Advisory Board

The advisory board of the Center for Children, Law and Ethics is diverse in geography, nationality, vocation, educational background, areas of interest, expertise, race, gender, life experience, political opinion, and religion. They have been recruited onto the advisory board due to their shared concern for the welfare and best interests of children and families, and their willingness to be supportive of the work of the Center. We are excited to have the support, expertise and assistance of these individuals as resources as the Center develops. Affiliations, employment, and positions of advisory board members are provided for purposes of information only.

Marc James Ayers
Marc James Ayers is a member of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP's Appellate Litigation Group. He represents individual, corporate and governmental clients before state and federal appellate and trial courts. Marc is listed in "Best Lawyers in America" in the field of Appellate Law, and has handled numerous appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, and other state appellate courts. He has also represented clients on petitions for certiorari and amicus curiae briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. From 2008–10, Marc served as Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Alabama State Bar. Marc currently serves as general counsel to the Alabama Senate Republican Caucus.

Herve Boechat
Mr. Hervé Boéchat is a Swiss lawyer currently working as coordinator of the International Reference Centre for the Rights of Children Deprived of their Family (ISS/IRC). He obtained his law degree from Neuchâtel University in 1995 and became a solicitor in 1998. He carried out two field missions for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan (2000) and Southern Sudan (2001). He was then employed as scientific collaborator at the Federal Office of Justice of Switzerland, in charge of the implementation of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption, and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. He completed a Master of Advanced Studies in Children's Rights in 2003 at Fribourg University, and published his research work about international adoption in 2006

Nigel Cantwell
Nigel Cantwell is an international consultant on child protection policy, based in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing mainly on alternative care for children, the protection of children’s rights in intercountry adoption, and juvenile justice. His work involves more especially the development and implementation of international standards, policy and legislative reviews, and in-depth field assessments of current systems. He also lectures at two masters courses on children’s rights at the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bosch/University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

Nigel has been working on children's issues at the international level since the mid-1970s. After five years with the now-defunct International Union for Child Welfare, he set up the NGO Defence for Children International during the International Year of the Child, 1979. Throughout the 1980s, he was coordinator and general spokesperson of the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, playing a direct role in the CRC drafting process. He also participated actively in the development of the UN Rules for Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty and the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. In 1994, he began working as a full-time consultant on children's rights with UNICEF, and was then appointed head of the 'Implementation of International Standards' unit at UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy (1998–2003). As of 2004, he notably led the initial drafting process of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and served as technical adviser to Brazil during the final intergovernmental consultations on the draft text that were spear-headed by that country.

E. Wayne Carp
E. Wayne Carp is the Benson Family Chair in History and Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University. His major publications include Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption (Harvard University Press, 1998), and Adoption Politics: Bastard Nation and Ballot Initiative 58 (University of Kansas Press, 2004). He is also the editor of Adoption in America: Historical Perspectives (University of Michigan Press, 2002), and many articles on the history of adoption. His most recent book, Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption, will be published by the University of Michigan Press in 2013.

Shon Casey
Shon Casey is a sales manager at Tameron Honda, in Birmingham, Alabama, where he has worked since 2005. He was Salesman of the Year in 2009 and Salesman of the Month many times. He founded Executive Communications, which he ran as CEO from 1997 to 2004, before selling the company. He holds both a utility patent and a design patent based on his own inventions. He is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  He is married to Domeka Casey, a critical care RN at UAB S.I.C.U., and they are the parents of twin girls. 

Anne Conway
Anne Conway is a Birmingham, Ala., native and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a B.A. in public relations and a minor in social psychology. Currently, Anne works in downtown Birmingham and has a three-year-old daughter, Stella Blue. In 2006, Anne surrendered her first infant daughter to adoption. As a first mother Anne has written several published editorials on the need for safeguards in adoption legislation and practice, and has spoken to Samford University’s Cumberland Law School students about the unseen side of adoption. Recently Anne’s story, A Mother’s Story, was published in the Journal of Christian Legal Thought, a publication of the Christian Legal Society. In her free time Anne enjoys spending time with Stella Blue, yoga, sewing and making jewelry.

