Shawn Armbrust, Executive Director
Shawn has been MAIP’s Executive Director since 2005. Prior to her work at MAIP, she served as a law clerk to Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was the case coordinator at the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law. Shawn has been a board member of the Innocence Network since 2007, and is a member of the National Committee on the Right to Counsel, and the D.C. Superior Court Ad Hoc Committee, which examines the causes of wrongful convictions in the District. Shawn is a graduate of Northwestern University and Georgetown University Law Center, where she was an articles editor of the American Criminal Law Review and published an article on compensating the wrongly convicted. She has one daughter and enjoys hiking, travel, cooking, reading, and tennis.
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Senior Counsel
Parisa joined MAIP in 2012 from the Special Litigation and Parole divisions of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Prior to working at PDS, Parisa was a Chesterfield Smith Fellow at Holland & Knight, where she represented clients on a pro bono basis. She recently spent a year teaching Legal Practice at New York Law School. She received degrees from the New York University School of Law and UC-Berkeley.
Lindsay Dressler, Staff Investigator
Lindsay joined the MAIP team in 2016. Lindsay has more than ten years of investigative experience, primarily focused in criminal defense, and has also trained attorneys and law students on investigative techniques. She came to MAIP from the Federal Defender Services of Idaho, where she worked as an investigator in the Trial and Capital Habeas Units. Previously, Lindsay was the Investigations Supervisor for the Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice Clinics at Georgetown University Law Center, where she also oversaw the Investigative Internship Program. In her free time she enjoys hiking, horseback-riding, and traveling.
Melanie Figg, Development Director
Melanie began as part-time Development Director in 2015 and brings over two decades of fundraising expertise to MAIP. She has held leadership positions in both large and small development departments in the arts, health and human services, and higher education. With an MFA, Melanie is a published poet and teaches creative writing in a variety of local venues.
Caryn Fiscella, Operations Director
Caryn began volunteering at MAIP in 2010 and joined as a part-time staff member in 2011. Prior to MAIP, she volunteered for four years at the Metropolitan Police Department where she worked on the Violent Crime Case Review Project and spearheaded a total reorganization of the MPD Homicide Cold Case File Room. Earlier in her career, Caryn was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Bureau in Montgomery County, Maryland. She has three grown children and enjoys her dogs, gardening, and travel.
Michele Nethercott, Director, University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic – an affiliate of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project
Michele Nethercott is the director of the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic and is a graduate of Northeastern University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Over the years she has represented numerous clients who were exonerated on the basis of post-conviction DNA testing and other forms of newly discovered evidence. She began her career as a trial attorney with the Office of the Public Defender for the State of Maryland in 1988 and has handled numerous felony trials including several death penalty cases. She created and ran a Foreniscs Division in the Office of the Public Defender in the early 1990’s and has served as the co-chair of the Forensics Committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Michele is an expert on DNA and various other forms of scientific evidence and has lectured around the country and published articles in NACDL ‘s Champion on the topic. She has taught law students at the University of Maryland School of Law and the University of Haifa.
Elizabeth P. Raman, Screening Director
Elizabeth (Eily) came to MAIP in 2006 with a strong background in criminal defense. Prior to MAIP, she spent five years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt. Previously, she clerked for the Honorable Edith Brown Clement of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and was an Associate at Crowell & Moring LLP. Eily is a graduate of Harvard College and the Georgetown University Law Center, where she was an articles editor of the American Criminal Law Review and a student attorney in the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic. In her spare time, Eily enjoys reading contemporary fiction and spending time with her husband and three school-aged daughters.
Don Stoop, Staff Investigator
Don joined MAIP in 2011 with a very strong background in criminal investigation. Previously, he has served as a patrolman with the police departments in Atlanta and Annapolis and worked for several years as a criminal investigator in Georgia for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. More recently, Don has focused on fraud investigations for private insurance companies and for the Office of the Inspector General for the city of Baltimore. He is a Certified Inspector General Investigator, Fraud Examiner, and Financial Service Auditor. Don has appeared on Investigative Discovery several times, and a celebrated homicide case he solved was chronicled in a TV movie and Ann Rule’s book, “Everything She Ever Wanted.”
Frances Y. Walters, Counsel
Frances joined the team at MAIP in 2013. Previously, Frances worked at the law firm of Williams & Connolly, where she maintained a strong pro bono practice and was named to the D.C. Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll each year. While at University of Michigan Law School, she was a member of the inaugural class of the Michigan Innocence Clinic; she graduated magna cum laude and Order of the Coif. Prior to her legal career, Frances earned a B.S. in Engineering from Princeton University and taught in Cape Town, South Africa, Boston, and San Diego. She is a mother of two young children and enjoys yoga, baking and international travel.