The Center for Children, Law and Ethics combines the interest and involvement of law students, local, national and international advisers, and the well-known scholarship of Director David Smolin. The center facilitates the production of meaningful, influential scholarship, projects and advice in the field of children’s issues.
The mission of the center is to further the welfare and best interests of children locally, nationally and internationally, through working collaboratively with organizations and persons engaged in furthering those ends, and by training students to contribute substantively to the field of children’s issues.
Persons or organizations seeking assistance, or interested in partnering with or assisting the center can contact Director David Smolin, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com.
Current and Prior Research Fellows: Lauren White, 2013 Fellow, Center for Children, Law and Ethics, May 2014 J.D./M.B.A. candidate, firstname.lastname@example.org or 940-781-7608
David M. Smolin, Director
The work of the center is led by Director David M. Smolin, Harwell G. Davis Professor of Constitutional Law at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Smolin teaches in the areas of constitutional law, family law, juvenile law, criminal law, bioethics, international human rights, children’s rights and wills.
Smolin has taught as an adjunct or visiting professor at the University of Alabama Law School, Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, Regent University Law School, Handong International School of Law (South Korea) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health.
Smolin has published extensively in the areas of adoption, child labor, children’s rights, child and human trafficking, constitutional reproductive issues, bioethics, and theology and law. Most of his adoption-related articles are available online and have received a total of more than 34,000 downloads. He serves as an independent expert on intercountry adoption for the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
Smolin has presented on adoption and/or children’s issues at numerous domestic and international symposia.
Smolin frequently serves as a background source for media, has been quoted on adoption issues for the New York Times, and has written on adoption as an invited expert for the Room for Debate New York Times opinion blog. Together, he works together with his wife, Desiree Smolin, on children’s issues and analysis and reform of adoption systems and practices. In addition, he has been interviewed on adoption or children’s issues for China Radio Today (China Radio International), Danish Public Radio, Radio Netherlands, UNICEF’s “Beyond School Books” podcast series, and National Public Radio (Morning Edition and The Takeaway).
The center maximizes training for law students in children’s issues by creating a graduated, three-year process of working with the center, which builds on the well-known scholarship of the director to create new avenues of scholarly production in children’s issues. The center facilitates the production of meaningful scholarship that is influential in the field of children’s issues. This goal is achieved through a variety of mechanisms, including the seeking of collaborative efforts with the publications of Cumberland School of Law and seeking a collaborative relationship with a book publisher for a series of books sponsored by the center.
Stefan Bachman was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; however, he primarily grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. During his senior year of high school, he studied at a school near Berlin, Germany. The experience, upon his return to the U.S., prompted him to major in German and international trade at Clemson University.
Bachman returned to Europe as an exchange student to study at Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Austria, during his junior year of undergraduate studies. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard, attending basic training in Cape May, New Jersey. During his time in the Coast Guard, Bachman served aboard two different ships and at a force protection unit. He was stationed in Norfolk, Virgina; San Diego, California; and King’s Bay, Georgia.
While operations varied, Bachman spent a significant amount of time conducting anti-human trafficking and counter-narcotic missions in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, often working to intercept children before they could be successfully trafficked into the United States for unlawful purposes.
In 2012, Bachman matriculated to Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. He serves as a junior editor on the Cumberland Law Review and as the trafficking team leader for the Center for Children, Law and Ethics. During the summer of 2013, Bachman worked for the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and on the Alabama Governor’s legal staff. Bachman is married and has a two-year-old daughter.
Allie Thompson is a second-year student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. She is the team leader for the center’s pediatric bioethics division. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2012 with a major in advertising and a double minor in psychology and computer science application. Last summer, Thompson interned for the Bessemer Division of Jefferson County’s Family Court. She hopes to continue her child advocacy work after earning her law degree.
Anna Reilly is a second-year student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and a leader for the center’s bioethics team (with a focus on reproductive technology). She has clerked for a surrogacy and reproductive technology law firm and hopes to use that experience toward growing this area within the center. Reilly graduated from Rhodes College, majoring in psychology and education. While at Rhodes, she worked extensively with the Exchange Club Family Center and the YMCA. Although still considering which field to enter after graduation, she has interests in family law, child advocacy and human rights.
After graduating from the University of Georgia, Courtney Doubberly began working for BB&T bank. She transferred to the BB&T in Heflin, Alabama, in 2011 and began working with the Department of Human Resources (DHR) Quality Assurance Board (QAB). As a member of the QAB, Doubberly reviewed DHR cases, evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the case worker, and assessed how the general framework and processes were working in these individual cases. Through this experience, Doubberly became very interested in family law and domestic relations. She currently works for two family lawyers and assists in managing their offices and writing motions and briefs. Doubberly is a second-year student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and looks forward to a career of helping people navigate domestic relations issues.