Jenna Cook  
Jenna Cook is an undergraduate at Yale University majoring in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Adopted from China in 1992, Jenna was profiled in the film, "Somewhere Between," and has written for "Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be?" (ed. Ballard, 2009) and "From Home to Homeland: What Adoptive Families Need to Know Before Making a Return Trip to China" (ed. Jacobs, 2010). In the summers, Jenna serves as a Chinese language translator and leads homeland tours for adoptees though the China Ties program. Jenna is currently writing her senior thesis about her interviews with Chinese birth families. She hopes to become a researcher and professor one day.

Laura Cunliffe  
A recent graduate of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Laura Cunliffe brings significant policy and practical experience in education to the Center. She has served as a research assistant in the education sector in Washington, D.C., an education policy analyst at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., a School Board Fellow at the Center for Reinventing School Systems, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and research assistant for Education Policy Director Emily Schultz, Office of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. She currently serves as a Presidential Management Fellow in Washington, D.C, where she is a program analyst in the Child Nutrition Division of the United States Department of Agriculture. In addition, Laura was a learning team leader in Americorps and a Teach for America teacher at Randolph Middle School, in Charlotte, North Carolina. While attending Cumberland School of Law, Laura served as director of the Street Law program, the vice president of the Cumberland Public Interests and Community Service Organization and also as a research assistant for Professor David Smolin on religious aspects of adoption.  Laura is also a graduate of Wheaton College, with a major in Psychology.

Anil C. Dayakar  
Anil C. Dayakar is the founder and executive director of Gamana, an NGO in Andhra Pradesh, India. He is a civil engineer by profession. Gamana works on rural and tribal issues to empower local communities on a variety of issues, including female infanticide, education of the girl child, educational development and care/support of visually-impaired children, HIV/AIDS, environmental protection, tribal rights, water resource management, and sustainable/organic farming. 

Amita Dhanda 
Professor Amita Dhanda is Professor of Law at National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR), Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. She also heads the Centre for Disability Studies at the University. She has a substantive interest in the field of public law and human rights with special reference to disability rights. Prof. Dhanda’s doctoral thesis which undertook a critical appraisal of the laws relating to the mentally ill in India was the first effort in the country evaluating the human rights conformity of mental health laws. The thesis was later brought out as a book titled Legal Order and Mental Disorder. This special research knowledge became the basis of the Supreme Court of India asking her to investigate and report on the condition of persons living with mental illness in the jails of West Bengal; and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment asked Prof. Dhanda to chair the committee which examined the amendment of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. Prof. Dhanda’s interest in the field of Disability Rights acquired an international dimension where she started to actively engage in the work of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee negotiating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Prof. Dhanda was appointed as legal consultant to the committee established by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to make a new law to replace the Persons with Disabilities Act in August 2010. The resultant Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill was submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in June 2011. Prof. Dhanda was also commissioned to amend the National Trust for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 to bring it in harmony with the UN Convention. The Amendments bringing the Act in harmony with the PWDA, Bill 2011 and the UN Convention were submitted to the Trust in July, 2011. Prof. Dhanda is presently engaged in restructuring the course curriculum of the University in order to promote inter-disciplinary and critical understanding of law and justice.

Cynthia N. (Cindy) Douglas
Cynthia N. (Cindy) Douglas is a native Alabamian, wife, mother, grandmother, homemaker, teacher, healthcare worker, community organizer and advocate for all things promoting the importance of families binding generation to generation. Cindy has worked in the fields of education and healthcare for over 40 years. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 1975, BS Ed in Composite Science and is a registered medical technologist. She is married to Gilbert F. Douglas III and they have five children and seven grandchildren. She has balanced many years as a homeschooling mom with employment at various hospitals in Birmingham and presently is employed by Children’s Hospital of Alabama (clinical microbiology). She also serves on the board of directors for PineBelt Communications, an independent telecommunications business serving rural Alabama where she grew up and volunteers in many local community organizations. 

Gilbert F. Douglas III  
Gilblert F. Douglas III has a long history of community activism on behalf of promoting better policies for children. He was a leader in helping establish the home-school movement in Alabama and has served as administrator for a local homeschooling group, Heritage Academy, for the past 30 years. He has awarded diplomas to hundreds of homeschooled students who have proven to be good citizens and workers, competent consumers and innovative entrepreneurs. In addition, he has served as a local elected official (Constable) for 30 years, where he has worked with the small claims courts and local businesses, served as county chairman for a political party, and serves in a leadership role at his church, Trinity Presbyterian. Gilbert and his wife, Cynthia, live in Birmingham, Ala.; they have five children, four of whom are married, and seven grandchildren. He is a graduate of Samford University, where he studied history, political science and economics.  

