Speaker Bios

Pamela Hart, Director of Animal Law Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Pamela oversees the Animal Law Program, which supports the next generation of animal lawyers and fosters the growth of animal law in legal practice. The Animal Law Program collaborates with students, faculty, and school administrations to develop animal law courses and assist in forming Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters. The Animal Law Program also assists bar association members interested in forming animal law bar sections or committees, and partners with pro bono coordinators to develop animal law volunteer opportunities at their firms. Furthermore, our Animal Law Program provides legal professionals with access to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s resources and expertise, including model laws, pleadings, briefs and current animal protection laws.

Since Pam joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund in 2005, the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) program has ballooned from about 40 chapters to more than 200 chapters on campuses across the nation. Under Pam’s management, the Animal Law Program has also expanded resources and opportunities for students including project grants, travel grants, scholarships and clerkship opportunities.

Matthew Liebman, Director of Litigation, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Matthew Liebman is Director of Litigation in the litigation program and works on all aspects of ALDF’s civil cases. He has litigated cases including ALDF v. Otter, the first lawsuit to successfully invalidate an Ag-Gag law; Bennett v. McDaniel, which rescued a captive bear from a small concrete cage where she had languished for 16 years; and ALDF v. Conyers, which resulted in the rescue of more than 100 dogs from a North Carolina hoarder. Matthew’s writing has appeared in the Animal Law Review, the Journal of Animal Law, the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, and the Animal Legal & Historical Web Center. With Bruce Wagman, Matthew co-authored A Worldview of Animal Law, which examines how the legal systems of different countries govern our interactions with animals.

Before coming to ALDF, Matthew clerked for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Matthew graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School in 2006 and with highest honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 with a degree in philosophy. While a law student at Stanford, Matthew co-founded a chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and was an active member of Animal Rights on the Farm, where he worked on campaigns against factory farming and vivisection. He lives with his human companion and their five feline companions Kitty Kitty, Ollie, Emma, Spider, and Niecey.

Tony Eliseuson, Senior Staff Attorney, Litigation Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Tony is a nationally recognized litigator and trial attorney who joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund after a 15-year career as a partner with the largest law firm in the world. Tony’s path to the Animal Legal Defense Fund began when he was a young associate encouraged by a colleague with a passion for animal law. Tony went on to work on several pro bono cases with the Animal Legal Defense Fund before he joined as full time staff.

Tony was named a national Law 360 Rising Star for 2014, an honor bestowed on a select group of lawyers under the age of 40 (Tony was one of eight nationwide in the class action category).  Tony has also been recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer each of the past four years after appearing on that publication’s “Rising Star” list for the prior three years.

While in private practice, Tony received several awards for his pro bono efforts, and served as the co-chair of the Pro Bono Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee for five years where he worked to facilitate attorney pro bono participation in the federal circuit courts of appeal.

 Sarah Baeckler, Executive Director, Humane Society of Naples

Sarah Baeckler Davis is a primatologist, a non-practicing lawyer, a nonprofit professional, a fundraiser, and a bridge builder. She has worked with and for chimpanzees since 1997, when she met Washoe, the famous “sign language chimp,” in grad school. She has a graduate degree in primatology from Central Washington University and a juris doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School. She led Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (as its Executive Director) for its first five years, taking it from its infancy to an established and respected member of the professional chimpanzee sanctuary community. She then spent a year and a half leading the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance – which she co-founded in 2010 along with 6 other sanctuary directors. In 2014, she founded Project Chimps.

Kathy Hessler, Clinical Professor, Lewis & Clark Law School

Kathy Hessler is a clinical professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School. She is the first and only faculty member hired to teach animal law full time in a law school. She graduated with a J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary and received her LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.

After Law school, Professor Hessler worked at Legal Services of Northern Virginia.  From there she went to a teaching fellowship at Georgetown University Law Center. Prior to teaching at Lewis & Clark, Professor Hessler taught in clinical programs at Case Western Reserve University Law School, Cornell Law School, the University of Dayton Law School, the Capital University School of Law, and Georgetown University Law Center.  In those clinics Professor Hessler worked on domestic relations, consumer, housing, transactional, public benefits, and other civil matters.

Professor Hessler was previously a board member with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and helped found the Animal Law Committee of the Cuyahoga County Bar. Additionally, she was the chair and a founder of the Animal Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) and the Balance in Legal Education Section.   She was also a co-chair of the Clinical Legal Education Section of the AALS and is on the board of the Center for Teaching Peace.

Professor Hessler co-authored (with Pamela Frasch and Megan Senatori) the amicus brief submitted in the U.S. v. Stevens case, on behalf of 45 law professors who teach animal law.  She also co-authored Animal Law in a Nutshell (with Pamela Frasch, Sarah Kutil, and Sonia Waisman) and has written numerous other law review and other articles and she is co-authoring a new books on animal law.