Alice Nix is a second-year student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and co-leader of the family law/domestic relations team. She graduated from the University of the South-Sewanee with a bachelor of arts in anthropology in 2012. Nix worked last summer under the director of domestic violence at the YWCA and volunteered with the Jefferson County Family Court. She hopes to practice in juvenile justice and domestic relations after graduation.
Mitch Relfe is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and a third-year student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 2008. After college, he spent three years in Washington, D.C., working as a legislative aide for Representative Spencer Bachus and the Senate Republican Conference before returning to Alabama. In the fall of 2013, Relfe led a group of Cumberland School of Law students in an extensive research project for the center to assist in an important adoption case before the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. In addition to his work for the center, he serves as the writing editor for the Cumberland Law Review.
Ashley Waldrop is a second-year student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and is a leader for the center’s abuse and neglect team. After earning her bachelor of art in political science from Auburn University (2008) and her master’s in public administration (2010), Waldrop worked with the Department of Human Resources in the SNAP program and in child welfare. Before attending law school, Waldrop worked as a family preservation caseworker. She is interested in litigation and criminal law.
The advisory board of the Center for Children, Law and Ethics is diverse in geography, nationality, vocation, educational background, areas of interest, expertise, race, gender, life experience, political opinion and religion. Board members have been recruited because of their demonstrated shared concern for the welfare and best interests of children and families and their willingness to be supportive of the work of the center. We are excited to have the support, expertise and assistance of these individuals as resources as the center continues to develop. Affiliations, employment and positions of advisory board members are provided for purposes of information only.
Marc James Ayers is a member of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP’s Appellate Litigation Group. He represents individual, corporate and governmental clients before state and federal appellate and trial courts. Marc is listed in "Best Lawyers in America" in the field of Appellate Law, and has handled numerous appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, and other state appellate courts. He has also represented clients on petitions for certiorari and amicus curiae briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. From 2008–2010, Ayers served as chair of the appellate practice section of the Alabama State Bar. He currently serves as general counsel to the Alabama Senate Republican Caucus.
Hervé Boéchat is a Swiss lawyer currently working as coordinator of the International Reference Centre for the Rights of Children Deprived of their Family. He obtained his law degree from Neuchâtel University in 1995 and became a solicitor in 1998. He carried out two field missions for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan (2000) and Southern Sudan (2001). He was then employed as a scientific collaborator at the Federal Office of Justice of Switzerland, in charge of the implementation of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption, and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. He completed a master of advanced studies in children’s rights in 2003 at Fribourg University and published his research work about international adoption in 2006.
Nigel Cantwell is an international consultant on child protection policy, based in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing mainly on alternative care for children, the protection of children’s rights in intercountry adoption and juvenile justice. His work involves a special focus on the development and implementation of international standards, policy and legislative reviews, and in-depth field assessments of current systems. He also lectures at two masters courses on children’s rights at the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bosch/University of Fribourg in Switzerland.
Cantwell has been working on children’s issues at the international level since the mid-1970s. After five years with the now-defunct International Union for Child Welfare, he set up the NGO Defence for Children International during the International Year of the Child, 1979. Throughout the 1980s, he was coordinator and general spokesperson of the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, playing a direct role in the CRC drafting process. He also participated actively in the development of the UN Rules for Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty and the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. In 1994, he began working as a full-time consultant on children’s rights with UNICEF, and was then appointed head of the Implementation of International Standards unit at UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy (1998–2003). As of 2004, he notably led the initial drafting process of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and served as technical adviser to Brazil during the final intergovernmental consultations on the draft text that were spearheaded by that country.
E. Wayne Carp is the Benson Family Chair in History and professor of history at Pacific Lutheran University. His major publications include Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption (Harvard University Press, 1998) and Adoption Politics: Bastard Nation and Ballot Initiative 58 (University of Kansas Press, 2004). He is also the editor of Adoption in America: Historical Perspectives (University of Michigan Press, 2002) and many articles on the history of adoption. His most recent book, Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption (University of Michigan Press, 2013).
Shon Casey is a sales manager at Tameron Honda, in Birmingham, Alabama, where he has worked since 2005. He was salesman of the year in 2009 and salesman of the month many times. He founded Executive Communications, which he ran as CEO from 1997 to 2004, before selling the company. He holds both a utility patent and a design patent based on his own inventions. He is a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Casey is married to Domeka Casey, a critical care RN at UAB S.I.C.U. They are the parents of twin girls.
Anne Conway is a Birmingham, Alabama, native and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a B.A. in public relations and a minor in social psychology. Conway currently works in downtown Birmingham. She has a three-year-old daughter, Stella Blue.
In 2006, Conway surrendered her first infant daughter to adoption. As a first mother she has published several editorials on the need for safeguards in adoption legislation and practice and has spoken to Samford University’s Cumberland Law School students about the unseen side of adoption. Recently her story titled “A Mother’s Story,” was published in the Journal of Christian Legal Thought, a publication of the Christian Legal Society. When not working or writing, Conway enjoys spending time with Stella Blue, yoga, sewing and making jewelry.
