Laura Dunn, Executive Director
Laura Dunn, J.D., is a nationally recognized campus sexual violence survivor and activist who has been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, the National Law Journal, MSNBC, Al Jazeera America, and TIME Magazine among others. In 2007, Dunn graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Legal Studies and Psychology with 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. In 2010, her struggle for justice was featured by the Center for Public Integrity and NPR. 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 as a Rose Zetzer Fellow receiving the Order of the Barristers for her talents in trial and appellate advocacy and received the William P. Cunningham Award in recognition of her national campus activism. While in law school, Dunn was selected for publication in the Georgetown Journal of Gender & Law on the topic of campus sexual violence, she also successfully lobbied for the passage of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization, 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, sat as an advisor to the White House Task Force Protecting Students Against Sexual Assault, and was the primary student negotiator on the U.S. Department of Education’s VAWA Rulemaking Committee. Dunn has been recognized for her advocacy on the U.S. Senate floor by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and as a VIP guest of Vice President Joe Biden at the announcement of the Dear Colleague Letter.
Cheri Smith, Director of Operations
Cheri D. Smith, J.D., 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.
Sweta Maheshwari, Legislative & Policy Director
Sweta Maheshwari, J.D.,
graduated from the University of Maryland in 2007 with a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, a Citation in Women’s Studies, and a Minor in Rhetoric. In 2014, Maheshwari received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Maheshwari was selected as a Rose Zetzer Fellow demonstrating a strong interest in and commitment to women’s issues for her enthusiasm regarding issues such as global affordable access to medical care and treatment. While in law school, Maheshwari served as a student-attorney providing low-income clients with legal assistance in the areas of family law, landlord-tenant law, as well as wills and estates through the JustAdvice Legal Clinic, which performs over 400 hours of pro bono legal serves a year. Maheshwari’s interest in legislative advocacy led her to serve as a legislative intern in the U.S. Senate and the Maryland General Assembly, where she developed and planned legislative initiatives and testified before hearing committees. She also served as a judicial intern in the Baltimore County Orphan’s Court where she researched and wrote bench memoranda in preparation for oral arguments. Maheshwari is an active member of Ms. J.D., where she serves on the Board of its Global Education Fund. Maheshwari aspires to develop and enact domestic and international policy focused on achieving gender equality.
Diva Kass, Legal Intern
Diva Kass, M.S.W., is a rising third year at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Kass began advocating for improvements in how colleges and universities respond to campus sexual assault after the University of California – Berkeley mishandled her report of a drug-facilitated rape at a campus fraternity. In 2009, Kass graduated with a B.A. in Social Welfare and began sharing her experience as a survivor through the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Speaker’s Bureau. In 2012, Kass received an M.S.W. from California State University – Northridge where she graduated with honors. During graduate school, Kass worked as a victim’s advocate on the L.A. Police Department’s Domestic Abuse Response Team and as a therapist for survivors of domestic violence and their children. In 2012, Kass entered law school and became the President of the Public Interest Law Forum and the Senior Articles Editor for the Journal of Colleges & University Law. During the summers, she worked on civil rights impact litigation and family legal issues and served as a law clerk for the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI). In 2014, Kass joined 30 former and current University of California – Berkeley, students in filing a Title IX Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Kass continues to speak out against campus sexual violence and has been featured in Newsweek, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and American Now.