Meet Our Team

A dedicated team of legal experts determined to end homelessness in America.

Antonia Fasanelli
Antonia FasanelliExecutive Director

Antonia Fasanelli became the Executive Director of the National Homelessness Law Center in April 2021.

Previously, she was Executive Director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc. (HPRP), a Maryland-based civil legal aid organization committed to changing the systems that contribute to poverty and homelessness.  During her thirteen-year tenure at HPRP, she incubated innovative civil legal aid projects providing legal assistance to all persons experiencing homelessness, including youth and veterans—as well as systemic initiatives to decriminalize homelessness and advance policies to end homelessness, all by lifting the voices of persons most affected by homelessness.

Prior to joining HPRP, Ms. Fasanelli was an attorney at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. She led the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI), the Legal Clinic’s project on affordable housing preservation and expansion. As part of her work with AHI, Ms. Fasanelli advised, represented, or consulted on the representation of tenants or tenant associations at risk of displacement from over 3,000 units of affordable housing.

From 2011-2014, Ms. Fasanelli was Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, of which she had been a Commissioner since July 2009.  She is currently co-Chair of the Economic Justice Committee of the ABA Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice and was previously Chair of the Legal Services Committee for the ABA Commission on Veterans Legal Services.  From November 2010 to June 2014, she was a member of the Maryland Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono and in 2014, was appointed a member of the Journey Home Board, which oversaw Baltimore City’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness.

In 2013, Ms. Fasanelli was chosen as a Leading Woman by The Daily Record and in 2011, Ms. Fasanelli was a recipient of the Leadership in Law Award from The Daily Record.  In 2016, Ms. Fasanelli received the Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation.

Ms. Fasanelli received her J.D. magna cum laude from the Washington College of Law, American University in 2001 and her B.A. cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University in 1996.  From 2001 to 2002, Ms. Fasanelli was a law clerk to The Honorable Barefoot Sanders of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  Prior to law school, Ms. Fasanelli was an Americorps*VISTA Outreach Coordinator at the Law Center.

Burhan Abdi
Burhan AbdiLegal Intern

Burhan Abdi is joining the Law Center as a Legal Intern. He is excited to return to the Law Center, where he worked as Policy Intern during his junior year of college. The experience Burhan had at the Law Center was one of the main reasons he went to law school, and he hopes to use what he has learned in his time away to make an impact. Last summer, Burhan worked on writing clemency petitions for survivors of domestic violence who are incarcerated in Michigan.

Burhan is a rising 3L at the University of Michigan Law School. Burhan studied economics and government at Cornell University.

Abby Anger
Abby AngerPolicy Intern

Abby Anger serves as a Policy Intern at the Law Center, where she works alongside the Law and Policy team. Abby brings a host of previous legislative experiences to NHLC, as she has interned with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Senate Majority Leader Charles Shumer (D-NY), the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and the Bipartisan Policy Centers’ Governmental Affairs Team.

Abby is a rising senior majoring in Political Science and Psychology with minors in Hispanic Studies and Theology at The Catholic University of America. She has been accepted to Teach for America, and will be teaching elementary school in Charlotte, North Carolina after graduation.

Rajan BalHousing Not Handcuffs Campaign Manager

Rajan Bal returns to the Law Center via a partner fellowship with Georgetown University Law Center. Rajan joins the Law Center’s law and policy team as the primary point person for the Law Center’s national Housing not Handcuffs Campaign, which seeks to combat homelessness through housing-based solutions.

Rajan graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in May 2019. During law school, Rajan advocated for underprivileged youth in the DC delinquency system as a student attorney for the Georgetown University Juvenile Justice Clinic. Rajan otherwise focused on various aspects of criminal law and hopes to use his legal training to promote the public interest.

Rajan is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland. Rajan graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with degrees in psychology and criminal justice.

Karianna Barr
Karianna BarrDirector of Development and Communications

Karianna Barr serves as the Director of Development and Communications at the Law Center, supporting the team in work to ensure everyone in the United States has access to safe and secure housing. She is honored to work with the Law Center’s incredible staff and board to elevate our goal as a priority in every community across the country.

