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Speaker Bios for the Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Convention

Speaker Bios

Nadia Adawi, Executive Director, Animal Welfare Institute

Nadia is a cum laude graduate of Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law and also holds an MBA from Yale School of Management and a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri. Prior to studying law, she ran a small renewable energy company and founded a biofuels technology startup. Before that she helped launch the cellular telecommunications industry by designing a number of the first cellular networks and helping to develop and commercialize an advanced wireless phone technology. After six years in solo practice specializing in nonprofit and animal law, she joined AWI in 2017 as Executive Director/General Counsel – her dream job. When not in the office in Washington, DC she’s at home with her husband and rescue pup, Lula, in Philadelphia, PA.

Elizabeth Baker, Esq., Regulatory Policy Director, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Elizabeth Baker, Esq., is the Regulatory Policy Director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit working for more effective, efficient, and ethical medical research, product testing, and training. Elizabeth leads the Physicians Committee’s work to modernize policies to support the use of scientifically valid nonanimal and human biology-based testing for regulatory purposes.

Elizabeth has authored numerous science blogs, regulatory petitions, op eds, and manuscripts, including publication in Drug Discovery Today, ALTEX, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, ATLA, The Hill, STAT News, the Food and Drug Law Institute Policy Forum, the North Carolina Central University School of Law Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Law Review and the Physicians Committee’s Good Science Digest regarding regulatory policy and innovative human-based science. Elizabeth is a member of the California Bar Association, the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology, the Society of Toxicology, and the European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing.

Akisha Townsend Eaton, Managing Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund

As a Managing Attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Pro Bono Program, Akisha works to implement the goals and strategic objectives of the nation’s largest pro bono network for animal protection. Her work involves developing relationships with outside attorneys, firms, and other legal professionals and organizations interested in supporting groundbreaking advancements for animals through the organization’s litigation, legislative and criminal justice initiatives as well as for members of the public seeking legal assistance for animal-related matters.

Akisha brings over a decade of animal law experience to her current role.  Prior to joining the Animal Legal Defense Fund, she worked as a legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society as well as the Humane Society of the United States, advancing animal protection laws on the local, state and federal levels.  She also served as a senior policy advisor for the international nonprofit World Animal Net (now merged into the World Animal Federation), assisting the organization with obtaining special consultative status at the United Nations and collaborating with other international organizations in making positive policy advancements.

Akisha has contributed to numerous publications. Her most recent chapters have appeared in the Palgrave Handbook of Animal Ethics, Career Paths in Human-Animal Interaction for Social and Behavioral Scientists and People, Pets, and Policies: Towards Community Supported Animal Sheltering.  She served as a consultant editor and contributor to the Journal of Animal Ethics and associate editor for the Journal of Animal Law.  Akisha has been an instructor, guest lecturer and speaker at numerous law schools, including Georgetown, Duke, Harvard, Lewis and Clark and Tulane University’s International Legislative Drafting Institute.  Her publications have been included in the courses of international law schools.  She has presented at multiple national, state and local animal welfare conferences on recent developments in animal law and advocacy.  She is a former contributor for the Huffington Post and the Dodo and former Diversity Vice-Chair for the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee within the Tort, Trial, and Insurance Practice Section. She is a current Associate Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Akisha received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was recognized as a Law Center Scholar and her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University where she graduated with distinction (equivalent to magna cum laude).  At Georgetown, she served as president of her Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter, was a recipient of the Advancement of Animal Law Award and completed an animal welfare fellowship in the office of Senator Mary Landrieu. In addition, Akisha completed legal clerkships at Compassion Over Killing (now Animal Outlook) and the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Outside of work, Akisha has a passion for community service and advocacy and is an AmeriCorps alumni.  She is currently active in the grassroots community as well as the legal redress, environmental justice, and economic development committees of her local NAACP chapter, which recently awarded her the Prince and Cora Mack Humanitarian Award.  She lives in Kentucky with her husband and two companion rabbits.

Nicholas Fromherz, Senior Staff Attorney for the Global Law Alliance, Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School

Nick Fromherz serves as a senior attorney for the Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment (the Global Law Alliance), a collaboration launched in the fall of 2020 between the Center for Animal Law Studies and the Environmental Law Program at Lewis & Clark Law School. The Global Law Alliance is a champion for wild animals and wild spaces across the globe, working to protect animals and the environment through the development, implementation, and enforcement of international law. Law students (JD and LLM) actively participate in the work through two clinics within the Alliance.

