Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - 01:00
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The Mentorship Space: Building Brave Spaces to Empower, Include, and Elevate

Time: 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM (EDT)

Through structured mentorship programs, an office can empower, include, and elevate its defenders.  For new defenders, a structured mentorship program provides support and training in client-centered advocacy skills and personal growth, and provides an inclusive onboarding process.  For more experienced defenders, a mentorship program empowers and develops new leaders, includes and diversifies the voices in leadership, and creates community within the FPDO and throughout the defender nation.  This 75-minute session will introduce the key components of a structured mentorship program, the different models of mentorship programs to meet varying resources and needs of each office, and mentor trainings.  This session will also introduce the exciting upcoming launch of The Mentorship Space, an on-demand webinar series offering practical tools and resources to create structured mentorship programs - brave spaces that empower, include, and elevate its defenders.


Melanie Foote is the Education & Strategic Planning Branch Manager for the Department of Public Advocacy. Melanie joined the Education and Strategic Planning Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 2015. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego and her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. She is a member of New York and Kentucky State Bars, and has been practicing in Kentucky since she joined the Adult Post Conviction Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 2007. While in the Post-Conviction, Melanie represented adult clients on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, mistake in the proceedings, and claims of actual innocence. In that role, she secured the release and exoneration of Mr. Jason Girts, who had been wrongfully convicted based on false statements made by the child complaining witness. In 2009, she joined the Kentucky Innocence Project to work exclusively on DNA based claims of actual innocence, and assisted several clients to prove their innocence through DNA testing. At the completion of the DNA Grant in 2010, she began representing clients in district, circuit, juvenile and family court in the Elizabethtown and LaGrange Trial Offices. While at the Elizabethtown Trial Office, Melanie had the pleasure of representing Mr. Jose Padilla after his case was vacated and remanded by the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Padilla's charges were ultimately dismissed after a period of deferred prosecution, allowing him to remain in the United States. In 2017, Melanie secured a new trial for and the release of Mr. Norman Graham, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1980 rape and murder. All charges were dropped and Mr. Graham was fully exonerated in December of 2019. Melanie regularly trains public defender litigators in Kentucky and nationwide. She also assists with community education on issues related to public defense.

Jennifer Uyeda is currently a visiting attorney with the Training Division at the Administrative Office of the Courts.  In addition to planning and training at national conferences and workshops, she created The Mentorship Space, an on-demand webinar series offering practical tools and resources to create structured mentorship programs that are brave spaces to empower, include, and elevate its defenders.  Since 2019, she has been the Chief of Training at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California, responsible for training the trial, investigator, and paralegal units, as well as the CJA Trial Panel. Collaborating with her team, she strives to create inclusive, diverse, informative, and innovative training programs for new trial lawyers, assistants, and investigators.  She runs the Mentorship Program and especially loves being a mentor, motivator, and therapist to new trial lawyers as they brave the draconian courts and build their advocacy skills and confidence to become fearless defenders. Hardly one-sided mentorships, she likewise learns from their creativity, energy, and fresh outlook. She also enjoys building trainers, honing in on their expertise and experience, and empowering them create their own presentations.  Jen has been a DFPD for 14 years after learning from some of the best in criminal defense at the firm formerly known as Lightfoot Vandevelde. She is a Loyola Law School and Occidental College graduate and Thomas Watson fellow. When she is not fighting the good fight, she surfs with her family, sews (quilts, felt snacks and food, and Halloween costumes) and cooks.

We did not apply for CLE for this particular program.  However, all attendees will receive an certificate of attendance within 15-30 days of the broadcast that may be used to self-report CLE.