“The narrative that people experience homelessness, poverty, or any other crisis because of their own choices is toxic and false and must be shifted. Systems have been intentionally created to force cycles upon many in the United States, and we must use every tool in our arsenal to combat those systems, especially the law.”

Prior to joining the Law Center, Karianna had the privilege of fighting unjust systems by working with national wealth-building organization Prosperity Now, public boarding school system The SEED Foundation, and integrated service provider Inspiration Corporation, and she has over a decade of experience in hospitality. In addition, she supports fundraising efforts through volunteer work as a development Captain at the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, a special events lead at the Smithsonian National Zoo, and a Walk Committee member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – National Capital Chapter.

Tristia Bauman
Tristia BaumanSenior Attorney

Tristia Bauman combines litigation, legal education, and legislative advocacy strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Her work focuses on combating the criminalization of homelessness and advocating for laws that protect the civil and human rights of homeless people. Tristia also conducts legal trainings around the country, writes reports and other publications related to housing, and serves as a legal resource for homeless advocates.

“As the daughter of a disabled father and an immigrant mother, I grew up poor and I know well the barriers to success imposed by poverty. I became a public interest attorney to break down those barriers and to provide every person – people just like me – with the chance to thrive.”

Tristia began her law career at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. as a housing attorney working with low-income tenants in federally subsidized housing. She later served for several years as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County.

Tristia hails from Auckland, New Zealand but was raised in Washington State where she attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate and law student. She received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2000 and her J.D. in 2006.

Whittni Holland
Whittni HollandDevelopment Associate

Whittni Holland serves as the Development Associate at the Law Center, where she works to support the Development and Communications team through fundraising and administrative efforts. Recognizing the importance of advocacy in the fight toward social justice for vulnerable and marginalized populations, Whittni is excited and honored to work with the Law Center as they continue to be a champion of transforming the lives of those experiencing homelessness and poverty.

“I firmly believe that what we do for the most vulnerable reflects our values. I value social justice and basic human rights, especially the right to affordable, safe, and adequate housing for all.”

Whittni is a native of Southern Maryland. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Elon University and a Master of Social Work degree concentrated in Community, Administration, and Policy Practice from Howard University. She is also a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Maryland.

Janet Hostetler
Janet HostetlerSenior Fellow

Janet is a Senior Fellow at the Law Center, where she works primarily on federal advocacy related to the right to housing and ending the criminalization of homelessness. Until 2018, Janet served as the deputy director of the Law Center, directly supporting the Law & Policy team and the Operations team in their work to end and prevent homelessness and to protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness. As an Obama administration official, she served as Chief of Staff of the Office on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the Department of Housing & Urban Development. At HUD, Janet worked on the administration’s policy priorities including efforts to address racial segregation, as well as strategic planning and change management.  She also has experience in protecting voter rights, education policy, appellate legal advocacy, and international human rights. Janet’s believes the answer to many of our problems is found at the intersection of economic justice, racial justice, gender equity, ecological conservation, and participatory democracy. She enjoys gardening with native plants and being in nature.

Steve Kennedy
Steve KennedyLegal Intern

Steve Kennedy is a Legal Intern at the Law Center, advancing Law and Policy team initiatives extending the human right to housing at the state level. Steve brings significant state-level legislative and policy experience to the role, having served as the president of the UConn Law chapter of the People’s Parity Project, which advances the rights of workers and historically marginalized communities through legislative and policy advocacy, and as the Connecticut team leader for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which has passed significant state-level legislation supporting disabled, POC, and LGBTQIA veterans.

Steve is currently a second-year evening student at the University of Connecticut School of Law while working full-time as a legal aid Community Justice Fellow and litigation law clerk. He also holds a Master of Science degree in biophysical chemistry from New York University and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts- Boston.

Carlton Martin
Carlton MartinPro Bono Manager

Carlton Martin serves as the Law Center’s Pro Bono Manager, responsible for handling relationships with the Law Center’s major law firm partners that annually provide over $5 million in pro bono services.

“Knowing the rights of unhoused individuals and working within my power to protect those rights are important to me. I understand that our lives are fragile. Most of us are one termination, one medical bill, or one stroke of a pen away from homelessness; therefore, we should all have empathy for those experiencing homelessness and do what is within our power to advocate for real solutions to end it.”