Jenna Cook is an undergraduate at Yale University majoring in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Adopted from China in 1992, Cook was profiled in the film, Somewhere Between, and has written for Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (ed. Ballard, 2009) and From Home to Homeland: What Adoptive Families Need to Know Before Making a Return Trip to China (ed. Jacobs, 2010). In the summers, Cook serves as a Chinese language translator and leads homeland tours for adoptees though the China Ties program. Cook is currently writing her senior thesis about her interviews with Chinese birth families. She hopes to become a researcher and professor one day.
A recent graduate of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Laura Cunliffe brings significant policy and practical experience in education to the center. She has served as a research assistant in the education sector in Washington, D.C., an education policy analyst at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., a school board fellow at the Center for Reinventing School Systems, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and research assistant for Education Policy Director Emily Schultz, Office of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. She currently serves as a presidential management fellow in Washington, D.C, where she is a program analyst in the child nutrition division of the United States Department of Agriculture. In addition, Cunliffe was a learning team leader in Americorps and a Teach for America teacher at Randolph Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
While attending Cumberland School of Law, she served as director of the Street Law program, the vice president of the Cumberland Public Interests and Community Service Organization and also as a research assistant for Professor David Smolin on religious aspects of adoption. She is also a graduate of Wheaton College with a major in psychology.
Anil C. Dayakar is the founder and executive director of Gamana, an NGO in Andhra Pradesh, India. He is a civil engineer by profession. Gamana works on rural and tribal issues to empower local communities on a variety of issues, including female infanticide, education of the girl child, educational development and care/support of visually impaired children, HIV/AIDS, environmental protection, tribal rights, water resource management and sustainable/organic farming.
Amita Dhanda is professor of law at National Academy of Legal Studies and Research, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. She also heads the Centre for Disability Studies at the university. She has a substantive interest in the field of public law and human rights with special reference to disability rights.
Dhanda’s doctoral thesis, which undertook a critical appraisal of the laws relating to the mentally ill in India, was the first effort in the country evaluating the human rights conformity of mental health laws. The thesis was later brought out as a book titled Legal Order and Mental Disorder. Her special research knowledge became the basis of the Supreme Court of India asking Dhanda to investigate and report on the condition of persons living with mental illness in the jails of West Bengal and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment asking her to chair the committee, which examined the amendment of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. Dhanda’s interest in the field of disability rights acquired an international dimension when she started to actively engage in the work of the United Nations ad hoc committee negotiating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Dhanda was appointed as legal consultant to the committee established by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to make a new law to replace the Persons with Disabilities Act in August 2010. The resultant Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill was submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in June 2011. Dhanda was also commissioned to amend the National Trust for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 to bring it in harmony with the UN Convention. The amendments bringing the act in harmony with the PWDA, Bill 2011 and the UN Convention were submitted to the trust in July 2011. Dhanda is presently engaged in restructuring the course curriculum of the university in order to promote interdisciplinary and critical understanding of law and justice.
Cynthia N. (Cindy) Douglas is a native Alabamian, wife, mother, grandmother, homemaker, teacher, healthcare worker, community organizer and advocate for all things promoting the importance of families binding generation to generation. Douglas has worked in the fields of education and healthcare for more than 40 years. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 1975 with a B.S. in education in composite science and is a registered medical technologist. She is married to Gilbert F. Douglas III, and they have five children and seven grandchildren. For many years, Douglas has balanced her work as a homeschooling mom with her employment at various hospitals in Birmingham. She is presently employed by Children’s Hospital of Alabama (clinical microbiology). She also serves on the board of directors for PineBelt Communications, an independent telecommunications business serving rural Alabama where she grew up and volunteers in many local community organizations.
Gilblert F. Douglas III has a long history of community activism on behalf of promoting better policies for children. He was a leader in helping establish the homeschool movement in Alabama and has served as administrator for a local homeschooling group, Heritage Academy, for the past 30 years. He has awarded diplomas to hundreds of homeschooled students who have proven to be good citizens and workers, competent consumers and innovative entrepreneurs. In addition, he has served as a local elected official (constable) for 30 years, where he has worked with the small claims courts and local businesses, served as county chairman for a political party, and serves in a leadership role at his church, Trinity Presbyterian. Gilbert and his wife, Cynthia, live in Birmingham; they have five children, four of whom are married, and seven grandchildren. He is a graduate of Samford University, where he studied history, political science and economics.
Leon S. Dure IV, M.D., William Bew White Jr. M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurology; professor and division director, Department of Pediatrics; professor, Department of Neurobiology; University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine; chair, Children’s Hospital of Alabama Ethics Committee. Dr. Dure is a graduate of the Baylor College of Medicine. He is board certified in pediatrics with special qualification in child neurology. Dr. Dure has numerous publications and is a leading practitioner in the field of pediatric neurology.
