2021 CLS National Conference Workshop Speakers

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The early bird registration deadline is August 31, 2021. 


Steve Aden serves as the chief legal officer and general counsel for Americans United for Life in Washington, DC. He is a highly-experienced litigator, having appeared in court against Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry dozens of times and appointed by six states to defend pro-life laws. Steve secured court victories that upheld an Arizona law that resulted in six abortion businesses ceasing to offer abortion, applied Missouri’s abortion laws to chemical abortion, and upheld the right of Louisiana regulators to shut down dangerous abortion facilities. A prolific author and analyst on sanctity of life issues and constitutional jurisprudence, Steve is admitted to the bars of the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Hawaii (inactive) and is a member of the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal circuit and district courts. He has practiced law since 1990. He earned his J.D. (cum laude) from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.A. from the University of Hawaii.


Matthew W. Argue has over 30 years of experience in complex construction disputes, mediation, and arbitration. Since 2004, Mr. Argue is a full-time neutral focusing on construction, insurance, real estate, and employment mediation and arbitration. Mr. Argue has successfully mediated over 700 cases to settlement. Mr. Argue has been a Certified Christian Conciliator™ since 2012 through Peacemaker Ministries. In 2016, he became the president and CEO of the Institute for Christian Conciliation™, formerly a division of Peacemaker Ministries. Mr. Argue regularly lectures and writes on mediation.  He has published numerous articles, including most recently co-authoring two articles – “Mediating with Emotional Intelligence: When IQ is Not Enough, Part 1 and Part 2” – with Harold Coleman, Jr., for the American Arbitration Association’s Dispute Resolution Journal. He has also written an article for the American Inns of Court’s The Bencher Magazine entitled “Work and Life Balance after Two Types of Cancer.” Mr. Argue previously practiced construction law as partner with Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves and Savitch LLP from 1989 to 2001. Mr. Argue received his J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center in 1989. Mr. Argue is licensed in a number of different jurisdictions including California, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, and Texas.


Debbie Ausburn is a social worker turned lawyer who has worked with youth-serving organizations for more than 40 years. She spent her teen years as a summer camp counselor and during law school worked as a group home parent. After law school, she served as a criminal prosecutor, foster parent, and litigation attorney. She now advises and defends youth-serving organizations throughout the United States in matters ranging from minor injuries to sexual abuse. Debbie is the author of the book Raising Other People’s Children: What Foster Parenting Taught Me about Bringing Together a Blended Family.


Jeffrey A. Brauch has served as a professor at Regent University School of Law since 1994. From 2000 to 2015, he served as the law school’s dean. Jeff helped create Regent’s Center for Global Justice and serves as the Center’s executive director. He has taught several courses, including foundations of law, international human rights, international religious freedom, and torts. Jeff has published four books and thirty-three articles on topics related to international human rights, integration of faith and law, and ERISA litigation. Jeff received his B.A. with distinction from the University of Wisconsin and his J.D. with honors from the University of Chicago Law School. After graduating from law school, Jeff was a law clerk for Justice William Callow of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He then worked for five years as an associate with the Milwaukee law firm Quarles & Brady, where he specialized in commercial litigation. Jeff and his wife, Becky, are the parents of four adult children and have four grandchildren. He loves history, the music of Beethoven, and the Green Bay Packers – not necessarily in that order.


