JAC Board of Directors
Reverend Alexis Anderson - PREACH, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition
Ben Castro - IDEAL Markets & Freedom Rides
Chris D'Amour, Esq., Chair - Adams and Reese LLP
Royce Duplessis - Duplessis Law Firm, LLC
Josh Faubert, CPA, MBA, CITP, Treasurer - Ericksen Krentel CPAs and Consultants
Rachel Gassert - Louisiana Center for Children's Rights
Monika Gerhart - Office of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell
Meghan Garvey, Esq. - Orleans Public Defenders' Office
Jamaal C. Lee - Jefferson Rise Charter School
James Logan, Esq. - Greater New Orleans Foundation
Renard Thomas - Foto Graffiti Systems
Kim Watts, Secretary - The Justice Center
Adrienne Wheeler, Co-Founder - Louisiana Appleseed
REVEREND ALEXIS ANDERSON
Rev. Alexis Anderson is a proud member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition and a servant teacher, minister and the founder and Executive Director of PREACH. PREACH is a 501 (c) 3 non profit focusing on the 3 C's of literacy: competence in basic life skills, computerization and commerce with a special focus on special need populations such as domestic violence survivors, ex-offenders, low and at risk families. Rev. Anderson was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the daughter of the late Rev. Martha Crump and has: 2 sisters and 1 brother; 6 children and 7 grandchildren; 1 great-granddaughter; and one outrageous Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix called Sir Matthew and one 13 year old Rat Terrier named Cali. She has served as an outreach minister in LaJolla, California and Tacoma, Washington and pastored churches in Washington and Louisiana. She is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
CHRIS D'AMOUR, Chair
Chris D'Amour is a Partner at Adams and Reese, where he defends insurance companies and commercial entities, handling matters out of every office in the firm's footprint. A significant part of his practice stems from the large London insurance market. Instrumental in growing the firm's insurance practice in the post-Katrina era, Chris has tried many judge and jury trials, often serving as lead counsel. He litigates and mediates matters relating to several industries, including construction, entertainment, insurance, real estate, and manufacturing. He is Board Chair of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, and affiliated with Boys Hope/Girls Hope, National Institute of Trial Academy, Order of Barristers, and Young Leadership Council.
In the Spring of 2018, Royce Duplessis was elected in a special election to serve as State Representative for District 93 in New Orleans, Louisiana. District 93 includes Central City, CentralBusiness District, Lower Garden District, French Quarter, Lower Mid-City, Treme’, 7th Ward, and St. Roch neighborhoods. Prior to serving in the Legislature, he worked as Special Counsel for the Louisiana Supreme Court and served as Chairman of the New Orleans City Planning Commission. Royce is a Past President of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society. Since 2012, he has volunteered as a mentor to male teenagers through the nationally-renowned Silverback Society. Royce ran for public office in order to better serve those who are underserved and marginalized—with a
focus on living wages for the working class, increased access to quality early childhood education, and smarter criminal justice policies. His committee assignments include House and Governmental Affairs (Vice-Chair), Commerce, and House Executive Committee. Royce is a graduate of St. Augustine High School, Xavier University of Louisiana and Howard University School of Law. He is a practicing attorney and operates a solo law practice, with a focus on civil litigation. He is married to Krystle Ferbos Duplessis, and they are proud parents of one daughter, Reese. They reside in Central City.