Lisha Li Graham, an associate with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, represents clients in the areas of commercial litigation, consumer practices and product liability defense. She represents financial institutions, companies and individuals in a variety of commercial cases, including breach of contract, fraud, negligence and business torts. As part of her commercial litigation practice, Graham also represents creditors in Chapters 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcy actions to preserve creditors’ claims, collect debts due, and litigate creditors’ claims in adverse proceedings. In the consumer practices area, she represents manufacturers of automobiles and focuses on the defense of cases involving breach of warranty, the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Alabama’s lemon law. In the products liability defense area, Graham represents manufacturers of automobiles, distributors, seller of parts, as well as builders and installers against negligence and strict liability claims based upon alleged product defects that resulted in injuries or death. Specifically, she has defended clients in construction cases, Chinese drywall litigation and pharmaceutical litigation.
In addition, Graham also defends claims involving premises liability, worker’s compensation, as well as insurance coverage and bad faith claims. Prior to joining Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell, she practiced at a large law firm in Birmingham where she specialized in asbestos and toxic torts, medical malpractice and labor and employment law.
As a 2009 graduate of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, she was active in the national trial team. She won the National American Association of Justice trial competition in 2008 and the regional TYLA trial competition in 2009. She was named advocate of the year in 2009 and received the Papantonio Trial Advocacy Award. She was a member of and a published author in the American Journal of Trial Advocacy and served as the director of the Cumberland School of Law negotiation competition. Graham continues to be active in Cumberland School of Law’s trial program by serving as judge for various trial competitions.
Kara Shea Graves is a senior MD candidate at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She will join the University Medical Center and Children’s Health System of Alabama as a resident physician in pediatrics this June. She graduated from Samford University in 2009 with degrees in classics and biology. Graves is particularly interested in the center’s work in the areas of reproductive ethics and pediatric bioethics.
John Hall was born in Birmingham. He is currently the owner of the Law Office of Hall & Hall, LLC. In the three years between 2006 and 2009, he took a leave of absence from his 24-year law career to return to his previous profession of teaching public high school.
Prior to returning to teaching, he was founder and partner of the law firm Hall & Hall in 1998. Before starting his own firm, he was shareholder and partner with the law firm of Rives & Peterson for 16 years. Previous positions also include social studies teacher in the public schools of Birmingham and Denver, Colorado; director of an inner-city day camp (Camp Fire Boys and Girls of Birmingham and JCCEO); and director of male staff and camp counselor with the South Carolina Camp for Mentally Retarded Children.
Hall received his J.D. degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, engaged in postgraduate studies work at Colorado State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham in secondary education and history. He graduated from the University of Georgia with an ABJ degree in journalism (public relations).
During his volunteer work at the state level, he has drafted and worked for the passage of more than 30 Alabama statutes and has twice received the Alabama Citizen of the Year Award (1987, 2002) from the Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence. He was appointed by the governor to chair the Alabama Council on Violence against Women in 2002. This council developed and published Alabama’s first-ever Plan to Combat Violence against Women. He served as cochairman and moderator of the 1996 Alabama Media Summit, The Media and Our Children—The Good, the Bad, and the Solutions, held in Montgomery, Alabama, and sponsored by the governor.
Hall served as president for the United Way agency, the Central Alabama Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls, from 1998 to 1999 and served on the board of directors of the A+ Research Foundation (working for education reform), and the Summit Children’s Foundation of Birmingham.
He has received numerous awards for his dedication and service to the poor, children, women and families of Alabama, including the 1996 Children’s Advocate Award, by Childcare Resources; the 1996 Jefferson Award for public service from WBHM, Channel 42 in Birmingham; the 1996 Good Shepherd Award from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham; the 1998 Child Advocacy National Certificate of Recognition from the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division; and was chosen by The Birmingham News editorial board as one of six 1996 Unsung Heroes in recognition of volunteer community service. Hall also received the Distinguished Service Award, from the Alabama Chief Probation Officers’ Association.
Hall is a graduate of the 1996–1997 class of Leadership Birmingham.
Other notable honors include working as a special assistant attorney general and serving as chairman of the Attorney General’s Crime Victim’s Task Force between 1987 and 1990, which resulted in the passage of 19 laws and was hailed as a model for the nation. Statutes Hall drafted protected the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, spousal rape, drunk driving, child abuse and elder abuse.
Between 1988 and 1990, Hall helped lead a team of physicians, forensic experts and district attorneys to revamp and develop the “Alabama Rape Evidence Collection Kit,” which was utilized in all Alabama hospitals that performed sexual assault exams in Alabama. In the late 1990’s, Hall chaired a group at the request of Democratic Governor Siegelman and Republican Attorney General Bill Pryor, to update the evidence collection kit in order to make it compatible with the new use of DNA evidence.
