Advisory Board

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Joni Spears

Advisory Board Chair
Contra Costa County Public Defender's Office

Joni Spears is a Deputy Public Defender at the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office. She currently represents post-disposition youth in local long-term custodial programs, youth incarcerated at the Division of Juvenile Justice, as well as youth in competency proceedings. She has been a public defender in Contra Costa for 19 years, 11 of which have been representing youth in juvenile delinquency matters. Ms. Spears is a member of PJDC’s Advisory Board and a certified Juvenile Training Immersion Program trainer. Ms. Spears is also the co-recipient of PJDC’s “Defender of the Year” award in 2021.

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Frank Barone

Advisory Board Member
San Diego County Primary Public Defender's Office

Frank J. Barone is the Assistant Supervisor of the Juvenile Division of the San Diego County Primary Public Defender’s Office.  He has practiced criminal defense since 1997 and became a deputy public defender in 1998.  He has represented adults and children, as both a trial and appellate attorney.  He supervises day-to-day operations and manages the Juvenile Division’s internship program.  He leads the team representing dual status youth and   oversees the county-wide SB 395 program.  He serves on the Restorative Community Conferencing Steering Committee, Alternatives to Detention Task Force, TERM Advisory Board, Crossover Youth Practice Model Guiding Coalition Workgroup, and San Pasqual Academy Advisory Board.  In 2017, he wrote the original draft of AB 529 which expanded record sealing under WIC 786 to include dismissed petitions.  Mr. Barone frequently instructs at the Public Defender’s Office, where trainings are streamed statewide.  He is certified by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) as a Juvenile Intensive Training Program (JTIP) trainer.  He served on the board of directors of the San Diego County Bar Association and the Public Defenders Association of San Diego County.  He was also a co-founder, board member, and president of the San Diego County Public Defender’s Community Outreach Committee.  Mr. Barone received a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and J.D. from California Western School of Law.  He shares a son with his wife, also a deputy public defender.

Nisreen Younis

Nisreen Baroudi

Advisory Board Member
Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office

Nisreen Baroudi is the Supervising Attorney of the Juvenile Division at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office in San Jose.  Ms. Baroudi been with the Public Defender’s Office since 2004. A first-generation immigrant from Damascus, Syria, she grew up in San Jose. She received her B.A. from U.C. Davis, and her law degree from McGeorge School of Law. She works closely with other juvenile justice advocates, community members, and juvenile justice stakeholders on racial and ethnic disproportionality in the juvenile system as well as ending the school-to-prison pipeline. In 2020, Ms. Baroudi received the “Wester Sweet Esq. Legal Services Award” from the NAACP San Jose/Silicon Valley County Branch, as well as “Juvenile Defender of the Year” Award from PJDC.


JoAnna Edwards

Advisory Board Member
Fresno County Public Defender's Office

JoAnna Edwards is the Supervising Attorney of the Juvenile Division of the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office. JoAnna has been with the Public Defender’s Office since 2012. She received her B.A. from U.C. Santa Barbara and her law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law. JoAnna is a certified JTIP trainer with the National Juvenile Defender Center and is one of the JTAP Ambassadors for the Central Valley Regional Training Program. In addition to PJDC’s Advisory Board, she currently sits on the Fresno County Delinquency Executive Committee, Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, SB 823 DJJ Realignment Subcommittee, Restorative Justice Advisory Board, Probation Phased-Response Plan Subcommittee, Judicial Workgroup Subcommittee and the Human Trafficking Court Steering Committee.

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Christopher Hawthorne

Advisory Board Member
Loyola Law School Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic

Christopher Hawthorne is the Director of the Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing (JIFS) Clinic at Loyola Law School, the first law school clinic in the country dedicated solely to juvenile post-conviction sentencing and litigation.  Together with PJDC board member Maureen Pacheco, Hawthorne started the JIFS Clinic in 2012, shortly before the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama.  Students in the JIFS Clinic have successfully litigated matters for over 100 clients, including Miller and Franklin hearings, 1170(d)(2) and 1170.95 hearings, wrongful convictions, appeals and parole hearings.  Mr. Hawthorne graduated from Loyola Law School and was an associate in the white collar department at O’Melveny & Myers, until he decided he needed a better class of client.  Now he exclusively represents clients in state prison, on appeal or post-conviction, and has done so for nearly two decades.  He has taught at Loyola Law School since 2004.  Before graduating from law school, he was a television executive and screenwriter for 20 years.


