Dana Kaplan, Executive Director

Since becoming the Executive Director in the fall of 2007, Dana Kaplan has been steadfast in her dedication to the reform of Louisiana’s juvenile justice system. Prior to joining JJPL, Dana was a Soros Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City, focused on detention reform. At CCR, Dana worked with community groups and government on developing alternatives to detention and downsizing local jails in states including Tennessee, California, Ohio, New Orleans, and New York. She was also the State-wide Organizer for the New York Campaign for Telephone Justice, a partnership between CCR and two prison family organizations that successfully reduced the cost of all phone calls from New York State prisons by fifty percent.

Dana has also been on staff at the Brooklyn-based Prison Moratorium Project, where her efforts helped stop the construction of a youth prison in upstate New York and two youth jail expansions in New York City. She has consulted with national organizations including The National Resource Center on Prisons and Communities and the National Education Association (NEA), developing a curriculum for teachers on “Education not Incarceration.” Dana holds an MA from the City University of New York and a BA from the University of California at Berkeley, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a recipient of the John Gardner Fellowship for Public Service.

Lelia Gowland, Communications and Development Director

As Communications and Development Director, Lelia Gowland strives to engage the public and funders with JJPL’s core policy issues. Committed to criminal justice reform and helping create effective, efficient policy at all levels, Lelia has worked on policy in the public and nonprofit sectors, as well as through political campaigns.

Lelia moved back to her hometown to work for the City of New Orleans where she helped oversee the city’s juvenile detention center (the Youth Study Center) and ensure the facility maintained compliance with the Federal Consent Decree brought against the City by JJPL. Through her role with the City, she was actively involved in Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Pretrial Services New Orleans Working Group, and the Children Youth and Planning Board. Recently, Lelia managed a campaign for New Orleans City Council, after which, she opened a public policy and management consulting firm, Gowland, LLC.

Lelia holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan where she was a Nonprofit and Public Management Center Board Fellow.

Chandra B. Grayson, Youth Advocate

In 2013, Chandra was promoted within the organization to the position of Youth Advocate. Chandra will now monitor conditions of confinement for youth in the state-wide facilities as well as the local detention center. She also advocates for those youth within secure care facilities and detention centers. In addition, Chandra provides youth with educational advocacy within New Orleans schools. Chandra joined JJPL in February 2008. Chandra was originally hired in the role of Receptionist; however, Chandra was quickly given more responsibility and was named the Office Manager for the organization. Chandra graduated from Central High School in Omaha, NE. After graduating high school, she moved to Jackson, MS. Chandra worked in the restaurant industry for many years as an Assistant Manager. Following her work there, she transitioned into the non-profit world, joining the staff at the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault, in Jackson, MS. She attended two semesters at Jackson State University in MS. She also began to volunteer as a victim counselor at Catholic Charities. Chandra later moved to Kenner, Louisiana and attended the University of New Orleans until Katrina hit the area; she is currently a New Orleans resident.

Mummi Ibrahim, Staff Attorney

Mummi Ibrahim is a Louisiana attorney who heads the campaign to end Juvenile Life without Parole (“JLWOP”) at JJPL. In this role, Mummi serves as a multi-faceted advocate for juveniles in Louisiana, including serving as legal counsel, lobbying, policy writing, coalition building and community organizing. Mummi is also the campaign coordinator for Citizens for Second Chances (“CFSC”), an organization designed to inform and empower individuals who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles and their families. Mummi is an alumna of Hampton University and the Howard University School of Law. At Hampton, Mummi majored in Political Science and minored in Psychology and was an on-air personality for Hampton’s on-campus radio station, WHOV 88.1 FM. At Howard Law, Mummi was an executive board member of the Charles Hamilton Houston National Moot Court Team and a student attorney for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic. During law school, Mummi also co-founded a youth mentorship program, Girls II Women, serving middle school girls at Takoma Park Middle School in Maryland. Mummi is a native of Sudan and relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana from Richmond, Virginia.

Carol Kolinchak, Legal Director

Carol Kolinchak Cropped Headshot Carol Kolinchak is currently the Legal Director at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. At JJPL, Carol represented the youngest member of the Jena 6, acted as lead counsel in a class action lawsuit filed against the City of New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board challenging unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the local detention facility and represented a 6 year old child who was handcuffed on multiple occasions at school. Since 2010, Carol, in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, has been coordinating Louisiana’s implementation of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Florida. More recently, she has been coordinating implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama. In 2011, Carol received the Lucy McGough Juvenile Justice Award from the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Prior to joining JJPL, Carol was the Deputy Director of the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana (CPCPL). For almost a decade, before joining CPCPL, Carol represented indigent defendants at the trial level in both state and federal court, primarily in capital cases, including a number of juveniles facing either the death penalty or life without parole.

