Melissa Banerjee, Policy Associate
Melissa joined CAASE in 2015. She previously worked as a homelessness and housing community organizer with survivors of prostitution and with formerly incarcerated people. She also engaged parents and child care providers in statewide advocacy to maintain high quality and affordable child care in Illinois. Melissa also worked with survivors of domestic violence at the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse.
Originally from St. Louis, Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing at St. Louis University. In 2009, she relocated to Chicago to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago where she completed her Master of Social Work degree with a focus in community health and urban development.
Contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christine Evans, Legal Director
Christine Evans joined CAASE in 2014 as Legal Director. She has been working in the areas of public interest and human rights law for over ten years, with a focus on women’s rights and child protection. Christine manages CAASE’s representation of individual survivors of sexual assault and exploitation through civil litigation and within the context of the criminal justice system.
Before joining CAASE in 2014, Christine most recently worked as a visiting clinical professor at Northwestern University School of Law, where she led the writing and filing of the first-ever amicus brief on the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act, in support of CAASE’s inaugural petition under the law. She has also served as legal counsel for human rights organization International Justice Mission in Chennai, India and Lusaka, Zambia; child’s attorney with the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian; and youth protection supervisor for Rotary International. Christine holds a Bachelor of Science in Print Journalism from Boston University and a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in International Human Rights from Northwestern University School of Law.
Contact Christine at email@example.com.
Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Executive Director
Kaethe became CAASE's Executive Director in 2013. She previously served as CAASE's Legal Director and Deputy Executive Director since 2009, when a legal services and policy advocacy not-for-profit that she founded became part of the organization. Kaethe has been working against sexual inequality and sex-based violence for more than twenty years, engaging in feminist advocacy and litigation in many venues.
Examples of Kaethe’s past work include the following: Internationally, she represented Equality Now in United Nations proceedings that created the international law against sex trafficking and she served as project manager for a precedent-setting civil lawsuit led by Catharine MacKinnon on behalf of survivors of Bosnian-Serb rape death camps. At the state level, Kaethe served on the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois from 1999 to 2003, where she chaired the Working Group on Violence Against Women, co-authored the Gender Violence Act, and assisted in the development and passage of the Civil No Contact Order Act and the Victims’ Employment Safety and Security Act. Locally, Kaethe served as a policy assistant to the Mayor of the City of Chicago, directed federal affairs for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and represented low-income women at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. Kaethe is a current member of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Public Affairs Committee, and a past member of the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence (2012-2013) and the Cook County Women’s Commission (2011-2012). She served on Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign Policy Advisory Committee on violence against women issues. In recent years Kaethe has been recognized by the Chicago Foundation for Women (2012 Impact Award) and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore (2012 YWomen Leadership Award). Kaethe is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Michigan Law School.
Contact Kaethe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynne Johnson, Policy Director
Lynne joined CAASE in 2009 as a Policy Director. She has been working in the violence against women movement for over 13 years. As an attorney in Maryland, Lynne represented battered women in Protective Order hearings and also worked in Baltimore City’s Juvenile Court system representing children in the foster care system.
Since relocating to Chicago in 1999, Lynne managed domestic violence and rape crisis programs and has advocated for improved community responses to violence against women. Lynne holds her 40 Hour Crisis Intervention certifications in both domestic violence and sexual assault. Lynne is a trainer for the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline and the University of Chicago’s Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention program.
Lynne joined Chicago Foundation for Women in 2005 as the Program Officer, and later served as its Director of Advocacy, working in areas of reproductive justice, violence against women, and women’s health. As CAASE's Policy Director, Lynne leads the End Demand Illinois statewide campaign. Lynne holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore’s School of Law.
Contact Lynne at email@example.com
Rachel Johnson, Staff Attorney
Rachel joined CAASE staff in 2014. Rachel represents survivors of sexual assault through criminal advocacy, education advocacy, employment law, and civil litigation. Rachel also represents survivors of sex trafficking through the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act, in which survivors of sex trafficking may vacate prostitution convictions. Rachel provides trainings and guidance to pro bono attorneys on how to work with, civilly litigate for, and protect the rights of survivors of sexual assault and trafficking.
