Staff

Jennifer Vollen-Katz, Executive Director
jvollen@thejha.org
312.291.9555

Jennifer is an attorney and the Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois. She oversees the Association’s work monitoring the conditions and programming in all Illinois correctional facilities, as well as helping to create and implement operational and policy reform system wide. Jennifer is the past Chairperson and a current board member of the State Advisory Board to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, a board member on the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority for which she serves as the Chairperson of the Appeals Committee, a member of both the Federal Defender Program and Salvation Army Advisory Boards, and she is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. She earned her Bachelor's Degree from St. Lawrence University, New York, her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, Washington D.C., and her MSc in criminal justice policy from the London School of Economics, London, England. Prior to joining the John Howard Association, Jennifer was a lecturer in law and a clinical supervisor at the University of Chicago Law School, Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, Federal Criminal Justice Project. She was also a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Program of Northern Illinois, where she represented indigent defendants in federal criminal cases in the Northern District of Illinois.

Daniel Hoffman, Office Manager
dhoffman@thejha.org
312.291.9183

Dan has been the Office Manager for the John Howard Association since 2008, using his knowledge in office administration coupled with his strong organizational and interpersonal skills. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Human Resource Management and a minor in Psychology. Prior to working at JHA, Dan worked in the retail, corporate, and distribution management fields.

Heidi Lambros, Director Legal Literacy Project
Heidi.legallitclinic@gmail.com

Heidi is the current director and co-creator of JHA's Legal Literacy Project.  She also works as an Assistant Appellate Defender at the Office of State Appellate Defender, representing indigent defendents on appeal in the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts, a position she has held since 2003. She has also been an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University College of Law and regularly speaks and presents at various organizations.  Heidi earned her Bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her law degree from DePaul University College of Law.  She also holds an advanced LL.M.degree in Child & Family Law from Loyola University.  Prior to working at JHA, Heidi won the JHA Volunteer of the Year in 2013. 

Scott McWilliams, Volunteer & Prison Correspondence Project Manager
smcwilliams@thejha.org

Scott joined the John Howard Association in 2016. He graduated from the University of St. Francis in 2013 cum laude with a degree in Criminal & Social Justice. He is expected to graduate with a master's degree in Criminal Justice & Criminology from Loyola University Chicago in the Fall of 2017. Since 2014, Scott has worked as Executive Director with a nonprofit organization that works with incarcerated people and their families, and among other duties, is responsible for the development and management of their volunteer programming. Scott was a former intern at The John Howard Association during his graduate studies, and has continued to volunteer as a citizen monitor ever since. His volunteering with JHA earned him the JHA Volunteer of the Year Award in 2015.

Julissa Muniz, Juvenile Policy Analyst & Facility Monitor
jmuniz@thejha.org
312.526.3492

Julissa earned her Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 and her Master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2016. Julissa is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University, examining the impact of incarceration on adolescent development and its policy implications. She joined the John Howard Association in 2016 as the Juvenile Policy Analyst and Facility Monitor. Julissa has worked in various California corrections facilities with both adults and youth. She has also worked as a legal assistant/advocate, GED instructor, writing workshop facilitator, and academic tutor.

Rebecca Pellegrino, Director of Development
rpellegrino@thejha.org

Rebecca joined the John Howard Association as Director of Development in 2016. Prior to JHA, Rebecca worked in development for both UCAN and Adler University, and provided fundraising counsel through GIVEndeavors. She also has experience working with the non-profits Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization and Cancer Research UK. Rebecca started her career in advertising, working with firms including FCB, element79partners, and Y&R. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and her MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. Rebecca is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Maya Szilak, Policy & Research Specialist
mszilak@thejha.org
312.291.9236

Maya is an attorney and John Howard Association's Policy and Research Specialist. She earned her Bachelor's Degree from Tulane University, New Orleans, and her law degree from Loyola University, Chicago. Prior to joining the John Howard Association, she served as a judicial law clerk in the Illinois Appellate Court, First Judicial District. Subsequently, she worked for eight years as an Assistant Appellate Defender in the Office of the State Appellate Defender, representing indigent clients in criminal appeals before the Illinois Appellate Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court, and in clemency proceedings before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Gwyneth Troyer, Director of JHA's Prison Monitoring Project 
gtroyer@thejha.org
312.291.9241

Gwyn became the Director of the Prison Monitoring Project at the John Howard Association in 2012. Prior to joining JHA, Gwyn practiced law in a boutique civil litigation firm. There she represented whistleblowers in cases involving multimillion dollar corporate fraud in government contracts and partnered with State and Federal investigators and prosecutors to recover penalties and misspent taxpayer funds, primarily in the healthcare and military sectors. Other areas of her legal practice included plaintiff-side complex litigation, class action, civil rights cases, and pro bono criminal defense work. She currently serves on the Northwestern University Institutional Review Board and is active in several national professional associations advancing independent oversight, transparency and accountability, and improvements in law enforcement and corrections policies and practices. Gwyn is a Department of Justice-certified Prison Rape Elimination Act Auditor for both adult and juvenile facilities. She earned her B.A. from Reed College in Portland, OR and her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, MA.

Phillip Whittington, Corrections Policy Analyst
ptwhit@thejha.org
312.291.9237

Phillip earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Loyola University of Chicago in 2012. He is currently pursuing his Master's in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies, also at Loyola. Phil started as an intern at JHA, and as Corrections Policy Analyst, is currently responsible for JHA's Prison Information Services, responding to letters, emails and phone calls from inmates, their families and loved ones. He draws upon his more than two decades of experience with the various facets of the criminal justice system to answer these inquiries about a wide range of subjects. Phil also serves on the Advisory Board of the Illinois Department of Corrections, is a Board Member of Aunt Mary's Storybook Project, and is a Research Assistant at Loyola University.