Mr. Benjamin W. Bull serves as the general counsel and the senior vice president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. He leads the National Center's Law Center, fighting child sexual abuse, illegal pornography, sex trafficking, and other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. He is the recipient of the prestigious William Bentley Ball Award, from Christian Legal Society, for outstanding contribution to religious freedom. He is a noted constitutional lawyer and former prosecutor and has had great success preventing the spread of illegal pornography, winning more than 14 jury trials against pornographers without a loss. He has also won numerous obscenity and child pornography appellate cases, including at the Supreme Court. Mr. Bull has trained prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice and numerous state attorneys general and prosecutorial organizations. He has lectured to over two dozen state bar associations and has testified before Congress as well as many state legislatures. He is widely published and has co-authored two books that serve as teaching manuals on winning obscenity cases and stopping the urban blight of sexually oriented businesses. Mr. Bull also has a long and distinguished career defending religious freedom. He formerly served as the chief counsel and the executive vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom where he launched and built its litigation and advocacy components, eventually hiring and leading more than 60 attorneys, as well as opening and supervising its offices in Washington, D.C., New York City, London, Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, New Delhi, and around the world. He is the founder and executive director of ADF International, a leading global human rights organization. Mr. Bull also served as the founding executive director of the European Center for Law and Justice in Strasbourg, France, where he practiced human rights law, and has held leadership positions at several other well-respected legal organizations. He also founded and led the Slavic Center for Law and Justice in Moscow, Russia. Mr. Bull lives in Washington, D.C., and Ellsworth, Maine, and is married to Lynda Griffin Bull, a psychotherapist. They have three children and five grandchildren.


Kim Colby has worked for Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981. She has represented religious groups in several appellate cases, including two cases heard by the United States Supreme Court. She has filed numerous amicus briefs in federal and state courts. In 1984, she assisted in congressional passage of the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. § 4071, et seq., which protects the right of secondary school students to meet for prayer and Bible study on campus. Ms. Colby has prepared several CLS publications addressing issues about religious expression in public schools, including released time programs, implementation of the Equal Access Act, and teachers’ religious expression. Ms. Colby graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois with a major in American history and a particular interest in slavery in colonial North America.


Erika E. Cole has over 20 years of experience advising nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations in a broad range of legal matters including charitable giving, governance, contracts, and mergers. Erika launched the Church and Faith-Based Organization practice at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, a law firm of over 170-attorneys. Known as The Church Attorney®, Erika has dedicated her life to helping churches of all denominations and sizes ensure that their legal affairs are in order so they can focus on spreading their message, serving their communities, and growing their ministries. For nearly two decades, Erika has partnered with ministries to address everything from church planting, new leadership transitions, and buying and selling property to succession planning and helping leadership address the spectrum of governance matters. She created The Church Attorney® Legal Audit System and has also assisted churches and ministries obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with a 100% success rate. Whether handling an unexpected legal crisis, a legal audit, or helping churches through the buying, selling, and construction of property, Erika’s philosophy has remained the same: to provide the same level of excellence, diligence, and counsel across the board. When not serving as general counsel for her clients, Erika’s activities have included teaching the next generation of lawyers and community leaders as a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and Loyola College of Maryland in their MBA program. Her calling to support churches and empower leaders propelled her to join a year-long mission in Latin America where she worked with nonprofits, churches, and their members to advance human rights. Upon returning, she started a mission’s ministry at her own church and subsequently participated and oversaw several other mission trips taking missionaries from South Dakota to Namibia.


Justin Coleman is a senior associate at Simms Showers LLP specializing in church, nonprofit, and business law, and intellectual property law. With over 10 years at the firm, Justin represents hundreds of church and nonprofit clients nationwide, with a particular focus on the Mid-Atlantic region. Justin writes and has lectured on the legal and liability concerns facing churches and religious nonprofits in the 21st century and how best to minimize that risk. Holding degrees in psychology and criminal justice, Justin earned his J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Lansing, Michigan (’08), and currently serves on the board of the Northern Virginia Chapter of Christian Legal Society. Justin has been married for 10 years and is father to three beautiful daughters.


