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Board of Directors

Serving as a board member at Innocence Matters gives us the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many people. The impact of our work is not limited to those falsely accused and their family members.  We provide law students an unforgettable experience and teach them how to embrace the role of zealous advocacy.  We provide relief to witnesses, jurors, lawyers, and judges who, perhaps unwittingly, played a role in the unjust incarceration of an innocent person.  And, through a series of preventative programs, we minimize future harm by providing resources to those on the verge of a wrongful conviction. 

If you are looking to make a difference and you have the means--through your contacts and your skills--to help us achieve financial sustainability, then consider joining our board.  Learn more here . . .


Thinking about serving on our board? 

Time Commitment: 
Board members spend two-five hours per month

We meet quarterly--the 3rd Monday in October, January, April and July.  All board members are expected to attend all meetings. When unavoidable scheduling conflicts interfere, we will work hard to reschedule the meeting to meet your needs.  

Fundraising Events:  
We have two primary fundraising events--Courageous Truth Award and Heroes of Justice, held in April and October, respectively.  Each requires every board members' active involvement in the successful planning and. performance of these events.  Ideally, all board members will attend these critical events.

Board Contribution:
Each board member is expected to annually donate to Innocence Matters, in whatever amount represents the top of their giving range.

Board Terms: 
Typically, your first term is one year or less, depending on when you join us.  This gives all of us a chance to see if it is a good fit.  Terms run from October to October. All board members seeking a second term must commit to a three-year term.

Special Skill-Sets Currently Needed: 
We need board members with these skills/attributes:
  • a passion for our mission
  • ability to inspire others through challenging times
  • successful event planning
  • connections
  • independent and innovative thinkers
  • someone with celebrity status and/or political clout, preferable someone who tried to prevent Troy Davis' execution

Innocence Matters 
PO Box 4099
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
(310) 780-4522 

Deirdre O'Connor, Board Chair & Executive Director: Current term expires October 2013

Deirdre O'Connor earned her J.D. degree from Northeastern University in 1993. She enjoyed a highly successful career devoted exclusively to the plight of indigent criminal defendants at the Public Defender Office in Los Angeles.  She later served as the Clinic Director for the Indigent Criminal Defense Clinic at Emory Law School where her students learned how to try their first criminal case. In 2007, Deirdre learned of the Troy Davis case and, after a careful review of the entire record at trial and the new evidence, she became convinced of Troy's innocence.  It was inconceivable that someone with such compelling evidence of innocence could come within 90 minutes of execution. Sadly, on September 21, 2011, Georgia executed Troy Davis despite compelling evidence of innocence.  Her exposure to Troy's case prompted her to create Innocence Matters and her memory of him will forever inspire her work.

Jessica Farris, Director of Student Affairs: Current term expires October 2012

Jess started as a summer legal intern and now serves as the Director of Student Affairs. She is a law student at Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her dedication to community service informs her past and present work and volunteerism.  Before law school, Jess worked in the editorial departments of various nonprofits and volunteered her time at domestic violence shelters. Jess first learned of "innocence work" in her criminal law class, where she met exoneree Ray Krone, and learned of the many systemic problems that lead to wrongful convictions.  Jess is eager to effect meaningful change through Innocence Matters.

Dana Wood, Ph.D., Secretary: Current term expires October 2014

Dana Wood has PhD in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is a National Institute of Child Health and Development Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Education at UCLA. Dana recently received an Early Career Research Award from the Educational Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association.  Her research has been published in various scholarly journals, including Developmental Psychology and the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Dana is currently conducting a research project that examines how urban adolescents' experiences with poverty and racial discrimination constrain their educational outcomes, and on the protective role that educational institutions can play in these processes.  Dana's interest in how social and economic status impact individuals' experiences within the justice system inspired her to work with Innocence Matters. 

Dan Finn, Board Member: Current term expires October 2012

Dan Finn is the Founder/President of the Finn Financial Group, a company dedicated to helping clients meet their long-term financial needs primarily through the use of special-purpose tax-advantaged annuities.  In 2009, after successfully working in this field for nearly 20 years, he was introduced to two men who were anticipating civil awards for wrongful imprisonment following their exoneration after more than a decade in prison.  In helping these deserving individuals establish a good measure of lifetime financial security, Dan was so moved by the experience that he committed himself to becoming a more active advocate for the innocent.  In 2010, the National Structured Settlements Trade Association (NSSTA) Board of Directors unanimously elected him President of their professional organization which is dedicated to protecting and preserving the tax benefits associated with structured settlements, including those stemming from wrongful imprisonment litigation.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio State University and is proud to lend his perspective to the Innocence Matters Board of Directors.  

Gregory Joseph, Board Member: Current term expires October 2013

Gregory Joseph brings over 15 years of communication, political, and organizing experience to issue campaigns and nonprofit organizations.  Since 1997, Gregory has led policy, research and communications teams on some of the nation’s most high profile political campaigns, including a national Presidential campaign in 2000, and Senate and Governor’s races in Texas, California, Minnesota, Florida, and New Jersey.  In addition, Gregory has managed congressional and local campaigns in New York City, and ballot initiatives in Florida.  Gregory has government relations experience on the federal level—lobbying Congress on criminal justice and environmental issues, as well as state and local lobbying experience in the New York City Tri-State area. Gregory excels in organizing both in traditional field and grassroots capacities, as well as social network marketing. In 2007, Gregory joined the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and assumed responsibility for management of the Troy Davis clemency campaign. Utilizing tested organizing principles, as well as breaking ground via social networks like Facebook, Gregory was able to bring national attention to the Davis case, and helped build an international network that is still effective almost four years since its inception.