Corene Kendrick

Advisory Board Member
ACLU National Prison Project

Corene Kendrick is the Deputy Director of the ACLU National Prison Project, where she directs class action litigation and policy advocacy on behalf of incarcerated people across the country. From 2011 to 2020 she was a staff attorney at the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, California, where she worked on multiple cases on behalf of people in prisons and jails in California and Arizona. She also was a staff attorney at the Youth Law Center in San Francisco from 2005 to 2011, where she engaged in policy advocacy, impact litigation, and public education on behalf of children in foster care and juvenile justice systems in numerous jurisdictions across the country.  While at YLC, she worked with Sue Burrell to obtain PJDC’s 501(c)(3) status and to grow the organization. She served on PJDC’s Executive Board from its founding in 2010 through December 2020, and moved to the Advisory Board in January 2021.  She also was a Skadden Fellow at Children’s Rights in New York, where she worked on class action lawsuits to reform multiple state foster care systems. Prior to attending law school, she was a Congressional lobbyist for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, and a B.A. from George Washington University.

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Sara McDermott

Advisory Board Member
Munger, Tolles & Olson

Sara McDermott is a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson.  Her pro bono practice focuses on civil rights/prison litigation, including juvenile justice litigation. She served as amicus counsel in two juvenile justice cases before the California Supreme Court in 2020: O.G. v. Superior Ct. of Ventura Cty., 11 Cal. 5th 82 (2021) and In re Palmer, 10 Cal. 5th 959 (2021). She also represented the Youth Justice Coalition, among others, in a writ petition filed directly in the California Supreme Court, seeking to protect the health and constitutional rights of youth and adults incarcerated in correctional facilities across the state. (NACDL v. Newsom, No. S261827 (2020).) Ms. McDermott strives to stay involved in community-based juvenile justice reform efforts, as a member of the PJDC advisory board. She is also the author of Calibrating the Eighth Amendment: Graham, Miller, and the Right to Mental Healthcare in Juvenile Prison, 63 UCLA Law Review 712 (2016).

Before law school, Ms. McDermott worked with justice-involved youth at the YWCA of Greater Austin. Ms. McDermott earned her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, and her B.A. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University. She clerked for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Honorable Michael W. Fitzgerald in the Central District of California.


Laura Petty

Advisory Board Member
Law Office of Laura Petty, Fairfield (Solano County)

Laura Petty is a native Californian. She completed a double major in Politics and Women’s Studies, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1993 with highest honors. Ms. Petty attended Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco where she graduated as the Valedictorian of her class in 1996. She worked as a deputy public defender in Northern California from 1998 until 2007. She has been in private practice representing adults and juveniles since 2007. Ms. Petty is certified by the state bar as a Criminal Law Specialist and has successfully defended clients charged with first degree murder, “three strikes” and other life-term cases, as well as serious felony and other matters.  In addition to her criminal law practice, Ms. Petty is committed to working to benefit her community. She is a former Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University School of Law. Ms. Petty proudly served as the Vice President of the Vacaville Public Education Foundation. In addition, Ms. Petty was pleased to serve as an Honorary Commander with the Judge Advocate General’s Office at Travis Air Force Base from 2011 to 2013. She served as a board member for the Solano County Bar Association from 2011 until 2017, serving as its President in 2016, and was the chair of the Solano County Barristers from 2009 until 2018. Ms. Petty has also served as a member of the Vacaville Unified School District’s Measure A Citizen’s Oversight Committee since 2015, and is currently the Vice Chair of the Solano County Commission for Women and Girls. Ms. Petty provided volunteer judge pro tem services for the Solano County Superior Court’s juvenile division from 2008 until 2018. Ms. Petty joined the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center’s Advisory Board in April 2020.


Raji Shivshanker

Advisory Board Member
Mitigation Specialist, Los Angeles

Raji Shivshanker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker based in Los Angeles. Raji earned her Master’s in Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of Southern California, where she concentrated her training in Community Organization, Planning, and Administration, and interned for the ACLU of Southern California’s Community Engagement and Policy Advocacy Department.

After graduate school, Raji worked as a community mental health clinician serving transitional aged youth. In 2016, Raji led the startup of the Youth Coordinated Entry System in the San Gabriel Valley, which focused on issues of housing and homelessness for young people exiting foster care and juvenile probation. She co-led Los Angeles’ 100 Day Challenge Team to house 100 youth in 100 days in partnership with L.A. County’s Homeless Initiative and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Raji piloted multidisciplinary housing planning with Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Probation Department and the Department of Children and Family Services as part of her effort to support youth exiting systems of confinement.

In 2017, Raji began her work as a private mitigation specialist and expert witness on capital, Franklin, and transfer cases in Los Angeles County. As a licensed psychotherapist, Raji is trained in somatic and talk therapy modalities and specializes in the treatment of complex trauma and dissociation. Raji’s work and life is informed by her experience growing up in Texas as a bi-racial woman. Raji integrates anti-oppressive practice, multicultural healing traditions, and trauma-informed approaches in her clinical and forensic work.