Rachel graduated cum laude from DePaul University College of Law. Prior to law school, Rachel worked as the Asylum Project Pro Bono Coordinator at the National Immigrant Justice Center. During law school, Rachel was a student advocate in the Domestic Violence Courthouse Project, Death Penalty Defense Clinic, and the Asylum Law Clinic. Rachel was a legal intern at CAASE throughout law school and authored, “Criminalizing Victims: The Importance of Ending Felony Prostitution in Illinois.” (DePaul J. Women, Gender & L.).
Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lenise S. Lee, Operations Manager
Lenise joined CAASE in 2015 as Operations Manager and is passionate about CAASE’s work. As lifelong resident of Chicago's south side, and a former employee of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, Lenise knows that sexual exploitation is a big problem getting too little attention from many Chicagoans. She is proud to be playing a key leadership role in supporting and sustaining CAASE’s ability to accomplish its mission and make real the CAASE vision of a community free from sexual exploitation.
Lenise graduated cum laude from Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she received a BA in psychology. After receiving her MBA from Northern Illinois University in 2014, Lenise worked as a Business Manager in the Center for Leadership and Involvement at the University of Chicago.
Contact Lenise at email@example.com.
Mallory Littlejohn, Staff Attorney
Mallory joined CAASE in 2016 as a staff attorney. She attended college at Quincy University and studied political science with a concentration in pre-law. She graduated from John Marshall Law School in 2012. While in law school, Mallory worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in its Fair Hosing Office and at the John Marshall Far Housing Clinic.
Prior to joining CAASE, Mallory worked on the Attorney General’s foreclosure grant at the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance in Champaign.
At CAASE, she will be representing survivors of sex trafficking through the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act, in which survivors of sex trafficking may vacate prostitution convictions. Mallory will also be working on an education campaign so survivors of sex trafficking learn about their rights and options under the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act.
Contact Mallory at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leena Saleh, Communications Manager
Leena Saleh joined CAASE in 2014 as a Communications Manager. She had previously worked in communications at CAIR-Chicago, a local non-profit dedicated to protecting the civil liberties of Muslim Americans and dispelling stereotypes of Muslims through media production and press relations. Leena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from DePaul University. She has reported on topics ranging from culture and religion to international politics and entertainment.
As the Editor in Chief of UMMA Ink, a student-run magazine, Leena has enjoyed developing graphic design, layout and cultivating readership among her peers. As a freelance graphic designer, she has explored new ways of using visual communication like infographics and digital illustration. With a passion for critical communication, design, and storytelling, she hopes to advocate for an end to sex trafficking and debunk myths about prostitution and survivors of the sex trade.
Contact Leena at email@example.com.
Stephanie Speakman, Senior Staff Attorney
Stephanie joined CAASE as Senior Staff Attorney in October 2015. Stephanie represents individual survivors of sexual assault and sexual exploitation through civil litigation and within the context of the criminal justice system.
Immediately prior to joining CAASE, Stephanie was a Navy Reservist recalled to Active Duty to serve as a Victims’ Legal Counsel, providing advice and advocacy to military victims of sexual assault. She has prosecuted and defended military and civilian criminal cases. She has litigated civil and juvenile cases and made numerous arguments in the Illinois Appellate Court. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Roosevelt University and a Juris Doctorate from IIT-Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Caleb Probst, Educator
Caleb began working with CAASE in 2007, and in 2010 began facilitating CAASE’s new curriculum Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation. This is the nation’s first prevention curriculum to engage young men in dialogue about the sex trade and empower them to stand as allies against sexual exploitation and violence. To date, more than 1,600 young men in Chicago have completed the program, and that number is continuing to grow each week. In addition to his work in the classroom, Caleb has co-authored anti-trafficking curricula for the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and has presented at numerous conferences around the United States and Canada. He has also been educating the community at-large through theatre since 2008, when he began writing, directing, and producing plays that address the causes and consequences of commercial sexual exploitation, and facilitating post-show discussions.
Contact Caleb at email@example.com
Veronica Svendsen, Project Administrator
Veronica joined CAASE in 2010 as the Project Administrator for the Sexual Assault Justice Project. She has worked as a paralegal for ten years. She previously worked at Life Span Center for Legal Services and Advocacy, which assists victims of domestic violence in family law matters.Veronica works with our staff attorneys to help survivors of sexual harm seek justice in criminal and civil court.
Contact Veronica at firstname.lastname@example.org