Lance Conklin has been practicing immigration law for more than 20 years. He was first admitted to practice law in California in 1995, and has worked for some of the most prestigious immigration law firms in the United States. In addition to his experience in private practice, Lance has worked in the nonprofit world at World Relief where he supported immigrant legal services for low-income clients, and he has taught immigration law to new practitioners. He is also a Navy Veteran and has served as a minister. Lance opened the Law Office of J. Lance Conklin in 2014, where he exclusively practices U.S. immigration law. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Davis, and a J.D. from California Western School of Law in San Diego. He also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Gateway Seminary (FNA Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) in Mill Valley, California. Lance currently serves as the pro bono chair for the DC Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers Association and as a board member of Maryland Christian Legal Society. He previously served on the board of the Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition, serving as the president from 2018 to 2021.


Wesley (Wes) joined Laner Muchin as an associate in 2008, and he has been a partner at the firm since 2014. Wes focuses his practice on all aspects of employee benefits law, including health and welfare benefit plans, defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans, and multiemployer plans. Wes' practice also includes counseling clients as to compliance with various federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, and the correction of qualified retirement plans through the correction programs available through the IRS and DOL. Wes also provides clients counseling as to fiduciary best practices and qualified retirement plan compliance. He is a frequent speaker to benefit and human resource professionals and an author on various benefit topics and provides training to HR Departments on a number of benefit-related matters. Wes is the editor and frequent author of his firm’s e-newsletter, The Fast Laner.


Jeff Dalrymple is an organizational leader whose leadership experience includes roles in public safety, higher education, Christian NGOs, and parachurch organizations. He is also an elder at Sunrise Community Church and CEO of Red Buffalo consulting. In addition to implementing child protection programs at several ministries, his experience includes organizational leadership, team building, communications, development/fundraising, hospitality, conference and event planning, international relations, strategic planning, revitalization, and board governance. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in organizational management, as well as a Masters in international relations and conflict resolution. He has also received certificates from Disney Institute in leadership excellence and from Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy in fundraising. Jeff has previously served as a vice president at Southern Seminary and was the board president of Louisville Rescue Mission. He currently serves as the board chair of Hadassah’s Hope and a member of the board of The Apostle Project. Jeff enjoys reading, exploring, and spending time with family. Married to Kristil, they are the parents of: JJ, Kassie, Katherine, and Kylie. They reside in Jacksonville, Florida.


Matthew Eppinette, MBA, PhD, is the executive director of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity (CBHD) and an affiliate professor of bioethics at Trinity International University (TIU). Dr. Eppinette has more than a decade and a half of experience in the field of bioethics, including serving CBHD previously from 2002-2007. He holds a PhD in theology with a concentration in Christian ethics and in theology and culture from the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he also earned an MA in theology. He is a 2004 graduate of the MA Bioethics program at Trinity International University, and he has an MBA with concentrations in quantitative analysis and information systems from Louisiana Tech University. In addition to all of the usual research, writing, teaching, and speaking an academic generally does, Dr. Eppinette has helped to write and produce six documentary films addressing bioethics issues. Three of the films were Official Film Festival Selections, and one was awarded Best Documentary at the California Independent Film Festival. His current research interests include transhumanism, Alasdair MacIntyre’s ethics and epistemology, and the intersection of fiction, film, and other areas of culture, particularly popular culture, that raise or address bioethics issues.


Carl H. Esbeck is the R. B. Price Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law. He formerly worked as the director of Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom and as special counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice. He publishes widely on church-state relations in journals and law reviews and consults on First Amendment matters in litigation.


Catherine Glenn Foster serves as the president and CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL), America’s original national pro-life organization and the Nation’s premier pro-life legal team. AUL’s legal strategists have been involved in every pro-life case before the U.S. Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade. AUL is the pioneer of the state-based model legislative strategy, which works to save lives today while undermining the so-called “reliance” interest adopted by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: the false idea that women “rely” on abortion to succeed in American society. Under Ms. Foster’s leadership, AUL pursues and refines a mother-child strategy that looks at the interests and vulnerabilities of both, protecting them from abortion industry abuses. Ms. Foster earned her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center. She also holds an M.A. in French from the University of South Florida and a B.A. in history and French from Berry College.


