Allison Riggs leads the voting rights program at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, an organization she joined in 2009. In March of 2020, she also took over as Interim Executive Director of the organization.
Her voting rights work over the last decade at SCSJ has been focused on fighting for fair redistricting plans, fighting against voter suppression, and advocating for electoral reforms that would expand access to voting.
She has litigated redistricting cases on behalf of State NAACP Conferences in Texas, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. In 2018, she argued the Texas redistricting case in the United States Supreme Court, and in 2019, she argued the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case in the Supreme Court. Allison works closely with grassroots organizations and communities of color as they seek to advance their political and civil rights. She received her undergraduate, Master’s Degree and J.D. from the University of Florida.
She has litigated redistricting cases on behalf of State NAACP Conferences in Texas, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. In 2018, she argued the Texas redistricting case in the United States Supreme Court. Allison works closely with grassroots organizations and communities of color as they seek to advance their political and civil rights. She received her undergraduate, Master’s Degree and J.D. from the University of Florida.
Tazeen Dhanani joined the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in May 2020 as the Communications Director. Prior to joining SCSJ, she was a Senior Communications Specialist at the Public Health Institute, where she worked on a USAID-funded contract to develop partnerships and strengthen the capacity of global health professionals and organizations. Before that, Tazeen worked in strategic communications and marketing as a Senior Consultant working with, and for, U.S. veterans on public health and mental health issues, specifically PTSD. She also worked as an Events and Registration Consultant for both the 62nd and 63rd Commissions on the Status of Women with UN Women in New York, and before that, as an Internal Communications Coordinator at Amnesty International UK in London. Prior to moving to London in 2016, she worked in various communications-related roles at Washington, DC-based nonprofits in public health and health law. She has also completed human rights and communications internships at her alma mater, the London School of Economics (LSE), and at the World Health Organization in Geneva, respectively. At LSE, she was a Lead Editor for the university’s human rights blog.
Tazeen has volunteered with several organizations, such as LSE’s Student Union; Amnesty International UK; UN Women’s Empower Women; the UN Association of the National Capital Area; and the American Red Cross, among others. In 2017, she was honored with LSE’s Volunteer of the Year award. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Art History from Virginia Tech, a Master of Public Health in Global Health from George Mason University, and a Master of Science in Human Rights from LSE.
Tyler Whittenberg joined Southern Coalition for Social Justice in 2020 to lead the Justice Systems Reform program. Prior to joining South Coalition for Social Justice, Tyler was Deputy Director of Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Track project. In this role, he supported grassroots campaigns led by youth of color fighting to end the criminalization of Black and Brown students and create learning environments that are reflective of the world they envision for themselves.
Tyler’s entire career has been dedicated to ending the school-to-prison pipeline and dismantling oppressive structures systematically imposed upon Black and Brown youth. He began his career as an 8th grade social studies teacher in Columbia, South Carolina. He then received a masters degree in Politics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, focusing on school-to-prison pipeline issues and the growing effort to privatize public education. Tyler subsequently advocated for students’ rights as an Education Policy Fellow with the North Carolina Justice Center’s Education Law Project.
Tyler graduated from Tulane University Law School after completing an Ella Baker Fellowship with the Center for Constitutional Rights. Throughout law school, he co-directed Stand Up for Each Other (SUFEO)—a student-led organization representing youth who were suspended and expelled from public schools in New Orleans. For these efforts, Tyler was awarded the Louisiana State Bar Association’s 2014 Student Pro Bono Award. Tyler also advocated for the rights of youth in the justice and foster care systems as a Staff Attorney with the Youth Law Center and helped jurisdictions throughout the U.S. reduce racial and ethnic disparities in youth-serving systems while a Site Manager with the W. Haywood Burns Institute.
Jeff Loperfido serves as Senior Counsel with SCSJ’s Voting Rights group. His practice focuses on litigation and policy advocacy that ensures the fair and full participation of all voters.
Jeff graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Economics, and earned his J.D. cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Norma L. Shapiro, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and then worked in private practice for five years at the New York City law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP. In 2015, he shifted his practice to government work, serving as senior counsel in the Special Federal Litigation Division of the New York City Law Department. Jeff returned to North Carolina in 2017 committed to dedicating his future professional efforts to social justice causes and is excited to have found that opportunity at SCSJ.
Mitchell Brown is a native of Fredericksburg, VA, but has familial roots in Greensboro, NC. Mitchell graduated from the New York University School of Law in May 2017 where he served as the Chair of the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA). Mitchell also graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in May 2012, earning a B.S. in Business Economics and a minor in Philosophy.
After graduating from law school, Mitchell clerked for the Honorable J. Michelle Childs on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina and for the Honorable Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Mitchell’s inspiration for entering the legal field originates from a biblical and community standpoint. He believes that he has been called to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, to defend the defenseless, and to empower those who feel powerless.