As an attorney, Hall was awarded membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2002, an honorary forum in which membership is extended by invitation only to attorneys throughout the U.S. who have won one or more multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Since becoming an attorney, Hall has contributed well over 4,000 pro bono hours on behalf of numerous public service efforts. These include authoring and working on the Children First legislative program, co-founding and serving as chairman and president of Children First Foundation, Inc., co-chairmanship of the Lt. Governor’s School and Youth Violence Task Force, working with the Alabama Senate Education Committee to enhance the 1995 Alabama Education Accountability Act, working with the State Department of Education and serving as chair of the Alabama Council on Violence Against Women.
In 2010, he helped found and was chosen to be the first board chair of the Children First Alliance of Alabama, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
Currently, he is working weekly to lead a Bible study in a prison ministry at Bibb County Correctional Facility.
Kim Hudson attended Purdue University for two years before transferring to Auburn University. She graduated from Auburn University in 1996 with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and criminology. Hudson then attended Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, graduating in 2000 and passing the Alabama bar. She practices law at Davis, Bingham, and Hudson in Auburn, Alabama.
In 2009, Hudson, with her husband, Tim, co-founded the Hudson Family Foundation. She strongly supports several additional children’s charities and works hard to further their efforts. Some of these organizations include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta Braves Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia and Alabama, CURE Childhood Cancer, The Rally Foundation and aTeam Ministries.
Herman N. (Rusty) Johnson Jr., is an assistant professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama. Until December 2009, he was a member of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, LLC, a law firm with offices in Birmingham and Washington, D.C. There, Johnson represented litigants nationally in individual and aggregate action litigation, including class and collective actions, with a particular emphasis on wage and hour, employment discrimination, ERISA and international human rights litigation. Prior to joining Wiggins, Childs, he served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the Honorable Myron H. Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. He earned a juris doctor and master of international affairs from Columbia University in 1999 and a bachelor of arts in economics from Duke University in 1991. Between his studies at Duke and Columbia, Johnson served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa, from 1991 to 1993, and as an Americorps NCCC volunteer from 1994 to 1995.
JaeRan Kim MSW, LGSW was born in South Korea and adopted to the United States in 1971 at the age of three. She has worked in foster care/adoption (both public and private), with at-risk young moms and with adults with disabilities in residential care. Kim is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a project coordinator at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, where she held Title IV-E Child Welfare and LEND fellowships. She has an extensive record of publications and presentations. NOTE: link to her CV at http://jaerankim.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/jr-kim-cv-2012.pdf.
Greg Laughlin has been law library director of the Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law’s Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library since July 2008. Prior to his arrival at Cumberland School of Law, he served as associate dean for information resources, director of the law library and associate professor of law at the University of Memphis School of Law from 2000 to 2008 and director of the law library and assistant professor of law at Ohio Northern University from 1998 to 2000. Laughlin earned his B.A. degree, magna cum laude, in public administration from Missouri State University (1982), his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Missouri-Columbia (1986), and his master of science in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1995). While in law school, he served as managing editor of the Missouri Law Review and was selected to the Order of the Coif.
Prior to entering the legal academy, Laughlin practiced law in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1986 to 1994, in the area of commercial litigation for the firm of Popkin & Stern and in general practice for the firm of Thurman, Howald, Weber, Bowles & Senkel. Prior to entering law school, Laughlin was editor of a weekly newspaper in his hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
Cheri Laughlin is a native of Qulin, Missouri. She has lived in the Birmingham area since her husband, Greg Laughlin, became the law library director of the Lucille Stewart Beeson Law Library at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in July 2008. Prior to her arrival, she lived in the Memphis, Tennessee, area and served as the director of pharmacy for Parkwood Behavioral Health Center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, providing clinical services and chairing the pharmacy and therapeutics committee as well as providing administrative oversight. Dr. Laughlin earned her Pharm.D. degree from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1993, having completed her bachelor of science there a year earlier. She completed a pharmacy practice residency at St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima Memorial Hospital in Lima, Ohio, in 1996. She also earned a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary studies from Southeast Missouri State University in 1988.
In addition to her work at Parkwood, Dr. Laughlin served as a clinical pharmacist in internal medicine at Physicians Inc., Lima, Ohio, serving as the director from 1998 to 2000. There, she counseled patients on the optimal use of their prescribed and over-the-counter medicines while making therapeutic adjustments in their medication regimen as allowed per Ohio’s Pharmacy Practice Act’s consult agreement provision, serving as the first pharmacist in Ohio to work under this authority. She developed a pharmacy residency program there and served as assistant clinical professor of pharmacy for Raabe College of Pharmacy, Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, from 1996 to 2000, precepting pharmacy students in their final year of study. She developed and ran clinics in anticoagulation and congestive heart failure, as well as dealing extensively with patients concerning treatments for hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and smoking cessation.
