Carla Crowder is the Executive Director of Alabama Appleseed, where she serves as the organization’s chief strategic officer and voice for its mission, vision, values, and programs.
A native Alabamian and graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, Carla brings more than 30 years of experience, both as a journalist and attorney, in public policy research, advocacy, and litigation. As a civil rights lawyer for the last decade, she has challenged mass incarceration and excessive punishment in Alabama and won release for six men originally sentenced to die in prison.
Carla leads Appleseed’s reform agenda centered at the intersection of poverty and the criminal justice system. She is a frequent speaker on the human rights crisis in Alabama prisons and has contributed to statewide and national publications on the topic.
Prior to joining Appleseed, she served as Program and Policy Director at The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and was a staff attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative. Carla’s work as a newspaper reporter earned multiple awards including the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Death Penalty Information Center. She has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
A native of Florence, Alabama, Carla earned a B.A. in English and History from Huntingdon College in Montgomery. In 2009, she earned a J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law with a certificate in Public Interest Law.
Email Carla at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another free man, safe from the chaos of Alabama’s violent prisons.Alabama prisons, Carla Crowder, News
At age 70, Willie Ingram is free after spending four decades in prison for a $20 robberyAlabama prisons, Carla Crowder, Habitual Felony Offender Act
Leah Nelson serves as Research Director at Alabama Appleseed, where she coordinates and conducts original research into drivers of poverty and incarceration in Alabama. She is Appleseed’s principal expert on the collateral consequences of fines, fees, and other legal financial obligations and leads our effort to end revocation of drivers’ licenses for reasons unrelated to dangerous driving.
Leah brings expertise in civil asset forfeiture, drug policy and drivers of incarceration to Appleseed’s reform agenda.
Prior to joining Alabama Appleseed, Leah spent five years in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Middle District of Alabama Federal Defenders, supporting the appeals of death-sentenced individuals seeking new trials. Before that, she worked as a reporting fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Leah is a 2006 graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and a 2002 graduate of the University of Connecticut.
Email Leah at email@example.com
Frederick M. Spight Jr. is an attorney who serves as the Policy Director for Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice. In this role, he serves as a criminal justice reform lobbyist and his work focuses on policy development, legislative advocacy, coalition building, engaging with public officials and exploring other avenues that will fight poverty and create a more prosperous Alabama.
Frederick graduated from Morehouse College (Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a concentration in Philosophy. He is also a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law where he was a member of BLSA; a student clinician in the Community Law and Business Clinic; and an Executive Editor of the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy. He studied human and civil rights law at the University of Vienna (Austria) where he had the opportunity to become a law clerk with the Chance for Children’s Foundation in Budapest, Hungary where he worked on school desegregation issues with the Roma people. He worked in Litigation Support for a transnational law firm based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and community redevelopment for a legal services law firm. He then went into education and became a social studies teacher and Mock Trial Coach at Carter G. Woodson School.
He came to Alabama as a part of Legal Services of Alabama’s first cohort of John Lewis Fellows. While primarily practicing in public benefits law he also created the JLF Community Growth Project which aimed to focus on the legal needs of small businesses, nonprofits and other community centered organizations within Legal Services’ client demographic while also doing research and providing resources on payday lending. He successfully incorporated and advised several entities including a nonprofit currently obtaining its 501(c)3 status. Also, he was able to build a partnership with the Birmingham Business Resource Center to aid low income and minority owned businesses in the Birmingham area.
Before coming to Alabama Appleseed he focused on liberating indigent clients from fines and fees that were assessed as a result of criminal convictions throughout the state of Alabama.
Email Frederick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Appleseed's 2023 legislative priorities: Evidence based priorities for a brighter way forwardElaine Burdeshaw, Frederick Spight
Elaine Burdeshaw serves as Alabama Appleseed’s Policy Associate. In this role she acts as a criminal justice reform lobbyist and helps to develop and implement campaign goals, monitor and develop support for legislation, and work closely with coalition and community partners.
A life-long Alabamian, Elaine grew up in Decatur and obtained a BS in Social Work from the University of North Alabama in Florence. She later received a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. Prior to joining the Appleseed team and while attending graduate school, Elaine worked as Program Associate for Ole Pete Key, Inc., a program aimed at serving at-risk students in the Florence City School System.
Elaine is equipped with a life-long knowledge of Alabama, as well as experience working and lobbying at the Alabama State House. She also has experience analyzing legislation and lobbying at the federal level with members of Congress.
Email Elaine at email@example.com.
Appleseed's 2023 legislative priorities: Evidence based priorities for a brighter way forwardElaine Burdeshaw, Frederick Spight
Eddie Burkhalter is a researcher for Alabama Appleseed. In that role he investigates Alabama’s reliance on court fines and fees to fund government, predatory policing, and the state’s troubled prisons.
