DC and attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where she majored in Music. She worked previously for the Congress Heights Community and Training Corporation where she tracked the progress of clients interested in starting businesses and interacted with local business and community members. Her work included conducting community events in Wards 6, 7 and 8.

Salina loves to interact with community residents. She joined Rising for Justice to provide community outreach and to connect low-income members of the community with resources and critically needed information. During her spare time Salina enjoys reading, writing music and spending time with friends and family.

(202) 559-6974, ext. 143

Daniel Clark

Dan Clark is the Director of the Tenant Justice Program at Rising for Justice. Before becoming Director, Dan was a supervising attorney with the program. Dan earned his LL.M. in clinical teaching and systems change while serving as an instructor in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic at the David A. Clarke School of Law, University of the District of Columbia.

Before joining the Housing Clinic, Dan was the Managing Attorney for Housing and Consumer Law at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program. As Managing Attorney with the Pro Bono Program, Dan oversaw operations of the Landlord Tenant Resource Center and Bankruptcy Clinic while supporting the Advice & Referral Clinic, Advocacy & Justice Clinic, and other programs. He attended law school at American University Washington College of Law and was awarded a J.D. in 1995. In 1990, he graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida.

(202) 638-4798, ext. 210

Betsy Crumb

Betsy A. Crumb is Deputy Director with the Tenant Justice Program. Prior to joining Rising for Justice, Betsy worked as a family law attorney in Seattle, WA, primarily representing survivors of domestic violence. Betsy volunteered her time with the King County Neighborhood Legal Clinics, where she assisted low-income clients with family law and domestic violence needs.

Betsy also served as a co-chair of the Washington Women Lawyers judicial affairs committee, where she coordinated and conducted judicial evaluations. She was named a Rising Star SuperLawyer from 2018-2021 and then relocated to the District of Columbia in spring 2021. She worked with the Fiske Law Group in Alexandria, VA for a year, while volunteering with the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project representing clients in civil protection order hearings.

Betsy graduated from Vermont Law School in 2011 where she was a member of the National Moot Court Advisory Board Team and recipient of the National Association of Women Lawyers Award. During law school, she clerked for the Honorable Ronald B. Leighton in Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Betsy holds a B.A. from the University of Mary Washington, where she majored in Journalism and Women’s Studies. She went on to work for small newspapers before heading to law school in Vermont. She currently serves as an advisory member of The Megan Dickie Wilderness Leadership Fund.

In her free time, you can usually find Betsy running the trails of Rock Creek Park or backpacking in the mountains. When she’s stuck at home, she’s most likely creating a sugary confection of some kind to share.

(202) 559-1063

Ruth El

Ruth El is a staff attorney who works in Rising for Justice’s Tenant Justice Program. She previously worked as a law clerk in the program. Ruth is a graduate of the Washington College of Law at American University, where she was a student attorney in the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, served as President of the Juvenile Justice Society, and worked as a Research Assistant in the Disability Rights Law Clinic.

While in law school, Ruth also participated in a long-term internship at the National Homelessness Law Center.

Before law school, Ruth worked as a Paralegal, Legal Assistant, and Law Clerk in both Atlanta, Georgia and Stuart, Florida, where she worked on a range of legal matters. She holds a B.A. from the University of Miami, where she was a double major in Legal Studies and Business Management & Administration.

(202) 638-4798, ext. 103

Eve Ettinger

Eve Ettinger is Rising for Justice’s Development Outreach and Communications Specialist. They create and strategize facilitating the RJF voice, developing storytelling about our work for social media, newsletters, and blog. They coordinate outreach to the RFJ alumni community, and support the Director of Institutional Advancement and the Development Operations Manager with annual fundraising campaigns and grant management.

Eve has worked as an educator and freelance journalist, teaching writing and literature classes for college students and reporting on education, mental health, and right-wing extremist movements in the U.S. for outlets like Teen Vogue, Bustle, and ReWire. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University and a BA in English from Grove City College.

