The Black Public Defender Association congratulates the first-ever Black Defender Leadership Institute cohort on their successful completion of the one-year-long program. 

The tumultuous nature of the criminal legal system, the hundreds of racial justice protests around the country, and the effect of the global pandemic have all impacted the way the world operates and how Black defenders lead. In response, BPDA developed the Black Defender Leadership Institute (BDLI) to train emerging Black leaders and support them in becoming the next generation of leaders in public defense who are equipped to dismantle systems of racialized oppression.

BDLI found a home thanks to the drive and vision of Stan Germán, Executive Director of the New York County Defender Services, whose office invested in the program for New York City defenders. BDLI was designed to encourage participants to see themselves as part of the movement and to seek leadership positions at their organizations whenever available. 

All 24 participants spent the past year accelerating their growth and development as transformational Black public defenders. Participants explored topics such as Asset Mapping: Owning Your Existing Power, Five Levels of Leadership & Emotional Intelligence, BDLI Scenarios Aligned with the Six (6) Competencies of Transformational Leadership, and more.  

Being selected to participate in the BDLI inaugural launching was met with enthusiasm, honor, and excitement from both the leaders and cohort participants. Based on the intensity of their public defense work, exhaustion from racialized oppression (experienced and witnessed), and national demands for justice and accountability, the cohorts felt that the leadership institute was timely and offered them the guidance they needed to survive, thrive, and prevail forward. 

For me, this means being part of a group that creates an intentional and safe space for Black public defenders to gain the support necessary to realize their full potential as movement lawyers.

The program received excellent reviews. One participant shared “For me, this means being part of a group that creates an intentional and safe space for Black public defenders to gain the support necessary to realize their full potential as movement lawyers.”

Another participant stated, “This is an initiative which is long overdue. For all of the participants during the inaugural BDLI, this will be a part of each person’s legacy as an advocate for public defense work!”

After growing as transformational defenders, BPDA is happy to report that since becoming involved in the program, many have secured new leadership positions in their offices and other organizations. 

If your office would like to host its own BDLI or any other training offered by the Black Public Defender Association please reach out to us at blackpublicdefenderassociation@gmail.com.

This is an initiative which is long overdue. For all of the participants during the inaugural BDLI, this will be a part of each person's legacy as an advocate for public defense work!

BDLI Inaugural Cohort

New York County Defender Services

  • Stanford Hickman
  • Lindsey Laveaux
  • Mildred Morillo
  • Kingsley Rowe

 Brooklyn Defender Services 

  • Chrishana M. White
  • Shabel Castro
  • Rebecca Gregory
  • Danielle Young

Bronx Defenders

  • Violeta Rivera
  • Kimesha McDonald
  • Babatunde Aremu
  • Malika Lubell-Doughtie

Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem

  • Naima Gregory
  • Tenisha Cummings
  • Javionte Johnson
  • Alodie Efamba

Queens Defender Services    

  • Hettie Powell
  • Malik Callender
  • Jennifer Norman
  • Cassandra Kelly

Legal Aid Society

  • Kerri-Ann Wright
  • Tracy McNeil
  • Aissatou Barry
  • Zamir Ben-Dan