Eddie graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies. He moved to Alabama from his home state of Georgia in 2001, and while studying at Jacksonville State University, Eddie took a job at a local weekly newspaper. A few years later he moved on to that company’s daily paper, The Anniston Star.
Eddie spent almost a decade at The Anniston Star, covering education, business, crime, politics and winning numerous Alabama Press Association awards for his coverage. In 2019 he began reporting for Alabama Political Reporter, where he covered state politics, prisons, COVID and Alabama connections to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and events leading up to the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Additionally, Eddie contributed reporting on COVID-19 in prisons for the New York Times, which was part of the overall COVID coverage that won the newspaper the prestigious Pulitzer Prize public service award in 2022.
He was selected to participate in the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism fellowship program in 2019, and mentors current fellows in the program. Eddle lives in Piedmont, Alabama.
Email Eddie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four Years After the U.S. Department of Justice Warning, Alabama's Prisons Have Only Gotten WorseAlabama prisons, Carla Crowder, Eddie Burkhalter
So far this year, someone has died every other day in an Alabama prison.Alabama prisons, Eddie Burkhalter, News
Alabama leaders promised an automated, statewide victim notification system 15 years ago. We’re still waiting for it.Eddie Burkhalter, News
Communications and Development Manager
Megan Cheek serves as the Communications and Development Manager for Alabama Appleseed, where she shares our work with partners, collaborators, donors, and everyday Alabamians in an effort to advance justice and equity for all.
Prior to joining Appleseed, Megan consulted in marketing, policies, procedures, fundraising, and more for local organizations and political campaigns. She served as Program Director and Deputy Director for Marketing and Communications for the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and Executive Director of the Washington Youth Choir, both in Washington, D.C. Megan co-founded H.I.V.E. Alabama, an organization focused on educating communities on critical issues in an effort to bring about positive, thoughtful, and intentional change.
A native of Georgia, Megan graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations from the University of Georgia. She currently serves on the boards of Girls Rock Bham and the Homewood Library Foundation.
Email Megan at email@example.com
Support Appleseed's Re-entry Work this Giving TuesdayAlabama prisons, Habitual Felony Offender Act, Megan Cheek, News
Welcome Megan Cheek! Appleseed's New Communications and Development Associate Brings Years of Nonprofit Experience to Her RoleMegan Cheek, News
Scott Fuqua is an attorney who joined Alabama Appleseed to represent clients serving excessive prison sentences.
A 2009 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, Scott brings over a decade of experience in both criminal and civil litigation to Alabama Appleseed. While working in private practice and at the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office, Scott developed a keen understanding of the systemic problems in our criminal justice system.
A native of Birmingham, Scott graduated from Auburn University where he was a member of the cross country and track & field teams. Scott has volunteered as a distance running coach and continues to run competitively on a recreational level.
Email Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
Callie Greer is a longtime community organizer based in Selma. She brings decades of experience advocating for low-wealth Alabamians, for Medicaid expansion, and against the death penalty. Callie’s recent work leading MAAVIS (Mothers Against All Violence in Selma) bridges the gap between survivors of violence and justice-involved people, embracing restorative justice practices to address violence and over-incarceration.
Callie was born in Montgomery, in the kitchen of a home on Day Street. She developed a gift for cooking at a young age, learning from her great-grandmother who lived through slavery. Callie has overcome numerous obstacles, including drug addiction and incarceration. She raised her son Mercury, who had a college basketball scholarship, then was killed by gun violence. At the trial, she refused to demand a harsh prison sentence for her son’s assailant, telling the judge, “I have forgiven him, and I ask that you have mercy on him.”
Callie has a brave history of advocating for Medicaid expansion in Alabama. Her daughter, Venus, died from breast cancer that went untreated because she was uninsured. Callie has testified before congressional committees, been featured in national magazines, and appeared on CBS Soul of a Nation. She is active in the Poor People’s Campaign and has been involved in advocacy efforts led by Greater Birmingham Ministries, Project Hope of Abolish the Death Penalty, Alabama Arise, and the Selma Center for Nonviolence. For several years, she assisted Appleseed Research Director Leah Nelson with projects exploring the impact of laws and policies on low-wealth Alabamians.
Email Callie at email@example.com
Re-entry Case Manager
Kathleen Henderson serves as the Re-entry Case Manager for Alabama Appleseed. In this role she encourages and supports clients after their release from prison and connects them with community resources and services.
Prior to joining Appleseed, Kathleen worked for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles as a case manager in a special program that connected returning citizens to the resources necessary to have a smooth reentry into a new life. She helped build a program of trust and resources while encouraging participants to dream bigger.
She also served as a Case Manager at the Adam Bishop Center in Walker County Alabama connecting children with mental health issues and their parents to the resources necessary to heal and grow on their journeys. Further, she worked with first-generation, low-income students to help further their education.
