• Click on the images below for staff bios.

Safia Abdinur Staff Photo

Safia Abdinur M.P.H.

Policy Analyst

Safia.Abdinur [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7690

Safia Abdinur is a policy analyst for the Public Health Law Center Healthy Eating and Active Living team.

Prior to joining PHLC, Safia worked as an HR Specialist at Hennepin Healthcare, where she supported the day-to-day operations and assisted with special projects for the various HR functional areas. She also worked College of Education and Human Development Student Services at the University of Minnesota.

Education
B.S., University of Minnesota
M.P.H., University of Minnesota School of Public Health

 

Esther Agbaje Staff Photo

Esther Agbaje, J.D., M.P.A.

Staff Attorney

Esther.Agbaje [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Esther Agbaje is a Staff Attorney with the Public Health Law Center providing legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control and climate justice issues. Prior to joining PHLC, she was a plaintiff’s attorney with a focus on medical malpractice, personal injury, and class actions. Esther is a former Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State. In that role she managed rule of law projects in the Middle East focusing on Egypt and the Gulf states. Esther also serves as a Minnesota State Representative. She enjoys playing her flute in local bands and salsa dancing.

Education
B.A., The George Washington University
M.P.A., University of Pennsylvania
J.D., Harvard University

Julie Amajuoyi Staff Photo

Julie Amajuoyi, J.D., M.T.S.

Lead Senior Staff Attorney for National Technical Assistance, Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Julie.Amajuoyi [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7697

Julie Amajuoyi leads the national technical assistance work in commercial tobacco control for the Public Health Law Center, which provides legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Julie worked as a litigation associate at Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, where she engaged in complex commercial and civil litigation, including trademark, trade secrets, patent, and insurance coverage cases. She also engaged extensively in pro bono work, including representing immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. In addition, she gained experience in public interest law working at Catholic Charities Legal assistance, where she provided legal advice and referrals to low income clients with legal issues involving family law, bankruptcy, land-lord tenant law, foreclosure, criminal law, and personal injury. While in law school, Julie served as an intern with the County's District Attorney's Office. And as an intern with Cornell's Legal Aid Clinic, she represented clients seeking disability and unemployment insurance benefits. In addition to her legal training and experience, Julie also has significant experience in the health care setting working as a nurse and holds a graduate degree in theological ethics.

Education
B.S., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities summa cum laude
J.D., Cornell University Law School, Managing Editor, Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy
M.T.S., University of Notre Dame

Willow Anderson Staff Photo

Willow Anderson, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Willow.Anderson [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Willow Najjar Anderson provides legal technical assistance nationally to support tobacco control policy.  As a part of the Center’s FDA project, she works with state, Tribal, and national public health experts to inform and encourage the FDA to enact sound and equitable policies for the protection of public health.

Willow is a former Assistant Attorney General having tried cases in almost every Minnesota County including successful lawsuits against insurance companies for the denial of mental health treatment to adolescents. In private practice, she represented injured railway workers in litigation that resulted in the release of industry documents covering up wrongful deaths and injuries.  Her international work has included trial skills training, interrogation, and persuasive advocacy in Botswana, Russia, the Republic of Georgia, and Turkey.  She is a Minnesota Supreme Court Certified Mediator and Qualified Neutral.

Education
B.A., University of Minnesota, with honors, Student Representative to the Board of Regents

J.D., Mitchell Hamline School of Law, with honors, Presidential Leadership Award for Negotiations

Rachel Callanan Staff Photo

Rachel Callanan, J.D., M.N.M.

Lead Senior Staff Attorney for Minnesota Technical Assistance, Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Rachel.Callanan [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7667

Rachel Callanan leads the Minnesota technical assistance work in commercial tobacco control for the Public Health Law Center, which provides legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates in Minnesota.

Prior to joining the Center, Rachel was Regional Vice President of Advocacy for the American Heart Association where she led policy work in healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco control policy. With almost 18 years of experience on the front lines of passing state and local policies, Rachel has also led nonprofit advocacy with the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Minnesota Housing Partnership, and MN-NOW, and worked as a Research Associate at the Institute on Race and Poverty.

