Jo-Ann Wallace is the President and CEO of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), the oldest and largest national membership organization devoting all of its resources to equal justice. Recognizing the gap between rich and poor is greater than any time in our history, under her leadership NLADA will commemorate its centennial by launching a bold new strategy for changing justice in America: Blueprint for Justice: Rethink. Retool. Rebuild.
Throughout her career Jo-Ann has challenged the status quo by fostering innovative programs to ensure that people in economic distress have access to legal aid to help meet basic human needs and to guarantee that the quality of justice does not depend on how much money a person has. Under her direction, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia challenged the efficacy of separating criminal and civil legal aid and created programs to reduce recidivism by addressing the societal challenges that often result in crime, raised the quality of appellate representation and championed legislation that ensured high-quality public defense services. Wallace is a founder of the American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD), a leadership council of the top defender executives from across the United States. She received her J.D. from New York University School of Law.