Community Salon Series

Criminal Justice Reform

Thursday, December 3 - 6-7:30pm

Join us for panel discussion and break-out room "round table" conversation about the issue of mass incarceration in the United States, and what types of local, state and national criminal justice reform can help address it. Please RSVP below for our Virtual Community Salon on Criminal Justice Reform. Zoom link to follow.

RSVP here

Parent speakers and local panelists

  • Cami Smith-Dahl '20 (Co-moderator)
  • Erin O’Donnell (Criminal Defense Attorney)
  • Kate Chatfield  (Director of Policy, The Justice Collaborative)
  • Vernon Goins (Attorney)
  • Rena Karea Johnson (Director of Campaigns & Advocacy, Essie Justice Group)

Detailed bios

Cami Smith-Dahl '20 - Co-moderator

Oakland native Cami Smith-Dahl is a student at the University of Southern California, studying film and television production at the prestigious cinema school. She is passionate about telling impactful stories and matters of social justice, two interests which are often intertwined in her work. She is also a graduate of International High School class of ‘20, where she served as the President of the Black Student Union and, among other work focused on diversity and inclusion, presented a TED x Talk on the dangers of Code Switching.


Erin O’Donnell - Criminal Defense Attorney

Erin O'Donnell has been a private criminal defense attorney since graduating from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2000. She started her career at Pier 5 Law Offices working with the notable J. Tony Serra. After honing her skills at Pier 5, she opened her own office and continued her work as a criminal defense warrior. She has almost two decades of criminal defense work in state and federal courts.

Erin works with Professor Lara Bazelon in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic. She supervises certified law students in their work defending misdemeanor criminal cases from arraignment to sentencing.


Kate Chatfield  - Director of Policy, The Justice Collaborative

Kate Chatfield, Director of Policy, is the former Policy Director at Restore Justice. There she was the lead drafter and organizer for California’s Senate Bill 1437, which amended California’s felony murder rule and other common law doctrines related to accomplice liability for homicides. Kate wrote The Guidebook for Petitioners and continues to train attorneys and jurists in implementing this reform.  Prior to this, Kate directed the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she trained students to represent indigent clients in the trial court and in parole hearings. Kate was a criminal defense attorney, representing clients in trial and appellate courts, both in private practice and at the Office of the State Public Defender. Kate attended law school at night, starting when her daughters were 3 and 6 years old.  She graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2006.


Vernon Goins - Attorney

Vernon Charles Goins II is a multilingual licensed attorney with a private practice focused on employment law, probate law, trust and estate planning, and general commercial litigation. Not only is he fluent in both French and Spanish, he holds a JD, an MBA, and an LLM degree. With the broad range of education that Vernon has acquired, he is a fervent advocate for his clients and their best interests.

Outside of his law practice, Mr. Goins has garnered exceptional experience through numerous organizations, such as teaching fourth grade bilingual classes in Compton, California for Teach for America, being President of the Charles Houston Bar Association, President of the California Association of Black Lawyers, and Director of Region IX of the National Bar Association. Vernon has also previously served on the Board of Directors of the Alameda Contra Costa County Trial Lawyers Association, the Lawyers Club of San Francisco, the Oakland Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Alameda County Bar Association. Lastly, he was a Steering Committee Member for the California Minority Counsel Program, member of the Earl Warren Inn of Court, Oakland Rotary Club #3, and current member of 100 Black Men of the Bay Area.


Rena Karea Johnson - Director of Campaigns & Advocacy, Essie Justice Group

Rena Karea Johson is Director of Campaigns and Advocacy at the Essie Justice Group, a group founded  in 2014 to harness the collective power of women with incarcerated loved ones to end mass incarceration’s harm to women and communities. Rena holds a BA in African-American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She served as a staff attorney with Youth Represent, providing youth criminal defense, reentry and advocacy services for young people in the New York City area. She also co-founded "Classrooms Not Cages" initiative which raised over $100,000 to bail high-school aged youth off of Riker's Island. She also worked for almost three years as a Senior Associate and then as the New York Director of Criminal Justice Reform with FWD.Us, before joining Essie Justice Group in 2020.