Board of Directors
Philip M. Gerson, Chair
Philip M. Gerson is a board certified civil trial lawyer who has practiced law in Miami, Florida for more than 37 years. He is a cum laude graduate of the University of Miami Law School, where he was a member of the editorial board of the Law Review, a Moot Court winner and student instructor in legal research and writing. Mr Gerson is admitted to practice in all Florida Courts, the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Claims, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, and the United States District Court for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida. Mr Gerson is a sustaining member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Dade County Bar Association, and the Dade County Trial Lawyers Association. He is also an EAGLE patron of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and a member of the Continuing Legal Education Committee, as well as an active member of the Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Committee, Professionalism Committee and Grievance Committee. Mr. Gerson serves on the Board of Directors at St. Thomas Univeristy School of Law. He is also a Guest Lecturer on Responsibility and Remedies for Torts for School Administrators, Florida University, Barry University; a Guest Lecturer, American Society for Industrial Security, Liability for Crime Because of Negligent Security; an Instructor for Hospitality Security Officers Training Program, Barry University. Mr Gerson limits his practice to plaintiffs injury and death cases, with a focus on medical malpractice, defective products, third party liability for criminal acts, and other complex litigation.
G. Morris Gurley, Vice-Chair
Morris Gurley is one of the original founders of the National Center for Victims of Crime. Morris Gurley received a law degree from Harvard Law School. He was previously a Vice President of Trusts and Estates and the Head of Trust Administration at the Chemical Bank. He was also the Chairman of the Annie Laurie Aitken Charitable Distribution Committee, and the Co-founder of the Brain Trauma Foundation. Mr. Gurley is an active lay member of the Methodist Church and serves as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the New York City Council of Churches. He also serves on the Commission of Religious Leaders of the City of New York and on the Advisory Council of the New York Board of Rabbis.
Alexander Auersperg, Co-Founder
Alexander Auersperg co-founded the National Center for Victims of Crime in 1985 in honor of his mother, Sunny von Bulow, and continues to support the work of the National Center. In 1986, Mr. Auersperg co-founded the Sunny von Bulow Coma and Head Trauma Research Foundation, a private operating foundation established to promote medical research and public awareness as it relates to coma and head injury. He received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brown University in 1982 and currently resides in New York with his wife and children.
Ala Isham, Co-Founder
Annie Laurie (Ala) Isham co-founded the National Center for Victims of Crime in 1985 in honor of her mother, Sunny von Bulow and continues to support the work of the National Center. In 1986, Mrs. Isham co-founded the Sunny von Bulow Coma and Head Trauma Research Foundation, a private operating foundation established to promote medical research and public awareness as it relates to coma and head injury. She is an experienced filmmaker, whose credits include works on photographer Alfred Eisenstadt, Wagnerian tenor Peter Hoffman, and the award winning production, "Surviving Coma" The Journey Back." Mrs. Isham is the mother of two children, Sunny and Alexandra, and married to Ralph H. Isham.
Patricia Brown is the chief strategist at BizTechReports.com, a content development and strategic communications firm that helps connect thought leaders and key messages with targeted audiences. Her clients include multinational technology companies, financial and professional services firms and leading publishers. Patty previously served as senior manager of Thought Leadership with BearingPoint, a $3 billion management and technology consulting company. In that role, she developed and managed the company's integrated content development program. Patty managed the staff and production of the company's high-volume thought leadership pipeline (e.g., 230 pieces of collateral in 2008). Previously, Patty served as senior executive editor for InformationWeek's monthly journal, Optimize magazine where she established editorial direction, managed editorial operations and developed content across the magazine, its online resources and executive programs. Patty has covered business and technology for magazines and online ventures at such organizations as: CMP Media, FierceCIO.com, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inctechnology.com, CXO Media, The Wall Street Journal and Phillips Business Information, Inc. Patty co-authored How Innovators Connect, a book on innovation that features more than 40 interviews with Silicon Valley luminaries, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her MA in writing from Johns Hopkins University. She also attended leadership development training courses at Yale University.
