SALT Announces Co-Presidents Elect, Nominees to Board of Governors

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SALT is proud to announce the selection of Co-Presidents Elect and nominees to the Board of Governors.  Their photos and statements of interest are set out below.  The Board nominees will be presented as a slate at the SALT Annual Member Meeting to be held on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at 6 p.m. at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, 540 Broadway Street, New Orleans, LA 70118.  The Co-Presidents Elect will serve two-year terms starting on January 1, 2018, and elected Board members will begin three-year terms on the same date.

SALT members may submit additional Board of Governors nominations.  The additional nominations must (1) be made no later than September 12, 2017, (2) include a statement of interest from the nominee of up to 250 words, and (3) include signatures or other written support of the nomination from at least seven additional SALT members.  Once nominations are closed, a reminder about the Annual Meeting in New Orleans on November 11 will be sent out along with a proxy form for those members unable to attend the Annual Meeting.

Only current SALT members qualify for nomination. You can join or renew here.  If you or your nominee are unsure of your membership status, please send an email to including your name and institution so that we may check your status.  If you are not currently a member or your membership has lapsed because you have not paid dues in the past year, please join or renew today.

We thank you for your support of SALT.  We appreciate the dedication of our all-volunteer organization as we continue to work toward our core values of diversity, teaching excellence, and social justice.

Sara Rankin (Seattle U) & Denise Roy (Mitchell Hamline)
SALT Co-Presidents

 Co-Presidents Elect

Professor Matthew Charity

Thank you for allowing me to express my interest in serving as Co-President of SALT.

I have worked with a number of SALT committees over the past five years, and have been excited to plan and attend workshops that help me rethink my teaching, re-contextualize my scholarship, and build on my passion for justice.  The human rights and teaching awards have brought many of us together to recognize colleagues that we admire and, in many ways, aspire to be.  For a large number of us, SALT has been, and continues to be, a home within the legal academy.

I have been teaching since 2007, and have found support in the SALT community throughout my legal teaching career.  Some of the support has been personal: advice at a pivotal moment, or reassurance during a stressful time.  Other support has been structural: letters drafted by the organization supporting and expanding tenure and academic freedom; writings on the SALT blog that expand on ideas I’m formulating for the classroom on issues of human rights or racial and economic justice; and many other mechanisms that give me confidence in my teaching, scholarship, and interactions with legal discourse in general.

Most of my students are not surprised to discuss questions of fundamental justice when they take courses in international or federal criminal law, or human rights; but with the support of SALT members, I have found it easier to phrase questions from a perspective considering identity and rights in courses such as contracts, as well.

I am a proud member of SALT, and would be honored to serve as a SALT Co-President.


Professor Davida Finger

I look forward to serving as a SALT leader and to building on the incredible foundation this community has developed to further justice both within and outside of the academy.  My role on the Board is an opportunity to continue to learn from the SALT community and help lead SALT’s advocacy efforts on critical justice.

I first learned about SALT as a law student when I attended the Trina Grillo conference and knew right away that the SALT community was special.  The line-up of speakers addressing topics such as access to justice, diversity in law schools, human rights, racial justice, and poverty was exactly what I needed to hear.  SALT members have continued to inspire and guide me as I have completed my first term with the SALT Board of Governors.  I would be honored and delighted to continue to contribute to SALT’s important mission for another term.

I joined the Loyola Law Clinic to work on post-disaster matters following the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.  For years, I was engaged with different SALT members in our post-disaster work.  My involvement with SALT has grown to include a range of service activities for the Teaching conference, Cover workshop, and membership and access to justice committees.

This is an important time for our SALT community to be even more reflective and responsive through position statements, collaborations, and strategic advocacy.  I am strongly committed to furthering SALT’s mission around justice reforms, academic opportunity and freedom, and justice-oriented pedagogy.

I now serve as a Clinic Professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law where I teach the Community Justice clinic and direct the Incubator Program for solo practitioners.

Nominees to the Board of Governors

Emily Benfer, Clinical Professor, Formerly of Loyola Chicago

Thank you for the opportunity to express my enthusiastic interest in serving on the SALT Board of Governors for a third term. I am an avid supporter and member of SALT because SALT 1) constantly challenges me and other members of the academic community to teach as instruments of social justice; 2) actively, effectively, and reliably responds to injustice in the legal community and society; and 3) is made up of committed, passionate, exceptional leaders who inspire me on a daily basis.

I have dedicated my career to advancing SALT’s values of social justice, equality and diversity, and the mentoring and teaching of socially responsible attorneys and professionals. Since 2010, I have served as a Clinical Professor of Law and the founding director of the Health Justice Project at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Stritch School of Medicine. In this role, I have trained students of law, public health, social work, and medicine to advocate side by side with the local and national advocacy communities in order to advance social justice for marginalized and impoverished communities. It has been a privilege to bring this collaborative approach to the SALT board as the past Chair of the Membership Committee, Nominations Committee, and Norman Amaker Public Interest Law Retreat. I look forward to building on this work and welcome the challenge of advancing SALT’s goals during a time when their realization is of paramount importance, perhaps more than ever.