Leon S. Dure IV, M.D.
Leon S. Dure IV, M.D., William Bew White Jr. M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurology; professor and division director, Department of Pediatrics; professor, Department of Neurobiology; University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine; chair, Children’s Hospital of Alabama Ethics Committee. Dr. Dure is a graduate of the Baylor College of Medicine. He is board certified in Pediatrics with special qualification in Child Neurology. Dr. Dure has numerous publications and is a leading practitioner in the field of pediatric neurology. 

Lisha Li Graham
Lisha Li Graham, an associate with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, represents clients in the areas of commercial litigation, consumer practices and product liability defense. She represents financial institutions, companies and individuals in a variety of commercial cases, including breach of contract, fraud, negligence and business torts. As part of her commercial litigation practice, Lisha also represents creditors in Chapters 7, 11 and 13 Bankruptcy actions to preserve creditors' claims, collect debts due, and litigate creditors' claims in adverse proceedings. In the consumer practices area, she represents manufacturers of automobiles and focuses on the defense of cases involving breach of warranty, the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Alabama's Lemon Law. In the products liability defense area, Lisha represents manufacturers of automobiles, distributors, seller of parts, as well as builders and installers against negligence and strict liability claims based upon alleged product defects which resulted in injuries or death. Specifically, she has defended clients in construction cases, Chinese drywall litigation, and pharmaceutical litigation.

In addition to the areas mentioned above, Lisha also defends claims involving premises liability, worker's compensation, as well as insurance coverage and bad faith claims. Prior to joining Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell, she practiced at a large law firm in Birmingham, Alabama where she specialized in asbestos and toxic torts, medical malpractice and labor and employment law. As a 2009 graduate of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Lisha was active in the National Trial Team. She won the National American Association of Justice Trial Competition in 2008 and the Regional TYLA Trial Competition in 2009. She was named Advocate of the Year in 2009 and received the Papantonio Trial Advocacy Award. She was a member of and a published author in the American Journal of Trial Advocacy and served as the director of the Cumberland School of Law Negotiation Competition. Lisha continues to be active in Cumberland School of Law’s trial program by serving as judge for various trial competitions.

Kara Shea Graves  
Kara Shea Graves is a senior MD candidate at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She will join the University Medical Center and Children's Health System of Alabama as a resident physician in pediatrics this June. Kara graduated from Samford University in 2009 with degrees in Classics and Biology. She is particularly interested in the Center's work in the areas of Reproductive Ethics and Pediatric Bioethics.

John Hall
John Hall was born in Birmingham, Ala. He is currently the owner of the Law Office of Hall & Hall, LLC. In the three years between 2006 and 2009, he took a leave of absence from his 24 year law career to return to his previous profession of teaching public high school.

Prior to returning to teaching, he was founder and partner of the law firm Hall & Hall in 1998. Before starting his own firm, he was shareholder and partner with the law firm of Rives & Peterson for 16 years. Previous positions also include Social Studies teacher in the public schools of Birmingham, Ala., and Denver, Co.; director of an inner-city day camp (Camp Fire Boys and Girls of Birmingham and JCCEO); and director of male staff and camp counselor with the South Carolina Camp for Mentally Retarded Children.

John received his J.D. degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, engaged in post graduate studies work at Colorado State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham in secondary education and history. He graduated from the University of Georgia with an ABJ degree in Journalism (Public Relations).

During his volunteer work at the state-level, he has drafted and worked for the passage of over 30 Alabama statutes.

In 2002, for the second time, Mr. Hall received the “Alabama Citizen of the Year Award” from the Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence and was appointed by the Governor to Chair the Alabama Council on Violence against Women in 2002. This Council developed and published the Alabama’s first ever Plan to Combat Violence against Women. He served as cochairman and moderator of the 1996 Alabama Media Summit, “The Media and Our Children – The Good, the Bad, and the Solutions,” held in Montgomery, Ala., and sponsored by the Governor. John served as president for the United Way agency, the Central Alabama Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls, from 1998-1999; and served on the board of directors of the A+ Research Foundation (working for education reform), and the Summit Children’s Foundation of Birmingham.