Carlton came to the Law Center from the Indiana Supreme Court, where he served as a Staff Attorney for access to justice issues. Moreover, Carlton previously served as a Deputy Public Defender for the State of Indiana, and as the Project GRACE Staff Attorney for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, where he was dedicated to resolving civil legal issues of re-entrants and homeless veterans. Additionally, he was recognized as one of Indiana’s top 15 Up-and-Coming Legal Leaders in the Law in 2019. Carlton received his B.A. in Sociology and African and African American Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington and earned his J.D. from Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 2012.

Joseph Mead
Joseph MeadVisiting Faculty Fellow
Joseph Mead, a law professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, is serving as a visiting faculty fellow with the Law Center this summer. Prof. Mead has advocated against and litigated constitutional challenges to anti-panhandling, anti-camping, and anti-loitering laws.
Carla Ramazan
Carla RamazanTruman Fellow

Carla recently graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. During college, she was heavily involved in student activism and organized a teach-in focused on housing insecurity in the Dallas area. She is excited to work with the Law Center during her time as a Truman Fellow. A strong believer that housing is a human right, Carla is thrilled to learn from the staff at the Law Center and hopes to tackle issues related to homelessness in her future career as an attorney.

Sarah Riley
Sarah RileyDevelopment and Communications Associate

Sarah Riley served as the Development and Communications Vista and has continued her role at the Law Center as a Development & Communications Associate. In 2020, she graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.A. in Public Policy. She specifically enjoyed mentoring incarcerated youth while in school which sparked her passion for working in the non-profit world. Having focused on issues of hunger and homelessness in the past, Sarah joins the Law Center with experience in the field and hopeful optimism that progress is possible.

“I’ve seen how the cycle of poverty affects the lives of so many people, specifically harming people of color, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. I believe that what you look like, where you’re from, and who you love should never affect your ability to succeed, and it is my goal to ensure that everyone has an equitable and just quality of life. No one deserves to experience homelessness, and we are all responsible for making sure that our society lifts up its most vulnerable members, rather than relegating them to the shadows.”

Sarah is originally from Alexandria, Virginia, where she grew up understanding the power of laws and policies. She plans to attend law school in the fall of 2021 and is eager to pursue a career in public interest.

Brandy Ryan
Brandy RyanStaff Attorney

Brandy Ryan is the Law Center’s newest Staff Attorney. She has previously worked with the Law Center as an intern and post-grad fellow, working on housing policy in the Violence Against Women Act and several research projects and toolkits benefitting homeless youth. Brandy will continue in policy work and will join the Law Center’s litigation team.

Brandy graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in December 2018. Her work during law school focused on veterans and the specific legal challenges facing them even decades after their service, and her studies focused on civil rights and constitutional law. Brandy is originally from Louisiana, will never miss an opportunity to get Cajun food, and hopes to get a dog as soon as possible.

Camille Santa Anna
Camille Santa AnnaDevelopment & Communications Intern

Camille is the Development and Communications intern for the Law Center. She is currently a rising senior at William & Mary pursuing a double major in Government and Sociology. She has an interest in politics and has previous internship experience with the Fairfax Democratic Committee. At William and Mary Camille also participated in a community-based service-learning program, during her Freshman year. Within this program she had the opportunity to volunteer with Side-by-Side, Virginia’s only LGBTQ+ youth center. There she helped organize the center’s new project focused on youth homelessness. This, and a passion for human rights policy, sparked her interest in housing/homelessness. Additionally, Camille is interested in learning more about law and looking ahead to pursue graduate studies.

Nitan Shanas
Nitan ShanasPolicy Intern

Nitan Shanas serves as a Policy Intern at the Law Center, where he works to support the Law and Policy team through critical research and advocacy. He is deeply passionate about helping people experiencing homelessness; having worked at two homeless shelters in Camden, NJ since his freshman year of college and having led several awareness campaigns on the issue. He is thrilled to be working with and learning from an amazing staff while contributing to the critical goals of the Law Center.

“In a world where racial inequities and economic disparities exist, I feel that it is so important to use my voice and privilege to help undo these wrongs.”

