Staff

HADAR HARRIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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Hadar Harris, a human rights attorney and non-profit leader with a passion for working with and on behalf of students, is executive director of the Student Press Law Center. Prior to joining SPLC, she served as the executive director of the Northern California Innocence Project. For 13 years, Harris was executive director of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law where she worked on projects in more than 25 countries, focused on domestic implementation of international norms, gender equity, the human rights of persons with disability and implementation of UN human rights treaty law. Earlier in her career, Harris served as executive director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a bipartisan legislative service organization of the US House of Representatives, under the leadership of the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). Harris holds a BA in Political Science from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles. Read more about Hadar.

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Mike Hiestand has been integral to SPLC’s success since 1989. He was an SPLC intern, its first legal fellow and then served as full-time staff attorney from from 1991-2003. Over the years, he has assisted over 18,000 student journalists and advisers. As the SPLC’s Senior Legal Counsel, he currently works from the west coast on the SPLC hotline and related projects. In 2013-14, Hiestand traveled around the country with free speech icon Mary Beth Tinker, teaching and speaking out on behalf of student press rights and free expression. “Tinker Tour USA” kicked off on Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and logged just under 25,000 miles while speaking at schools, colleges, churches, a youth detention facility, courts and several national conventions. Hiestand, who grew up in Alaska, graduated from Bartlett High School in Anchorage and went on to Marquette University’s College of Journalism and Cornell Law School.

SOMMER INGRAM DEAN, STAFF ATTORNEY

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Sommer Ingram Dean, who joined the staff in 2018, is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center who has long been an advocate for students’ speech and press rights. Sommer was a student journalist at the Tiger Times at Texas High School and The Baylor Lariat in college.  After college, she was a legislative and legal reporter for The Associated Press and Dallas Morning News. She is also a former SPLC intern (2010) and legal fellow (2015-16). Sommer has worked for NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, The Washington Post, and served as a law clerk for a federal judge.

JONATHAN FALK, STAFF ATTORNEY

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Jonathan Falk is an Education Law attorney with broad experience spanning almost a decade representing both school district and student clients. Jonathan was a high school student journalist for the inaugural class of contributors for the York High School newspaper The Talon in Yorktown, Virginia. He subsequently earned a Bachelor’s from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctor and Master of Urban Planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Jonathan joined SPLC in March 2022 following a five year tenure with the Legal Aid Society of Rochester, New York as Program Director of the Education Law Unit, during which time he advocated for the free speech rights of students before countless boards of education and the Commissioner of Education in Albany.

HILLARY DAVIS, ADVOCACY AND ORGANIZING DIRECTOR

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Hillary Davis joined SPLC in October 2019, after six years lobbying state legislators with the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island. She has advocated for and alongside youth on issues of student’s rights, the First Amendment, racial profiling, and criminal and juvenile justice. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and a BA in sociology from California State University, Northridge.

DANIELLE DIETERICH, DIGITAL STRATEGIST

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Danielle Dieterich graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Convergence Journalism in 2016. While in college, she interned for the Student Press Law Center, helping to grow its social media and online presence and working on the Active Voice program launch. After going back to school and graduating, Dieterich spent a year working as an engagement editor for digital news company Newsy before being hired back to the SPLC as a journalism fellow. In 2020 she was promoted to digital strategist.

ALEXIS MASON, OUTREACH AND OPERATIONS MANAGER

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Alexis Mason joined the SPLC staff in April 2019 from the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County in Fayetteville, N.C.  Mason interned at Action for Children, where she designed and developed a newsletter for the AFC’s community engagement initiative in North Carolina, and lobbied to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18. Mason has a paralegal certificate from Meredith College, and volunteered for Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Lawyer on the Line program. A journalism graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Mason was the wires editor of the A&T Register and has written for Carolina Peacemaker, Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles and Care Guide, and the Urban Call.

DEVIN YINGLING, COMMUNICATIONS FELLOW

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Devin Yingling graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a BA in political science and minors in English and journalism. During college, she worked as a reporter and as the Editor in Chief of The Hawk Student Newspaper and she joined the SPLC team in 2022 as the Storytelling Intern. After spending a month in South Africa reporting and writing stories about issues pertaining to social justice, Devin then joined the SPLC staff again as the Communications Fellow.

GRAYSON MARLOW, NICK FERENTINOS NEW VOICES FELLOW

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Grayson Marlow is a junior at New York University studying the intersections of Journalism, Law and Society. He’s hoping to go onto law school to study First Amendment Law after graduation.

SARA FAJARDO, NICK FERENTINOS NEW VOICES FELLOW

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Sara Fajardo is a sophomore at Rutgers University working towards a Bachelors degree in Journalism with minors in Spanish and Comparative Literature. She is a staff writer for both The Daily Targum Newspaper and Her Campus Magazine and the coordinator of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association student group. She became involved with the Student Press Law Center during her Junior year of high school and advocated for First Amendment Rights, which came to fruition when she saw her home state of New Jersey become the 15th state to adopt New Voices legislation in 2021.