Jefferson Smith was born in Portland, Oregon. After attending Grant High School and the University of Oregon, Jefferson graduated from Harvard Law School. He left a high-paying corporate firm in New York to avoid defending big tobacco and to return home to Portland. He became a nonprofit entrepreneur and started the Oregon Bus Project, which grew into a national model of hands-on democracy for future generations. In the decade since, the Bus Project has developed hundreds of future leaders, registered tens of thousands of new voters, launched national activities in multiple cities across the U.S., won local and national awards, and inspired democracy efforts from Oregon to Colorado and Africa. In 2008, Jefferson was elected to to succeed Jeff Merkley to represent East Portland in the Oregon House. He successfully worked with citizens, lawmakers and stakeholders to champion common-sense, high-road economic solutions like the landmark water investment program, the “Cool Schools” jobs program, and the “economic gardening” plan for homegrown Oregon businesses.
His innovative good government work led to Oregon’s online voter registration act as well as the transparency act to share Oregon’s budget with the world. His commitment to challenged neighborhoods like his helped advance one of the State’s first efforts to curb human trafficking.
Supervisor David Chiu was elected in November 2008 to represent San Francisco's District 3. District 3 is home to many diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, including North Beach, Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, Polk Street, Nob Hill, Union Square, Financial District, Barbary Coast and Fisherman's Wharf. In January 2009, David was elected President of the Board of Supervisors and he was recently re-elected as Board President in January 2011.
Before being elected to the Board of Supervisors, David was a founder and Chief Operating Officer of Grassroots Enterprise, an online communications technology company. Prior to Grassroots, he worked as a criminal prosecutor at the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and as a civil rights attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. In the mid-1990s, David served as Democratic Counsel to the U.S. Senate Constitution Subcommittee and as Senator Paul Simon's aide to the Senate Budget Committee. The eldest child of immigrant parents, David Chiu grew up in Boston and received his undergraduate degree, law degree, and master's degree in public policy from Harvard University.
A productive scholar and award-winning teacher at Stanford Law School, Pamela S. Karlan is also co-director of the school’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, where students litigate live cases before the Court. One of the nation’s leading experts on voting and the political process, she has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission and an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Professor Karlan is the co-author of three leading casebooks on constitutional law, constitutional litigation, and the law of democracy, as well as more than sixty scholarly articles.
Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1998, she was a professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law and served as a law clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Abraham D. Sofaer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Karlan is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Law Institute and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Constitution Society.
Stephen P. Berzon
Stephen P. Berzon is a founding partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Alvin B. Rubin of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He was formerly the Legal Director of the Children's Defense Fund, a public interest organization in Washington, D.C. He has also practiced with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County and the National Housing and Economic Development Law Project of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall).
He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has served as Chair of the City of Berkeley Police Review Commission. He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He is also a member of the Ninth Circuit’s Advisory Committee on Rules and Internal Operating Procedures. He served on the Board of Directors of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee from 2000 to 2009. He received the Voting Rights Award from the ACLU of Southern California in 2002. He is listed in "The Best Lawyers in America" for labor and employment law, and in San Francisco Magazine's Northern California "Super Lawyers" in the appellate practice area. In 2009, he was named a "California Lawyer of the Year" by California Lawyer Magazine. He lectures frequently on litigation and legislative matters.
Jahan is a partner in the San Francisco office of Leiff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP who focuses on challenging unlawful employment practices. Jahan has represented employees in significant cases involving the denial of overtime pay, including Rosenburg v. IBM ($65 million settlement), Higazi v. Cadence($7.7 million settlement), Lewis v. Wells Fargo & Co. ($6.72 million settlement), Buccellato v. AT&T (12.5 million settlement), and other important cases of injustice in the workplace.
Jahan's contributions to employment law have been recognized by the legal community. In June 2008, Centro Legal De La Raza honored Jahan and other members of the plaintiffs' team in theGonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch class action lawsuit with the organization's Community Justice Award. The settlement required Abercrombie to pay $40 million to Latino, African-American, Asian-American, and female applicants and employees who alleged discrimination. Under the settlement, Abercrombie has undertaken comprehensive reforms in its recruitment, hiring, assignment, and promotion of employees.
Jahan has been recognized as a "Rising Star for Northern California" by Super Lawyers and holds a leadership role on the Executive Board of the Bay Area Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and serves on the Executive Committee of the ACLU of Northern California, among other professional affiliations.
Andrew Blotky serves as the Director of Legal Progress at American Progress, where he directs the Center's work around legal policy issues including judicial nominations and constitutional interpretation. Blotky joined CAP after serving as the program manager at the HJW Foundation, where he directed the foundation’s progressive infrastructure and legal and public policy programs as well the foundation’s immigration and poverty alleviation programs.
