Our expert staff is on the frontlines of advocacy, helping nonprofits advance their causes every day. In addition to our coaches, who have trained thousands of organizations to become effective advocates, AFJ staff work hard to support foundations and nonprofits by keeping track of relevant federal and state legislation, arranging trainings and technical assistance, providing materials and resources, and helping build and foster a community of nonprofit organizations that support and enhance one another’s work. Read more about our staff and their expertise below.
A leading voice in public interest law for over 30 years, Nan Aron is President of Alliance for Justice, a national association of over 100 public interest and civil rights organizations. Nan, who founded AFJ in 1979, guides the organization in its mission to ensure that all Americans have the right and opportunity to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives.
Having worked as Co-General Counsel for the Indiana Election Division, Leslie has helped guide candidates, nonprofits, and local election officials through more than 30 election cycles. She has served as a resource for judges and lawmakers, often testifying as a subject matter expert on election law and policy. Leslie is excited to join her colleagues in helping nonprofits shape policy, engage voters, and improve the lives of the communities they serve.
Sue develops programs and reaches out to funders to help them find ways to comfortably and effectively support advocacy, and links them to tools, events, and trainings and other resources.
Abby Levine serves as Legal Director of Advocacy Programs at Alliance for Justice. She provides legal guidance that encourages grantmakers to support advocacy and other nonprofit organizations to participate in policymaking decisions through an understanding of federal tax and election law.
Toren received his J.D. from UC Davis School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in International Politics from Georgetown University. Prior to joining AFJ, Toren served as a Commission Counsel in the Legal and Enforcement Divisions of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Before FPPC, Toren worked for the California State Senate and the Endeavor Group, a boutique firm in Washington, D.C. providing legal and strategic advice primarily to philanthropists and entrepreneurs.
Sara Matlin is the Bilingual Counsel with the Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy Initiative in Oakland, CA. Sara empowers Spanish- and English-speaking nonprofit organizations to become more courageous leaders in policy change movements. Sara graduated with a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. She is the chair of the North Peninsula Chapter of the ACLU of Northern California and a founder of the San Mateo County Coalition for Immigrant Rights. Sara began her career in policy change advocacy in 1988. She uses her training and community organizing experience, along with her Spanish/English bilingualism, to broaden the advocacy work of funders and social justice organizations in California and across the country.
Natalie Roetzel serves as the Director of AFJ’s Texas office. She previously helped to create and run the Innocence Project of Texas, a non-profit organization dedicated to freeing those wrongfully convicted of crimes in the state. At IPTX, Natalie held both Executive Director and Chief Staff Attorney positions, and she specialized in the litigation of cases involving the use of DNA evidence. She also worked with the organization to successfully advocate on behalf of reforms designed to reduce the number of wrongful convictions and assist those reentering society after lengthy terms of unjust confinement.
Ronnie Pawelko is Elections Counsel for Alliance for Justice. Before joining AFJ, Ronnie was General Counsel at Family Planning Advocates of New York State where she focused on reproductive health care policy and worked with New York’s Planned Parenthood affiliates to ensure their advocacy and political activities were conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. She also served as Treasurer for the Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York PAC and the Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York Political Committee. Previously, Ronnie served as Health and Human Services Team Counsel for the New York State Senate and as staff attorney for the MergerWatch Project.
Nikhil received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and B.S. from the Ohio State University. Before joining AFJ, Nikhil was Associate Counsel at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL CIO. In that role he was responsible for drafting and negotiating operational agreements, advising staff on prospective legal concerns, and ensuring compliance with campaign finance and lobbying laws. Prior to that, he was a law fellow at AARP.
Nona manages AFJ’s Bolder Advocacy work in California as well as its Northern and Southern California offices. Nona has over two decades of experience as an attorney specializing in representing nonprofit organizations. She previously worked at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where her practice focused primarily on representing nonprofits in community economic development, land use, tax, real estate, and corporate matters. She also has experience in policy advocacy, employment law, strategic planning, and organizational capacity building. Before working at Legal Aid, Nona worked at the Los Angeles office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Emily is the Program Coordinator for AFJ’s California offices. She recently graduated from Georgetown University, where she majored in Science, Technology, and International Affairs, focusing on environmental health and social determinants of health. While in DC, she interned for the US Department of State and on Capitol Hill, as well as at the Feminist Majority Foundation. On campus, she focused on organizing for reproductive rights and sexual health campaigns, but is also interested in advocacy for environmental issues and public health. Emily is from Spokane, Washington, and enjoys knitting while listening to podcasts and experimental baking.
Shyaam serves as Southern California Counsel for the Bolder Advocacy program at the Alliance for Justice. In this capacity, he assists nonprofit organizations in pursuing legal and effective advocacy to advance their public policy goals.