Currently, she is a stay-at-home mother, caring for their four children and frequently caring for her mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. Their third child, Bethany, was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, a rare genetic condition resulting in global developmental delays, such as the inability to verbalize and difficulty walking, as well as significant cognitive dysfunction. She suffers from epilepsy and requires numerous medications daily. Dr. Laughlin networks with other parents of special needs children throughout the world via social media and belongs to a local group of “special mothers.” She interacts almost daily with Bethany’s teachers to ensure Bethany receives the most appropriate care and education possible.
James Marsh is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and its acclaimed Child Advocacy Law Clinic. He is an experienced trial attorney and frequent commentator and author on legal issues affecting children. He is the founder, former executive director and current co-chair of the emeritus board of the nationally recognized Children’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., which received the National Association of Counsel for Children’s Outstanding Legal Advocacy Award during his tenure. He has represented clients in wrongful adoption, civil rights, RICO, Title IX sex harassment, Section 1983, special education, high stakes testing, student discipline, child welfare and adoption cases before state and federal trial and appellate courts. Marsh’s current focus is representing victims of child pornography and child sex abuse in criminal restitution and civil cases in federal courts nationwide.
Lene Myong is assistant professor at Department of Education, Aarhus University, in Denmark. She received her Ph.D. in 2009, and her dissertation is a qualitative study based on interviews with adult Korean adoptees. Her post-doctoral work is focused on re-migration among Korean adoptees and cultural representations of adoption. Her current research project on adoption and migration (2011–14) is funded by The Danish Council for Independent Research.
Benyam Dawit Mezmur is a chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; member, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mezmur is a research fellow at the Community Law Centre of the University of Western Cape (UWC), South Africa, and a lecturer and assistant professor (both part-time) at the faculty of Law of UWC and the Addis Ababa University, respectively. He lectures on the subjects of child rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the international protection of human rights at the post-graduate level. From 2003 to 2005, he was a legal officer at The African Child Policy Forum. Mezmur has published a number of articles on children’s rights in Africa internationally and has lectured/served fellowships among others at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Ghent University (Belgium), Abo Akademi (Finland), Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Groningen University (The Netherlands), and Central European University (Hungary). He received his bachelor’s degree in law (LL.B.) from the Addis Ababa University, a masters’ degree (LL.M.) from the University of Pretoria (Centre for Human Rights), South Africa, and a doctorate in law (LL.D.) from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
Brian Mooney is the president and general counsel of BorderStone Press, LLC and its imprints BorderStone International, LLC and Thesis Imprints, as well as Sanga Press, LLC. He has been the supervising editor of more than 50 books. A licensed attorney for six years, Mooney practiced law for four years in a private firm. He also served as assistant city attorney/prosecutor for the 14th Judicial District of Arkansas. Mooney graduated in the top 10 percent of his law school class at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, where he served as an associate editor on the Cumberland Law Review and as a fellow for The Center of Biotechnology, Law and Ethics.
A member of the Palestine Exploration Fund, Mooney has participated for two years in the excavation of Tel Gezer with the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He enjoys long-distance running, P90x, archaeology and adventures.
Ryan R. Nash, M.D., is the Hagop Mekhijan Endowed Chair in Medical Ethics and Professionalism at the Ohio State University Wexner College of Medicine, where he is also director of the Center for Bioethics. He was born and raised in Texas.
Dr. Nash graduated from Texas State University in 1997 and attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. He completed his internal medicine residency and served as chief medical resident at UT. While in Houston, Dr. Nash served on the Memorial Hermann Hospital Ethics Committee and participated in medical ethics education for the medical school. In 2005, he moved to Birmingham and completed a fellowship in palliative medicine at UAB. Upon completion of his fellowship, Dr. Nash became the medical director of the Balm of Gilead Palliative Care Center at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. He also served as chief of staff and chair of the ethics committee for the Jefferson County Healthcare System and Cooper Green Mercy Hospital from 2007 to 2008. While at Cooper Green, he received recognition for outstanding community service from Highlands UMC, was named as a Top 40 under 40 honoree by the Birmingham Business Journal, and saw the healthcare system through a very successful joint commission visit.
In 2009, Dr. Nash returned to UAB full time to concentrate efforts on education in palliative medicine, clinical ethics and medical humanities, and continued there until moving to Ohio State in March 2013.
Brian Noble is the founder of the Noble Law Firm, LLC, where he primarily focuses on representing victims of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. Coming from a modest background, Noble supported himself in the latter years of high school by working two jobs and then taking advantage of the GI Bill to pay for college. During the summers, he traveled the Mississippi River, serving as a deckhand on various towboats. He enjoys working with and encouraging youth struggling with similar situations.