David Rosengard, Staff Attorney, Criminal Justice Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund

While attending Lewis & Clark Law School, David focused on animal and criminal law, receiving the law school’s Animal Law Leadership Award. During this period, David clerked for the Center for Animal Law Studies, Co-Directed L&C’s SALDF chapter, was an Animal Law Review Editor-in-Chief, and worked on farmed animal and vegan prisoner issues through the Animal Law Clinic. He also represented the state of Oregon in criminal court on behalf of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office as a certified law student. While completing his LL.M. in Animal Law at Lewis & Clark Law School, David co-taught L&C’s core animal law course, edited and contributed to the second edition of Animal Law in a Nutshell, and worked on identifying legal frameworks supporting expanded prosecution of animal crimes.

Rebeka Breder, Attorney, Breder Law

After practising animal law and litigation for over a decade in a large Vancouver (British Columbia) downtown law firm, Rebeka opened Breder Law in December, 2016. This firm almost exclusively focusses on animal law and litigation. Rebeka has experience at all levels of court and various tribunals. Rebeka’s passion for animal rights and welfare started at an early age, while she was growing up in Montreal. Rebeka has been known as a trailblazer in developing Animal Law in Canada. Rebeka founded the first Animal Law section of the Canadian Bar Association in Canada and is the founder and current Chair of the Animal Law section, B.C. Branch. She dedicates a lot of her time to animal rights and welfare causes and sits on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Humane Society.

Rebeka’s animal law practice includes: wildlife and regulatory challenges , defending “dangerous” dogs, veterinary malpractice suits, general urban animal and wildlife matters, breeder disputes, condominium disputes involving companion animals and pet custody disputes. Rebeka acts exclusively in matters that can develop the rights and welfare of animals.

Nicoletta J. Caferri, Chief, Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit, Queens District Attorney Office

Nicoletta J. Caferri, a career prosecutor, is Chief of the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in New York City. She investigates and prosecutes animal cruelty crimes, including animal fighting, animal hoarding, intentional injuring or killing of animals, and neglect or abandonment of household pets. Ms. Caferri works closely with NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad and ASPCA forensic veterinarians. She has also contributed significantly to implement New York City’s Animal Abuse Registry. In 2016, her efforts resulted in the rescue of nearly 200 animals.

For her work in prosecuting animal cruelty crimes, in 2016, Ms. Caferri was named by the Animal Legal Defense Fund as one of America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders. She was also awarded the ASPCA Award of Excellence and the New York City Bar Association Thomas E. Dewey Medal for outstanding prosecution. Ms. Caferri is a member of the New York City Bar Association Animal Law Committee, the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association, the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Ms. Caferri is a 1978 graduate of New York State University College at Oneonta, and a 1985 graduate of Brooklyn Law School. She is admitted to practice in New York, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Joyce Tischler, Founder and General Counsel, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Joyce Tischler, affectionately known as “the Mother of Animal Law,” is the founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and was executive director for twenty-five years. Currently, as general counsel, Joyce is responsible for in-house legal matters, as well as writing, lecturing on and promoting the field of animal law. She has been called a visionary, a leader, an inspiration, and a role model—she is that and so much more. She’s also an exceptional attorney.

As a young lawyer working for a Bay Area law firm, Joyce began doing volunteer work for the Fund for Animals, through which she met Laurence Kessenick, a partner in a San Francisco law firm who shared her desire to protect animals and establish their legal rights. In 1979 they decided to see if anyone else shared their interest; they advertised in the local legal newspaper and at the first meeting, six other lawyers showed up. That was the start of Attorneys for Animal Rights, which changed its name to Animal Legal Defense Fund in 1984. Unwittingly, the Mother of Animal Law had given birth to a movement.

Joyce handled some of Animal Legal Defense Fund’s earliest cases, including the previously mentioned lawsuit that halted the U.S. Navy’s plan to kill 5,000 feral burros and a 1988 challenge to the U.S. Patent Office’s rule allowing the patenting of genetically altered animals. She has tackled such diverse topics as challenges to hunting and trapping using the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act, standing to sue, animal custody battles, the right to kill animals pursuant to will provisions, landlord-tenant issues and damages and recovery for injury to or death of an animal.

Joyce is an internationally recognized speaker and author of numerous publications. In 2009, The American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Animal Law Committee honored Joyce with the Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award. In 2010, Joyce was invited on a 12-day, seven-city speaking tour in Australia sponsored by father-daughter team Brian and Ondine Sherman of Voiceless – the Animal Protection Institute. One of her recent publications of influence is her double volume “A Brief History of Animal Law, Part II (1985-2011),” published in the Stanford Journal of Animal Law and Policy. In addition to her many publications, Joyce has been quoted far and wide, including in the New York Times, Science Magazine, Washington PostUSA TodayChristian Science Monitor, the Sydney Morning HeraldSunday TelegraphGuardian, and People magazine. She is currently co-writing two animal law books.