In addition, Carol has been involved in a number of cases involving the protection and preservation of the culture of New Orleans. Carol represented the New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force as a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana in a lawsuit against the City of New Orleans over excessive parade permit fees in post Katrina New Orleans.

Carol is past president of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for Resurrection After Exoneration. Carol is a 1993 graduate of Northeastern University Law School in Boston and has been a member of the Louisiana Bar since 1993.

Jolon McNeil, Schools First Project Director & Managing Director

Jolon McNeil is the Managing Director for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. In her role, Jolon is responsible for program oversight, strategic planning, office management and human resources.

Passionate about ensuring all students attend quality schools, Jolon began her career as an educator in the New Orleans Public Schools in 2000. She was a teacher for 6 years, having worked also in Philadelphia, Washington, DC and later transitioned to a position as a school leader in a newly formed charter high school in New Orleans.

After working with many young people impacted by the criminal justice system, Jolon began her work with JJPL first in 2007 as a Youth Advocate. In this role, she assisted with representation of youth on criminal matters and advocated for students involved in the school-to-prison pipeline and for incarcerated youth. After leaving for graduate school, Jolon returned to JJPL in the summer of 2012 to serve as the Schools First Project Director and is still directly responsible for planning and implementing strategies to derail the school-to-prison pipeline in Louisiana.

Dedicated to civic engagement and community service, Jolon has served on several Boards of Directors, including the Boards of 2 charter schools in New Orleans and the Board of an Arts education program in North Carolina. She also plans regular community service opportunities for her friends and co-workers. Jolon is a graduate of The American University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Miguel Nunez, Organizer

Miguel Nunez is a native of the South having grown up in New Orleans, Atlanta, Mississippi, and Texas. He attended college at The University of Texas with a major in electrical engineering. During the aftermath of Katrina, Miguel devoted years of service to helping residents return home to New Orleans by helping organize the resident led organization: The New Orleans Survivor Council and The Peoples Organizing Committee. As an organizer, Miguel helped coordinate a workforce of hundreds of volunteers from across the country that were responsible for cleaning, repairing and rebuilding over 150 homes across New Orleans. After helping to rebuild New Orleans, Miguel worked with Juvenile Regional Services, the juvenile defenders office in Orleans Parish, as the senior investigator where he was employed for over three and a half years. Currently, Miguel works for the Power of a Million Minds (POMM) youth collaborative and Young Adults Striving for Success (YASS) as a youth organizer. His mission is to provide a safe place for youth to share their collective problems, ideas, solutions and then help find the tools to enact the solutions collectively agreed upon by the youth. By creating a space for youth to organize and lead themselves, Miguel strives to teach how to conduct organizing in our communities to harvest the genius of those on the bottom of our society.

Roxanne Sutfield, Office Manager

Roxanne Sutfield, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, started her journey to help seek justice in 2004. Roxanne interned at A Fighting Chance, gathering information to seek adequate legal counsel to properly represent indigent offenders who face the death penalty. Roxanne also interned at the Orleans Public Defenders Office, in which she gathered information from court dockets and prepared questions for the judge to identify the proper sentencing or release for inmates in custody. Upon completion of Roxanne’s internship, she graduated from Southern University of New Orleans with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice. On her journey, she began working for an investment banker in 2007-2013 as an Executive Assistant. Roxanne’s profound passion for justice, led her to work for JJPL in January 2013 as an Office Manager, ensuring all guests are greeted, either in person or via phone, professionally and directed to relevant source. She also makes sure that resources are at hand for staff and that the building is operating at its best.

Maggie Calmes, Communications and Development Associate

me headshotMaggie Calmes, a native Louisianian and Loyola New Orleans graduate, began her communications career as an engagement editor at The Lens, a local independent news source. She later provided support to journalists and editors as a community engagement specialist at | The Times-Picayune, where she created an an interactivity and social media strategy for the news team.

At JJPL, Maggie utilizes experience in new media and social platforms to make JJPL’s mission and initiatives more accessible and interactive. When she’s not working to disseminate information about the school-to-prison pipeline or over-incarceration in Louisiana, she performs with New Orleans Ladies Arm Wrestling as a referee and venue liaison.