His first career was in the United States Army, where he served in the Military Intelligence Corps. He entered the service as a private and left as a captain. After leaving the service, Noble enrolled at Samford University’s Cumberland Law School, graduating summa cum laude. He received numerous accolades for academic performance, including a merit-based full scholarship and the M. Alan Stephens Memorial Scholarship for excellence in business law. He was the articles and symposium editor for the Cumberland Law Review and a Judge Abraham Caruthers Fellow. After graduating law school, Noble served as law clerk to Judge C. Lynwood Smith Jr., a United States district court judge for the Northern District of Alabama. Following the clerkship, Noble accepted a position at one of Alabama’s oldest and most prestigious law firms, where he worked for a time before leaving to found his own practice.
Saadia Omer received a bachelor of science in chemistry (1997) from University of Dallas and worked in the plastics industry for several years before attending law school. She graduated cum laude from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 2002. She is currently a stay-at-home mom of three energetic boys. She also serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations that promote better understanding and mutual respect of people from different cultures, races, faiths and backgrounds.
Cheryl Howell Oswalt is an associate with Sirote & Permutt, whose practice focuses on a wide range of general litigation matters, including business disputes and minority shareholder issues. She is also experienced in representing members of the mortgage banking industry and assists clients with various mortgage and title issues. Oswalt defends mortgagees and mortgage servicers from a variety of claims, including wrongful foreclosure, predatory lending, and TILA, FDCPA and RESPA violations. She also serves as a member of Sirote Mortgage and Asset Recovery Team. She is active in the Ronald McDonald Charities of Alabama, Young Leaders board member, Quinn’s Ranch advisory board member, and Birmingham, Commercial Real Estate for Women (CREW), vice-president elect, 2013.
Oswalt co-authored “Responding to RACs: Limits on RAC’s Medical Record Requests” and “Proper Methods for Appealing RAC Audit Determinations,” The Counselor, fall 2009. She authored “New Protection for Social Security Numbers,” The Counselor, spring 2007, and “Conservation Easements: An Effective Land Preservation Tool,” The Counselor, winter 2009.
Oswalt is admitted to practice U.S. District Court, Northern, Southern and Middle Districts of Alabama and U.S. Tax Court.
While at the Cumberland School of Law, Oswalt was a member of the Cumberland Law Review, symposium editor (Vol.36); a junior member (Vol. 35); Cumberland Trial Advocacy Board, 2005-0606; a Caruthers Fellow—Legal Research Teaching Assistant, 2004–2005; and received a scholar of merit award for criminal law, insurance law and municipal courts practice and procedure.
Ashley Mims Patterson holds the position of deputy district attorney, tenth judicial district, Jefferson County, Alabama. She holds a B.A. from Samford University, and a J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland Law School. Patterson’s work as a prosecutor frequently focuses on crimes against children.
Gita Ramaswamy is a senior activist residing in Andhra Pradesh, India. She has spent a lifetime combating inequalities and attacking poverty, working on the grassroots level. She founded and built up the Hyderabad Book Trust, a not-for-profit organization that produces and publishes serious social literature in Telugu, the language of Andhra Pradesh. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
Mark Riley is alternative care consultant and child advocate at The Alternative Care Initiative and is an experienced consultant having worked for many years with the Welsh Assembly Government delivering both public and private consultancy programs. Riley has been actively involved in alternative care for children and encouraging changes to institutional care since he first visited Uganda in 2001. Based in Uganda since 2010, Riley is currently supporting the Ugandan government on alternative care and has developed a number of toolkits to assess and monitor childcare institutions. An international adoptive parent himself, Riley has been an outspoken critic of unethical international adoption practices and is working with the Ugandan government to address the current issues within the Ugandan system.
Keren Riley and her family moved to Uganda in 2010 to help find alternative solutions for children living in institutional care. In 2011, Riley piloted Reunite, a project to reunify children who were lost in the orphanage system, trafficked for international adoption or kidnapped, with their families. Reunite is based on sound social work practices and is supporting the Ugandan Governments Alternative Care Framework to promote family preservation, resettlement and domestic placements for children. Reunite is currently being set up as a 501(c)(3) in the United States and as an NGO in Uganda. Riley also uses her skills as a photographer and filmmaker to promote family-based care and to also document the lives of these children after they go home.
Since adopting her son from Uganda in 2005, Riley has been passionate about seeing children resettled out of the orphanage system and back into their communities. Before moving to Uganda, she undertook a number of courses learning about the damage of institutional care and the necessary tools and techniques to help post-institutionalized children live in families and communities again. She is an active board member of OASIS—Overseas Adoption Support and Information Services—in the UK, an organization supporting more than 1,000 international adoptive families.
Riley is an active blogger, becoming an important voice in highlighting problems with orphanages and international adoption from Uganda while promoting alternative solutions such as family preservation, resettlement and alternative family-based placements such as kinship care, foster care and domestic adoption. She often provides advice, guidance and training for families who have adopted children from institutional care and is active in the adoption training of the Families for Children (Crane) training of Ugandan families interested in adoption.
