The idea for this speaker series evolved out of the small group work we engaged in around the themes of humility, mercy, and justice. Sister Helen Prejean, a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, offered the final ‘First Sunday’ theological reflection on justice. 
 
Sister Helen encouraged us to expand our knowledge of the criminal justice system here in New Orleans and to take the time to listen to the stories and lessons of those who directly serve the communities most impacted by the system. Through learning and listening, we can discern how best to move forward as a faith community to meaningfully engage and affect change as it relates to justice here in our own backyard.
 
Our presenters will take us on a journey from past to present and inform our work together moving forward as we seek a more just New Orleans.
 
Below you will find a list of our speakers, their bios and the date they will be speaking.  
 
We will be using Zoom Webinar for the presentations. You will need to register to receive a link to participate. 

THE HISTORIAN

VIEW RECORDED SESSION

Chris Dier, 2020 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year, Author of The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre: Blood in the Cane Fields, and AP United States History at Benjamin Franklin High School will offer a mini-lecture on his book and it’s modern day implications and parallels to our current political environment as it relates to voting, power, and fear.

BIO

Chris Dier is the 2020 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year, Author of The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre: Blood in the Cane Fields, and AP United States History teacher at Benjamin Franklin High School. In his senior year of high school, Hurricane Katrina uprooted him to Texas, where he finished high school and attended East Texas Baptist University to study history, political science, and psychology. Later, Dier returned home and obtained two Master’s degrees--one in education administration and one in teaching--from the University of New Orleans. Dier is dedicated to providing an equitable and multicultural education to all and is always seeking ways to develop as an educator. In 2016, Dier was selected as a Hollyhock Fellow at Stanford University, a program that brings educators together to work collectively toward creating more inclusive classrooms. In 2018, he completed an AP Summer Institute course at Fordham University, and participated in a professional development program at Harvard Business School that focuses on case method teaching, in which he worked to find solutions to real-world problems and challenges in the classroom.

THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY

VIEW RECORDED SESSION

Wednesday, March 3 at 12:00pm
Jason Williams, District Attorney of Orleans Parish, will shed light onto the criminal justice landscape in New Orleans and his efforts for juvenile justice. He will help us understand the fundamentals of criminal justice, how it is structured, the role that race and ethnicity plays and what reforms are needed to ensure a more just system. 

BIO

Jason Williams was elected District Attorney of Orleans Parish on Dec. 5, 2020. He was sworn into office on Jan. 11, 2021, with a mandate to change the criminal legal system of New Orleans. Motivated by his experiences representing indigent defendants while attending Tulane Law School, and keenly aware of the importance of holding prosecutors to a high standard if they want to imprison people, Jason soon started his own law practice focused on criminal defense. After winning a series of high profile criminal cases, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Jason to serve as a judge in New Orleans’ Criminal District Court, making him the youngest district judge in the City’s history. Beginning in 2002, Jason has dedicated a sizable portion of his pro bono efforts to working with Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), a non-profit that works to investigate and free wrongly convicted prisoners in Louisiana. Jason believes that the New Orleans criminal legal system must be transformed from an instrument of oppression to an instrument of progress. Jason was privileged to be in the inaugural class of the Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute, where fellows are immersed in principles of radical leadership and substantive public service from nationally-renowned coaches and professors. Jason carries one of its key lessons with him every day: Striving to be an adaptive leader, open to discovering new strategies and policies in a transparent way that can yield better results, rather than being tied to past practices out of habit or for the sake of tradition.

THE LAW PROFESSOR

VIEW RECORDED SESSION

Wednesday, March 10 at 12:00pm
Tania Tetlow, J.D. is the president of Loyola University. She is a former federal prosecutor and legal scholar on racism in the criminal justice system. To build upon the work Jason is doing, Tania will discuss how the criminal justice system fails to protect marginalized people and how faith and justice intersect.

BIO

Tania Tetlow is the 17th university president of Loyola University New Orleans. She is the first woman and the first layperson to lead Loyola since the Society of Jesus founded the university in 1912. President Tetlow is also the fourth woman president, as well as the youngest woman president, to lead one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. that comprise the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU.) Previously, President Tetlow served as senior vice president and chief of staff as well as the Felder-Fayard Professor of Law at Tulane University, where she was key strategic adviser to President Michael Fitts. She also served as Tulane’s inaugural associate provost for international affairs, coordinating the university’s international programs, research, and students. Her research helped to usher in new anti-discrimination policies at the U.S. Department of Justice. She directed Tulane’s Domestic Violence Law Clinic and raised a total of $2.3 million in federal grant funds. She advised governments and law clinics in Egypt, Rwanda, and Iran on domestic violence policy and was chosen to participate in the U.S. delegation to the Secretary of State’s People-to-People Exchange in Beijing. In 2009, she was the newest faculty member ever to receive Tulane’s University Graduate Teaching Award.

HOPE HOUSE

VIEW RECORDED SESSION

Wednesday, March 17 at 12:00pm
Don Everard, Executive Director of Hope House and Sr. Lilianne who visits with women in the Orleans Parish jail, as well as a man on Angola State Penitentiary’s Death Row, will share with us what they’ve learned about the community they serve in order to better inform us on how we can more effectively support the work that Hope House has been doing for 50 years to become a visible sign of Christian community, to live and work with the poor, to manifest the human concern of Jesus for all people, to foster dignity and respect in the neighborhood and to help create a society where truth and justice abide.

BIO
Don Everard was born in Metairie, Louisiana. He joined the De La Salle Christian Brothers in 1968 and taught at De La Salle High School and St. Paul’s School in Covington, LA. With two other brothers he moved into the Bywater and taught at St. Mark’s Street Academy on Rampart St.  In 1983, at the invitation of Sr. Helen Prejean and the other sisters of Hope House, he and two other brothers joined the staff of Hope House and moved into the St. Thomas Housing Development. Everard has served as director of Hope House for over 30 years. In addition, he teaches an evening class in Hope House’s adult learning center. He also serves as board president of the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice.  Past board involvements include the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, Alliance for Affordable Energy, the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans, the Crescent City Farmers’ Market, Pax Christi New Orleans, Unity of Greater New Orleans, The St. Thomas-Irish Channel Consortium, De La Salle High School, and the New Orleans-Santa Fe Province of the Christian Brothers.
Sr. Lilianne Flavin, OP hails from County Waterford, Ireland. After joining the Cabra Dominican Sisters, she taught at and later became principal of an elementary school in a poor section of Dublin. She was sent on mission to New Orleans in 1979. She taught at St. Leo the Great School for a few years before moving into the St. Thomas Housing Development as a member of Hope House in 1983. Sr. Lilianne has taught in and coordinated its adult learning center for the last 37 years. She has also played a vital role in Hope House’s Education for Justice workshops, touching the hearts and minds of hundreds of students and church groups from across the country. During those same years she has visited women at Orleans Parish Prison as a volunteer chaplain. As a spiritual advisor, she has spent many hours with two death row inmates, accompanying one to his death at the hands of the state. Sr. Lilianne’s circle of friends includes many past and present residents of our city’s jail, welfare recipients, project residents, homeless people and adult learners. She often says that she has received at least as much through these relationships as she has given.

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