He has received numerous awards for his dedication and service to the poor children, women, and families of our state, including the “1996 Children’s Advocate Award,” by Childcare Resources; the “1996 Jefferson Award,” for public service from WBHM, Channel 42 in Birmingham; the “1996 Good Shepherd Award,” from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham; the “1998 Child Advocacy National Certificate of Recognition from the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division;” and was chosen by The Birmingham News Editorial Board as one of six 1996 “Unsung Heroes” in recognition of volunteer community service. John also received the “Distinguished Service Award,” from the Alabama Chief Probation Officers’ Association and in 1987, he the “Alabama Citizen of the Year Award” from the Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence in 1987 and 2002.

John is a graduate of the 1996-97 class of Leadership Birmingham. Other notable honors include working as a special assistant attorney general and serving as chairman of the Attorney General’s Crime Victim’s Task Force, between 1987 and 1990, which resulted in the passage of 19 laws and was hailed as a “Model for the Nation.”  Statutes John drafted protected the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, spousal rape, drunk driving, child abuse and elder abuse.

Between 1988 and 1990, he helped lead a team of physicians, forensic experts and district attorneys to revamp and develop the “Alabama Rape Evidence Collection Kit,” which was utilized in all Alabama hospitals that performed sexual assault exams in Alabama. In the late 1990’s, John chaired a group at the request of Democratic Governor Siegelman and Republican Attorney General Bill Pryor, to update the Evidence Collection Kit in order to make it compatible with the new use of DNA evidence.

As an attorney, John was awarded membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2002, an honorary forum in which membership is extended by invitation only to attorneys throughout the U.S. who have won one or more multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Since becoming an attorney, John has contributed well over 4,000 pro bono hours on behalf of numerous public service efforts. These include authoring and working on the Children First legislative program, co-founding and serving as chairman and president of Children First Foundation, Inc., cochairman of the Lt. Governor’s School and Youth Violence Task Force, working with the Alabama Senate Education Committee to enhance the 1995 Alabama Education Accountability Act, working with the State Department of Education and serving as chair of the Alabama Council on Violence Against Women.

In 2010, he helped found and was chosen to be the first board chair of the Children First Alliance of Alabama, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporations. Currently, he is working weekly to lead a Bible study in a prison ministry at Bibb County Correctional facility.

Kimberly Bruner Hudson
Kim attended Purdue University for two years before transferring to Auburn University. She graduated from Auburn University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Criminology. Kim then attended Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law at. She graduated from law school in 2000 and passed the Alabama Bar. She practices law at Davis, Bingham, and Hudson in Auburn, Ala. Kim and Tim, her husband, co-founded the Hudson Family Foundation in 2009. Kim strongly supports several additional children’s charities and works hard to further their efforts. Some of these organizations include: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta Braves Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Foundation of Georgia and Alabama, CURE Childhood Cancer, The Rally Foundation, aTeam Ministries.

Herman N. (Rusty) Johnson Jr.
Herman N. (Rusty) Johnson Jr., is an assistant professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala. Until December 2009, Rusty was a member of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, LLC, a law firm with offices in Birmingham, Ala., and Washington, D.C. Rusty represented litigants nationally in individual and aggregate action litigation, including class and collective actions, with a particular emphasis on wage and hour, employment discrimination, ERISA, and international human rights litigation. Prior to joining Wiggins, Childs, Rusty served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the Honorable Myron H. Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. He earned a juris doctor and master of international affairs from Columbia University in 1999, and a bachelor of arts in economics from Duke University in 1991. In between his studies at Duke University and Columbia University, Rusty served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa, from 1991 to 1993, and as an Americorps NCCC volunteer from 1994 to 1995.