Mitchell’s favorite quote is: “If purpose is present, then nothing can stop the determined individual from his/her rendezvous with destiny” (Anonymous).
Hilary Harris Klein joined Southern Coalition for Social Justice in 2020 as Counsel for the voting rights program.
Hilary graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Global Law Scholar and Pro Bono Pledge Recognition recipient. After law school, Hilary practiced commercial litigation, arbitration, and global investigations in the New York office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where she co-lead the US Pro-Bono Associate Counsel and served as lead counsel in Prisoner’s Rights and Anti-Human Trafficking matters, for which she twice received the Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Public Award.
After moving to North Carolina in 2018, Hilary served as a term law clerk for the Honorable Catherine C. Eagles of the Middle District of North Carolina. Hilary also holds a B.S.E., magna cum laude, in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania before law school.
Chantel Cherry-Lassiter serves as counsel on the Justice Systems Reform team at SCSJ. She grew up in rural Northeastern North Carolina. She earned her M.P.A from Strayer University and her B.S. in Criminal Justice from Elizabeth City State University. Prior to attending law school, she worked for Elizabeth City State University in the Accounting Department. However, most of her ten-year career with the State of North Carolina was spent as a Child Support Enforcement Agent. She earned her J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law, where she also earned a Certification in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law. While attending NCCU Law she was President of the Civil Rights and Constitutional Law Society, President of Teens N Transition, and served as a Guardian ad Litem for Durham County.
During law school, she participated in over 700 hours of pro bono legal work. In 2018, she was awarded the Durham County Bar Association’s Adam Lischer Scholarship for her commitment to serving Durham’s underserved population. Chantel was also awarded North Carolina Central University’s Student Service Impact Award. She received a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of dedicated public service from the North Carolina State Bar Association. She was also honored to receive the H.M. Michaux Award for Public Service.
Christopher Ketchie serves as the Southern Coalition’s in-house demographer and data analyst, where he specializes in research, analysis, and spatial visualization of demographic and electoral data to provide an evidence base for advocacy, community organizing, and litigation. After completing his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002, he pursued his sense of adventure by moving out west to become a wildland firefighter for the United States Forest Service.
In 2007, he returned home to study at North Carolina State University, where he received his master’s degree in Forestry and Environmental Resources with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems. Christopher previously worked for SCSJ from 2011 to 2015 and, after spending a few years working for a land trust in Eastern North Carolina, he rejoined the ranks in October 2018.
Amanda Ford serves as SCSJ’s Networks Director for Voting Rights and helps to lead the organizing efforts for the non-litigation work of SCSJ’s Voting Rights Team. Amanda specializes in grassroots organizing and base building having led several successful grassroots efforts in electoral politics across the South and Midwest. She has over 6 cycles of political campaign experience and 15 years of professional experience in politics and nonprofits. Amanda is a proud native of North Carolina who believes strongly in southern organizing and preserving the right to vote for all citizens.
Sala Abdallah is a formerly incarcerated man dedicated to righting his wrong through outreach to the youth, and bringing consciousness to the community by making them aware their voices are heard and opinions matter. Mr. Abdallah believes if the youth channel their efforts to the right causes, we can make a difference. He campaigns for Second Chance and Ban the Box, and he is a dedicated member/organizer for All of Us or None. His intention as a Community Organizer with SCSJ is to carry out the legacy of the late great Umar Salute Muhammad.
Talia Ray serves as a paralegal at the Southern Coalition, where she assists the Voting Rights team on both litigation and non-litigation projects. After earning her Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York in 2013, her passion for community organizing lead her to political campaign work at the local and state levels. Just before joining the SCSJ, Talia worked as a campaign manager for a state House candidate in rural North Carolina, where she developed a keen interest in voting rights issues. When she’s not working with the team at the Southern Coalition to push back against structural inequality, Talia enjoys getting lost in a good book or playing with her dogs, Harley and Tigger.
Stacy Hamilton earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Accounting from Shaw University, and she received her MBA from the University of Phoenix. She has served as SCSJ’s Office Manager since November 2015. In that capacity, she manages SCSJ’s finances, oversees office administration, and provides human resource services. Before joining SCSJ she provided accounting services for a number of small businesses. She is a lover of animals and spontaneous adventures.
Alan Lee’s CPA practice specializes in providing CFO services. He has guided the finance affairs of many non-profit clients for more than 25 years and has been SCSJ’s CFO since 2010. He is dedicated to supporting SCSJ’s management and board with financial forecasting, advice, and reporting. Before starting his own business, Alan was a commercial real estate financial executive, managing a staff of 100 and overseeing the operations of 15,000,000 square feet of Washington, D.C. office buildings. Alan lives in Sarasota, Florida.