Olympia Duhart, Director of Legal Research and Writing Program and Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University

SALT has been a central part of my experience as a law teacher. In SALT, I found a community of academic activists. In these challenging times, it is more important than ever for us to continue the hard and important work of advancing the rule of law. SALT is essential to shaping policy, improving legal education, supporting the community and fighting to make the legal profession more inclusive.

During my past term on the SALT Board of Governors, I joined these efforts in many ways: I helped draft an amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas; planned BA to JD Pipeline events around the country to help historically marginalized people find a path to law school; organized a Breaking-In Program for underrepresented people to join the legal academy; and organized community workshops on student activism and police accountability in communities of color. But I was most privileged to serve with Professor Ruben Garcia as Co-President of SALT, a post I held from 2014 to 2016. It was an honor to work with people committed to transformative law teaching and social justice. We made great strides, but there is still so much work to do. The core values advanced at SALT – teaching excellence, social justice and diversity – mirror my own. So it is hard to imagine my life in the academy without my SALT family. I look forward to another term on the board and continuing our work.

Alexi Freeman, Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Externships & Public Interest Initiatives, University of Denver

I am currently Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Externships & Public Interest Initiatives at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. I teach a range of social justice oriented courses and engage in a number of out of class efforts aimed at growing the number of students interested in pursuing social change. I am a racial justice movement lawyer at heart and do everything I can to challenge traditional notions of hierarchy and power dynamics within society, the practice of law, and legal education.

For the past three years, I have been honored to serve on SALT’s board of governors and am excited to seek re-election. During my tenure with SALT, my efforts have been focused namely in two areas: the access to justice committee and the SSAC, the pilot SALT Student Advisory Council. I look forward to continuing to contribute in these arenas and specifically find ways to connect SALT-Y students with SALT to grow our influence and spread a social justice vision for legal education.

In addition, I am a long-term contract faculty member with governing rights. The status of externship faculty across the country ranges greatly and a number of different challenges exist. Contract faculty are often underrepresented in national organizations, and I am eager to serve as a voice for such clinicians.

Steve Friedland, Associate Dean for Innovations in Engaged Learning in the Law, Professor of Law and Senior Scholar, Elon University

SALT is needed now more than ever. With the identity and focus of many law schools subject to increasing volatility and uncertainty, how legal education defines itself in the coming decade has become increasingly important.

I have become more involved in SALT in recent years and wish to step up my service. I have been a member of the SALT Junior Teaching Award Committee the past two years. I participated in the fall 2016 SALT conference on teaching in Chicago. I assisted with the SALT pipeline program at Elon Law School during the past two years, including teaching in it. In addition, I have become passionate about developing programs for first generation professionals, a group that faces may unseen headwinds in their education and careers. I twice sponsored faculty discussion groups on this topic at the SEALS conference, spoke at the 2016 annual LSAC conference on the subject, and founded a First Gen Professionals Association at Elon Law School. This group deserves more attention and integration into the fabric of legal education. We are lucky to have the opportunity to impact our students and the community through our teaching, but that teaching is often undervalued. Over time, I have become much more interested in promoting a learning-centered education that better serves the whole class, and not just a few. Having taught legal writing, externships and substantive law courses, I have seen various dimensions of the process and have experimented with multiple delivery methods, from design thinking to brain science techniques. These alternatives connect differing forms of teaching with social justice and other core values of SALT.

For all of the above reasons, it would be a privilege to serve SALT as a member of its Board of Governors.

Catherine Grosso, Associate Professor of Law, Michigan State University

A bit of very good luck made me a law teacher. A longstanding SALT member reviewed my quirky resume and passed it on to her dean. To me, she said “SALT is the organization for you.” SALT remains the community of legal academics among whom I feel most at home. SALT’s commitment to justice within the legal community and beyond nurtures me. SALT provides a welcome respite from the hierarchy and patriarchy that dominate the academy. It also plays an essential role in mentoring diverse leaders and celebrating our heroes.

Now more than ever, we must redouble efforts to expand the profession and access to law. For example, we must explicate the limits of admissions benchmarks. While LSAT may predict the success of strong students, it cannot explain why so many “at risk” students far outperform their numbers. It cannot predict their future success as lawyers in their communities. We must not to lose these students in this time of shrinking admissions. SALT’s pedagogical initiatives provide key support to this effort.

I seek a leadership role in order to give back to the organization and support progressive values in legal education. I look forward to an opportunity to learn from other members of the SALT community. Involvement in the board is a chance to serve and to develop my own thinking about the most challenging issues facing legal education today. I hope to become a more engaged and thoughtful member of our community through involvement in the SALT board.

Joan Howarth, Dean Emerita and Professor of Law, Michigan State University, Visiting Professor, UNLV

To maximize our strength, progressive law professors need a community and a voice, and SALT provides both. SALT focuses its progressive activism outward, to the big justice issues of the world; and inward, within our own professional home, legal education. Since its founding, SALT has helped to transform the legal academy by supporting women, members of the LGBT communities, and people of color to become participants and then leaders. SALT conferences have inspired the best teaching of thousands of us, including me. I am a grateful beneficiary of SALT’s efforts.

