IPNO is made up of full-time staff attorneys and support staff, aided by a constellation of interns and volunteers.

Jee Park (she/her)

Executive Director

Jee Park has served as IPNO’s executive director since June 2018. Prior to joining IPNO in January 2017 as the senior attorney for policy, Jee served as the deputy district defender of Orleans Public Defenders (OPD) from 2014-16. She joined OPD in the spring of 2008 as a supervising attorney then directed OPD’s Special Litigation Division from 2009-14. Prior to OPD, Jee worked as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders in New York and was a  Prettyman Fellow at the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center.

After college, Jee worked for Equal Justice Initiative. Jee also served as a law clerk to Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; received an LL.M in clinical advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center; and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Back to Top

Meredith Angelson (she/her)

Director of Special Projects

Meredith Angelson is the director of special projects at IPNO. She formerly worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s New Orleans office as a senior staff attorney in criminal justice reform and as a staff attorney at the Orleans Public Defenders. Meredith clerked for Judge Robert Sweet of the Southern District of New York. She is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Yale College.

Back to Top

Charell Arnold (she/her)

Supervising Attorney for Case Development

Charell Arnold is the supervising attorney for case development with IPNO. She has been with IPNO since 2013.

Charell graduated from Tulane Law School and was awarded the Order of the Barristers. She also holds a BA in English language and literature from the University of Chicago.

During law school, Charell was a summer law clerk with the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana and the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as a student attorney for the Tulane University Juvenile Clinic. Charell worked as a staff investigator with the Orleans Public Defenders Office for several years before attending law school.

Back to Top

Alex Cahill (she/her)

Investigative Fellow 

Alex Cahill joined IPNO as an investigative fellow in February 2022. Alex is a graduate of George Washington University where she studied global development and Spanish. During her four years in the Washington D.C. area, Alex became interested in criminal justice reform through her advocacy and volunteer work with the Petey Greene Program. In this role, she supported the academic goals of incarcerated students through tutoring and GED preparation.

Back to Top

John Collins (he/him)

Law Fellow – Unjust Punishment Project

John graduated from Southern University Law Center with a Juris Doctor in 2015. He also graduated from LSU in 2009 with a double major in English and African & African American studies along with a minor in history. Prior to joining IPNO as an attorney, John spent ten years as a middle and high school English teacher in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

Back to Top

Zac Crawford (he/him)

Staff Attorney

Zac Crawford is a staff attorney with IPNO. Prior to law school, Zac worked at IPNO as case review manager and a junior investigator. He graduated Order of the Coif from Washington and Lee School of Law in 2019 and Bowdoin College in 2012.

During law school, Zac was a summer law clerk with the Southern Center for Human Rights, attorney Rob McDuff, and Chief Justice John Weimer of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Zac was a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic and Executive Editor of the Law Review. Before returning to IPNO, he clerked for Judge Madeline H. Haikala of the Northern District of Alabama.

Back to Top

Huy Dao (he/him)

Case Manager

Huy Dao started as the case manager in October 2015. Prior to working at IPNO, Huy was the case director at the Innocence Project, where he managed the Intake & Evaluation Department from 1997-2015.

Huy graduated from Cornell University in 1997 and received an Master of Fine Arts in writing from the New School in 2000.

Back to Top

Richard Davis (he/him)

Legal Director

Richard Davis came to IPNO for a four-month internship in 2005 and has remained ever since.

Richard obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Sheffield in 2004. He obtained his Master of Law degree from Loyola University New Orleans in 2011 while working at Innocence Project New Orleans.

Back to Top

Gwen Dilworth (she/her)

Program Coordinator, Unjust Punishment Project 

Gwen Dilworth rejoined IPNO in August 2021 as a program coordinator. Previously an Avodah Fellow at IPNO, Gwen returns to us from Orleans Public Defenders, where she served as a client advocate. Gwen holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Virginia with a concentration in Southern Studies.