Having migrated from Michigan in 1990, Kathleen holds a B.A. in Psychology from Athens State University and will receive her M.S. in Psychology from the University of the Southwest in December of 2022.
Email Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
“It probably just says ‘Baby Boy.’” An Odyssey Through Reentry from Prison Without Access to a Birth CertificateKathleen Henderson
Appleseed Welcomes Experienced Case Manager, Kathleen Henderson, to Our Re-entry TeamKathleen Henderson
Re-entry Coordinator and Advocate
Ronald McKeithen is a formerly incarcerated artist, advocate, and writer. He serves as Re-entry Coordinator and Advocate at Alabama Appleseed. Ronald’s work is focused on assisting Appleseed clients as they transition from incarceration to lives of freedom. Additionally, he speaks widely about the experiences of long-term incarceration in Alabama’s prisons and the need for criminal justice reform to address the injustices he has experienced first hand.
Ronald spent 37 years in Alabama’s prisons under the Habitual Felony Offender Act based on a robbery conviction at the age of 19. He used his time in prison to increase his education, become a barber, mentor others, and create meaningful connections with professors, journalists, and volunteers in the prisons. Ronald was freed in December 2020 after being represented by Appleseed. Since then, his artwork has been featured in three art shows. He lives in Birmingham, where he works at Appleseed and is active with the Offender Alumni Association.
More about Ronald, including artwork and writing, can be found on his website: RonaldMcKeithen.com.
Email Ronald at email@example.com.
Celebrating the freedom and birthday of another Appleseed clientAlabama prisons, Alex LaGanke, Habitual Felony Offender Act, News, Ronald McKeithen
“I'm experiencing a rebirth, a second chance at life, and every day has been a blessing.”Alabama prisons, Habitual Felony Offender Act, News, Ronald McKeithen
Libby Rau is the Legal Assistant for Alabama Appleseed’s Birmingham office, where she manages the client intake process, oversees administrative and paralegal needs, and assists with Appleseed’s reentry program in an effort to ensure that recently released clients have the support they need in order to thrive in their roles and in their newly won freedom.
Originally from Charlotte, NC, Libby moved to Alabama in 2019 and graduated with a B.A. in Law, Politics, and Society from Samford University in 2021. While in college, she served as a Jefferson County Memorial Project Research Fellow and put her passion for historical reckoning and racial justice into practice by researching the history of Birmingham’s Linn Park, the proposed site for the county’s memorial to victims of lynching. She also interned with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where she helped to educate visitors about past civil and human rights struggles and worked to address current social justice issues such as local health inequities and the over-policing of marginalized communities. Additionally, she served as the Resource Coordinator for the Dual Citizen podcast, as a member of the Multicultural Affairs Committee, and as a fourth grade reading tutor.
Prior to joining Alabama Appleseed as a staff member, Libby interned with Appleseed for almost a year. Working mainly with the Direct Representation and Reentry teams, she assisted with parole clients’ hearings, reentry efforts, surveying, communication with incarcerated individuals, case research, and grant writing. Her favorite task was reading through 36 years’ worth of letters that Alabama Appleseed client Michael Schumacher wrote to his Texan mentor and pen-pal, Gene.
In addition to her work at Appleseed, Libby volunteers with CASA of Jefferson County and Empowered to Conquer, a high school mentoring program. She plans on attending law school to become a civil rights attorney in the public interest realm.
Email Libby at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dana Sweeney is a statewide organizer for Alabama Appleseed. He travels all across Alabama sharing our research, building relationships, and connecting people with opportunities to take action as we fight for a better future.
Prior to joining Alabama Appleseed, Dana worked as a Vote Everywhere Ambassador for The Andrew Goodman Foundation. While working in that capacity, he was selected as a recipient of the 2017 Hidden Heroes Award for leading a successful campaign to eliminate a $60 fee being imposed on thousands of students who wished to vote via absentee ballot at The University of Alabama.
Dana graduated from The University of Alabama with a B.A. in English in May 2017. While attending school, Dana served as a White House Associate in President Barack Obama’s Office of Correspondence, studied public policy as a PPIA Fellow at Princeton University, interned with People for the American Way, and was selected as a Truman Scholar. He has lived in Alabama for his entire adult life and dreams of making this the Sweet Home that we all deserve.
Email Dana at email@example.com
- “It probably just says ‘Baby Boy.’” An Odyssey Through Reentry from Prison Without Access to a Birth Certificate May 23, 2023
- Why this report? April 27, 2023
- ¡HICA!: “They know that we’re scared to call the police.” April 27, 2023
- Linn’s Story April 26, 2023
- Summer’s Story April 25, 2023
Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice
400 South Union Street, Suite 245
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
2 Office Park Circle, Suite 10
Birmingham, AL 35223
Phone: (205) 963-7999