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Our Staff

Jesse Benet, MA, LMHC

Jesse Benet, MA, LMHC, is currently the Deputy Director for the Public Defender Association in Seattle, Washington. Jesse has worked at the intersection of human services and the criminal legal system for over 20 years, largely focused on adult populations since 2002.  As a white, queer and trans person, Jesse is committed to systemically addressing racial disparities and other forms of oppression across criminal legal and social/... more

Zahra Al-Najaf is a Paralegal with LEAD legal services. Prior to joining PDA, Zahra worked as a legal assistant for the Medical Legal Partnership housed at the Northwest Justice Project where she led health and race equity efforts working alongside legal advocates, medical professionals, social workers, and community members. Zahra received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington, with majors in Political Science and Near... more

Aaron  Burkhalter

Aaron Burkhalter is the LEAD Project Manager for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in Burien. His role provides support for the program in Burien, where he lives. He also provides support for King County expansion, working with other cities in the region interested in the LEAD program. Prior to joining the Public Defender Association, Aaron had a 15-year... more

Brendan Cox

Chief (Ret.) Brendan Cox is the Director of Policing Strategies at the LEAD National Support Bureau, where he brings 23 years of experience in law enforcement and criminal justice reform. Brendan retired as Chief of Police from the Albany, NY police department in January of 2017. He was employed with the Albany police department for twenty-three years serving in many capacities throughout his career. After serving as a patrolman he was... more

Lisa Daugaard

Lisa Daugaard is the Executive Director at PDA and a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. Lisa served as Deputy Director of the King County (WA) Department of Public Defense through August 2015, and previously supervised misdemeanor practice (2002-2006) and then was Deputy Director (2007-2013) at The Defender Association, a non-profit public defender office.

Lisa was a founding staff attorney at the Defender Association Racial... more

Ashley Dawson is the Project Manager for LEAD Snohomish County. Ashley was born and raised in Montana and received her bachelor's degree in Human Development from Montana State University in 2003, she then made her way to Washington and graduated in 2009 from Eastern Washington University with a Master of Social Work degree and certificate in Public Administration. 

Ashley is a licensed clinical social worker with a passion for... more
Prachi Dave

Prachi Dave is the Policy & Advocacy Director. Prior to joining PDA, Prachi was a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU-WA) where she managed the Second Chances Project, which focused on the reentry aspect of criminal justice reform. There, she worked to reduce the barriers posed by criminal records through litigation and policy advocacy. She also worked on the problems relating to legal financial... more

Tiarra Dearbone

Tiarra Dearbone is the Senior LEAD Project Manager for LEAD in Seattle. She has focused her community work in youth services, post-prison education, re-entry, and addiction recovery. Passionate about legal system reform, Tiarra has dedicated her career to helping others with healing from the effects of intergenerational trauma, addiction, and incarceration. Since 2018, Tiarra has been involved with Civil Survival, focusing on post-... more

Corey Guilmette

Corey is the Legal Services Director at PDA. Corey supervises PDA’s legal services programs: Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD) Legal Services and Civil Survival's Reentry Legal Aid Project (RLAP). LEAD Legal Services offers intensive legal assistance to participants in the LEAD program, assisting in a wide variety of areas, ranging from criminal and eviction defense to family law. Attorneys use a harm-reduction legal services model,... more

Kimberly Hendrickson

Kimberly Hendrickson is a Co -Director of WA State LEAD Expansion. She also serves as the Director for the Department of Housing, Health and Human Services in Poulsbo, Washington. Kimberly helped develop the City of Poulsbo’s police navigator program, which partners behavioral health navigators with police throughout Kitsap County. She was also the Project Manager of a year-long pilot Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in... more

Turina James

Turina James is a Bookkeeper and Program Assistant, as well as a former Board Member of PDA (serving from 2016-2018).  During her time as a Board Member, she volunteered at PDA in 2016 and completed an internship in 2017.  Turina comes to PDA with lived experience as an alumna of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.  She currently serves on several work groups and committees with the... more

Dr. Cyn Kotarski, ND currently serves two important roles to support the newly formed and integrated care operations at PDA (specifically for Co-LEAD). Dr. Kotarski is the Medical Director for the organization and she also serves in a separate independent contractor role as the direct medical provider for Co-LEAD. These two roles are mutually reinforcing and of great value during a time when integrated and holistic care for... more

Jacob Kuykendall

Jacob Kuykendall is a staff attorney with the Civil Survival Project. In 2016, Jacob left a career in private practice to help provide legal services to people impacted by the criminal legal system after their convictions. Prior to PDA, Jacob was the senior staff attorney for the King County Bar Association’s reentry legal aid program, and recruited and trained hundreds of attorneys on how to remove barriers to individuals who were denied... more

Anna Kovacevic

Anna Kovacevic is the Development Officer. She came to the United States from Germany where she grew up after leaving Bosnia during the civil war of the 1990s.  Her experience as a refugee shaped her world view and ignited her passion for social justice.  Anna is passionate about ending mass incarceration and building leadership and organizing capacity amongst formerly incarcerated people.  After earning her Bachelor of Social Work degree... more

