Daniel T’seleie – Board President
Daniel is K’asho Got’ine Dene from Radili Ko (also known as Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories). He is an articling student at OKT. He has a J.D. from the University of Victoria and a B.Sc. in mathematical sciences from McMaster University. Prior to excursions in the field of law, Daniel has worked in the areas of education, journalism, government policy, unskilled labour, and lands and environmental management in Dene communities with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation. In his free time Daniel is a practitioner and trainer of non-violent direct action tactics and strategy, with a focus on environmental and climate justice and assertions of Indigenous sovereignty. He is also a founding member of Dene Nahjo, a northern non-profit dedicated to advancing social and environmental justice for northern peoples while promoting Indigenous leadership by fostering emerging leaders.
King Downing is the Director of Mass Defense at the National Lawyers Guild’s national office. He works with lawyers, legal workers, and law students to give legal support to activists, protesters and movements for social change. He is also a lawyer and founder of the Human Rights-Racial Justice Center (H2RJ), which advocates and organizes for criminal and economic justice. Previously, he directed the Healing Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee, and was National Coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling. King was also part of the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee and was an early organizer in Jena, Louisiana supporting the Jena 6, black high school students charged with attempted murder for a fistfight with a white student.
Bruce Ellison is based in Rapid City, South Dakota with over 40 years experience as a criminal defense trial, appellate and habeas attorney. Bruce was a staff attorney with the Wounded Knee Defense/Offense Committee representing AIM members and leaders. He has been one of Leonard Peltier’s lawyers since 1976. Throughout his career, he has worked to defend the rights of indigenous peoples in the Dakotas. Prior to his work with the WPLC, he was also involved in the litigation team defending water resources by challenging the Keystone XL pipeline and various uranium mining permit applications before state and federal agencies.
Jeffrey Haas is a criminal defense and civil rights attorney who represents progressive movements and victims of police abuse. A founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago (1969-2003), he was co-counsel in Hampton vs. Hanrahan which exposed the police and FBI murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and a successful campaign to expose Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s legacy of torture. He now lives in New Mexico, where he defended Mora County’s ban on fracking in civil suit by Shell Oil, and served as Chair of EcoViva, which works toward sustainable development in Central America. Author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, a renowned book that is currently being turned into a Hollywood film.
Rachel Lederman – Board Secretary
Rachel Lederman is a people’s lawyer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who represents protesters, prisoners, and persons whose rights have been violated by police, landlords, and employers. She is a past President of the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter, and a member of the NLG Mass Defense Steering Committee, the NLG National Police Accountability Project and the Oakland Law Collaborative. Rachel has successfully defended thousands of political demonstrators and has obtained significant victories in impact litigation to stop police and government repression of dissent over the last thirty years. Rachel’s ongoing work has transformed the way police handle demonstrations and crowd events in both San Francisco and Oakland.
Nick is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, the founding Executive Director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation and a father of four children. Nick has over 15 years of experience in working with non-profits and tribal nations on projects that have a social mission. As the founding executive director of Thunder Valley CDC Nick has played a vital role in creating a community development organization that is working with the local grassroots people and national organizations in the development of a sustainable regenerative community, that creates jobs, builds homes and creates new opportunity on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Since 2013 Nick has served as a local point of contact for President Obama’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative, working to make targeted investments into America’s poorest communities. This community based grassroots work has led Tilsen to become a National leader in the Equity Movement. In 2014 Tilsen was selected as an ASHOKA Fellow joining a global network of the worlds leading social innovators
Mrs. Zephier has done extensive legal work for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and other tribes in the Northern Plains region. She served as the President and CEO of First Nations Oweesta Corporation in Rapid City, South Dakota developing community development financial institutions (CDFIs), tribal enterprises and tribal citizen entrepreneurship systems in Native communities throughout the United States. Mrs. Zephier is the President of Wind Energy Tribes United (WETU), an inter-tribal organization whose purpose is to inform, advise, represent, and advocate on behalf of its member tribes on issues related to commercial wind energy production and transmission. Zephier works closely with her own tribe on its commercial wind energy development project, serving as the tribally owned energy corporation’s Vice President. She also has experience as an auditor for the South Dakota Department of Labor and as a banker for Norwest.