Nitan is currently studying Economics, Urban Studies and Psychology at Rutgers University – Camden. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration with the eventual goal of joining the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C

Deborah Shepard
Deborah ShepardOperations Manager

As the Operations Manager for the National Homelessness Law Center, Deborah brings extensive experience in administration, operations, finance, project management, contracts, and facility management. A graduate of Clark University in Worcester, MA, the majority of Deborah’s career was focused on corporate and government information technology services. In 2007 she decided to pursue a second career in the non-profit field where she could contribute to social justice focused missions. Before joining the Law Center, Deborah was the Chief Operating Officer at Columbia Road Health Services, a community medical clinic providing care to the underserved of D.C. She was Director of Operations at Lutheran Volunteer Corps, an organization that matched volunteers to social justice non-profits across the country for a year of service. And recently, Deborah was Director of Operations at Luther Place Memorial Church, whose history of service and advocacy to the community and to homeless women, in particular, is extensive.

“As a fifth grader, I watched a classmate and her family picking through trash in front of the building where I lived in Harlem. While poverty, scarcity and a lack of decent housing lived out all around me, there is nothing so dreadful as watching someone you sat next to in class on Friday, picking through trash on Saturday. Maybe we don’t always see it, but innocence and dignity are big casualties of poverty. When you factor in the experience of homelessness, with its attending isolation, it’s even harder. My experience of watching this classmate taught me that you must see and bear witness to other people’s struggles, and you must do all that you can to help.”

Deborah has been volunteering most of her life, since community service in the seventh grade. Deborah specifically volunteers for organizations whose services help communities and people to thrive. She is a longtime member and volunteer of Church of the Epiphany’s Street Church community. The Street Church community is a direct outreach ministry to those experiencing homelessness and poverty. Deborah is thankful for the opportunity to use her experience and skills to further the mission of the Law Center.

Joe Stewart
Joe StewartPolicy Intern

Joe Stewart joined the Law Center’s Law and Policy team as a Policy Intern in June 2021. Having spent time working with refugee communities in the DMV area, Joe wants to use his experience and skills to help ensure more just and equitable support for people experiencing homelessness across the country. He is looking forward to working with the Law Center team and learning from its engaged staff and attorneys.

Joe is entering his senior year at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service studying Culture and Politics and minoring in Film and Media Studies. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Joe hopes to continue working to end homeless both at home and nationally.

Alexandra Taggart
Alexandra TaggartData Integration Vista

Alexandra Taggart will be working as a Data Integration Vista member at the National Homeless Law Center with a focus in building organizational capacity to contribute to equal economic opportunity and expansion. As a child her grandmother, a retired D.C. police officer, was her babysitter so she would attend District V Coffee Club meetings. Being the Co-Facilitator, her grandma spoke at most of these events in community forums and seminars discussing issues affecting the community where she lived such as: transportation, education, and development. Attending these events at an early age created Alexandra’s passion for helping others through acts of humanitarianism. As for the future, she is planning to have a socially concerned career.

Eric Tars
Eric TarsLegal Director

Eric Tars serves as the National Homelessness Law Center’s legal director, leading its human rights, civil rights, and children’s rights programs and managing its cutting edge litigation, strategic policy advocacy, and outreach and training initiatives at the international, national, and local levels. Eric helped spearhead the launch of the Law Center’s national Housing Not Handcuffs campaign, has served as counsel of record in multiple precedent-setting cases, including Martin v. Boise in the 9th Circuit, and is frequently quoted in national and local media, including NPR, AP, New York Times, Washington Post, and VICE News.

“My father grew up homeless, as a refugee following WWII. I believe every person deserves to be treated with the same dignity and respect for basic human rights as I would have wanted to see him and his family receive.”

Before coming to the Law Center, Eric was a Fellow with Global Rights’ U.S. Racial Discrimination Program and consulted with Columbia University Law School’s Human Rights Institute and the US Human Rights Network, where he currently serves as the vice-chair of the Network’s Board.

Eric received his J.D. magna cum laude as a Global Law Scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center. He received his B.A. magna cum laude in political science from Haverford College and studied international human rights in Vienna at the Institute for European Studies and at the University of Vienna.

Eric also teaches human rights advocacy as an adjunct professor at Drexel University Kline School of Law.

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