Jo-Ann Wallace


National Legal Aid & Defender Association

Jo-Ann Wallace is the president and CEO of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA).  She was previously NLADA’s Senior Vice President for Programs, responsible for oversight of both the Civil Legal Aid and Indigent Defense Program agendas. From 1994 to 2000, Ms. Wallace served as director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), widely regarded as the nation’s model defender agency. Before her appointment to Director, Ms. Wallace served the agency in a number of capacities: deputy chief of the Appellate Division; coordinator of the Juvenile Services Program; and as a staff attorney representing both juvenile and adults in trial and appellate litigation.

Ms. Wallace chaired the National Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Defender Services, a joint project with the United States Department of Justice (USDJ) from 1995 to 1996. She is a founder of the American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD), a leadership council of the top defender executives from across the United States, and the District of Columbia Appellate Practice Institute.  Her extensive experience lecturing includes serving as a member of the visiting faculty for the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School. Ms. Wallace has served as a member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Standards Committee. She has significant experience as an expert on criminal justice and indigent defense issues, including serving as a consultant to the United States Department of Justice, local government entities and indigent defense programs. Ms. Wallace recently received recognition from the White House as a “Champion of Change.” She is a graduate of New York University School of Law.