Education
B.A., University of Minnesota
J.D., Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota) School of Law
M.N.M., Hamline University School of Business

Rachel Chambers Staff Photo

Rachel Chambers, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Rachel.Chambers [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Rachel Chambers provides legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates in California and throughout the United States.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Rachel served as an Assistant Public Defender for the past six years serving the communities of Park Rapids, Bemidji, and most recently Minneapolis. She represented both adults and juveniles in matters ranging from misdemeanors to murders. Rachel also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Fort Collins, Colorado, focusing on Emergency Operation Planning and the creation of state-wide marketing materials for Colorado 2-1-1.

In her spare time, Rachel loves to read, play music, grow plants, play tennis, travel, and spend time with her spouse and dog.

Education
B.A., Bethel University cum laude
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Kerry Cork Staff Photo

Kerry Cork, J.D., M.A.

Senior Staff Attorney

Kerry.Cork [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.7509

Kerry Cork provides legal technical assistance on tobacco and other public health law issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States.  Kerry also helps oversee the development and dissemination of the Public Health Law Center's tobacco control publications. She has published and presented on many tobacco and health law issues and is a principal investigator on both national and local tobacco law research grants. 

A long-time legal researcher and writer, Kerry has served as Internet legal counsel for the Dispute Resolution Institute and research attorney for the Legal Research Center. As a law student, Kerry was an editor on the Mitchell Hamline Law Review and a recipient of the Burton Brief Legal Writing Award. For 20 years, she operated her own successful corporate communications company. Her extensive public interest advocacy background includes work for the Hennepin County Legal Aid Society, political asylum cases for Advocates for Human Rights, and service as a guardian ad litem in child protection cases.

Education
B.A., University of Minnesota, magna cum laude
M.A., University of Minnesota
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Tonya Curry Staff Photo

Tonya Cureton Curry, J.D.

Senior Staff Attorney

Tonya.Curry [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Tonya Cureton Curry is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Public Health Law Center.  As part of the Center’s recently established climate program, Tonya provides legal technical assistance to stakeholders and advocates on issues impacting health and climate

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Tonya served as Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs where she was responsible for all aspects of the state’s affordable housing programs and initiatives.  Throughout twenty-five years in state government, Tonya previously served as Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel for the Georgia Department of Human Services, as a faculty member and as a department chair within the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia, as an Assistant Attorney General, as Assistant Commissioner of Securities and as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Roy Barnes. Prior to her work in state government, Tonya was an Associate in the Atlanta office of Kutak Rock LLP, specializing in bond finance.

Education
B.A., Georgetown University
J.D., Howard University School of Law

Mike Freiberg Staff Photo

Mike Freiberg, J.D.

Co-Lead Senior Staff Attorney for New York Technical Assistance, Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Michael.Freiberg [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.7517

Mike Freiberg provides legal technical assistance to jurisdictions around the country working on various commercial tobacco control policies. Previously, he worked on research projects related to menthol in tobacco products, cigarette butt litter, and non-cigarette tobacco products. Mike has worked as an adjunct law professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, having taught classes in legislation and public health law. Mike also serves as a Minnesota State Representative and spent nine years on the Golden Valley City Council, helping to craft the city’s strong secondhand smoke ordinance that was adopted in 2004. From 1999-2001, Mike worked for a member of Congress as a legislative assistant specializing in health care.

Education
B.A., Georgetown University
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, salutatorian

Luke Haqq Staff Photo

Luke Haqq, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Luke.Haqq [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Luke is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center's Commercial Tobacco Control Program. He provides technical assistance for California and is part of the Center's FDA team.

Prior to joining the Center, his experience included private practice, time under an Equal Justice America fellowship at Harvard's Center for Health Law Policy and Innovation, and work for the University of Minnesota's Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment, and the Life Sciences. He volunteered at a medical-legal partnership while in law school and was Senior Articles Editor on law review. He holds graduate degrees in philosophy and history, and his work has received several awards, including the Stinson Leonard Street Law Review Memorial Award as well as support from the Upper-Midwest Human Rights Program and the American Society for Legal History.

Natalie Hemmerich Staff Photo

Natalie Hemmerich, J.D., M.P.H.

