Kimberly Thomas Rapp, Esq.
Kimberly Thomas Rapp is the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (Lawyers’ Committee). To this esteemed position, she brings a background in the public, private and non-profit sectors, which uniquely positions her to lead the Lawyers’ Committee in pursuit of its mission to advance and protect the civil rights of marginalized communities through the rule of law.
Under Kimberly’s leadership, the Lawyers’ Committee has invigorated its core programs and forged new ground in civil rights advocacy. Recognizing that equal access to economic opportunity is a critical component of any movement for equality and justice, Kimberly restored economic justice as one of the organization’s primary practice areas and expanded legal services under the program to empower minority and low-income communities to build and sustain economic security. She has also re-established educational equity as a legal priority advancing litigation and advocating for practice and policy changes that expand access to quality education for students of color. In the first two years of her tenure, Lawyers’ Committee secured major legal victories to improve school conditions and discipline decisions, ensure equal contracting opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses, and increase the fair representation of asylum applicants in immigration proceedings. Additionally, the organization is at the leading edge of a vital new thread of civil rights advocacy addressing the civil implications of inequities in the criminal justice system.
Prior to her appointment as Executive Director, Kimberly served as Lead Deputy Counsel for the Santa Clara County Counsel. She was responsible for providing legal representation and counsel to the County’s Equal Opportunity Division, Social Services Agency, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and other departments on a broad range of legal matters, including civil rights, employment, labor, healthcare, complex transactions, and other issues. She also served as legal counsel to the Santa Clara County Office of Education and school districts.
Before her public service, Kimberly was the Director of Law and Public Policy for the Equal Justice Society. She was responsible for developing and implementing programmatic initiatives to restore constitutional safeguards against discrimination. Her work included coordinating U.S. Supreme Court litigation strategies among legal practitioners, professors, communications professionals and social scientists around the country. She worked in collaboration with the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association on initiatives to explore and address the impact of bias in school communities to narrow the achievement gap. Kimberly has also served as an advocate for children with special needs and an education law practitioner. In the private sector, she conducted workplace investigations and worked with corporations and agencies to address issues of discrimination and harassment.
Kimberly has been a keynote speaker, trainer, facilitator and panelist on diverse civil rights issues for the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, California Teachers Association, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Stanford Law School, the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, among others. She has authored numerous articles and she is a San Francisco Bay Area native. Kimberly received her B.A., with Honors, from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a graduate of Stanford Law School.
Elisa Della-Piana, esq.
Elisa Della-Piana joins the Lawyers’ Committee as Legal Director from her seven year tenure at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC). Elisa was the Director of Programs at EBCLC since 2013, and supervised all of their five major program areas: Immigration, Education, Defense and Justice for Youth, Housing, Economic Security and Opportunity, and Health & Welfare. She also led litigation to vindicate the rights of low-income clients and much of EBCLC’s policy work, including co-authoring, with the Lawyers’ Committee and others, the report Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California, and assisted with the passage of five bills co-sponsored in 2015 in the California Legislature. Prior to directing all programs, she directed the Neighborhood Justice Clinic, EBCLC’s satellite office in Berkeley, and supervised the General Legal Clinic, the Consumer Law Clinic, and homeless rights work.
Elisa is a graduate of UC Berkeley Law School, where her best experiences were interning at the Coalition on Homelessness, the East Bay Community Law Center, and the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office. After graduation, she clerked for Judge David F. Levi, Eastern District of California, and Judge Betty B. Fletcher, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Elisa then spent four years with the Lawyers’ Committee, with funding from a Bingham McCutcheon Equal Justice Works Fellowship and a Soros Justice Fellowship. As a fellow, she supported impact litigation, including the successful class action suit Kincaid v. City of Fresno, provided individual representation to low-income clients, and worked on policy issues and other legal matters through the Homeless Rights Project.
DAVID SALNIKER, ESQ.
David Salniker brings an extensive background in nonprofit management and civil rights law to the Lawyers’ Committee. Most recently, David served as the Director of Administration and Finance for the Equal Justice Society (EJS). He assisted in the formation of EJS as an independent 501 (c)(3) and served on its senior management team for over ten years.
From 1996 to 2003, David served as the Executive Director of the Tides Center, a unique organization promoting social change by providing fiscal sponsorship to over 350 projects located in 40 different states and six countries. As Executive Director of the Tides Center, he also served as a member of the executive council responsible for the planning and oversight of the entire Tides family of organizations, including the Tides Foundation, Groundspring, the Thoreau Center and the Community Clinics Initiative.
David was initially a practicing attorney specializing in civil rights and employment law. He is one of the original members of the National Lawyers Guild Affirmative Action Committee formed in 1978. For many years, David served as the Guild’s representative to the Northern California Coalition for Civil Rights. He was a member of the steering committee of ‘No on 209′ – a campaign committee seeking to oppose a ballot initiative to end affirmative action in California.
David is a former treasurer of the ACLU of Northern California and currently serves as Treasurer of Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial.
David has a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt) and a Masters of Law (in Labor Law) from New York University School of Law.
Keith Wurster, ESQ.
Senior Litigation Attorney and Director of Pro Bono and Strategic Partnerships
Keith Wurster is responsible for developing and managing LCCR’s pro bono programs, strategic partnerships, and special projects. Keith oversees, develops and manages the relationships vital to the continued success of LCCR’c programs, including relationships with law firms, corporations, law schools, bar associations, and other social justice organizations. He is responsible for developing and updating training material and protocols for volunteers working with LCCR. In addition, he serves as a mentor and supervisor to junior attorneys and volunteers involved in litigation and policy advocacy for LCCR.