JaeRan Kim
JaeRan Kim MSW, LGSW was born in South Korea and adopted to the United States at the age of 3 in 1971. She has worked in foster care/adoption (both public and private), with at-risk young moms, and with adults with disabilities in residential care. Jae Ran is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a project coordinator at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, where she held Title IV-E Child Welfare and LEND fellowships. She has an extensive record of publications and presentations which can be found on her CV at

Greg Laughlin 
Greg Laughlin has been law library director of the Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law’s Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library since July 2008. Prior to his arrival at Cumberland School of Law, he served as associate dean for information resources, director of the law library, and associate professor of Law at the University of Memphis School of Law from 2000-08 and director of the law library and assistant professor of law at Ohio Northern University from 1998-00. Professor Laughlin earned his B.A. degree, magna cum laud, in public administration from Missouri State University (1982), his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Missouri-Columbia (1986), and his master of science in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1995). While in law school, he served as managing editor of the Missouri Law Review and was selected to the Order of the Coif.

Prior to entering the legal academy, Professor Laughlin practiced law in St. Louis, Missouri from 1986-94, where he practiced in the area of commercial litigation for the firm of Popkin & Stern and in general practice for the firm of Thurman, Howald, Weber, Bowles & Senkel. Prior to entering law school, Professor Laughlin was editor of a weekly newspaper in his hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Cherie Laughlin  
Cheri Laughlin is a native of Qulin, Missouri. She has lived in the Birmingham, Ala., area since her husband, Greg Laughlin, became the law library director of the Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in July 2008. Prior to her arrival, she lived in the Memphis, Tenn., area and served as the director of pharmacy for Parkwood Behavioral Health Center in Olive Branch, Miss., providing clinical services and chairing the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee as well as providing administrative oversight. Dr. Laughlin earned her Pharm.D. degree from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, St. Louis, Missouri in 1993, having completed her bachelor of science there a year earlier. She completed a pharmacy practice residency at St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima Memorial Hospital in Lima, Ohio, in 1996. She also earned a bachelor of science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Southeast Missouri State University in 1988.

In addition to her work at Parkwood, Dr. Laughlin served as a clinical pharmacist in internal medicine at Physicians Inc., Lima, Ohio, serving as the director from 1998-00. There she counseled patients on the optimal use of their prescribed and over-the-counter medicines while making therapeutic adjustments in their medication regimen as allowed per Ohio’s Pharmacy Practice Act’s consult agreement provision, serving as the first pharmacist in Ohio to work under this authority. She developed a pharmacy residency program there and served as assistant clinical professor of pharmacy for Raabe College of Pharmacy, Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, from 1996-00, precepting pharmacy students in their final year of study. Her developed and ran clinics in anticoagulation and congestive heart failure, as well as dealing extensively with patients concerning treatments for hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and smoking cessation.

Currently, she is a stay at home mother, caring for their four children and frequently caring for her mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia. Their third child, Bethany, was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, a rare genetic condition resulting in global developmental delays, such as the inability to verbalize and difficulty walking, as well as significant cognitive dysfunction. She suffers from epilepsy and requires numerous medications daily. She networks with other parents of special needs children throughout the world via social media and belongs to a local group of “special mothers.” She interacts almost daily with Bethany’s teachers to ensure Bethany receives the most appropriate care and education possible.

James R. Marsh  
James Marsh is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and its acclaimed Child Advocacy Law Clinic. He is an experienced trial attorney and frequent commentator and author on legal issues affecting children. He is the founder, former executive director and current co-chair of the emeritus board of the nationally recognized Children’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., which received the National Association of Counsel for Children’s Outstanding Legal Advocacy Award during his tenure. He has represented clients in wrongful adoption, civil rights, RICO, Title IX sex harassment, Section 1983, special education, high stakes testing, student discipline, child welfare and adoption cases before state and federal trial and appellate courts. Marsh’s current focus is representing victims of child pornography and child sex abuse in criminal restitution and civil cases in federal courts nationwide.