In their spare time, Eve co-hosts the Kitchen Table Cult Podcast. They live in Alexandria with their dog and two cats, and can often be found obsessing over garden or knitting projects.

(202) 559-6512

Brenda Foust

Brenda Foust is the Interim Director of Institutional Advancement. Her extensive background in public higher education includes working as a manager at a major grants program, a senior policy analyst, a governance manager, and an educator.

For several years she worked as an analyst and senior paralegal on a team that conducted monitoring and evaluation related to complex institutional reform cases. And she also served as a mitigation specialist, co-conducting a post-conviction investigation for a capital case. Recently, she completed a stint as a Peace Corps Response volunteer in North Macedonia that focused on improving the English language module of the national college entrance exam.

Brenda is a Washington, D.C. native who has spent a fair amount of her life in international settings, mostly in Europe and Asia. She pursued undergraduate studies in the liberal arts at UMass/Boston and attended Cornell for graduate studies in German. 

(202) 559-6539, ext. 105

Jeffrey Franco

Jeff Franco comes to Rising for Justice with over 25 years of experience leading and managing large-scale nonprofits. He currently serves as a special advisor to the executive director and to the organization.

Before joining RFJ as interim Executive Director, Jeff worked in similar interim leadership roles at a number of other organizations in Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Jeff served as both the Executive Director of City Year Washington, DC and as the Vice President of City Year’s national organization. Jeff is the CEO of Camino Consulting Group and a founder of Transformation Leadership Institute. He currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in nonprofit management and leadership at the University of Maryland, and sits on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations.

Jeff graduated with a BA from Fairfield University, and has both an MA in International Affairs and an MBA from American University. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, has completed five marathons and an Ironman triathlon, and has completed the Camino de Santiago in Spain and the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.

(202) 684-0100

Maryhelen Getty

MaryHelen Getty is a paralegal with the Expungement and Civil Protection Order Programs at Rising for Justice. She supports the aim of these programs to help clients overcome social and economic obstacles resulting from their criminal history and to offer equitable access to counsel for respondents in CPO/ASO matters. This work engages her passion for assisting underserved individuals impacted by the legal system with the betterment of their lives and circumstances.

Before working as a paralegal, MaryHelen interned at RFJ with these two programs during the senior year of her undergraduate career.

MaryHelen graduated cum laude from James Madison University and the university’s Honors College. She received her B.A. in Political Science with a Pre-Law concentration, and she hopes to attend law school in the future. She is a Virginia native, originally from Locust Grove. In her free time, MaryHelen enjoys hiking, watching sunsets, and attending live music performances.

(202) 570-7568

William Hamilton

William Hamilton is a Supervising Attorney in the Housing Advocacy and Litigation Clinic. Will joined Rising for Justice after serving three years as a Staff Attorney in both the Housing and Economic Securities units at Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP). In the Housing unit at NLSP, Will focused on eviction defense and affirmative cases for clients who were discriminated against based on source of income or disability.

In the Economic Securities unit, Will wrote criminal record sealing motions and represented Social Security and TANF clients in administrative hearings and other capacities to help them secure public benefits.

Will graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2017, where he  participated in the Civil Rights Clinic. While in law school, Will also interned at various public interest organizations, including the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Prior to law school, Will worked in public education for nearly 20 years as a high school teacher in Washington DC and New Haven CT and as co-director of a non-profit youth development program in Berkeley, California.

In his spare moments, Will enjoys spending time with his three teenage sons and attending their dance performances and baseball games.

(202) 638-4798, ext. 145

Amanda Henderson

Amanda Henderson is the Director of the Expungement Program and Civil Protective Order Project at Rising for Justice.

Before joining Rising for Justice, Amanda was a Staff Attorney at the New Hampshire Public Defender (NHPD) where she was a dedicated advocate and litigator representing clients in a wide range of criminal cases in the district and superior courts in New Hampshire. Amanda was a member of NHPD’s training team and hiring committee, and also served as the defense team representative for the Hillsborough County South Adult Drug Court Program. 

