Happy new year, NAPD!

Our team is getting back up to speed after our annual year-end break that we call “The Defense Rests” – a time to reconnect with our communities and ourselves, which is so important to sustaining ourselves for the difficult work we all do.  I hope you had a restful and joyful break and are looking forward to the year ahead as much as I am.

In case you missed it, just before the holidays, NAPD sent three letters: to local governments in Arizona and Colorado that have threatened to close public defender offices, and (in partnership with over a hundred of our colleagues) to Congress, which is proposing deep cuts to the federal defenders’ budget. And, a year after we wrote a letter to President Biden urging the return of Eyvin Hernadez, an L.A. public defender who was wrongfully imprisoned in Venezuela, we were thrilled to learn that Eyvin is home!

As 2024 kicks off, our work has begun. Our committees and meet-up groups have already started gathering. We are preparing for training and events, including multi-week online courses starting in February and our annual Rise, Resist, Represent conference in March. Meanwhile, our team is continuing to improve our business and technology platforms so it’s easier to get connected with each other and our huge library of resources.

On that note, I am excited to announce that KP Friess has taken over as our Director of Engagement. KP was formerly an Investigator and Mitigation Specialist in the Juvenile Lifer Unit at Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office. They have been with NAPD since 2020 and transformed how we use membership and engagement data. KP is an innovative thinker – and a talented artist! – and I’m so happy to have them on our leadership team.

Of course, the engagement division, and NAPD as a whole, would not be what it is today without Heather Hall, who has been with us for nearly ten years. Heather has stepped down from her role as Director of Engagement, but will continue to guide the engagement division as our Outreach Coordinator. This transition gives me the opportunity to thank Heather publicly for building NAPD into an organization of over 25,000 members and growing, and making outspokenness and compassion part of our DNA.

In 2024, we continue our celebration of NAPD’s tenth anniversary. Please consider donating to our Ten-for-Ten campaign to recognize this milestone and fund new initiatives. Read about all we have accomplished over a Decade of Defense in our annual report, and stay tuned for more anniversary events. Here’s to another year (times ten!) of connecting, inspiring, and empowering our dynamic community of public defense professionals.

Lori James-Townes

Executive Director, NAPD