Denise Forte is the Director of Education Policy for the Democratic Staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, under the leadership of Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA). She has oversight responsibility for all education issues within the jurisdiction of the committee as well as coordination of the staff of the Education cluster. The Education Cluster assists in the development of the legislative agenda for pre-K-16 education including career and technical education, STEM education, child care and early childhood education, child nutrition, juvenile justice, national service programs, anti-poverty and community-based programs serving older Americans. Prior to joining the Committee in 2001, Denise spent six years in the office of Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA03) where her last position was Legislative Director. Denise started her career on Capitol Hill as a congressional fellow with the Women's Research and Education Institute in Representative Scott's office after working 8 years in the information technology industry. Denise received her B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University in 1986 and a M.A. in Public Policy with a concentration in Women's Studies from George Washington University in 1996.
Kim Goldman, sister of murder victim Ron Goldman, has spent the last 16 years of her life as a victims’ advocate. She travels the country as an impassioned public speaker on victims’ rights, the role of the media, judicial reform, and other related topics. As an accomplished writer, Kim was a contributing author to the NY Times Bestseller; His Name is Ron, Our Search for Justice (1998, William Morrow & Co.) And in 2007, Kim authored two chapters for the NY Times Bestseller; If I Did It, Confessions of the Killer. (2007, Beaufort Books) Additionally, she has authored newsletters, quarterly magazines and had a feature article in Glamour Magazine in February 2007, which was optioned internationally after its domestic debut. She is the founding co-chair of The Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice as well as a member of the California District Attorney’s Association, Victims Rights Committee, and Advisory Council Member for Crime Survivors, Inc. Kim contributes to a variety of media outlets, including FOX News Channel, MSNBC, CourtTV, and CNN as well as been interviewed in multiple national magazines and newspapers such as Time, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, USA Today, and New York Times. Kim has developed a documentary type television series, showcasing the resilient human spirit as evidenced by victims and their families and what they do in the aftermath of their tragedy. She is a compassionate, intelligent catalyst for bringing awareness and understanding to the realities of crime and our legal system in America. Currently, Kim is the Executive Director of the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project; a nonprofit organization that provides peer mentoring, crisis intervention, support groups and outreach to teenagers, 12–18 years old in the Santa Clarita Valley. Prior to The Youth Project, Kim was the State Director for Best Buddies, California, the Marketing Manager for Pallotta Teamworks (producer of the AIDS Rides and 3Day Breast Cancer walks) as well as Marketing Manager for Cure Autism Now. She is a single parent to a son and a resident of Los Angeles.
A partner in the Haggard Law Firm in Coral Gables, Florida, Mr. Haggard is a former assistant public defender who now practices personal injury law, with cases focusing on negligent security, wrongful death, unsafe premises, product liability, and insurance coverage issues. He has won high-profile cases and multi-million-dollar verdicts in cases dealing with pool accidents involving children—as well as the first case involving cell-phone distraction.
A member of the Georgia Bar since 1985, Melvin L. Hewitt, Jr. is the managing member of Isenberg & Hewitt, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Hewitt attended college at Lakeland and later Kent State University in Ohio and Atlanta Law School, Atlanta, Georgia. After his military service, Mr. Hewitt spent six years in public law enforcement before entering the corporate world where he spent the next fifteen years in the private security industry. While pursuing a career in the private sector, Mr. Hewitt held positions in middle and upper management and was ultimately named president of Globe Security Systems, Inc., a publically held private security firm with more than 13,000 employees and more than 110 offices in the United States and Europe. In 1989 Mr. Hewitt left corporate America and with his wife, Harriet Isenberg, opened a private law practice in Atlanta. Mr. Hewitt is a member of the Georgia Bar, the Sandy Springs Bar, the Trial Lawyers of America, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the National Crime Victims Bar Association, the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the Lawyer's Club of Atlanta and the Million Dollar Verdict Club. Mr. Hewitt has written several articles for Trial Magazine, The Verdict and The Connection and has often spoken on issues of premises liability, negligent security, wrongful death, rape and violent assaults at local and national seminars to include the National Crime Victims Bar Association, the National Organization for Victim Assistance, Odyssey Family Counseling Centers, the Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons and Mealey's Lexis-Nexis.