Kelly Levenda, Student Programs Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Kelly Levenda is the ALDF Student Programs Attorney and a 2013 graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. During law school, she completed a research project on federal and state laws for Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection and participated as a Source Checker and Associate Editor on Animal Law Review. She served as co-director of the school’s SALDF chapter, where she organized Meat Out, an annual vegan barbeque, and compiled the group’s bi-weekly action alerts that include animal related news, events, jobs, and volunteer opportunities. Kelly also worked with Farm Sanctuary on the Someone Project, where she compiled a scientific survey of cognitive abilities of animals through Lewis & Clark’s Animal Law Clinic.

Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Nicole has been with the Animal Legal Defense Fund since 2005, first as student programs coordinator – overseeing the expansion of the student chapter network to more than 200 chapters and managing clerkship, scholarship, and project grant programs – and currently as academic outreach manager. In this capacity, she develops and manages initiatives that support the continued advancement of animal law in academia, including expanded course offerings at law schools and educational resources and opportunities that advance ALDF’s mission.

Prior to joining the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Nicole earned a Ph.d. in sociology from the University of Georgia, where she developed and taught the school’s first Animals & Society course. Her dissertation was titled, “Becoming an animal rights activist: An exploration of culture, socialization, and identity transformation.” Her writing has appeared in Society & Animals, Sociological Perspectives, Animal Wellness Magazine, and the Journal for Critical Animal Studies, among others. She is also the author of the blog Alec’s Story (alec-story.com). Nicole lives in Portland, Oregon, with her best friend Teagan, a little German shepherd with a big heart.

Priscilla Rader, Education Coordinator, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Priscilla develops and oversees educational programs and opportunities for law students, attorneys and the general public—working closely with the Academic Outreach Manager. Priscilla graduated from Pacific University with a B.A. in Philosophy: Ethics, Society and Law, specializing in animal ethics and writing her thesis on Virtue Ethics and Non-human Animals: bridging the gap between Singer and Regan. Priscilla went on to earn her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School. While in law school, she acted as the 2014 student coordinator for the Animal Law Conference and the school’s SALDF co-director. After her first year of law school, Priscilla interned for Mercy for Animals where she researched state laws related to undercover investigations. Priscilla then clerked with the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Litigation Program for 1.5 years, working on cases involving captive wildlife, farmed animals and public nuisance claims. Priscilla is passionate about progressing and further validating the field of animal law through education, advocacy and mentorship.

Alice Di Concetto, LL.M., Lewis and Clark Law School (2016)

Alice Di Concetto is a comparative animal law fellow in the Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School. During her previous appointment as a policy fellow, she conducted research on the effect of US agricultural policies on farm animal welfare. Her work also touches upon the legal status of animals in Abrahamic religions and its relevance in secular states.

Di Concetto holds a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Latin American studies, and a Masters degree in Economic Law from Sciences Po – Paris, France. After graduating from Sciences Po in 2015, she earned an LLM in Animal Law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, a degree for which she was awarded several grants, including a Fulbright scholarship. She passed the Paris bar exam in 2016.

Over the course of her studies, Di Concetto has had the opportunity to study in Brazil (Universidade de Brasília) and the United States (New York University Law School, Lewis & Clark Law School). She was born and raised in Paris, France.

Christine Ball-Blakely, J.D., University of Tennessee College of Law (2017)

Christine is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she served as president of the school’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter. She, along with other SALDF members, organized and facilitated various educational and outreach programs to foster interest in animal law at the school, including an event addressing an issue of local concern: the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. She spent a year and a half as a law clerk in the Animal Legal Defense Fund Criminal Justice Program, where she performed research and writing to further the prosecution of animal cruelty across the nation.

During law school, Christine also authored an animal law research guide and provided pro bono services for local animal advocacy organizations and animal-related legal aid cases. She served as an Acquisitions Editor for the Tennessee Law Review and as a Student Attorney in the University of Tennessee College of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic. Before law school, she worked in nonprofit fund development and served as an AmeriCorps member in Seattle, Washington. Christine will soon join a federal agency as a staff attorney. She currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with her partner Michael and their three best friends: a spunky troop of Dachshunds named Pretzel, Sugar, and Dunkel.

Tara Lewis, J.D., Georgetown University Law Center (2017)

Tara Lewis is a recent graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned her J.D. and a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Crises from the Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, she attended the University of Maryland College Park, where she earned a B.A. in Criminology and Criminalistics.

During law school, Tara served as Managing Editor of the Georgetown Environmental Law Review, where she sought to inject a greater awareness of animal issues into the traditional realm of environmental law scholarship. She herself has authored two published articles:  A Dangerous Precedent: Why the Fifth Circuit Says ‘Neigh’ to Extra Protection for Horses, and Paying to Play: Why Commercialization Cannot Pass for Conservation. Additionally, Tara clerked for several animal protection organizations, such as the Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, and Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks, LLP.  She is now a Litigation Fellow with HSUS and works primarily on equine protection issues.

Tara is originally from rural southern Maryland, but is proud to call Washington D.C. her home (not so far) away from home. She currently lives with her rescued bearded dragon, Stanley.


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