Initially trained as an actress, musician, filmmaker and photographer, Riley now uses these skills both in highlighting alternative care and for fun. She recently performed in the National Theatres production of Macbeth, and she regularly plays the piano and sings at various venues throughout Kampala.
Elizabeth J. Samuels is professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She has a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. Samuels worked as a journalist before attending law school, where she was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and an attorney in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Following law school, she served as law clerk to Judge James L. Oakes, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After clerking, she was a legal services attorney and an adjunct law professor in Alabama. She was the director of the school of law’s first-year legal skills program from 1987 to 1994. Samuels does pro-bono work in the civil rights and child and family law areas. She is a member of the Alabama Bar. Her areas of expertise include child and family law, adoption and constitutional law.
Usha R. Smerdon is a trial attorney with the federal government. She is the mother of two children adopted from India who inspired her to become a passionate advocate for adoption reform and ethics. Smerdon served on the board of directors of Ethica, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting ethical adoption practices, from 2007 to 2012. She regularly contributes to the fields of international adoption and international surrogacy, having presented and written several articles in these areas. She considers herself an active learner in the field of adoption education as well, particularly with respect to supporting the voices of adult adoptees and organizations concerned with finding better alternatives to international adoption.
Ben and Alison Smolin comprise the music duo/band Ocean Liner. Ben is youth director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Birmingham, and is frequently assisted by Alison who works full time as a nanny. Both worked previously with middle school youth at Camp Straight Street. Alison has a B.A. in business administration from UAB.
Desiree Smolin is the full-time, stay-at-home mother of six biological and two adoptive children, all of whom she homeschooled for all or a significant part of their education. She’s devoted a major portion of her adult life to researching issues related to parenting, education and adoption. She is co-creator of the adoption blog Fleasbiting, has been a longtime contributor to online adoption support groups and has presented at adoption conferences in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Albany, New York; and Texas Wesleyan University Law School. She’s served as a background and quoted source for major media on adoption issues, as well as a resource for families and individuals impacted by abusive adoption practices. Smolin has a B.A. in music from the New College of Florida and professional and graduate training in architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Art, and Architecture.
Jane Jeong Trenka was internationally adopted from Korea in 1972 and has been living there since 2004. She is the author of The Language of Blood (Borealis Books, 2003) and Fugitive Visions (Graywolf Press, 2009), and co-editor of the anthology Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End Press, 2006). She is president of TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea) and is earning her master’s degree in public policy from Seoul National University.
Sarah Wampol-Hutchison is a master of social work candidate at Howard University in Washington D.C., with a focus on community, administration and policy practices and specializing in displaced populations. After receiving her bachelor of social work with a minor concentration in international studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Wampol-Hutchison went on to work in the field of international adoption and specifically in the implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention from an agency perspective. She is a specialist in understanding Hague accreditation and standards governing ethical practices within international adoption agencies in the United States. She has dedicated extensive research and orchestrated community forums on the macro-social issues surrounding international adoption, including global poverty, human trafficking and international adoption policy reform.
Currently, Wampol-Hutchison is completing her graduate field placement at FAIR Girls, a D.C.–based non-profit that provides comprehensive services to domestic and international victims of sex and labor trafficking, ages 11–21. Here, Wampol-Hutchison is responsible for coordinating comprehensive responses to human trafficking between law enforcement entities, the child welfare community and other direct service organizations in the district. She also teaches human trafficking prevention workshops in D.C. public schools to at-risk youth and provides crisis and case management assistance with victims as needed.
Lauren White is a recent graduate from Cumberland School of Law. She served as a fellow for the Center for Children, Law, and Ethics from its initiation in 2012 until her graduation in 2014. Her area of scholarship and research for the Center was intercountry adoption, and she was the team leader for the Center’s Adoption group. Lauren White was also a primary research assistant for Prof. Smolin in regard to the financial aspects of intercountry adoption, a topic related to Prof. Smolin’s role as an Independent Expert on Intercountry Adoption for the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Currently, Lauren is a business risk manager at Regions Financial Corporation. She also serves on the junior board of directors for Birmingham’s Community Grief Support Services.
Desembargadora (Justice) and Professor Cristina Zucchi, justice of the Sao Paulo Supreme Court (Brazil); adjunct professor in the master of comparative law program, Samford University’s Cumberland Law School. Justice/Professor Zucchi has a doctoral degree in civil law at Sao Paulo University and a master degree in comparative law at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. She is a member of the Sao Paulo Magistrates Academy and a founding member of the Brazilian chapter of the International Institute of Women Judges. She has taught as professor of enterprise law and constitutional law in law schools in Sao Paulo, in graduate and post-graduate programs. She is also a member of the International Insolvency Institute and of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.
Professor David Smolin