Natt Gantt currently serves as a professor and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Regent University School of Law. He received his A.B. in psychology and political science, summa cum laude, from Duke University; his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School; and his Master of Divinity, summa cum laude, from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Before joining Regent in 2000, he served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Donald S. Russell of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; as an associate at Wiley, Rein & Fielding in Washington, D.C.; and as a proxy analyst at Fidelity Investments in Boston, Massachusetts. Professor Gantt currently teaches professional responsibility and contracts, and he co-teaches Regent’s required professional formation course titled “Foundations of Practice.” He also currently serves as the co-director of Regent’s Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education Reform. During his time at Regent, Professor Gantt’s scholarship and presentations have focused on two primary areas: (1) law school academic support and legal education reform and (2) legal ethics and professional identity formation. He served from 2010 to 2013 as a faculty member for the Virginia State Bar Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course and from 2018 to 2019 as a member of the Virginia State Bar President's Special Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. He also served from 2018 to 2021 as a faculty member for the CLS Fellows program and currently serves as an arbitrator on the Virginia State Bar Circuit Committee, Resolution of Fee Disputes, Virginia Beach, and as a member of the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs Advisory Commission. 


Except for some years taken off to raise children, Karen Hice Guzmán has spent her adult life in and around InterVarsity, originally as a student and campus minister in Michigan and currently in Georgia. An entrepreneur at heart, she started the graduate student fellowship at Michigan State University and the MBA fellowship at Georgia Tech. Currently, she serves as the national director for InterVarsity’s Women in the Academy and Professions and is bringing together women in graduate school and beyond to encourage, support, and mentor one another to live fully into the call of God on their lives.


For more than 30 years, Norm Hawkins has represented management in a wide range of labor and employment matters. He provides proactive and practical daily advice to employers of all sizes, shaped by his vast experience: as first-chair employment trial defense, as chief spokesperson in collective bargaining, as first-chair labor arbitration counsel, in decades of daily advising employers, in decades of drafting all kinds of labor and employment documents, in working in the personnel department of an automotive supplier, and as a prior member of the UAW. Norm focuses on identifying and mitigating risks, and assisting employers to achieve their objectives through cost effective solutions. Norm counsels both U.S. and foreign companies, large and small, publicly held and private. He has successfully defended employers in hundreds of lawsuits in federal and state courts in Michigan, and in other states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Texas. Norm especially enjoys training managers and supervisors concerning all aspects of labor and employment law and investigating allegations of harassment and discrimination. Norm received his JD, cum laude, from Wayne State University Law School.


Jim is a long-time CLS member and is a shareholder at Allen Vellone Wolf Helfrich & Factor, P.C. who practices commercial litigation in Colorado. Jim helped start Denver’s Christian Legal Aid program 21 years ago and currently acts as the volunteer attorney coordinator for six triage clinics in Denver that partner with local charities and churches to provide one-hour consultations to people experiencing poverty. Fifteen years ago, Jim also helped start, and now serves on the board of, the Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Center (JAMLAC), which currently has 15 staff members and provides full-service representation primarily to victims of domestic violence.


Lina Hughes is the founder of Yen Hughes Law PC, an immigration law firm representing churches, denominations, mission agencies and religious workers. Lina helps clients obtain temporary visas, permanent residency, and citizenship and consults on immigration strategy and I-9 compliance for employers. She is a member of the California State Bar and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and serves on the national board of Christian Legal Society. Lina received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from U.C. Berkeley in 1994, and her J.D. from University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law in 1997. She was born in Taiwan, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and speaks Mandarin Chinese. Lina lives with her husband, Rob, and two children in Northern California, where they enjoy escape rooms and playing music.