JOSH FAUBERT, Treasurer
Josh Faubert is a certified public accountant and a manager at Ericksen Krentel LLP, where he works in the audit, assurance, and advisory practice. Josh specializes in audits, reviews, compilations, and helping to solve complex accounting issues for corporations, governments, employee benefit plans, and not for profit entities. Josh is also a leader in his firm’s technological initiatives, including a drive to enhance audit quality through data analytics and using data preparation and analysis tools to automate accounting processes. Josh is also involved with the Louisiana Society of CPAs and Young Leadership Council. Despite being a Canadian citizen, Josh has lived in Louisiana for over 20 years and received his B.S. in Accounting and Masters of Business Administration from the University of New Orleans in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Rachel Gassert is the policy director for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. In this role, she advocates for policy change at the state and local level to reduce the incarceration of youth in Louisiana. In 2016, she led a successful campaign to pass Raise the Age legislation, which brings 17-year-olds into Louisiana’s juvenile justice system as the vast majority of states already do. In New Orleans, she was the driving force behind a city ordinance allowing police officers to issue juvenile warning notices and summonses, which has the potential to reduce juvenile arrests by up to one-third; and has led ongoing efforts to eliminate the pre-trial detention of adolescents in the city’s adult jail. Previously, Rachel spent nearly nine years as a program associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. At Casey, Rachel worked with jurisdictions around the country to reduce their reliance on incarceration in the juvenile justice system. Rachel received a Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
MONIKA GERHART, Vice-Chair
Monika Gerhart is Director of State Relations for Mayor LaToya Cantrell, managing the Mayor’s legislative and regulatory agenda. Prior to that, Monika served as Director of the Office of Community Development for Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, the Director of Policy & Communications at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, Director of Policy and Government Relations for the Equity and Inclusion Campaign, and Gulf Coast lead for Amnesty International. She earned her Masters as a Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies Fellow at Tulane University in 2004 with a concentration in Political Science. Monika is also a proud graduate of the Louisiana Effective Leadership Program, a partnership between Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and and Southern University’s Nelson Mandel School of Public Affairs, as well as the New School for Social Science Research Democracy & Diversity Institute. In addition to serving with JAC, Monika’s volunteer commitments include the boards of Independent Women Organization (IWO) and Hagar’s House for Women.
Meg Garvey is a career public defender and legislative advocate for criminal justice reform. Meg was a founding member of the Orleans Public Defenders (OPD) in 2006 where she currently serves as Policy Counsel. She recently led the charge for emergency legislative funding for public defense and was able to secure 7 million additional dollars for public defense in an emergency session. Meg co-authored a report on the need for bail reform in Louisiana in her role as an active member of the Louisiana Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Committee. Meg organized Youth Justice Day when hundreds of young people met with Governor John Bel Edwards on the state capitol steps to urge the Legislature to pass juvenile justice reforms. Over the course of her career, Meg has led campaigns to reform the criminal justice system, ensuring social workers for children in delinquency cases, improving expungement access for children, raising the age of criminal liability and improving privacy protections for children. She has worked on behalf of New Orleans’s children and families as the Managing Director of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR). Meg is the president elect and the legislative chair of the Louisiana Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers (LACDL).She is also an appointee to the Louisiana Judicial Council. Meg is a respected expert, leading many local and national trainings on legal issues.
Jamaal Lee is a reading intervention teacher at Jefferson Rise Charter School in Harvey, La., and current graduate student at Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a father of three daughters: Jaklyn, Makhia and Camille. As a JAC board member, Jamaal aspires to advocate for others using his unique experiences as a father, educator, student and someone who was given a second chance. He brings a unique perspective and a passion for helping others gain knowledge and access to resources that will help them become productive members of their communities.
KIM WATTS, Secretary
Kim Watts is the Office Manager, Personnel Director and Financial Manager for the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center. Kim manages an array of duties ranging from managing the daily affairs of the office to financial planning. Kim also deals with staff needs such as health plans, leave, work environment and equipment. Kim earned a degree in Political Science from Xavier University while working her way through school. She has worked to organize a student forum on racism and campaigned for several political candidates. While at Xavier, Kim undertook an internship with the Loyola Death Penalty Resource Center and was later employed by it as a research assistant. Prior to her arrival at the LCAC, Kim was a legal secretary/paralegal for Loyola's Post-Conviction Defender Organization.
ADRIENNE WHEELER, Co-Founder
Currently the Executive Director of Louisiana Appleseed, Adrienne Wheeler (BA, Sarah Lawrence College; MA, New York University; JD, Loyola College of Law, New Orleans) is an attorney, military family member, and second generation Filipino immigrant predominantly from Savannah, Georgia. She has been a criminal justice advocate in law and sociology for nearly fifteen years. She graduated from Loyola College of Law, New Orleans in 2011 as an Echoing Green Fellow, was a 2012 Propeller Fellow, was named one of Gambit's 40 Under 40 in 2013, and received the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center Public Service Award in 2014 for her work as an attorney. She is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association's Criminal Justice Committee and the Building Bridges Committee. From 2011 - 2015, she was the Director of Law & Policy and oversaw JAC's policy programming and direct legal representation. She was appointed by the Board of Directors as the Executive Director of JAC in August of 2015. She is married and has a daughter. At some point during her criminal justice accountability and reform career, Adrienne would like to teach college students historic social movements and methods of identifying the use of law to repress movements and communities.