Lene Myong
Lene Myong is assistant professor at Department of Education, Aarhus University, in Denmark. She received her Ph.D. in 2009 and her dissertation is a qualitative study based on interviews with adult Korean adoptees. Her post-doctoral work is focused on re-migration among Korean adoptees and cultural representations of adoption. Her current research project on adoption and migration (2011-14) is funded by The Danish Council for Independent Research.
Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur
Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur is a chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; member, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of the Child. Dr. Benyam Mezmur is a research fellow at the Community Law Centre of the University of Western Cape (UWC), South Africa, and a lecturer and assistant professor (both part-time) at the faculty of Law of UWC and the Addis Ababa University respectively. He lectures child rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the international protection of human rights at the post-graduate level. From 2003-05, he was a legal officer at The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). Dr. Benyam has published a number of articles on children's rights in Africa internationally, and has lectured/served fellowships among others at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Ghent University (Belgium), Abo Akademi (Finland), Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Groningen University (The Netherlands), and Central European University (Hungary). He received his bachelor's degree in law (LL.B.) from the Addis Ababa University, a masters' degree (LL.M.) from the University of Pretoria (Centre for Human Rights), South Africa, and a doctorate in law (LL.D.) from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

Brian Mooney
Brian Mooney is the president and general counsel of BorderStone Press, LLC and its imprints BorderStone International, LLC and Thesis Imprints, as well as Sanga Press, LLC. He has been the supervising editor of over 50 books. Brian has been a licensed attorney for six years, and practiced law for four years in a private firm. He also served as assistant city attorney/prosecutor for the 14th Judicial District of Arkansas. Brian graduated in the top 10% of his law school class at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., where he served as an associate editor on the Cumberland Law Review and as a Fellow for The Center of Biotechnology, Law and Ethics. Brian is a member of the Palestine Exploration Fund and has participated for two years in the excavation of Tel Gezer with the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He enjoys long distance running, P90x, archaeology, and adventures.

Ryan Nash
Ryan R. Nash, M.D., is the Hagop Mekhijan Endowed Chair in Medical Ethics and Professionalism at the Ohio State University Wexner College of Medicine, where he is also director of the Center for Bioethics. He was born and raised in Texas. He graduated from Texas State University in 1997 and attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. He completed his internal Medicine residency and served as chief medical resident at UT. While in Houston, Dr. Nash served on the Memorial Hermann Hospital Ethics Committee and participated in medical ethics education for the medical school. In 2005, he moved to Birmingham, Ala., and completed a fellowship in Palliative Medicine at UAB. Upon completion of his fellowship Dr. Nash became the medical director of the Balm of Gilead Palliative Care Center at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. He also served as chief of staff and chair of the Ethics Committee for the Jefferson County Healthcare System and Cooper Green Mercy Hospital for 2007-08. While at Cooper Green, Dr. Nash received recognition for outstanding community service from Highlands UMC, was named as a Top 40 under 40 honoree by the Birmingham Business Journal, and saw the healthcare system through a very successful Joint Commission visit. In 2009, Dr. Nash returned to UAB full-time to concentrate efforts on education in palliative medicine, clinical ethics, and medical humanities, and continued there until moving to Ohio State in March 2013. 

Brian Noble
Brian Noble is the founder of the Noble Law Firm, LLC, where he primarily focuses on representing victims of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. Brian comes from a modest background. He supported himself in the latter years of high school by working two jobs and then took advantage of the GI Bill to pay for college. During the summers, he traveled the Mississippi River, serving as a deckhand on various towboats. He enjoys working with and encouraging youth struggling with similar situations. His first career was in the United States Army where he served in the Military Intelligence Corps. Brian entered the service as a private and left as a captain. After leaving the service, Brian enrolled Samford University’s Cumberland Law School, and graduated summa cum laude. Brian received numerous accolades for academic performance, including a merit-based full scholarship and the M. Alan Stephens Memorial Scholarship for excellence in business law. He was the articles and symposium editor for the Cumberland Law Review and a Judge Abraham Caruthers Fellow. After graduating law school, Brian served as law clerk to Judge C. Lynwood Smith Jr., a United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Alabama. Following the clerkship, Brian accepted a position at one of Alabama’s oldest and most prestigious law firms, where he worked for a time before leaving to found his own practice.

Saadia Omer
Saadia Omer received a bachelor of science in chemistry (1997) from University of Dallas, and worked in the plastics industry for several years before attending law school. She graduated cum laude from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 2002. She is currently a stay-at-home mom of three energetic boys ages 10, 8, and 5. She also serves on the board of several non-profit organizations that promote better understanding and mutual respect of people from different cultures, races, faiths, and backgrounds.