Prior to joining the Global Law Alliance, Nick worked as an attorney for a public-interest law firm dedicated to conserving marine wildlife around the world. Combining this experience with his considerable time living and working in Latin America, Nick expands the Global Law Alliance’s footprint in the Americas while building on its existing fisheries program and international wildlife practice.

Previously, Nick served as a Visiting Assistant Professor, teaching courses within Lewis & Clark’s Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law program. Since 2015, Nick has taught Administrative Law at Lewis & Clark Law School during several summer sessions as an Adjunct Professor.

Nick’s scholarship has appeared in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, the Washington University Global Studies Law Review, the Ecology Law Quarterly, the West Virginia Law Review, Administrative Law Review, and Animal Law Review. In addition, he has written a number of shorter opinion pieces – with a particular focus on Latin American political and environmental issues – in outlets like Foreign Affairs and the International Policy Digest.

Before transitioning to environmental work, Nick served as a litigation attorney for a law firm in California and spent three years clerking for federal judges (Judge Lawson of E.D. Mich. and Judge Terence Evans of the Seventh Circuit). Nick graduated as the valedictorian of his law-school class. Nick is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.

Away from work, Nick enjoys spending time with his family, reading, watching college sports, and exploring Bolivia’s wild spaces. Nick works for the Global Law Alliance primarily from his home office in Bolivia.

Stacey Gordon Sterling, Animal Law Program Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund

As the Animal Law Program Director, Stacey Gordon Sterling builds educational programs for law students to expand and strengthen the cadre of animal law attorneys, advocates, and activists needed to protect animals using the legal system.

Stacey brings her academic background and passion for legal advocacy to the Animal Legal Defense Fund team. She holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University, a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington, and a JD from the University of Montana. She has received the Ken Shugart Humanitarian Award from the Humane Society of Western Montana, and the Montana Faculty Service Award.

Outside of the office Stacey enjoys traveling, wine tasting, reading and fostering puppies. She is a member of the Humane Society of Western Montana legislative committee through which she works on local and statewide animal protection legislation. She is also a member of the State Bar of Montana Animal Law Section, which works to develop Animal Law in all branches of the legal system.

Located in Missoula, Montana, she shares her converted apple barn home with her husband; companion dogs Peggy Sue and Otis; and companion cats Gil and CeCe.

Caitlin Hawks, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, PETA Foundation

Caitlin Hawks is Deputy General Counsel for Litigation for the PETA Foundation, where she oversees all offensive and defensive litigation. Most recently, her victories include partial summary judgment and a resulting permanent injunction under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) barring Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed, Inc. and its owners from declawing big cats, allowing big-cat cubs to interact with the public, and separating mother cats and their infants. Her team also recently secured a victory at trial resulting in a finding that Tri-State Zoological Park in Maryland violated the ESA by failing to provide protected animals with adequate veterinary care, sanitation, companionship, and environmental enrichment. Before joining the PETA Foundation, Hawks practiced complex commercial and intellectual property litigation with Savitt Bruce & Willey LLP in Seattle and Milbank LLP in Los Angeles. She received her law degree from the UCLA School of Law.

Kelly Levenda, Senior Student Programs Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund

As Student Programs Attorney, Kelly manages the organization’s student chapter program. She is a 2013 graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. During law school, she served as a Source Checker and Associate Editor of Animal Law Review, interned at the Animal Law Clinic, and was co-director of the school’s Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter. Kelly completed her bachelor’s degree at University of Illinois where she studied Pre-Veterinary Animal Science.

Kelly has authored articles including Science-Based Farmed Animal Welfare Laws for the U.S., Legislation to Protect the Welfare of Fish, and Sensitizing Humans to Fish Sentience and co-authored Cruelty to Human and Nonhuman Animals in the Wild-Caught Fishing Industry. She is currently co-authoring the first textbook on Aquatic Animal Law with Kathy Hessler and Becky Jenkins.

Kelly lives in Oklahoma City with her partner and their two animal companion cats, Mori and Ollie.

Nicole Pallotta, Senior Policy Program Manager, Animal Legal Defense Fund

As Senior Policy Program Manager for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Nicole produces written content that advances the strategic goals, campaigns, and policy positions of the organization. Among other educational materials and resources, Nicole manages and produces Animal Law Update, an article series covering legal and policy news in the developing field of animal law. One of her focus areas is how animals’ evolving legal status intersects with culture and social norms. In her previous roles as academic outreach manager and student programs coordinator, Nicole expanded the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s academic resources and oversaw the rapid expansion of its student chapter program.