Before law teaching I practiced as a public defender and ACLU attorney. I have been on the faculties at Golden Gate, UNLV, and Michigan State, where I served as dean for eight years. I have taught as a visiting professor at UC Hastings, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley, and now back at UNLV. My scholarly interests include gender, sexuality, and capital punishment; LGBT legal history; and, most recently, attorney licensing. I have worked on various SALT projects, including working for LGBT justice, defending academic freedom, and challenging the exclusionary bar exam. [SALT has been beating its head against the bar exam wall for twenty years, but we are finally seeing signs of possible progress.] When I previously served on the SALT board, from about 1998 to 2014, I took on many organizational leadership roles, including chairing lots of committees. I am pleased and honored to be nominated to return.

Margo Lindauer, Associate Teaching Professor, Northeastern University

I am honored to present this statement of interest to be considered as a member of the Society of American Law Teachers’ Board of Governors for the 2017-2018 year. I am wholly committed to SALT’s commitment to advancing teaching excellence, social justice and diversity. I would be honored to be part of a broader community (outside of my own law school) of progressive law teachers, law school administrators, librarians, academic support experts, students and affiliates to further the conversation and the work that SALT is doing. As a current member of SALT and its Access to Justice Committee, I have been exposed and worked on some of SALT’s initiatives. I would be thrilled to expand my knowledge, commitment and dedicate my time to working more on a broader range of SALT’s identified goals.

I currently direct the Domestic Violence Institute at Northeastern University School of Law and hold a joint appointment as an Associate Teaching Professor with the Law School and Bouve College of Health Sciences. In my capacity as a law professor, I teach a six credit Domestic Violence Clinic, a Spanish for Lawyers Course and oversee the operation of the Institute which in addition to the clinic supports a first year volunteer program as well as multiple Independent Studies and Research opportunities. My goal is to help students learn how to have empathy, be client-centered, be holistic and collaborative in their approach, be culturally sensitive and understand and identify the biases they bring to their advocacy work all while effectively representing their clients’ interests.

I am interested and committed to being part of the national conversations about how we recruit and train the next generation of lawyers. I also believe that SALT identifies the critical importance of bringing people from diverse backgrounds into the profession, in all capacities; I want to join the SALT Board of Governors to be part of achieving these goals.

Steven A. Ramirez, Professor, Loyola University Chicago

Last year proved challenging for me personally. The year started with a bicycle crash that led to major surgery and extended physical therapy. I published (with co-authors) a new book on the breakdown in the rule of law following the Great Financial Crisis (The Case for the Corporate Death Penalty) and a law review article on diversity in the financial sector ( Diversifying to Mitigate Risk). I completed three other articles for publication. I chaired the planning committee for the annual meeting of ClassCrits, the Loyola Institute for Investor Protection, the AALS Committee for Retention and Recruitment of Minority Law Teachers and Students, and the Norman C. Amaker Social Justice Retreat (co-sponsored by Loyola and SALT). I undertook major responsibility for planning two law review symposia focusing on diversity in the legal academy (U. C. Davis L. Rev.) and social justice and capitalism (Seattle U. L. Rev.). Finally, I helped to “Get out the Vote” in the election and acted as Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development (stepping down as 7/1/17).

This is the energy I will bring to the SALT Board. In a time when corporate and governing elites lay siege to the rule of law and social justice, those of us privileged enough to serve in the legal academy hold a moral obligation to resist on behalf of the disempowered. We must speak out to hold elites accountable. That is the commitment I offer to SALT: I will use this position to speak as loudly and as effectively as possible for social justice.

Christine Zuni Cruz, Professor and Associate Dean of Institutional Climate and Equity, University of New Mexico

 I have taught at the University of New Mexico School of Law for over twenty years. During this period of time I have had the experience of directing a clinical program and a legal program for Indigenous Peoples. I have sought to bring in the voices of local Indigenous experts and national and international legal figures to underscore the local impact of law. I continue to serve as a

faculty member of the Law and Indigenous Peoples program and this year served as an Associate Dean for Institutional Climate and Equity. My experience has shown me that the work to diversify legal institutions is an ongoing, ever-shifting challenge, with much of it arising from the successful efforts of diversification itself. I am interested in SALT’s continued commitment to diversity within the legal academy and its work in challenging the bar exam. I look forward to re-engaging with faculty from across the country after having spent the past few years focused at an institutional and local level and a year teaching law in Canada. My current research includes dialogue, with an emphasis on listening, helping diverse peoples communicate to work more effectively together, and interact productively; and diplomacy, when opposing parties are at an impasse. As an academician, I have worked on experiential learning, on the preparation of students for practice, including licensing, broadening perspectives and understandings on global legal traditions, developments on the rights of Indigenous Peoples internationally, including decolonization, and cultural and racial literacies for the practice of law within specific underserved and historically oppressed communities.