Joshua E. Hummer is a licensed attorney in both Virginia and West Virginia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has been practicing law for over 15 years. Josh specializes in estate planning, elder law, and elder planning. He is co-author of the upcoming book, Fearless: Facing the Future Confidently with Relational Estate Planning® and is passionate about helping others form end-of-life plans that benefit their loved ones and leave their legacy behind. Outside of work, Josh loves spending time with his lovely wife, Jill, and their four vibrant children. 


Ryan Lee is a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and works in the Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. The Housing Section enforces a variety of federal civil rights statutes including the Fair Housing Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Mr. Lee currently serves as the Section’s RLUIPA Coordinator and, in that role, he oversees the Department’s investigation and development of RLUIPA enforcement matters. Mr. Lee began his employment with the Department in 2005. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Lee served as a law clerk to the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Mr. Lee received his law degree from Marquette University Law School in 2003 and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Steve Moore is the executive director of Christian Outreach for Africa, which has the mission of bringing the people in Africa to a Christ-centered life through education, job creation, health programs, orphan care, and housing. Prior to taking that position, he had a 42-year career as an attorney, primarily in the field of public utility regulation. Steve has been an active suicide prevention advocate since his 19-year-old son died by suicide in 2006. He is co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and a member of AFSP’s National Public Policy Council, which establishes federal and state legislative priorities and monitors the organization’s advocacy. He is co-chair of the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance, which is a statutorily created board of public and private organizations that coordinates state efforts to prevent suicide. He also serves on several advisory boards, including the Kennedy Forum Illinois (mental health advocacy), the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System (suicide data surveillance), and the Illinois Governors’ Challenge (veterans’ suicide). He is a facilitator for suicide loss survivor support groups for the Chicago Catholic Charities program, Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide. Steve has a B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a J.D. from the University of Illinois School of Law.


John Murdock is a natural resources attorney who currently works in the public sector in Idaho. He has written on green topics for a variety of publications including Front Porch Republic, First Things, the Texas Review of Law & Politics, Plough, the Florida Law Review Forum, and Christianity Today. His professional career also includes over a decade of public service in Washington, D.C., and work as a senior fellow and board member at Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship. John also taught environmental law at an Asian law school for several years and was a founding board member of the Earth Stewardship Alliance. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas School of Law. 


Peter Robinson is a professor at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. US News ranked The Straus Institute as the best ADR program in the country for the 11 years Professor Robinson served as its managing director, from 2005 to 2016. He also served a two-year stint as the associate dean for administration at Pepperdine Caruso Law School. He has presented advanced negotiation and mediation skills courses throughout the United States and in 15 foreign countries. He has served on the boards of the California Dispute Resolution Council, Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA), Dispute Resolution Services of the LACBA, Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement, and the Christian Conciliation Service of Los Angeles. The SCMA recognized him as Peacemaker of the Year in 1999. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and was recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer in the area of mediation in 2006 and 2008. After being appointed by the LA City Attorney, he successfully mediated all the environmental objections to building the Farmer’s Field football stadium in downtown LA.


Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and RW360. Trained as an engineer, lawyer, and mediator, Ken has conciliated hundreds of family, business, church, and legal conflicts. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Peacemaker, which has sold over 500,000 copies in 20 languages. He is also a Certified Emotional Intelligence Instructor and a Certified Relational Wisdom Conciliator, Coach, and Instructor, and has served as an Editorial Advisor for Christianity Today. He teaches internationally on biblical peacemaking, Christian conciliation, and relational wisdom, which is an enhanced form of emotional intelligence that helps people “get upstream of conflict” by improving their ability to read and manage emotions in themselves and others. These resources are being used to strengthen relationships, promote teamwork, and reduce and resolve conflict in churches, families, businesses, schools, and military bases around the world.


Rob Showers is the managing partner of Simms Showers LLP, heading up the NOVA/DC Metro office and specializing in civil and commercial litigation and church, nonprofit, and business law. A graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law in 1977, Rob went on to serve in various capacities in the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to going into private practice in 1989, he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the executive director of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General. Rob writes and lectures extensively nationwide on church and nonprofit law and child protection and employment law. Rob currently serves on a number of boards, including that of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention as an officer. Rob has shared over 35 years with his wife, Evie, and is father to three lovely daughters and two granddaughters.