Lead Senior Staff Attorney for California Technical Assistance, Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Natalie.Hemmerich [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7666

Natalie Hemmerich leads the California technical assistance work in commercial tobacco control for the Public Health Law Center, which provides legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates in California.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Natalie was a policy fellow at the Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science at the Ohio State University. There she wrote about and researched issues relating to federal tobacco control including the intersection of law and science, the deeming regulation, e-cigarettes, and the regulation of synthetic nicotine.

Education
B.S., Bethel College (Mishawaka, Indiana), magna cum laude
J.D., Case Western Reserve University, cum laude
M.P.H., The Ohio State University

Desmond Jenson Staff Photo

Desmond Jenson, J.D.

Lead Senior Staff Attorney for Federal Regulation, Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Desmond.Jenson [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7612

Desmond Jenson’s focus is federal commercial tobacco control policy, primarily the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of tobacco products. An administrative law expert, Desmond closely monitors the FDA and other agencies and leads the public health community in identifying opportunities to strengthen federal tobacco regulation. He coordinates with local, state, Tribal, national, and global public health leaders, keeping them apprised of important regulatory changes and litigation impacting federal tobacco control efforts. Desmond drafts many of the Center’s comments to the FDA, helps to coordinate the filing of amicus curiae briefs in important litigation, develops educational materials explaining federal law, and speaks to public health audiences about tobacco control. Desmond also works closely with scientists, consulting on the development of research as well as writing manuscripts, to build an evidence base for legally-defensible tobacco control policies.

Desmond is a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law where he received a CALI award for Public Health law. As a research assistant at the Public Health Law Center during law school, he helped draft publications and provide legal technical assistance.

Education
B.A., Augsburg College (Minneapolis, Minnesota), cum laude
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law 

Morgan Jones-Axtell Staff photo

Morgan Jones Axtell, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Morgan.JonesAxtell [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Morgan Jones Axtell is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center's Healthy Eating and Active Living team.

Prior to joining the Center, Morgan served as a staff attorney for the Network for Public Health Law and the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. There she provided legal technical assistance, legislative updates, and created resources related to disability rights, declarations of racism as a public health crisis, and judicial trends in public health.

Morgan earned her J.D. and Health Law Certificate from the University of Tulsa College of Law, and B.S. in Psychology from Oklahoma State University. While in law school, she worked as a legal research assistant and wrote about Tribal public health law and disease reporting. Morgan also completed an externship with the CDC's Public Health Law Program where she researched mental health parity, public health authority, and pregnancy discrimination.

Morgan is an active member of the Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation Bar. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her two dogs.

Education:

B.S., Oklahoma State University, cum laude

J.D., University of Tulsa College of Law, with highest honors

Marisa Katz Staff Photo

Marisa Katz, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Marisa.Katz [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Marisa Katz provides legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues to public health organizations, legal professionals, and advocates in Minnesota and throughout the United States.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Marisa was a partner at a Minneapolis law firm representing clients primarily in complex and class action litigation on behalf of consumers and employees in federal and state courts nationwide. Earlier in her career, Marisa was a staff attorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Inc., where she provided civil legal aid, advocacy, and community education to low-income individuals in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.

Education
B.A., Oberlin College
J.D., Loyola University-New Orleans College of Law

Jay Kelly Staff Photo

Jay Kelly, M.B.A.

Communications Director

Jay.Kelly [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7631

Jay Kelly is responsible for creating and implementing the national marketing communications strategy for the Public Health Law Center. He is tasked with strengthening the Public Health Law Center brand, and increasing awareness of the Center as an accessible partner for local, state, national, and international health organizations.

Jay began his career working for advertising and public relations agencies, and transitioned into marketing and communications management roles at several large Minnesota nonprofits, including Fraser and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. He has extensive experience in strategic planning, brand management, online marketing and communications, web site creation and optimization, media relations, email marketing, social media, and event planning. Jay has an undergraduate degree in journalism, and a Master of Business Administration, with a focus on marketing and strategic management.