Cheryl Howell Oswalt
Cheryl Howell Oswalt, an associate with Sirote & Permutt, whose practice focuses on a wide range of general litigation matters, including business disputes and minority shareholder issues. She is also experienced in representing members of the mortgage banking industry and assists clients with various mortgage and title issues. Cheryl defends mortgagees and mortgage servicers from a variety of claims, including wrongful foreclosure, predatory lending, and TILA, FDCPA and RESPA violations. Cheryl also serves as a member of Sirote Mortgage and Asset Recovery Team (SMART). She is active in the Ronald McDonald Charities of Alabama, Young Leaders Board Member, Quinn’s Ranch advisory board member, and Birmingham, Ala., Commercial Real Estate for Women (CREW), vice-president elect, 2013. Cheryl co-authored “Responding to RACs: Limits on RAC’s Medical Record Requests” and “Proper Methods for Appealing RAC Audit Determinations,” The Counselor, fall 2009. Cheryl authored “New Protection for Social Security Numbers,” The Counselor, spring 2007, and “Conservation Easements: An Effective Land Preservation Tool,” The Counselor, winter 2009. Cheryl is admitted to practice U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern and Middle Districts of Alabama; and U.S. Tax Court. While at the Cumberland School of Law, Cheryl was a member of the Cumberland Law Review, symposium editor (Vol.36); a junior member (Vol. 35); Cumberland Trial Advocacy Board, 2005-06; a Caruthers Fellow-Legal Research Teaching Assistant, 2004-05; and received Scholar of Merit award for the following courses: Criminal Law, Insurance Law and Municipal Courts Practice & Procedure.

Ashley Mims Patterson  
Ashley Mims Patterson holds the position of deputy district attorney, Tenth Judicial District, Jefferson County, Alabama. She holds a B.A. from Samford University, and a J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland Law School. Ashley Patterson’s work as a prosecutor frequently focuses on crimes against children.  

Gita Ramaswamy 
Gita Ramaswamy is a senior activist residing in Andhra Pradesh, India. She has spent a lifetime combating inequalities and attacking poverty, working on the grassroots level. She founded and built up the Hyderabad Book Trust, a not-for-profit organization that produces and published serious social literature in Telugu, the language of Andhra Pradesh. She is also an Ashoka Fellow. 

Mark Riley  
Mark Riley is alternative care consultant and child advocate at The Alternative Care Initiative and is an experienced consultant having worked for many years with the Welsh Assembly Government delivering both public and private consultancy programs. Mark has been actively involved in Alternative Care for children and encouraging changes to institutional care since he first visited Uganda in 2001. Based in Uganda since 2010, Mark is currently supporting the Ugandan Government on Alternative Care and has developed a number of toolkits to assess and monitor child care institutions. While being an international adoptive parent himself, Mark been an outspoken critic of unethical international adoption practices and is working with the Ugandan government to address the current issues within the Ugandan system. 

Keren Riley
Keren Riley and her family moved to Uganda in 2010 to help to find alternative solutions for children living in institutional care. In 2011 Keren piloted “Reunite” – a project to reunify children who were lost in the orphanage system, trafficked for international adoption or kidnapped, back with their families. Reunite is based on sound social work practices and is supporting the Ugandan Governments Alternative Care Framework to promote family preservation, resettlement and domestic placements for children. Reunite is currently being setup as a 5013c in the United States and as an NGO in Uganda. She also uses her skills as a photographer and film maker to promote family based care and to also document the lives of these children after they go home. Since adopting her son from Uganda in 2005, Keren has been passionate about seeing children resettled out of the orphanage system and back into their communities. Before moving to Uganda, Keren undertook a number of courses learning about the damage of institutional care and the necessary tools and techniques to help post-institutionalized children live in families and communities again. Keren, an active board member of OASIS, Overseas Adoption Support and Information Services in the UK, an organization supporting over 1,000 international adoptive families.

Keren is an active blogger and her blog “” has become an important voice in highlighting problems with orphanages and international adoption from Uganda while promoting alternative solutions such as family preservation, resettlement and alternative family based placements such as kinship care, foster care and domestic adoption. She often provides advice, guidance and training for families who have adopted children from institutional care and is active in the adoption training of the “Families for Children” (Crane) training of Ugandan families interested in adoption. Keren initially trained as an actress, musician, film maker and photographer and uses these skills both in highlighting alternative care but also for fun. She recently performed in the National Theatres production of Macbeth and she regularly plays the piano and sings at various venues throughout Kampala.

