The Leadership Team
The Department's leadership team works with Lorinda Youngcourt to ensure DPD is providing excellent legal representation to its clients. The team also sets policy for the Department, identifies top priorities in criminal justice reform, oversees DPD's budget and operations, works with the judiciary and prosecutor on shared concerns and engages in external relationship-building with a range of criminal justice partners. Each member of the team brings considerable skill and talent to the Department as well as a deep commitment to quality public defense.
Jeanette Brinster, Quality and Resource Counsel
Jeanette Brinster is the managing attorney at the Northwest Defenders Division, where she has worked since 1993. As managing attorney, she oversees and manages a staff of about 60, monitoring caseloads, providing case strategy review, covering court hearings and calendars, when needed, recommending individuals for promotion and handling a wide array of office needs. Jeanette received her law degree from Golden Gate University Law School.
Gwen Clemens, Director of Administrative Services and Operation
As director of administrative services and operations, Gwen Clemens oversees the Department's finance division and works with others in King County to ensure DPD employees have the resources, technology and technical support they need to provide strong public defense. She also represents the department at various county operational meetings and acts as the liaison to the Public Defense Advisory Board. She holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Policy and has spent most of her career working in government.
Anita Khandelwal, Director of Law and Policy
Anita Khandelwal works with other members of the leadership team to develop both internal and external policies and plays a lead role in setting and overseeing the Department's agenda for criminal justice reform and systemic advocacy and change. She also coordinates DPD's amicus briefs, reviews claims against the Department, handles requests submitted to the Department under the Public Records Act and provides legal ethics oversight. She got her law degree from Yale University and is a board member for the Public Defender Association in Seattle.
Rick Lichtenstadter, Managing Attorney
Rick Lichtenstadter is the managing attorney at The Defender Association Division, where he supervises staff, provides case strategy review, oversees office management, monitors caseloads and handles the other myriad duties that come with running a large office of attorneys, paralegals, investigators and more. Rick has been a public defender since he got his JD at the University of Oregon Law School. Before he became a lawyer, he worked as a supervised release counselor for King County Court Services.
La Mer Kyle-Griffiths, Deputy Director of Workforce, Learning, and Growth
La Mer Kyle-Griffiths is both developing and implementing a Department-wide training program for attorneys, investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals and other staff, working to address growth and development at all levels of the organization. She brings a passion for training to DPD as well as considerable experience as a trainer and faculty member at various programs and institutes across the country. In addition to her work in training, La Mer oversees DPD's Human Resources department. La Mer received her JD from the University of Dayton Law School. She has experience in all aspects of criminal defense, with a particular focus on juvenile defense.
Burns Petersen, Assigned Counsel Director
As DPD's first director of assigned counsel, Burns Petersen is responsible for recruiting and selecting DPD's assigned counsel panels, outside attorneys who represent clients for the Department when DPD cannot do so due to prior representation of involved parties (called "conflicts" in the world of law firms). He also updates polices and practices governing assigned counsel, coordinates case reassignents when attorneys leave the panels and reviews and responds to expert service requests. Burns, a graduate of University of Puget Sound Law School (now Seattle University), is active in the King County Bar Association.
Daryl Rodrigues, Managing Attorney
David Roberson, Managing Attorney
Joshua Saunders, Managing Attorney
Joshua Saunders is the managing attorney at the Associated Counsel for the Accused Division, supervising approximately100 attorneys, investigators, paralegals, mitigation specialists and others working to provide quality public defense to indigent clients. He has been a public defender since obtaining his law degree from New York University School of Law and most recently worked at Brooklyn Defender Services, where he co-founded the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, an innovative nonprofit that prevents unnecessary pretrial detention by paying bail for low-income defendants. He continues to serve on the organization's board of directors.