Education
B.A., University of Minnesota
M.B.A., University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

Tammy Kempf Staff Photo

Tammy Kempf

Administrative Coordinator

Tamara.Kempf [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.7506

Tammy Kempf provides day-to-day administrative support for the Public Health Law Center, including assistance with event planning and grant preparation. She has broad and diverse experience in customer service, computer applications, and administrative support. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Tammy worked at 3M Company for over 19 years, managing auto and general liability claims and corporate insurance. She has also worked at the First Judicial District Court in Hastings, Minnesota.

Zohal Khan Staff Photo

Zohal Khan, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Zohal.Khan [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Zohal Khan is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center’s Commercial Tobacco Control Program.

Before joining the Center, Zohal worked in the field of nonprofit immigration, mainly by providing legal information to individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She has also represented asylum applicants appearing before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Arlington, Virginia.

Education
B.A., Moravian College, summa cum laude
J.D., The George Washington University Law School

Stephanie Lackey Staff Photo

Stephanie Lackey, M.S.

Digital Communications Specialist

stephanie.lackey [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7695

Stephanie Lackey provides technology and communications support for the Public Health Law Center, helping to promote the Center’s online presence. She brings a diverse work and volunteer background to the department, including technology coordination with the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center and a yearlong English resource internship with a forestry nonprofit in Huế, Vietnam. She also has several years of experience working in both the coffee and travel industries, two of her favorite conversation starters.

Stephanie holds a Master of Science in environmental studies and certificate of public health from the University of Montana - Missoula, where she focused her graduate studies on environmental justice. Stephanie also received a Bachelor of Arts in international studies-environmental commons and a certificate of Russian, East Europe, and Central Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Education
B.A., University of Wisconsin – Madison
M.S., University of Montana - Missoula

Jon Lee Staff Photo

Jon Lee, J.D.

Director of Operations

Jon.Lee [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.7511

Jon Lee is the Director of Operations at the Public Health Law Center. He is responsible for general program operations, including fiscal management, grants and contracts compliance and reporting, program development, human resources management, and special projects.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center Jon served as the Office Manager and Project Manager at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College where his responsibilities included management of the center’s finances, including the finances of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, grants and contract administration, assisting in grant proposal submissions, student worker management, occasional web page writing and editing, and various other writing and editing projects. Before working at the Science Education Resource Center Jon was the manager of River City Books, an independent trade book store owned and operated by Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

Jon is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, where he was a Student Director at the Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners clinic and a clerk at the Office of the Minnesota State Public Defender.

Education
B.A., University of Minnesota
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Joelle Lester Staff Photo

Joelle Lester, J.D.

Executive Director

Joelle.Lester [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7603

Joelle Lester is the Executive Director at the Public Health Law Center. Joelle joined the Center in 2012 and has become a respected national leader in commercial tobacco control law and policy. Early in her tenure, she spearheaded the Center’s work partnering with Black-led organizations to advocate for a federal ban on menthol cigarettes. After years of advocacy by these organizations, the FDA proposed a regulation to this effect in April 2022.

In June, Lester was given the Velvet Fist Award for steadfast commitment to saving Black lives, awarded by the Center for Black Health and Equity and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in New Orleans.

Prior to joining the Center, Lester worked as a litigation associate at the Minneapolis firm of McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb, Chartered. Before attending law school, Lester was a grassroots organizer, organizing director, and executive director of the Oregon Student Association, a nonprofit higher education advocacy group. She also worked as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, advocating for public K–12 education. Lester earned a B.A. in psychology and women’s studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Education
B.A., University of Wisconsin – Madison
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude

Jamie Long Staff Photo

Jamie Long, J.D.

Senior Staff Attorney

Jamie.Long [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7701

Jamie Long is a senior staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center, providing legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control and climate justice issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States.

Previously, Jamie worked in Congress as a Deputy Chief of Staff and legislative aide, handling a wide range of policy areas and managing a Congressional district office. He worked as a Litigation Associate for Morgan Lewis LLP. Jamie also serves as a Minnesota State Representative.

Education
B.A., Carleton College, magna cum laude
J.D., The George Washington University Law School, cum laude

Nasimah Mayat Staff Photo

Nasimah Mayat

Deputy Director of Operations

Nasimah.Mayat [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.6335

Nasimah works closely with the Director of Operations coordinating the center’s financial, budgetary, and grants and contracts reporting functions. In addition to holding a bachelor of commerce degree and a post graduate diploma in accountancy from the University of Natal, South Africa, she is also a qualified chartered accountant. Nasimah was born, raised and educated in South Africa. She has lived in the Twin Cities since 2003.