Ralph H. Isham
Ralph H. Isham is founder and Managing Director of GH Venture Partners LLC ("GHVP"). Since 1990, Mr. Isham has directed GHVP's private investments as principal and agent in numerous emerging growth companies in the field of telecommunications, transportation technologies, and health care services. Before joining GHVP, Mr. Isham worked as a consultant to corporate management with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and with Strategic Planning Associates (Mercer Consulting acquiree). His responsibilities included development of long-range business strategies for domestic and international markets of Fortune 100 companies. In addition, Mr. Isham worked at the American Stock Exchange as a Director under Mr. Arthur Leavitt, the former Chairman of the American Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Isham was formerly a Fellow with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the SALT II treaty hearings. He also served on the staff of Congressman James W. Symington of St. Louis, Missouri and Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts. Mr. Isham graduated from Yale University with a BA Degree in International Relations in 1979 and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1983. In addition to his corporate directorships, Mr. Isham is the co-founder of the Vienna-based International NeuroTrauma Research Organization, a leading medical organization devoted to conducting research and improving the care of patients with traumatic neurological injuries. Mr. Isham also serves on the Yale Development Board and the Yale University President's Council for International Activities, as well as the President's Council of the Peconic Land Trust of Southampton, NY. In addition, Mr. Isham is a trustee of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), headquartered in London.
Leonard Klevan, Ph.D. is Division President, Applied Markets Division at Applied Biosystems. Dr. Klevan is responsible for defining and executing strategic direction for the company's Applied Markets division, which produces and markets reagent kits for forensic DNA, paternity testing and other forms of human identification as well as products for biosecurity, food/agriculture, and environmental applications. Prior to his current position, Dr. Klevan was Vice President of R&D for the Applied Markets division. Prior to joining Applied Biosystems, he was Chief Executive Officer of ReliaGene Technologies, a forensic and paternity testing laboratory and previously he was President and CEO of MiraiBio (Hitachi Genetic Systems), a subsidiary of Hitachi Software Engineering. Earlier in his career, Dr. Klevan managed technology acquisition and business development for Life Technologies. Dr. Klevan has a BA in Chemistry from the State University of New York and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Yale University.
Mark Mandell graduated from Georgetown University Law Center receiving his J.D. in 1974, and has been in the practice since 1975. Mr. Mandell is a partner at Mandell, Schwartz & Boisclair, Ltd., and is listed in "The Best Lawyers of America." He has been a Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist with the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1993, and has been a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court since 1979. Mr. Mandell has also been a member of the RI Supreme Court Ethics Advisory Panel since September 2004. He has served as President of the RI Trial Lawyers Association from 1988 1990, the RI Bar Association from 1993 1994, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America from 1998 to 1999. Mr. Mandell has been on the Advisory Board for Roger Williams University School of Law since January 2006, and is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Victims of Crime. He is the immediate past president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, and has organized and been a lecturer at the NCVBA' s annual national seminar on representing victims of crime. He has devoted a significant amount of his professional practice to representing victims of crime in cases involving drunk driving/dram shop liability, child abuse, rape and sexual assault, premises liability/negligent security, and assault. Mr. Mandell has written 21 articles in legal and medical publications. He has given many lectures at hospitals and medical schools, including Harvard and Brown University. He has been a guest speaker nationally and internationally on close to 400 occasions in approximately 40 states, Canada and Mexico.
Brian F. Martin
Brian F. Martin is an entrepreneur, marketing and media expert, philanthropist, educator and advocate. He founded Brand Connections, one of the largest targeted media and marketing services companies in the U.S, in 1997 at the age of 24. Since that time, Brand Connections has connected 80% of the Fortune 500 brands with more than two billion customers worldwide. In 2008, Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a leading communications private equity firm, purchased a majority interest in the company for $150 million. Martin has funded and provided guidance to more than a dozen successful business start ups in a variety of fields. A leading voice in the fast-changing media landscape, Martin has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times, USA Today, Advertising Age, Crain's New York Business, and Brandweek. In his private life, Martin has made a commitment to use his business expertise to eliminate the problem of domestic violence. In 2007, he founded and serves as Chairman of The Makers of Memories Foundation, an organization dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic violence through an innovative national campaign focused on the children who are being impacted as well as adults who experienced violence when they were young and are still living with the effects. Whether advocating before Congress or on TV, writing about the effects of domestic violence on children and adults, developing new intervention programs, or mobilizing individuals and companies to join the cause, Martin approaches the issue as a passionate social entrepreneur who is committed to solving what UNICEF calls "one of the most damaging, unaddressed human rights violations in the world today." Through his foundation, he is at work on a national campaign to generate awareness about the problem and to develop and implement new solutions, based on cutting edge research, to bring transformational change to the millions of adults and children whose lives have been diminished by domestic violence. A native of Essex County, New Jersey, Martin graduated from Rutgers University and later earned an MBA from the University. The father of two children, Martin divides his time between New Jersey and New York.