Malika Lamont

Malika Lamont is the Program Director for VOCAL-WA and Co-Director of WA State LEAD Expansion team. She has worked to address social determinants of health for over 20 years. In September 2019, Malika received a Community Champion Award from Molina Healthcare of WA that was awarded to people whose leadership, volunteerism and public advocacy embody the spirit of service and community. She holds a bachelor’s degree at Xavier University of... more

Najja Morris

Najja Morris is the LEAD National Support Bureau Director. In her current role, Najja is responsible for providing national technical assistance and support to jurisdictions in all phases of the implementation of local LEAD programs; focusing on the areas of harm reduction, case management and direct services. Najja also now coordinates local LEAD operations in Seattle's East Precinct (the Central District, Capitol Hill and Little Saigon) and... more

Tara Moss

Tara Moss is the Seattle-King County LEAD Project Director. She has worked in the nonprofit field for over ten years and has long been passionate about social justice. As an undergrad at Smith College, she participated in an internship doing HIV prevention outreach with the Seattle nonprofit Street Outreach Services (SOS). After graduating with a BA in Psychology, Tara continued work with SOS where she advanced from the position of outreach... more

Marie McNabb

Marie brings a diverse background to her role as Finance Director.  As a Certified Public Accountant practicing independently, Marie created and led accounting and finance departments for non-profits and small businesses in the Seattle area.  This includes 8 years as contract CFO for PDA when it provided public defense services in Seattle and King County.

Marie also earned a masters in Psychology from Seattle University and has... more

Julie

Julie Musgrove is the Executive Assistant to Tarra Simmons and supports Civil Survival Project. She started with Civil Survival Project in November of 2020. Julie is passionate about criminal justice reform and mental health care and has experience working as a mental health counselor and nonprofit program manager. Julie hopes to use this experience to support the community and the Civil Survival Project team. Julie is a student at Washington... more

Kelly Olson, Policy Manager

Kelly Olson is the Policy Manager for the Civil Survival Project. Kelly started as the Thurston County Game Changer leader in October 2018 and continues to lead the Thurston County Game Changer group. After leaving prison in 2007, Kelly used education and volunteering in her community to help rebuild her life. She graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and an emphasis in communications and... more

Dana Owens

Dana Owens, BA, is currently the Practice Advisor for the LEAD National Support Bureau for the Public Defender Association in Seattle ,Washington. Dana started her work as an Early Childhood Educator by first becoming a teacher and eventually finding her passion in training other Early Childhood professionals. After 20 years in education, Dana transitioned into the political world where she spent two sessions in the Washington State Senate as... more

Jeremy Russell

Jeremy is the Data Coordinator at PDA. In this role, Jeremy supports the LEAD, CoLEAD, and Eviction Mitigation programs operated inside of PDA. Before coming to PDA, Jeremy worked for over two years as Program Assistant on a King County PACT Team supporting community members with severe and persistent mental health challenges so they could live successfully and independently in the community. Prior to this entrée into Social Services, Jeremy... more

Tarra Simmons

Tarra Simmons is the Director of the Civil Survival Project.  In 2020, Tarra was also elected to the Washington State Legislature. She represents the 23rd Legislative District and is excited about the opportunity to make a more significant impact while serving the community in this role.

Her commitment to this work stems from her own experiences as a survivor of multiple forms of violence, poverty and substance use disorder. She... more

Jamila E. Taylor is a staff attorney with PDA’s Racial Disparity Project. Prior to joining PDA, Jamila was the former Statewide Advocacy Counsel at Northwest Justice Project leading a network of legal aid attorneys helping domestic violence survivors and other crime victims. Jamila has also owned her own consulting firm and private law practice that focused on family law, small businesses, and nonprofits. Prior to that, she worked... more

Cory Walster

Cory Walster is the Community Organizer for the Civil Survival Project. He started with Civil Survival as a volunteer 3 years ago, was one of the original founding board members, and has led the Kitsap County Gamechanger group since 2018. He is a father of two children, a son, and daughter, he's a registered tribal member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Cory’s passion for this work stems from his own lived experiences with the systems of... more

Lilly-Ann Wilson

Lilly-Ann Wilson is the Assistant Controller for PDA.  Lilly-Ann comes to PDA from the New York area, with over 20 years of nonprofit and corporate finance experience.  Prior to joining PDA, Lilly was the Senior Financial Analyst with Saint Dominic’s Family Services a nonprofit human services organization providing Foster Care and Prevention, Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, Therapeutic Education, and Preschool Services to... more

Corinna Yazbek

Corinna Yazbek is a Site Advisor for the Proof of Concept Cohort Project at PDA's LEAD National Support Bureau. Prior to joining PDA, Corinna was with the Vera Institute of Justice, serving as Project Manager for New Orleans LEAD. In this role, she worked closely with community and government partners to plan and launch a LEAD pilot in the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods. In 2018, her efforts were recognized by the ... more

Brenton Zachry

Brenton is the Data and Quality Manager at PDA.  In his current role, Brenton oversees the reporting, internal auditing, and database management for a number of PDA programs including LEAD, CoLEAD and Eviction Mitigation. 

Prior to working at PDA, Brenton has spent the majority of the past decade doing social service work in the Seattle area.  Outside of previous data centered work, Brenton’s roles have included... more