Blotky recently concluded his service on the national board of directors of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, and on the Stanford University Board of Trustees Committee on Academic Policy, Planning, and Management. He also worked in the White House Office of Presidential Speechwriting during the Clinton administration.
Blotky received his B.A. degree in political science with honors in international security studies from Stanford University and his law degree from Stanford Law School. He is a visiting lecturer at Stanford’s Washington, D.C. program and a member of the California State Bar. From 2003 to 2006, Blotky served as the communications director for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and former Rep. Jim Turner (D-TX). From 2006 to 2009, while attending Stanford Law School, he worked at the law firm O’Melveny and Myers in Los Angeles and for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on education, climate change, and health initiatives.
As Executive Director, Shahid Buttar leads the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the People’s Campaign for the Constitution (PCC) in our efforts to defend civil liberties, constitutional rights, and rule of law principles threatened in the United States by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He is a constitutional scholar, grassroots organizer, civil rights lawyer, independent columnist, musician, and poet.
Previously director of a national program to combat racial and religious profiling by federal authorities, Shahid was also an associate director of the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy. Before pursuing public interest litigation in private practice, Buttar received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and a teaching assistant for Constitutional Law.
Shahid’s comments have been featured by news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, al-Jazeera, FOX News, Agence-France Presse, Huffington Post, Truthout, Democracy Now!, and many others, including dozens of radio stations around the country. He frequently addresses public audiences, including elected bodies, colleges, and law schools.
In addition to his work leading BORDC, Shahid serves on the advisory bodies of the Rights Working Group, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, and South Asian Americans Leading Together. He also supports populist constitutionalism as a civil rights lawyer, independent columnist, community organizer, and hip-hop and electronica MC. In his creative capacities as a poet and musician, Shahid has performed around the world, co-founded several grassroots art and culture groups around the country, facilitated workshops for young people and emerging artists, and released his debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, in 2008. Shahid’s music and articles, including his commentary for Huffington Post and Truthoutt, are available at his website.
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Rebuild The Dream Movement. Natalie fuses organizing, technology and movement-building in ground-breaking and innovative ways. She most recently served as New Media Director for the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America, the grassroots force supporting the President's agenda. Prior to joining the DNC, Natalie built the first Online Organizing department at the Sierra Club and also served as the Deputy Organizing Director for MoveOn.org, where she ran online-to-offline actions and helped build a nationwide volunteer-led action network.
Robert Rubin, a civil rights attorney for the past 33 years, has been, until very recently, the Legal Director at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. From 1979-81, Rubin was ACLU staff counsel in Mississippi. In the area of immigrant and refugee rights, he has successfully litigated more than 20 class action suits, including the Prop. 187 case that successfully challenged the threatened statewide expulsion of undocumented children from school.
In the voting rights area, in a case that reached the US Supreme Court, Rubin secured the first injunction in the nation ordering a state to comply with the federal “motor voter” law. In two other cases decided favorably by the Supreme Court, he was counsel to Latino voters in Monterey County opposed to at-large elections. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the at-large system violated the Voting Rights Act and in a second ruling, rejected California’s argument that the Act was unconstitutional and the at-large system immune from review. During the 2004 Presidential election, he successfully challenged Ohio’s refusal to provide provisional ballots to persons who had requested, but did not receive, absentee ballots. Rubin filed and successfully resolved the first six cases filed under the California Voting Rights Act resulting in the conversion of electoral systems of city councils and school boards from at-large to single-member districts.
He has been an adjunct professor at Stanford, UC Berkeley, USF, and UC Hastings where he currently teaches a voting rights seminar. Rubin recently established his own private practice where he will continue to focus on civil rights matters.
Angela F. Chan is a staff attorney managing the Criminal Justice Reform Program at the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, which is the nation’s oldest legal and civil rights organization serving the low-income Asian and Pacific American communities. Angela represents immigrant families who have youth caught in the juvenile justice system, and youth who are harassed or discriminated against in the K-12 education system. She also works to oppose and reform immigration enforcement policies and programs that criminalize immigrant youth and families, including pushing back against Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s deeply flawed Secure Communities Program (“S-Comm”). Angela joined the ALC in 2006 with a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute. She was named a Local Hero by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and was awarded a Monarch Award by the Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition for her work assisting immigrant families.
Angela also currently serves on the San Francisco Police Commission, which is a chartered city civilian commission that adjudicates officer disciplinary cases and sets policies for the police department. Angela was an instructor for the Raza Department at San Francisco State University, teaching courses on race, crime, and justice. In addition, she was a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Napoleon A. Jones in the Southern District of California. Angela earned a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and a B.A., summa cum laude, from Occidental College.