Keith previously worked for Baker & McKenzie, where he practiced complex commercial litigation before state and federal trial and appellate courts. While also with Baker & McKenzie he served as pro bono counsel, overseeing the pro bono program and supervising and representing clients in special education, immigration, juvenile justice, guardianships, and other social and economic justice matters. Keith has worked closely with a number of public interest organizations to advise on selection and pursuit of impact cases. In addition, he served as the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County.
Keith is a California native, who before embarking on his legal career served both in the U.S. Army and the California Army National Guard. He received an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles where he graduated cum laude with College Honors, and a JD from the University of Southern California.
Administrative Assistant/Asylum Paralegal
Silvia Contreras is the Legal Assistant at Lawyers’ Committee, and has been with the organization since January 2000. She works in the Administrative Department, providing support to Lawyers’ Committee attorneys. Silvia is also a part of the Asylum Program team, conducting phone intake calls with clients, scheduling client interviews, and conducting asylum interviews for our Spanish speaking clients. Additionally, she helps coordinate asylum seminars and workshops for our volunteers and our Immigration Clinic, which is co-sponsored by La Raza Centro Legal. Originally from Mexico, Silvia graduated as a bilingual secretary in 1980 and worked in the private sector before joining Lawyers’ Committee.
CRYSTAL COLE MATSON, ESQ.
Crystal Cole Matson is the lead Staff Attorney for our Community Empowerment and Economic Justice Program. Through Legal Services for Entrepreneurs (LSE), she empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses to break the cycles of poverty in their lives and their communities. Along with providing legal counsel and transactional services, Crystal counsels businesses on risk management strategies to help their businesses thrive. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Crystal served as the Principal Attorney of Chrysalis Legal, a boutique business law firm. She also served as a Legal Research Attorney with the Superior Court of California-County of San Francisco and clerked at Gap Inc. in the intellectual property and real estate legal groups. Her undergraduate degree is from Spelman College and she received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law.
DEBORAH ESCOBEDO, ESQ.
Senior Attorney, Racial Justice
Deborah Escobedo has joined the Lawyers’ Committee Racial Justice team as a Senior Attorney with primary responsibility for leading the organization’s educational equity initiatives and overseeing our direct services education clinic. Deborah comes to the Lawyers’ Committee with an extensive and accomplished background in Education Law.
During the past year, Deborah was a partner at Garcia Hernández Sawhney, LLP where she worked with the firm’s school district and nonprofit organization clients. Formerly, she served for 10 years as an attorney for the Youth Law Center (YLC) where she worked to protect the rights of foster care and juvenile justice youth. She also served as a consultant for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and trained detention staff around the country on improving educational services for detained youth.
Prior to YLC, Deborah was involved in broad range of litigation, administrative and legislative advocacy on educational equity issues, with a focus on the rights of English Learner (EL) and immigrant students. She participated in litigation challenging statewide anti-immigrant initiatives, including Proposition 187 (Pedro A. v. Dawson) and Proposition 227 (Angel V. v. Davis), and she served as lead counsel in Pazmiño v. Cal. Board of Ed., one of the first successful cases brought under “No Child Left Behind,” which challenged the exclusion of EL students from participation in a federally funded reading program.
Deborah is the recipient of the National Hispanic Bar Association Award of Excellence in Public Service; the San Francisco Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award; and the California La Raza Lawyers Association Cruz Reynoso Community Service Award.
Tiara Morris joined the Lawyers’ Committee in June 2015 as the Executive Assistant. She supports the Executive Director as well as other members of the management team. Prior to joining Lawyers’ Committee, Tiara worked for International Fidelity Insurance Company as an Underwriting Assistant. Her experience in administration and office operations dates back to 2005. Tiara earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Development at California State University East Bay.
Asylum Advocate Emeritus
Dave Rorick joined the Lawyers’ Committee Pro Bono Asylum Program as a volunteer at its inception in 1983, and soon thereafter joined the staff as a Legal Assistant to pursue what became his life’s mission. For thirty years, Dave ensured that those seeking asylum without the resources to plead their case had access to legal representation of the highest caliber. To that end, Dave developed a cadre of volunteer attorneys and interpreters and infused them with his dynamic dedication to justice for all. He interviewed asylum seekers from around the world and placed their cases with several generations of pro bono lawyers in supporting law firms, matching lawyers with mentors from Northern California’s immigration bar, interpreter volunteers and other experts. As a result, thousands of people from almost every continent found refuge on these shores and protection from assaults both physical and legal. Dave retired from his staff position in September 2013.
In his current role as Asylum Advocate Emeritus, Dave has returned to volunteer status and provides ongoing support to the Immigrant Justice program in myriad ways, including conducting intake interviews with Asylum seekers, mentoring the current Asylum Program Coordinator, and generally spreading good will and cheer whenever he shows up.
Kristina Harootun, Esq.
Kristina Harootun is a Ford Foundation Post-Graduate Fellow after previously working at the Lawyers’ Committee as a summer Ford Fellow. Kristina’s focus is on advancing racial justice through direct services and criminal law reform. Her work includes assisting with the Second Chance Legal Clinic and the Immigration Post-Conviction Relief Project. Kristina is a graduate of New York University School of Law. During law school, she interned with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Office and the Legal Aid Society.