Our Staff

Terry L. Janis – Executive Director

Terry Janis (Oglala Lakota) has worked extensively on Native American and international indigenous education and human rights issues. Working through organizations such as the University of Arizona, the Indian Law Resource Center, and Northern Arizona University, Janis has consistently combined education and law to work with Indian leaders and students to advocate for indigenous rights. Janis joined Water Protector Legal Collective as Executive Director in August 2017. Before this, Mr. Janis served as Senior Fellow at the Sabo Center for Civics and Governance, Augsburg University, where his research focused on improving educational achievement, organizational capacity and indigenous governance; President at White Earth Tribal and Community College where he successfully led the College’s efforts to reestablish its accreditation from probation to full accreditation in a regular reporting cycle; Manager of the White Earth Nation Constitution Reform process where he led a community-wide education and information campaign on their then, Proposed Constitution; and Program Officer at the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Northwest Area Foundation where he managed grant-making and program activities.

Janis is a member of the State Bar of Arizona and serves on the Board of Directors of the Niibi Center on the White Earth Nation. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Macalester College, a Master of Education from Harvard University, and a law degree from the University of Arizona. Mr. Janis is honored and inspired by the spirit and energy of his wife of 32 years, Olivia, and the courage and compassion of his twenty-three year old son, Hoka.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen – Staff Attorney

Moira Meltzer-Cohen (Mo) is a criminal defense attorney committed to supporting liberation struggles for people and the earth. Such work includes providing pro bono criminal defense services to people arrested during actions in the service of social and economic justice, Black Lives Matter, the Black Liberation Army and Black Panther Party, anti-fascist and antiauthoritarian movements, immigrant rights, transgender rights, environmental defense and prison abolition. She is a founding member of Just Info, a 24-hour hotline providing legal information, service referrals, and opportunities for community-based organizing against aggressive policing and mass incarceration in New York. She is also a member of Mutant Legal, a collective devoted to popular legal education for groups and individuals targeted by law enforcement on the basis of perceived identity, rather than conduct. She has taught criminal law in the undergraduate Political Science department at Hunter College, and engages in popular education for people of all ages and at all levels of formal schooling. She currently splits her time between New York City and North Dakota, where she provides legal support to Water Protectors fighting charges brought in retaliation for their struggles against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She holds a Masters degree in critical curriculum theory from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a law degree from the City University of New York.

Frances Madeson – Communications Coordinator

Frances Madeson is a movement journalist and creative writer. She has written about the NoDAPL Resistance at Standing Rock and other pressing matters in Indian country for The Navajo Times, The Gallup Independent, Indian Country Media Network, yes! Magazine, High Country News, Ms., Red Wedge Magazine, The Progressive Magazine and American Theatre Magazine. Her recent work has also brought awareness to the J20 conspiracy trials for VICE, refugee resettlement for TabletMag, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral revival for The Progressive, and anti-corruption/money out of politics for The Scroll. She has published interviews with world, tribal, social movement and intellectual leaders including former president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, Duane “Chili” Yazzie, president of the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation, Food & Water Watch director Wenonah Hauter, Dr. Mona El-Farra, director of Gaza Projects for the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Her creative works include the comic novel Cooperative Village, a satire on the War on Terror set in the lower east side of Manhattan, and The Candle Lit, a play about Cold War martyr Ethel Rosenberg, produced by the Cleveland Public Theatre. She holds degrees from Washington University of St. Louis and the City University of New York Graduate School and University Center.

WPLC staff and volunteers are a dedicated and diverse group of lawyers, legal workers and administrators working out of our Mandan ND offices – including several people not listed above. Please see the Contact page on this website to reach our various departments.