Amanda attended law school at Georgetown University Law Center and was awarded a J.D. in 2015. While in law school, she was a student attorney in the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic where she represented clients in the criminal court at the D.C. Superior Court; in parole hearings before the U.S. Parole Commission through the supervision of the Public Defender Service; and assisted in preparing a former juvenile client serving a lengthy prison sentence in his application for parole. In 2011, she graduated with a B.S. in Criminology and Minor in Humanities from Florida State University. In her spare time, prior to relocating to D.C., Amanda volunteered as the Director of Communications for the Florida State University Seminole Club of Boston. She is an avid runner, novice triathlete, and completed her first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, in 2022.  

(202) 559-4043

Chaz Kohlrieser

Chaz Kohlrieser is the Director of Social Work for Rising for Justice and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). For more than 16 years, Chaz has effectively worked in partnership with historically ignored and excluded communities. Throughout his career, he has successfully developed, staffed, and led programs in several areas, including child welfare, school-based mental health, domestic violence, crisis response and community outreach.

Passionate about promoting wellness and mental health to reduce stigma, Chaz has served as a presenter and facilitator on such topics as grief and loss, trauma-informed systems, suicide prevention and culturally responsive mental health and self-care strategies to name a few.

Chaz combines his clinical knowledge and program management experience to integrate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), and relevant data into successful programs that center the communities being served.

In his spare time, Chaz enjoys traveling with his family, baking, and reading or watching science fiction.

(202) 643-7890

Erin Lidz

Prior to joining Rising for Justice, Erin Lidz was the Director of Communications at Parkmont School and, before that, the Executive Assistant at A Wider Circle. In both roles, she served as a member of the development team, raising funds to support the work of these organizations in alleviating economic, educational, and racial inequality in the communities they serve.

Before transitioning to the nonprofit sector, Erin taught third grade during her two-year Teach For America service in Memphis, TN, and English to preschoolers in Chengdu, China. Erin received a BA in Communications from the University of Tennessee, an M. Ed from Christian Brothers University in partnership with AmeriCorps, and, most recently, completed her Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from The George Washington University.

Erin is from the DC metro area and has been happy to be back and living in the District since 2016.

(202) 570-7426

Sarah Plavcan

Sarah Plavcan is a Senior Staff Attorney in Rising for Justice’s Tenant Justice Program. She joined Rising for Justice after several years working as an assistant public defender in Maryland, where she represented low-income clients in criminal cases. Prior to her time with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, she worked at Project Citizenship in Boston as an attorney with the AmeriCorps program, where she represented immigrants through the naturalization process. 

Sarah graduated from Harvard Law School in 2018. At Harvard, she worked as a student attorney with HLS’s Criminal Justice Institute and Prison Legal Assistance Project. She also interned at the Federal Community Defender Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Federal Public Defender, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware. In between her time as a student attorney, she designed and created backdrops for the law school’s annual parody musical. She earned her B.A. from the University of Arkansas, where she majored in History and English and minored in Math and Legal Studies, while working at her local public library.  

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading and writing science fiction and fantasy, creating bookmarks, and baking.

(202) 568-8982

Tristan Pollard

Tristan Pollard is a Supervising Attorney (awaiting admission to the D.C. bar and practicing under 49(c)(9)(B) under the supervision of attorneys admitted to the D.C. Bar and in good standing) in the Tenant Justice Program at Rising for Justice. He previously worked as a Staff Attorney at Iowa Legal Aid where he represented clients in a range of matters including housing, consumer, family and unemployment cases.

Prior to Iowa Legal Aid, Tristan worked as a Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society in the Bronx where he represented tenants in eviction proceedings in New York City’s housing right to counsel project.

Tristan graduated from St. John’s University for both undergraduate studies and law school. In his free time, he enjoys working on obtaining his private pilot license, road cycling and traveling.

(202) 559-1516


Ayn Lee Sing joined Rising for Justice in June 2023, after serving as a staff attorney with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. While Ayn has practiced in various areas of laws, her practice has primarily focused on fair housing matters and landlord-tenant legal issues. Ayn has represented clients in all phases of the legal process, from administrative proceedings to judicial bodies.