Education
B.Commerce, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Kelly McAnnany Staff Photo

Kelly McAnnany, J.D.

Co-Lead Senior Staff Attorney for New York Technical Assistance, Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Kelly.McAnnany [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Kelly is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Commercial Tobacco Control Program. She provides legal technical assistance to public health organizations, legal professionals, and advocates in New York. Kelly is also a member of the Center's FDA project where she works with state, Tribal, and national public health experts to ensure the FDA enacts sound and equitable policies that protect public health.

Kelly's legal background is in civil and human rights law. She litigated international human rights cases in federal court for a year as a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Kelly spent nearly ten years practicing community lawyering at a non-profit civil rights law firm in New York City where she specialized in disability law, immigrant rights and racial justice. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, she served as executive director of a health advocacy organization dedicated to expanding access to health coverage and reducing health disparities in Minnesota. Kelly has substantial policy advocacy experience, particularly in the area of access to health.

Education
B.A., Macalester College
J.D., Northeastern University School of Law

Mark Meaney Staff Photo

Mark Meaney, J.D., M.A.

Director of Commercial Tobacco Control Programs

Mark.Meaney [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.695.7642

Mark Meaney is the Director of Commercial Tobacco Control Law and Policy at the Public Health Law Center. Mark leads a team of attorneys working to support tobacco control policy change throughout the United States by providing legal technical assistance to public health professionals and advocates, developing resources on the most effective legal and policy measures to reduce the burden of disease and death caused by tobacco use in the United States, and providing strategic leadership around bold policy options to end the tobacco epidemic.

Education
B.A., Creighton University
M.A., University of Wisconsin – Madison
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude

Renee Obrecht-Como Staff Photo

Renee Obrecht-Como, M.A.

Senior Program and Grants Coordinator

Renee.ObrechtComo [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.6468

Renee Obrecht-Como is responsible for grant agreement and contract compliance and accounts receivable operations, including the preparation of invoices. She also works closely with the Director of Operations, the Senior Staff Accountant and Financial Analyst, and the program teams to organize and manage grant proposal submissions and development efforts. Renee has more than 20 years’ experience with program compliance and administration and managing grant funding in both higher education and nonprofit settings, including awards from federal agencies, state and local government entities, and private foundations. Renee is also active in the fiber arts and supports climate beneficial, socially just food and fiber systems.

Education
B.A., Southwest Minnesota State University
M.A., University of Arizona
All but Dissertation towards Ph.D., University of Arizona

Julie Ralston Aoki Staff Photo

Julie Ralston Aoki, J.D.

Director of Healthy Eating and Active Living Programs

Julie.RalstonAoki [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.7532

Julie Ralston Aoki joined the Center in 2007 and has over two decades of experience in developing public policy for the public good. She coordinates the work of the Healthy Eating and Active Living team and provides legal technical assistance to support Tribal, state, and local communities in developing laws and policies to support healthy food systems, active living, and alcohol control in ways that advance health equity goals. She has written amicus briefs to support local public health laws; oversees the development of educational resources and materials; and provides educational and training presentations at state, regional, national and Tribal conferences. She has taught Public Health Law and Legal Writing as an adjunct professor. She is also the past president and current member of the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance Board, a volunteer member of the Robbinsdale Human Rights Commission, and the parent of three kids.

Before joining the Center, Julie served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Divisions. She is an avid science fiction reader and is working on learning to play the ukulele.

Education
B.A., Yale University, cum laude
J.D., The University of Iowa College of Law, summa cum laude

Dani Replogle

Dani Replogle, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Danielle.Replogle [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Dani Replogle is a Staff Attorney for the Public Health Law Center, where she provides stakeholders with legal technical assistance on issues at the intersection of public health, climate change, and the environment. As part of the Public Health Law Center’s newly convened climate pilot program, Dani works with public health advocates, community groups, and other public interest organizations to promote policies that combat environmental injustice and increase equitable access to safe, healthy living spaces. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Dani was the Senior Legal Fellow at Earthrise Law Center in Portland, Oregon. At Earthrise, she represented diverse environmental groups in federal litigation aimed at protecting forests, waterways, and wildlife across the country and around the world.