Elizabeth J. Samuels
Elizabeth J. Samuels is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Professor Samuels has a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. She worked as a journalist before attending law school, where she was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and an attorney in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Following law school, she served as law clerk to Judge James L. Oakes, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After clerking, she was a legal services attorney and an adjunct law professor in Alabama. She was the director of the school of law's first-year Legal Skills Program from 1987-94. Samuels does pro bono work in the civil rights and the child and family law areas. She is a member of the Alabama Bar. Her areas of expertise include child and family law, adoption, and constitutional law. 

Usha R. Smerdon
Usha R. Smerdon is a trial attorney with the federal government. Usha is the adoptive mother of two children adopted from India who inspired her to become a passionate advocate for adoption reform and ethics. Usha served on the board of directors of Ethica, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting ethical adoption practices, from 2007-12. She regularly contributes to the fields of international adoption and international surrogacy, having presented and written several articles in these areas. She considers herself an active learner in the field of adoption education as well, particularly with respect to supporting the voices of adult adoptees and organizations concerned with finding better alternatives to international adoption. 

Ben and Alison Smolin
Ben and Alison Smolin comprise the music duo/band Ocean Liner: Ben is youth director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Ala., frequently assisted by Alison. Alison works full-time as a nanny. Both worked previously with middle school youth at Camp Straight Street. Alison has a B.A. in Business Administration from UAB. 

Desiree Smolin
Desiree is the full-time, stay-at-home mother of six biological and two adoptive children, all of whom she home-schooled for all or a significant part of their education. She's devoted a major portion of her adult life to researching issues related to parenting, education, and adoption. She is co-creator of the adoption blog Fleasbiting (, has been a longtime contributor to online adoption support groups, and has presented at adoption conferences in Washington, D.C., NYC, Albany, N.Y., and at Texas Wesleyan University Law School. She's served as a background and quoted source for major media on adoption issues, as well as a resource for families and individuals impacted by abusive adoption practices. Desiree has a B.A. in music from the New College of Florida and professional and graduate training in architecture at the University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Art, and Architecture.

Jane Jeong Trenka
Jane Jeong Trenka was internationally adopted from Korea in 1972 and has been living there since 2004. She is the author of The Language of Blood (Borealis Books, 2003) and Fugitive Visions (Graywolf Press, 2009), and co-editor of the anthology Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End Press, 2006). She is president of TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea) and is earning her master's degree in public policy from Seoul National University.

Sarah Wampol-Hutchison
Sarah Wampol-Hutchison is a master of social work candidate at Howard University in Washington D.C., with a focus on community, administration and policy practices and specializing in displaced populations. After receiving her bachelor of social work with a minor concentration in international studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Sarah went on to work in the field of international adoption and specifically in the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention from an agency perspective. She is a specialist in understanding Hague accreditation and standards governing ethical practices within international adoption agencies in the United States. She has dedicated extensive research and orchestrated community forums on the macro-social issues surrounding international adoption, including global poverty, human trafficking and international adoption policy reform.

Currently, Sarah is completing her graduate field placement at FAIR Girls, a D.C. based non-profit that provides comprehensive services to domestic and international victims of sex and labor trafficking, ages 11-21. Here, Sarah is responsible for coordinating comprehensive responses to human trafficking between law enforcement entities, the child welfare community and other direct service organizations in the District. She also teaches human trafficking prevention workshops in D.C. public schools to at-risk youth and provides crisis and case management assistance with victims as needed. 

Cristina Zucchi
Desembargadora (Justice), and Professor Cristina Zucchi, justice of the Sao Paulo Supreme Court (Brazil); adjunct professor in the Master of Comparative Law Program, Samford University’s Cumberland Law School. Justice/Professor Zucchi has a doctoral degree in civil law at Sao Paulo University, and a master degree in comparative law at Samford University. She is a member of the Sao Paulo Magistrates Academy, and a founding member of the Brazilian Chapter of the International Institute of Women Judges. She has taught as Professor of Enterprise Law and Constitutional Law in Law Schools in Sao Paulo, in graduate and post-graduate programs. She is also a member of the International Insolvency Institute and of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.  

Page last updated: Fri, 10/04/2013 - 13:20