Donald A. Migliori
Building upon his experience in complex asbestos cases, the historic tobacco lawsuits and 9/11 litigation, Don Migliori is a multifaceted litigator. He represents victims of terrorism, aviation disasters, environmental contamination, defective medical devices and drugs, and occupational diseases in cutting-edge litigation that spans the country. Having actively worked on In re September 11 Litigation, Don currently holds a central role in the groundbreaking In re Terrorist Attacks anti-terrorism litigation and serves as liaison counsel for all wrongful death and personal injury cases in the 9/11 aviation security litigation. Additionally, he is a member of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in the Levaquin? litigation and serves as liaison counsel in the Pelvic Mesh/Bard New Jersey consolidation and as both co-lead and liaison counsel for the Composix? Kugel? Mesh multidistrict litigation, the first MDL in federal Rhode Island Court. A recurrent speaker at legal seminars across the country, Don has appeared in numerous media outlets to address legal issues related to terrorist financing, aviation security, class action litigation, premises liability, asbestos and defective medical devices cases. He teaches mass torts as as "Distinguished Practitioner in Residence" at Roger Williams University School of Law and is a member of the American Association for Justice and the American Bar Association. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Victims of Crime and as President Elect of the Rhode Island Association for Justice. Migliori received an A.B. degree from Brown University and M.A. and J.D. degrees from Syracuse University.
Frank M. Ochberg, M.D.
Frank Ochberg, M.D. is a founding board member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and recipient of their highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. He edited the first text on treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and served on the committee that defined PTSD. He was associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health and director of the Michigan Mental Health Department. At Michigan State University, he is clinical professor of psychiatry, formerly adjunct professor of criminal justice, and adjunct professor of journalism. Ochberg developed, with colleagues, the Academy for Critical Incident Analysis at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Gift From Within (a charity for persons with PTSD), and the Committee for Community Awareness and Protection (responding to serial-killer threats). For the latter activity, he is the first physician to receive the Law Enforcement Medal of the Sons of the American Revolution. Ochberg founded the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, served as its first chairman and now helps journalists understand traumatic stress and traumatic stress experts understand journalists. As a Red Cross volunteer, Ochberg assisted families at sites of earthquakes, floods, fires and aircraft disasters. He represents the Dart Foundation and directs their support of victimization programs around the world.
Ms. Olson is an experienced litigator and former prosecutor who specializes in civil litigation of child abuse, elder financial abuse, and wrongful death arising from abuse or neglect, and in helping crime victims to enforce their rights in criminal cases. A frequent speaker on such issues, she also advocates for legislation, exposure of dangerous practices, and administrative and licensing sanctions that increase accountability for harm to victims.
Kathleen Flynn Peterson
Kathleen Flynn Peterson, Esq. is a partner with the national law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. She is a Civil Trial Specialist certified by the Civil Litigation Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Kathleen limits her practice to representing individuals and families who have experienced injury or death as a result of medical negligence or as a result of unsafe medical products or drugs. She is Past President of the Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association and serves as Immediate Past-President of the American Association for Justice. She is the 1999 recipient of ATLA's Lifetime Achievement Award. She is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates, serving as President of Minnesota's ABOTA chapter in 2005. Ms. Peterson is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; and the International Society of Barristers. She currently serves as a Vice-chair of the American Bar Association's Health Law Section. Ms. Flynn Peterson's verdicts and settlements have consistently been reported among the highest in Minnesota. She has been repeatedly named in Best Lawyers in America and Law & Leading Attorneys. In 2007 she was named by the National Law Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers; and as an Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer.