Nydia Rivera Staff Photo

Nydia Rivera, B.S.

Administrative Coordinator

Nydia.Rivera [at] mitchellhamline.edu

651.290.6455

Nydia Rivera is the administrative coordinator to the Commercial Tobacco Control Program.

Before joining the Public Health Law Center, Nydia worked as a chiropractic assistant, receptionist, and all-around office support for a small chiropractic office in Minneapolis.

Nydia is an avid reader and is a frequent user of both the Hennepin County Library and Saint Paul Public Library systems. A native of El Salvador, Nydia moved to San Francisco when she was eleven years old and lived in the Richmond district until her mid-twenties. Nydia has called Minnesota her home since 2009 but has not yet grown used to the cold winters.

Education
B.S., Metropolitan State University

Carolina Saavedra Staff Photo

Carolina Saavedra, J.D.

Staff Attorney

Carolina.Saavedra [at] MitchellHamline.edu

Carolina Saavedra is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center's Commercial Tobacco Control Program.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Carolina worked as an immigration attorney in DC metro area, and subsequently in the North Bay Area of San Francisco. She represented clients in affirmative applications before the Department of Homeland Security, and in removal proceedings before the Department of Justice, focusing on family- and humanitarian-based applications for relief. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French.

Education
B.A., University of Florida, magna cum laude
J.D., University of Notre Dame Law School

Neil Sircar staff photo

Neil Sircar, J.D., LL.M

Staff Attorney

neil.sircar [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Neil is a staff attorney with Public Health Law Center, providing legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control issues, and is a human rights lawyer specializing in global and public health. He has extensive experience working in multidisciplinary and multicultural settings as a research scholar and legal expert in public health law, human rights and global health, and intersectional social determinants to health.

He was a fellow with UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, where his research focus included international law and tobacco control including human rights and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and was a Fogarty Global Health Fellow with the U.S. National Institutes for Health-University of Washington where his research focused on the implementation of human rights-based approaches to HIV testing and notification in Kenya. His other experience includes working with major national and international health organizations, including the Global Health Security Agenda, USAID, and WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office. Before becoming a public health lawyer and human rights scholar, Neil was a teacher in South Korea where he lived for several years.

Education

B.A./B.A., University of California, San Diego
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
LL.M, Georgetown University Law Center & O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

 

Manire Vaughn staff photo

Manire Vaughn, J.D., M.J.

Staff Attorney

Manaire.Vaughn [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Manire Vaughn is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center. Within this role, Manire provides legal technical assistance to public health professionals and advocates working on commercial tobacco control policies in California and throughout the United States, in addition to being a co-leader on the Climate Justice team.

Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Manire worked as a housing attorney at Mid Minnesota Legal Aid, where he advocated for clients facing evictions, subsidized housing terminations, repair disputes, and housing discrimination. Manire is passionate about equity, and has dedicated his career to empowering historically marginalized communities. Manire is a member of the Good Trouble Coalition, and serves as a board member for Peris Hill Housing Project. Beyond practice, he enjoys mentoring law students, and serves as a faculty mentor at University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Education
B.A., Saint Mary's University
M.J., Michigan State University
J.D., Michigan State University

Colin Welker Staff Photo

Colin Welker, B.S.

Policy Analyst

Colin.Welker [at] mitchellhamline.edu

Colin Welker is a policy analyst supporting the efforts of the commercial tobacco control team.

Before joining the Public Health Law Center, Colin worked for the American Indian Cancer Foundation and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. In both positions, he worked to advance policy, system, and environmental changes for Native communities across the country, focusing on commercial tobacco initiatives.

He also served as a fellow from 2015-2017 with Truth Initiative advocating for progressive policy to protect LGBTQ+ youth from the tobacco industry.

Education
B.S., Central Michigan University


  • Public Health Law Center Research Assistants

    Mary Fleming, University of Minnesota Law School and School of Public Health

    Daina Kabitz, Mitchell Hamline School of Law

    Robert Libal, University of Minnesota School of Public Health