Meet the AVID prison project team
Disability Rights Washington’s Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) prison project is a significant initiative that pulls from the various skillsets across DRW’s office. DRW has a long, successful track record of advocating for improved conditions for people with disabilities in correctional settings. The team of lawyers and advocates assembled to implement AVID prison project’s ambitious goals will build upon the strong foundation DRW has laid and will continue to work to improve conditions for people with disabilities in prison as well as for those inmates reentering society.
AVID prison project Team Members: Tina Pinedo, Heather McKimmie, Rachael Seevers, and Anna Guy
AVID prison project is led by Heather McKimmie, who has served people with disabilities in Washington for nearly five years at DRW. Prior to joining DRW, Heather worked as a trial and appellate criminal defense attorney. As a defense attorney, Heather learned the ins and outs of Washington’s criminal justice system while representing many clients with disabilities. At DRW, Heather has represented individual clients, drafted arguments on behalf of DRW and other organizations through friend of the court briefs to appellate courts, and led systemic advocacy projects. As the Senior Resource Attorney, Heather worked on improving DRW’s Technical Assistance services for our constituents seeking information about their rights and assistance in building their self-advocacy skills. Additionally, she recruited, trained, and mentored numerous interns and volunteer lawyers who gave generously of their time and skills to our clients and constituents. Heather’s recognized leadership and legal knowledge are great assets to the team and DRW is fortunate she was able to transition to this project.
AVID prison project is also lucky to have another DRW attorney transition to this project. Rachael Seevers, like Heather, previously provided Technical Assistance services to people with disabilities who sought to improve their self-advocacy skills and knowledge base. Before joining DRW, Rachael was a trial and appellate attorney in New York. She worked for the Special Litigation and Appeals Unit of Mental Hygiene Legal Services, a public interest legal organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of people with mental illness. Rachael’s work in New York ranged from individual appeals fighting involuntary commitment and forced medication to civil rights litigation relating to the provision of care for people with mental illness in the community. While in New York, Rachael also taught legal writing and lawyering skills to first year law students as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School. Rachael’s high quality legal analysis and systemic advocacy skills are well-suited for the systemic investigations and advocacy necessary to improve institutional and community systems that serve current and former prisoners.
Tina Pinedo, a former DRW communications intern, has also joined DRW full time and will spend much of her time on the AVID prison project. Tina is a major driving force behind many of the excellent DRW video advocacy projects you have seen over the last few years. She let you hear people with developmental disabilities talk about how they reject forced sterilization and other medical interventions others want to impose upon them in “Ashley’s Rights”, she brought you inside a forensic psychiatric unit to see the reality of accepting a plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in “The Megaphone Effect: Reclaiming Recovery”, and she showed you the face of youth who need intensive in-home mental health treatment to avoid hospitalization and incarceration in “Strategies for Success". As DRW’s Video Production Manager, Tina will take viewers on a trip inside prisons to see the lives of prisoners with disabilities and into the homes of people with disabilities as they return home from prison and try to reintegrate into communities across the state.
AVID prison project also added Anna Guy, an attorney new to DRW, but not new to serving people with disabilities. Prior to law school, Anna served individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities and in law school Anna participated in clinics where she represented individuals with mental illness. She also worked for DRW’s sister organization, the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, and she participated in a medical-legal collaborative program with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University where she worked on cases involving veterans’ disability and housing benefits, Social Security Disability applications, and special education. She will bring this experience to her advocacy for people with disabilities in Washington as she splits her time between investigating and advocating on behalf of current and former prisoners with disabilities in the AVID project and DRW’s general Technical Assistance services.
The work of AVID prison project also requires countless hours from volunteer and contract attorneys, law students, and communication advocates. The daily work of Heather, Rachael, Tina, Anna, and the volunteer and contract attorneys and advocates is supported by frequent assistance from additional DRW staff. Mona Rennie, Jodi Rose, Mark Stroh, David Lord, Andrea Kadlec, and David Carlson each bring their unique skills to AVID to round out the multimodal advocacy strategy implemented through AVID.
If you would like to participate in AVID prison project’s advocacy as a volunteer or pro-bono lawyer, coalition agency, or as a financial supporter, please contact:
David R. Carlson
Director of Legal Advocacy
davidc (at) dr-wa.org