FOUNDER + PRESIDENT
Prior to forming the Due Process Institute, Shana-Tara O'Toole served as a Policy Director for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). In that capacity, she led NACDL’s strategic partnership with other organizations on multiple federal legislative initiatives designed to prevent the further erosion of civil liberties in our criminal justice system.
Prior to joining NACDL, Shana practiced as a defense lawyer representing clients in civil and criminal investigations. She also served as pro bono immigration counsel for political refugees seeking asylum.
Shana received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Western New England College School of Law, where she was a Note Editor for the Law Review. Following law school, Shana had the honor of clerking for Justice Joette Katz of the Connecticut Supreme Court, who was the first woman to serve as Chief of Connecticut’s Public Defender Office and the youngest person to have ever been appointed to Connecticut’s Supreme Court.
Before she found her calling as a legal reformer, Shana received a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from the University of New Orleans. While there, she taught literature and writing at several Louisiana colleges. Shana holds a B.A. in English Literature, Writing, and Political Science from Sweet Briar College, which has served as an all women’s college in the Blue Ridge Mountains since 1901.
Shana lives with her husband, stepdaughter, and two mischievous French bulldogs—Trudeau and Balthazar—in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of DC. When she’s not fighting on behalf of fundamental fairness, Shana enjoys hiking in National Parks, cheering for the Nationals, and attending JazzFest.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.
Follow Shana on Twitter @stregon
DIRECTOR, RULE OF LAW INITIATIVES
Before joining the Due Process Institute, Joseph Luppino-Esposito served as the Manager for Federal Initiatives for Right on Crime and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Austin, TX. Joe worked in Washington, DC with members of Congress, their staff, and allied organizations to develop conservative criminal justice reform policies that increase public safety.
In his capacity as Editor and General Counsel of State Budget Solutions, a state policy organization, Joe focused his research on public employee pensions, labor law, and state budget reforms.
As the Visiting Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Joe worked on the overcriminalization project, analyzing federal criminal laws. It was at Heritage where Joe first studied the extent of the problem—the overuse and misuse of the criminal law—that he continues to work on today with the Due Process Institute.
Joe is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, where he was Editor in Chief of the Circuit Review legal journal. He received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, where he also co-founded the campus newspaper, The Virginia Informer.
He is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Virginia with his wife and daughter and their two cats, Reagan and Jack Bauer. When he's not advocating for reform, Joe spends his time catching up on books he should have read in high school and preparing for the next season of his 15+ year-running fantasy football league.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: The DC flag is based on the crest of George Washington’s family.
Follow Joe on Twitter @avgjoele
DIRECTOR, OPERATIONS + EVENTS
Prior to joining Due Process Institute, Tamara served as Director of Events for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). In that capacity, she was responsible for the Association’s quarterly board meetings, CLE seminars, as well as seminar site-selection and the planning of social events. During her tenure, she was involved in the planning and execution of nearly 175 different events. She also managed the entire online website presence for all events, CLE registration, and their speaker database.
She is excited to be part of the Due Process Institute where she can expand on her organizational and analytical skills as well as her love for criminal justice.
Tamara is a native of Serbia where she lived for 23 years before graduating from law school and moving to Washington, DC. Serbia’s specific political and economic conditions shaped her education and involvement in civil rights movements. Throughout her law school years, she attended trainings on human rights, democracy, and conflict resolution. She canvased the country and conducted public opinion polls on political issues. She joined the very first organization for free elections (CESID) and helped train over 800 election monitoring volunteers for the historic election in September of 2000.
Tamara lived in DC for 12 years before reluctantly moving to Virginia with her husband and two children. When she is not organizing events and running the office, Tamara resists requests for various house pets, enjoys watching people cook on TV, and buys books on Amazon that she will never get around to reading.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: Andrew Jackson had a talking pet parrot named Poll. Poll had to be removed from Jackson’s funeral because it screeched obscenities and curse words at the mourners.
Follow Tamara on Twitter @tamarakalacevic
ACCESS TO JUSTICE INITIATIVES
Prior to joining the Due Process Institute, Nicole served as a legal consultant and project manager supporting the High Court of Uganda on civil and criminal justice reform initiatives. While in Uganda, she managed a foundational public defender pilot project for indigent accused individuals in pretrial detention. She also provided training and technical assistance to the Judiciary on the expansion of plea bargaining to misdemeanors.
Prior to her time in Uganda, Nicole interned with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in their criminal justice initiative. While in law school, she had the privilege to support the work of the deputy public defenders in Los Angeles County. She also conducted field research on juvenile access to justice in the West Bank and provided direct legal services to low income individuals seeking criminal record expungements.
Nicole is a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, where she was the Legal Summaries Editor of the Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary. She received a BA in Political Science and International Studies from Taylor University in Upland, IN.
Originally from Indianapolis, Nicole now lives in NW DC with her husband, Jeff, and their adopted African street cat, Wangi. When she’s not advocating for the rights of justice-involved individuals, Nicole can be found backpacking through Virginia’s wilderness, running along Rock Creek Park, and cheering on the Indianapolis Colts.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: President William Henry Harrison had both the longest inaugural address and shortest Presidency in U.S. history.
Follow Nicole on Twitter @nicolebanister