Our Staff & Board

CSAJ is composed of a small (but mighty!) team of dedicated advocates in the legal, social work, public health, and academic fields who are wholly committed to creative vision, open communication, and justice-minded social change work.

Erika A. Sussman

she/her – Founder and Executive Director

Erika Sussman (she/her) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice, a national organization dedicated to enhancing advocacy for survivors of intimate partner violence by cultivating a community of lawyers and advocates skilled in survivor-centered advocacy. The substantive focus of her work at CSAJ has included the development of a Survivor Centered Advocacy Curriculum and the creation of the Consumer Rights for Domestic Violence Survivors Initiative, a national technical assistance project.

Prior to her work with CSAJ, Ms. Sussman served as the Senior Attorney of the Legal Assistance Providers’ Technical Outreach Project, a national project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which offered technical assistance to civil attorneys and advocates funded by the Office on Violence Against Women. For four years, Ms. Sussman was an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School, where she taught a seminar course on Law and Violence Against Women. Prior to that, she taught law students and litigated for two years in Georgetown University Law Center’s Domestic Violence Clinic. As a litigation associate at Swidler Berlin Sherreff Friedman, LLP, she provided pro bono representation to domestic violence survivors and co-counseled a class action lawsuit against the State of Maryland for the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement. Immediately following law school, she served as a Law Clerk to Justice Gregory Hobbs of the Colorado Supreme Court. Ms. Sussman earned her JD from Cornell Law School and her LLM in Advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center. She has published numerous articles and chapters and served as faculty for various academic and practitioner workshops related to violence against women, with a particular emphasis on survivor-centered advocacy and economic justice.

Sara Wee

she/her – Director of Research and Programs

Sara Wee (she/her) is CSAJ’s Director of Research & Programs. In this role, she ensures all CSAJ’s projects are fueled by and fuel knowledge, are done in partnership, and work to build organizational capacity to identify and address critical economic issues facing survivors and their communities. Currently, this includes overseeing two national TA projects — Consumer Rights Initiative & Access to Justice Project — assisting demonstration site projects in conducting organizational and/or community needs assessments, and leading all research and learning (evaluation) efforts. In 2020, Sara led a national survey, The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Survivors, which was developed in partnership and findings shared in an online interactive dashboard to support programs and advocacy efforts in real time. Sara has a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University, and came to this work first as a peer/community educator and primary prevention educator in rural California/Nevada.

She resides in Brooklyn, NY with her partner, dog, and a community of close friends. A fire sign, water baby, and seriously middle child, she’ll spontaneously combust into dance, make up song lyrics, and be the first to sign up for your wild adventures.

Nkeiruka Aduba

she/her – Capacity Building Manager

Nkeiruka Aduba (she/her) is CSAJ’s Capacity Building Manager. She leads CSAJ’s efforts to enhance economic advocacy within the field via training, technical assistance and partnership. She advances economic justice for survivors by driving efforts that enhance the capacity of the advocacy field to meet survivors’ needs and creates broad organizational, community and systems change. Nkeiruka’s varied professional experience has focused on working with women, low income populations, refugees and people whose rights have been violated. She is passionate about improving the lives of people through law and human rights. Nkeiruka has an LLM in Human Rights and Democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria South Africa and a Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law, Atlanta Georgia. She is licensed to practice law in Nigeria and New York.

Nkeiruka lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a water sign, she loves trying out new recipes and has a huge love for all things spicy and sweet. She loves to explore nature on her days off unless the weather is cold, then curling up with a good book and tea.

Netanya Perluss

she/her – Project Coordinator

Netanya Perluss (she/her) is CSAJ’s Project Coordinator. She supports CSAJ’s execution of several national projects, including coordinating training and requests for technical assistance, executing essential communications functions, and supporting fundraising and organizational operational administration. She is committed to building a resilient, just, and liberated world, and is energized by the opportunity to apply learnings from transformative justice and Black feminism in her work at CSAJ and in the Domestic Violence field. Netanya brings her years of experience as a community organizer to her work with CSAJ, finding her organizing home with IfNotNow and Kavod Boston, and having most recently worked full time with Massachusetts Senior Action Council, supporting its senior activists in using their voices to address key public policy and community issues.

Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to Massachusetts to attend Wellesley College, studying Political Anthropology, Women and Gender Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, and is currently based out of Boston. When she isn’t working or organizing, Netanya can be found exploring the forests, meadows, and beaches of New England with her partner Emma and their dog Gina.

Kathleen Bjerknes

she/her – Finance Director

Kathleen (she/her) is a financial consultant with Administrative and Consulting Solutions and has been handling the financial needs of the CSAJ for five years.

As a consultant, Kathleen works with a number of not for profit agencies in the Washington metropolitan area. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Maryland. She has over 20 years of financial and management experience. She has extensive experience with federal grants and has been trained by DOJ on Grants Financial Management. Kathleen’s focus is targeted financial review and oversight providing value-added services that support sustainability and growth.

Debra BenAvram

Board of Directors

Debra BenAvram joined CSAJ’s Board of Directors in 2014. She is the Chief Executive Officer of AABB (formerly called the American Association of Blood Banks), headquartered in Bethesda, MD. AABB is an international organization focused on advancing transfusion medicine and cellular therapy worldwide. Debra has a strong passion for the cultivation of staff and volunteer models and cultures to support connections and integration among team members and elimination of silos.

Enid-Mai Jones

Board of Directors

Enid-Mai Jones is CEO of EMJ Consulting, LLC. Ms. Jones is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) and brings more than 20 years of association management experience to the Board. She is a 2007 scholar in the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) and is an active member of the association community. EMJ Consulting is an association management, diversity, equity and Inclusion (DEI) consulting firm. Enid-Mai is passionate about DEI, interpersonal communication, and the influence of cultural competence in human interaction and relationships.

Gary Simson

Board of Directors

Gary J. Simson is the Macon Chair in Law and Former Dean at Mercer University School of Law and Professor Emeritus at Cornell Law School. He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School. After a year clerking for a federal appeals court judge, he began his law teaching career at The University of Texas. A few years later he moved to Cornell, where he taught for many years, including several when he was also Associate Dean. He left Cornell to become Dean at Case Western Reserve Law School, and he remained there until taking on the Mercer law deanship. After four years at Mercer as Dean and then four more as Senior University Vice Provost, he returned to full-time teaching. His principal areas of teaching and scholarship have been Constitutional Law, Conflict of Laws, and Freedom of Religion. He has served on the boards of several nonprofits, most notably Strategies for Youth.

Nancy Hay, JD

Chair of the Board of Directors

Ms. Hay has been a Director of the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice since August 2012. Ms. Hay is currently Vice President and Counsel at AllianceBernstein L.P. Prior to joining AllianceBernstein L.P., Ms. Hay was a corporate associate at Clifford Chance LLP. Ms. Hay earned her J.D. from Cornell Law School.

Shelby Settles Harper

Board of Directors

Shelby Settles Harper is a civil rights lawyer and fiction writer with previous work, including legal services on Indian reservations, policy work regarding violence against women, and advocacy at the federal level. Shelby is currently a Policy Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In addition, she is the founder and director of Cahkeydonee Literary Project, a non-profit that partners with tribes to put books and other reading materials in the hands of young people from reservation communities where public libraries are not readily accessible. Vices include Twitter, Tex Mex, and country music. Shelby is a citizen of the Caddo Nation and is proudly from Muskogee, Oklahoma. Her published writing can be found at www.shelbysettlesharper.com.

Vicki Loise

Board of Directors

Vicki Loise is chief executive officer for SLAS, the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening, a global non-profit organization dedicated to advancing life sciences discovery and technology. In this role, she directs the planning, development, and implementation of Society programs, interacts with the Board of Directors, leads planning efforts for the global growth and sustainability of the Society, and supervises staff team members. Vicki is currently a member of the Association Forum of Chicagoland Board of Directors and the American Society of Association Executives. Her previous positions include Vice President of Association Management at Kellen, Executive Director of the Association of University Technology Managers, and Director of Development at the National Parent Teacher Association.