Elizabeth Sholes is Director of Public Policy for California Council of Churches and California Church IMPACT. She has been with the Council and IMPACT since early 2002 working to educate members on major issues and advocating for them in the state legislature.
She has worked for over 25 years in policy analysis and advocacy focusing on issues of social justice and community well-being by developing a moral economic critique of global capital; using existing laws in building sustainable urban and rural economies, and standing for worker and human justice.
She taught “The Legal and Political Foundations of Global Corporate Capital” at both Wheaton College in MA and for Cornell University’s Labor Studies Program in Buffalo, NY. She was co-partner in a consulting firm that championed the reclamation of abandoned historic industrial structures and neighborhoods for worker-owned job retention, community preservation, and adaptive reuse.
She has written numerous articles and books on the US steel industry, problems in heritage preservation, and the impact of globalization on jobs and community viability. Her work has been published in Canada, Poland, Hungary, and Spain as well as in the United States.
Ms. Sholes has an M.A in History from California State University, Los Angeles and is ABD in Sociology from University of California, Santa Cruz.
Eric Isaacson is a lawyer and Sunday school teacher at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego.
Mr. Isaacson has extensive pro bono experience. In California’s Marriage Cases, he was on the team of attorneys representing the California Council of Churches, the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and the hundreds of other religious organizations and faith leaders, as amici curiae, insisting civil marriage is a civil right that California cannot withhold from same-sex couples. See In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal. 4th 757, 773 (2008). Mr. Isaacson then represented the California Council of Churches, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Bishops of California and Los Angeles, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry California, and the Progressive Jewish Alliance as petitioners and amici in related proceedings challenging Proposition 8’s withdrawal of that fundamental right. See Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal. 4th 364, 377-78 (2009); Cal. Council of Churches v. Horton, No. S168332 (Cal. July 8, 2009) (order denying writ of mandate or prohibition).
Mr. Isaacson has received awards for his pro bono work from the California State Bar and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, and in 2009 he received the Unitarian Universalist Association President’s Annual Award for Volunteer Service, which was awarded by the Rev. William G. Sinkford at the Association’s 48th General Assembly in Salt Lake City.
Since January 2004, Mr. Isaacson has served as a member of the Board of Directors – and from March 2005 through June 2008 was Board President – of San Diego's Foundation for Change, an organization dedicated to funding and supporting community-led efforts to promote social equality, economic justice and environmental sustainability. Its grantees have included groups as diverse as Activist San Diego, the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, the Employee Rights Center, and the San Diego Audubon Society.
Mr. Isaacson has been a member of the California Bar since 1985. He earned his Juris Doctor degree with high honors from Duke University School of Law and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Mr. Isaacson served as a Note and Comment Editor for the Duke Law Journal and in his third year of law school became a member of the Moot Court Board. After graduation, Mr. Isaacson clerked for the Honorable J. Clifford Wallace of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude from Ohio University.
Mr. Isaacson’s publications include, among others, Get Off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America, 5 Pierce Law Review 433 (2007); Traditional Values, or a New Tradition of Prejudice? The Boy Scouts of America vs. The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 17 George Mason Civil Rights Law Journal 1 (2006); The Flag Burning Issue: A Legal Analysis and Comment, 23 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 535 (1990).
Alan Brownstein, a nationally recognized Constitutional Law scholar, teaches Constitutional Law, Law and Religion, and Torts at UC Davis School of Law. While the primary focus of his scholarship relates to church-state issues and free exercise and establishment clause doctrine, he has also written extensively on freedom of speech, privacy and autonomy rights, and other constitutional law subjects. His articles have been published in numerous academic journals including the Stanford Law Review, Cornell Law Review, UCLA Law Review and Constitutional Commentary. Brownstein received the UC Davis School of Law's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995 and the UC Davis Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award in 2008.
From humble beginnings as a conservative evangelical Christian from rural northern Wisconsin, Justin Hager has become a nationally recognized advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. As a participant in the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, Justin traveled the country speaking (and occasionally being arrested) at colleges and universities that openly discriminate against LGBT people. In addition to the Equality Ride, Justin has organized numerous movements for LGBT equality including serving as the co-chair of the first national Out and Greek Conference for LGBT members of fraternities and sororities. He is the recipient of the 2009 National Voice and Action Award and has been featured in numerous national and international media publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post. In 2011 he received his greatest honor to date, an invitation from President Barack Obama to the first White House LGBT Pride Reception and Policy Briefing. Justin graduated in 2009 with a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and is currently a third year student at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.