Before joining the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Nicole completed her PhD in sociology with a focus on animal studies, critical theory, social movements, and culture. While in graduate school, she developed and taught the University of Georgia’s first undergraduate Animals and Society course. Nicole has published and spoken on a wide range of topics including animals’ legal and cultural status, companion animal disability, secondary trauma and animal advocacy, critical animal education, animals in film, grief and companion animal loss, and the socio-cultural dynamics of becoming an animal rights activist.

Her recent publications include the journal article, “Chattel or Child: The Liminal Status of Companion Animals in Society and Law,” and book chapters, “Reframing Companion Animal Disability Using the Social Model: Removing Barriers and Facilitating Care” and “You’re My Sanctuary: Grief, Vulnerability, and Unexpected Secondary Losses for Animal Advocates Mourning a Companion Animal.” 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 one-eyed German shepherd with a big heart. Outside work, Nicole enjoys music, hiking, road trips, discovering dog-friendly breweries, and learning about dog cognition and behavior to become a better caregiver.

Priscilla Rader Culp, Education Program Manager, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Priscilla develops and manages education programs and opportunities for law students, attorneys, and the general public.

As a 2016 Lewis & Clark Law School graduate, Priscilla interned with Mercy for Animals, clerked for the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Litigation Program and the Center for Animal Law Studies, and acted as co-director for the school’s Animal Legal Defense Fund student chapter, winning Chapter of the Year Award for its work. Priscilla completed her bachelor’s degree at Pacific University where she studied philosophy, with a special focus on animal ethics.

Currently, she serves on the board of Humane Voters Oregon and is a volunteer with local farm sanctuaries. Priscilla’s commitment to animal law has been recognized with the Animal Law Leadership Award, the Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship and the Richard J. Peppin Animal Rights Scholarship. Priscilla was also selected by professors and faculty of her law school to join its Cornelius Honor Society.

She shares her home in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their cat, Wesley, who was adopted and now rules the household.

Rajesh K. Reddy, Director, Global Animal Law and Animal Law Advanced Degree Programs, Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School

Raj Reddy directs the Global Animal Law and Animal Law Advanced Degree Programs at the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School. Outside of Lewis & Clark, he chairs the International Subcommittee of the Animal Law Section of the American Bar Association and serves as a board member for Minding Animals International. He has advanced human and nonhuman animal interests as part of his work for the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi, India.

Jessica Rock, Georgia Statewide Animal Crimes Prosecutor and Trainer & Assistant District Attorney with the Towaliga Judicial Circuit

Jessica Rock is the Georgia Statewide Animal Crimes Prosecutor and Trainer, only the 3rd of this kind in the nation and an Assistant District Attorney with the Towaliga Judicial Circuit. She is also a Special Assistant United States Attorney handling animal crimes in the Southern District of Georgia. Jessica  provides statewide animal cruelty and animal fighting case assistance for law enforcement and prosecutors.  She also provides statewide and national training to law enforcement, animal control officers, prosecutors, judges and veterinarians on a variety of topics including animal abuse cases from the crime scene to the courtroom, dog fighting and cock fighting investigations and prosecutions and the link between animal abuse, interpersonal violence and other collateral crimes. 

Former Deputy Chief of the Special Victims Unit in DeKalb County, Jessica graduated with Honors from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Jessica received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Emory University School of Law in 2003. After clerking for a superior court judge and the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, in 2004, she became Georgia’s first dedicated animal cruelty prosecutor, creating Georgia’s first animal cruelty task force with law enforcement. For over a decade, Jessica successfully prosecuted thousands of special victims cases involving homicide, RICO, gangs, domestic violence, elder abuse, child victim cases, animal cruelty and dog fighting. Training judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, animal control officers and veterinarians for over 16 years, she continues teaching nationally and throughout Georgia.

In addition to her speaking engagements, she also works diligently drafting laws related to animals in Georgia on both the state and local levels. She is the past Chair of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia and on the executive board of the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program.

Alyssa Sander, Animal Law Program Fellow, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Animal Law Program Fellow, Alyssa assists with educational programs and opportunities while managing various academic outreach resources.

Alyssa is a 2020 graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. During law school, she served as a Source Checker of Animal Law Review, interned for the International Animal and Environmental Law Clinic, clerked for the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Animal Law Studies, and was Pro Bono Chair of the school’s Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter. As Pro Bono Chair, Alyssa served as the law student representative on the planning committee for the 27th Annual Animal Law Conference. Alyssa was also selected by professors and faculty of her law school to join its Cornelius Honor Society largely due to her involvement in the animal law program. Alyssa completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Toledo where she majored in Law & Social Thought and minored in Political Science.

Alyssa is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her fiancé Tyler and their sassy pups, Ella & Ruth, who run the house.

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