Cat Forrester (she/her)

Director of Operations and Communications

Cat Forrester is IPNO’s director of communications and operations. She interned at IPNO from 2013-2014 before joining the staff in January 2016. Prior to joining IPNO, Cat worked as a client and court support administrator at Orleans Public Defenders. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology from Brown University and her Master of Arts in sexuality studies at San Francisco State University.

Back to Top

Kiah Howard (she/her)

Senior Investigator

Kiah Howard is an investigator who started at IPNO in May 2018. Prior to joining IPNO, Kiah spent almost five years as an investigator at the Orleans Public Defenders.

Kiah is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison where she studied political science and international studies.

Back to Top

Ayyub Ibrahim (he/him)

Research Associate

Ayyub Ibrahim is a research associate who joined IPNO in November 2020. Ayyub, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, has previously supported criminal justice research programs in the United States, Africa, and the Middle East.

Back to Top

Ceisha James-Hayes (she/her)

Operations Manager

Ceisha James-Hayes is the operations manager at IPNO. She obtained her bachelor of arts in mass communication  from Louisiana State University. Prior to joining IPNO, Ceisha worked in supply chain with the oil industry and in operations with the New Orleans education system.

Back to Top

Libra LaGrone Pealer (she/her)

Director of Development

Prior to joining IPNO, Libra LaGrone Pealer served as the finance/development manager at the Newcomb Art Museum, the deputy director/curator of Southern music at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and has consulted independently for multiple arts and cultural organizations including Prospect 4, TEDWomen, and French Quarter Festival. Libra serves as a board member for A Studio in the Woods, an artists’ retreat center dedicated to science-inspired art education. She holds an MLA from Tulane University and a B.S. in Political Science from the University of North Alabama.

Back to Top

Jack Largess (he/him)

Staff Investigator

Jack Largess is an investigator who joined IPNO in October 2017. Jack received a Bachelor of Arts in geography from UNC Chapel Hill. His honors thesis studied the ways that housing policy limited the effectiveness of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system’s court-ordered desegregated plan. Before joining IPNO, he volunteered at a migrant shelter in Mexico and interned with the Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Back to Top

Kirschelle McGowan (she/her)

Wrongful Conviction Clinic Supervising Attorney

Kirschelle McGowan received her Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center in 2012 and was admitted to practice law in Louisiana in October 2012. During law school, Kirschelle worked as a student attorney in the Juvenile Defense Clinic and was a member of Law Review. Before joining IPNO’s staff in 2013, Kirschelle worked for Criminal Defense Attorney Julie C. Tizzard in New Orleans.

Kirschelle obtained a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice in 2006 as well as a Master of Science in criminal investigations in 2007 from Southern University and A&M College.

Back to Top

Caitlin Newswanger (she/her)

Fingerprint Law Fellow

Caitlin graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans with Juris Doctor in 2019. Prior to law school, she worked as a social worker in several homeless shelters and street outreach teams in Pennsylvania and Virginia. She obtained her masters in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia.

Back to Top

Móni G. Sakamoto-Talavera (she/her)

Investigative Fellow

Móni became an Investigative Fellow after joining IPNO in March 2022 as an intern. She graduated from Loyola University New Orleans where she studied Criminology and minored in Digital Filmmaking. Móni was a member of Loyno’s SGA Court of Review and an intern at Metro Centers for Community Advocacy.

Back to Top

Lauren Sapp (she/her)

Staff Attorney

Lauren Sapp is a staff attorney with IPNO. She graduated from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 2017. While at Loyola, she was a member of the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic and president of the Black Law Student Association. After her 3L year, Sapp moved to New Orleans to be a public defender with the Orleans Public Defenders. Sapp worked with OPD for over 4 years, prior to her time with IPNO.

Back to Top

Virginia White (she/her)

Client Services Specialist

Dr. Virginia White joined IPNO as the client services specialist in September of 2021. She completed undergraduate studies at Dillard University and received her Master’s in social work from Southern University at New Orleans. Virginia earned a doctorate in social work from Tulane University. She has presented at the National Summit on Eliminating Health Disparities and is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship Program.

Back to Top