Meena Jagannath co-founded the Community Justice Project, Inc. in 2015. She is a movement lawyer with an extensive background in activism and international human rights. Prior to coming to Miami, she worked for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she coordinated the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project, which combined direct legal representation with advocacy and capacity building of grassroots women’s groups. While using her legal skills to build the power of movements locally in South Florida, she has also brought to bear her international human rights expertise in delegations to the United Nations to elevate U.S.-based human rights issues like police accountability and Stand Your Ground laws to the international level. Meena has published several articles in law journals and other media outlets, and has spoken in numerous academic and conference settings. She received her J.D from University of Washington Law School where she was a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar. She also holds a Master's degree in International Affairs (human rights concentration) from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and a B.A. in International Relations and Peace and Justice Studies from Tufts University.
Alana Greer co-founded the Community Justice Project in 2015 and works as a movement lawyer supporting community led campaigns for racial justice. She was previously a staff attorney at Florida Legal Services and Advancement Project in Washington, DC, where she worked with youth and parent leaders across the nation fighting to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Originally from Miami, Alana left Florida to attend Boston College and Harvard Law School, where she was a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and returned home to support youth organizing that arose after the killing of Trayvon Martin. Prior to law school, she was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and worked with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to defend individuals from the criminalization of homelessness. Alana is passionate about lifting up the voices of the community members she works with and using her legal and analytic skills to support grassroots movements seeking to dismantle structural racism and inequality. She is an Echoing Green BMA Fellow and an advisory board member for the Dream Defenders, Law for Black Lives, and New Florida Majority.
Denise Ghartey is a Justice Catalyst Fellow focusing on climate gentrification and racial justice work. Denise believes in liberation movements that are driven by the community and is deeply passionate about working with those directly impacted. Denise works to promote equitable development through representation of tenants and community organizations in eviction and land use hearings, strategic litigation, policy advocacy, and the development of community land trusts. Denise attended Hamilton College as a Posse Scholar and studied Africana Studies and Philosophy. Before law school, Denise worked as a case manager, homelessness prevention advocate and paralegal in Boston, MA. Denise received her J.D. from Harvard Law School where she was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Harvard Defenders and where she was awarded the William J. Stuntz Memorial Award for Justice, Human Dignity and Compassion.
Jean-Luc Adrien is an Equal Justice Works Disaster Recovery Fellow at the Community Justice Project. Jean-Luc uses a community and movement lawyering approach to serve community members and community groups in the context of disaster recovery legal services. He was previously a member of The Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Practice, representing and defending parents in Bronx Family Court. Born in Haiti and raised in South Florida, Jean-Luc received his J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar and a Sinsheimer Service Scholar, and his B.A. in Political Science and Anthropology, with a Minor in Spanish, from the University of Florida. During law school, Jean-Luc participated in the Equal Justice & Defender Clinic and the Juvenile Defender Clinic, and interned at The Bronx Defenders and the Community Justice Project, where he participated in the Bertha Justice Institute Ella Baker Program. Prior to law school, Jean-Luc taught high school Spanish in the Mississippi Delta.
Charles Elsesser is co-founder of Community Justice Project, Inc. and recently retired. He continues to serve on our Board of Directors. He has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1972 and a member of the Florida Bar since 1992. He graduated from University of Southern California Law School in 1971. From 1972 to 1984, he worked as an attorney representing poor people, first in Delano, California for California Rural Legal Assistance and later in Los Angeles for Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. During that same period, from 1974 through 1976, he was a Clinical Instructor of Law at University of Southern California Law Center in Los Angeles. In 1986 he became the Director of Litigation at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, responsible for the oversight of the litigation of the more than 50 lawyers employed by the firm. In 1988 he was awarded the Award of Merit by the Legal Assistance Association of California, an annual recognition by the legal services community of California for excellence in advocacy. From 1989 to 1991, he served as a Senior Consultant to the California State Senate Rules Committee and housing consultant to the Senate President Pro Tempore, State Senator David Roberti. In 1991 he served as the Director of the Housing Department of the City of Santa Monica, California. In 1992 he relocated to Miami, Florida. Initially he was employed as an attorney at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. and, since 1997, he has worked at Florida Legal Services, Inc. where he has been involved in civil rights and housing litigation and advocacy. In 2001, he was awarded the Steven M. Goldstein Award For Excellence (2001) by the Florida Bar Foundation for a series of class actions assisting immigrants to obtain citizenship. In 2008 he was awarded the Kutak Dodds Award 2008 by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for his long record of significant advocacy. Charles co-founded Community Justice Project and joined its Board of Directors in 2017.