Stephen Rickman brings an exceptional record of hands-on experience in the management and direction of government programs and projects in support of government operations impacting all levels from the federal government to local communities. He has more than 16 years of experience in high-level positions in the public safety and community support areas. His public service portfolio includes directing Washington D. C.'s Criminal Justice Statistics Analysis Center, organizer and Vice Chair of the Community Prevention Partnership, President of the Justice Research Statistics Association, Director of the Washington D. C. Emergency Management Agency, Division Director for the U. S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, Director of the Department of Justice's Weed and Seed Program, and Readiness Director for the White House Office of Homeland Security. For the last eight years, Mr. Rickman has served as Director of Homeland Security for CNA, a non-profit research and analysis operation, servicing federal, state, and local clients in homeland security and public safety planning, training, and operations. During his tenure as the Crime Act Programs Division Director for BJA, he had oversight responsibilities for several national programs, including, Drug Courts. He helped realize its initial national design and continued to interface with the program after moving on to become the national Weed and Seed Director. While serving as the national Weed and Seed Director, he spear headed the program's expansion from 16 sites to nearly 300 in 4 years and grew its budget from $16 mil-lion to more than $50 million. Under his leadership, the program was effectively marketed to hundreds of new sites, new partnerships at all levels of government were created, and much of the program's current infrastructure was established. Mr. Rickman has a long standing history in community organizing and mobilization. While working for the District of Columbia, Mr. Rickman established a network of community empowerment centers in distressed neighborhoods to improve the coordination of service deliv-ery. He championed public/ private sector partnerships while directing the Weed and Seed Pro-gram, working with community development corporations and local non-profit entities to leverage federal dollars to expand economic opportunities and enhance public safety in distressed communities.
Charles J. Sgro
Charles J. Sgro is the Managing Director and General Counsel for Compliance and Investigations for Citigroup. In this role, Chip manages a team of attorneys and other legal professionals who serve as Citi's global counsel on issues involving anti-money laundering and terrorist finance, economic sanctions and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Compliance and Investigations legal team also serves as counsel to Citigroup Security and Investigative Services, handles Citi's response to congressional inquiries, and assists in coordinating Citi's analysis of information security and data privacy issues. Chip previously served as Citi's General Counsel for Anti-Money Laundering, as Corporate Associate General Counsel and, before that, as counsel to Citi's global futures trading business. Prior to joining Citi in 2002, Chip worked for nearly ten years in public service, holding various positions with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and The White House, including serving as the Eastern Regional Counsel for the CFTC and Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General of the United States.
Hon. Eric Smith
Eric Smith is assistant dean for external affairs emeritus and professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law; President, VALOR (Victim Assistance Legal Organization); Vice-Chair of Families of Slain Children; founder of the Jacksonville Victim Services Center; and partner with the MaddoxHorne Law Firm. Mr. Smith Smith is also the producer and host of the television program, "People and Politics."
Francisco Acevedo Villarruel
Francisco A. Villarruel is a University Outreach and Engagement Senior Fellow and Professor of Family and Child Ecology at Michigan State University. Villarruel is recognized nationally for his research and policy work that focuses on Latino youth and juvenile justice systems reform as well as youth development. Villarruel has published over 50 journal articles and book chapters, edited 7 books, and coauthored 8 state or national policy reports. He is co-author of the nation's first report that focuses on analysis of disproportionate and disparate treatment of Latino and Latina youth by the U.S. justice system. The report, entitled Donde Esta la Justicia? A Call to Action on Behalf of Latino and Latina Youth in the U.S. Justice System as well as the recently published report that examines the waiver of Latino youth to adult systems entitled America's invisible children: Latino youth and the failure of justice. Villarruel serves on the national board of several national organizations, including the Campaign for Youth Justice, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, The National Juvenile Justice Network Leadership Development Institute Advisory Board, the National Association of Hispanic Education, Child Trends, Transparent Media. In the spring of 2010, the Governor of Michigan appointed Villarruel Michigan Juvenile Justice Commission. In addition to his work with these national organizations, he has conducted school district, community based organization, and program evaluations for agencies throughout the country. He is a core faculty member of the Michigan State University Outreach and Engagement's Community Evaluation and Research Center (CERC), which uses community based research procedures to work with communities or civic leaders to design, implement, and assist communities in the evaluation of community-based, state funded, or federally funded programs. Villarruel has received numerous awards and distinctions during his career, including a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellowship, an MSU-Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellowship, the HACU-ETS Policy Fellowship, the National Council on Family Relation's Marie Peters Award for a lifelong contribution and commitment to research on and for ethnic minority families, and MSU Teacher-Scholar Award for dedication and skill in teaching and scholarly promise.
The National Center for Victims of Crime is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Donations to the National Center are tax deductible.