Ayn grew up in Trinidad in the Caribbean and later attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts where she graduated with a double major in Africana Studies and Political Science. Ayn moved to Florida to attend law school at the University of Miami School of Law. At law school Ayn served as a student attorney and a Helping Others through Pro Bono Efforts (H.O.P.E.) summer fellow at a Children’s Law Center. Ayn also sat on the public interest leadership board of H.O.P.E. as Co-Chair of community liaisons and public relations.

In her spare time, Ayn enjoys visiting museums, attending comedy shows and concerts, and traveling, both domestic and international.

(202) 424-2239


As Interim Deputy Director, Gustava (“Gusty”) Taler brings a wealth of experience working in a wide range of settings including non-profits, government, and the private sector. Prior to joining Rising for Justice, Gusty was chief operating officer for Maryland Legal Aid (MLA). There she managed the day-to-day administration of Maryland’s third largest law firm with 12 offices statewide, 300 staff, and a $34 million budget. Specifically, her work included supervision of budget/finance, human resources, facilities, information technology, grants/contracts/compliance, and training/pro bono teams. Under her leadership and that of MLA’s former executive director, organizational revenues increased by 47%. This was accomplished by broadening the pool and breadth of funding sources, developing and coordinating innovative and collaborative service delivery programs, and dramatically increasing the number of multi-year grant and contract awards to serve the civil legal needs of the state’s low-income and most vulnerable residents.

Prior to joining MLA, Gusty was chief of staff for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, and worked for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, the Pro Bono Resource Center, the Maryland General Assembly, and in the private practice of law. As part of her work with the Women’s Law Center, she created and was project director for the Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence Project, which provides legal assistance to foreign-born victims of domestic violence.

Before entering the legal profession, Gusty worked in public relations and public affairs. She received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law, her M.S. in Public Relations from American University’s Kogod School of Business, and B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University.

(202) 379-0658

Alison Terrell

Alison Terrell is a staff attorney who works in Rising for Justice’s Tenant Justice Program. She previously worked as an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA), handling primarily housing law cases at their Pittsburgh office. Throughout law school, Alison worked as a certified legal intern at NLSA, focusing on various housing matters. Alison was also a student attorney at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic.

Alison earned her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2021. Alison graduated in 2018 with a B.B.A. in Economics from the University of Cincinnati.

Outside of work, Alison enjoys traveling, visiting her dog Clover at her parent’s house, and volunteering for voting rights organizations.

(202) 559-1995

James Toliver

James Toliver is a Supervising Attorney in the Housing Advocacy and Litigation Clinic. Prior to joining Rising for Justice, James was a staff attorney in Maryland Legal Aid, Inc’s Montgomery County Office, where he represented indigent clients facing substantial housing, consumer, and family law issues.

He earned his J.D. from The American University Washington College of Law. During his time in law school, James served as fellow within the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. He also served as a research assistant for the second edition of the casebook Poverty Law: Policy and Practice, and as a student-attorney in the Community and Economic Development Clinic.

James was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. He earned a B.A. in International Relations from Youngstown State University. An avid runner and self-confessed nerd, he enjoys training for annual long-distance races in the DMV area and reading science-fiction.  

(202) 424-2267

David Yellin

David is a 2011 alumnus of Rising for Justice, having served as a student attorney in the Housing Advocacy and Litigation Clinic. David joined the organization from a litigation boutique where his practice focused on a range of federal civil and criminal litigation and arbitration, as well as pro bono work with the Dulles Justice Coalition and other organizations.

As an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, in New York, David was given the firm’s pro bono award for his work with organizations including the New York Office of the Public Defender, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Project Vote, and the Innocence Project. He also has co-taught evidence at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

David received his JD, magna cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Colgate University. From 2013 to 2015, David clerked for the Honorable Paul W. Grimm in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

David is originally from Long Island, New York, but now lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife and sons.

(202) 638-4798, ext. 427