Laura Dunn, Executive Director
Laura Dunn, Esq., is a nationally recognized campus sexual violence survivor and activist whose work has been featured by the National Law Journal, Rolling Stone Magazine, MSNBC, Al Jazeera America, and TIME Magazine, among many others. In 2007, Dunn graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) with a B.A. in Legal Studies and Psychology, as well as a certificate in Criminal Justice. While a student, two men from her crew team sexually assaulted Dunn. Despite reporting to campus officials and police, she was denied justice and eventually filed a Title IX complaint against the UW. Upon graduation, Dunn entered Teach for America in New Orleans where she taught middle school math post-Katrina. During that time she also served as the Communications Director for the national nonprofit PAVE and founded its Survivor Justice Campaign.
In 2014, Dunn received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law where she graduated Order of the Barristers, for her superior talents in trial and appellate advocacy, as a Rose Zetzer Fellow, for her studies in the Women Leadership & Equality program, and with the William P. Cunningham Award, for her national work on campus sexual violence. This work included successfully lobbied for the passage of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization, advising to the White House Task Force to Protect Students Against Sexual Assault, and serving as the primary student negotiator on the U.S. Department of Education’s VAWA Rulemaking Committee. To recognize her advocacy, Senator Patrick Leahy, recognized Dunn on the floor of the U.S. Senate while Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Vice President Joe Biden has invited her as a VIP guest to the release of the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, signing of the 2013 VAWA Reauthorization, and release of the It’s On Us Campaign at the White House. While in law school, Dunn also interned at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, served as a judicial intern for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, worked as a law clerk for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and was published by the Georgetown Journal of Gender & Law on the topic of campus sexual violence. Dunn is now a sworn attorney admitted to practice in the State of Maryland and routinely consulting with attorneys across the country on sexual assault cases.
Cheri Smith, Director of Operations
Cheri D. Smith, Esq., graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University in 2007 with a B.A. in International Studies with a focus on global and systemic gender discrimination. In 2014, Smith received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude and Order of the Coif. While in law school, Smith served as a student-attorney to represent low-income clients in domestic violence hearings, U-Visa self-petitions, and sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination cases in the Gender Violence Clinic. She also worked with the Ombudsman of Namibia researching pre-trial detention conditions in Namibian jails for the International Human Rights Clinic. Smith also served as a judicial intern for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and was selected for publication in the Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender on reproductive rights. While serving as a Stiller Fellow and Law Clerk to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Smith focused her work on First Amendment infringements. Smith aspires through her sexual violence advocacy to incorporate evolving international human rights standards into domestic laws through creative litigation strategies and policy reform.