Theresa Lynn Sidebotham is the founding attorney of Telios Law PLLC, where she advises businesses and religious organizations on legal and policy issues with a special emphasis on First Amendment policies, international law, child protection policies and practices, and employment. Theresa also handles investigations in employment law and child abuse, advising on and/or supervising internal investigations and performing independent investigations as an outside firm. In addition to ordinary business litigation and employment law issues, she has defended a number of churches in several states in alleged child sexual abuse cases, historic and current, as well as asserted constitutional defenses around religious free exercise, religious privilege, and other First Amendment issues. Theresa has served as the expert panel chair of the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention since 2019. She is a graduate of Wheaton College and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Theresa is a long-standing CLS member, a prior president of the CLS Chapter in Colorado Springs, wife, mom, and grandma to three adorable granddaughters.


Noel W. Sterett is a partner at Dalton & Tomich, PLC and oversees their Illinois office. He describes the core of his practice as a devotion to ensuring people are free to serve God and their neighbors in their communities and in the marketplace. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is an area of particular focus for Noel. He has helped win dozens of land use cases all across the country and regularly advises religious groups on civil rights matters and how best to secure zoning approval for their religious land uses. Noel is an allied attorney and member of the National Litigation Academy Honor Corps of the Alliance Defending Freedom. He serves on the board of Courtside Ministries, a prayer ministry that organizes volunteers from local churches to pray for people as they come in and out of courthouses across the country. Noel is a graduate of Regent University School of Law. He resides in Rockford, Illinois, with his wife and five children.


Jason Thacker serves as chair of research in technology ethics at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Following Jesus in the Digital Age, with B&H Publishing, as well as The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity with Zondervan. He also serves as the editor of a forthcoming volume with B&H Academic on Christian ethics and the digital public square, focused on content moderation and online governance. He is the project leader and lead drafter of Artificial Intelligence: An Evangelical Statement of Principles, and his work has been featured at SlatePoliticoChristianity TodayThe Gospel Coalition, and World Radio. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies. He also holds a Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is currently pursuing a PhD in ethics and public theology. He serves as a founding member of AI and Faith, as well as a research fellow at the ERLC Research Institute. He is married to Dorie. They have two sons and live outside of Nashville, Tennessee.


Will Thetford is an associate with Simms Showers LLP. Mr. Thetford is passionate about pursuing justice for his clients, navigating them through an often-complex legal system, and faithfully representing their interests. He practices in both federal and all levels of state court in Virginia. Prior to joining Simms Showers, Mr. Thetford gathered a broad array of experience in the law, including his time with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting First Amendment rights, and interning with a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia. Upon graduating from law school, Mr. Thetford clerked for the judges of the Rockingham County Circuit Court in Harrisonburg for Virginia’s 26th Judicial Circuit. Mr. Thetford also speaks and writes on various topics including Constitutional legal issues, religious freedom, legal compliance, and helping small businesses, churches, and ministries remain vigilant and effective in the face of the dangers that confront them today, such as preventing or addressing child abuse or sexual harassment and various employment matters. Mr. Thetford lives in Leesburg, Virginia, with his family and is a member of Grace Covenant Church in Sterling. When he is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and otherwise being active outside. Mr. Thetford received his J.D., cum laude, from Regent University School of Law, where he was a member of the Moot Court Board, winning multiple awards as an oralist and in brief writing, and the managing editor for the Journal for Global Justice and Public Policy. He received his Bachelor of Arts in government/American politics and policy, magna cum laude, from Patrick Henry College.


Leslie Vander Griend practices intellectual property law at Stokes Lawrence PS in Seattle, Washington. Stokes Lawrence is recognized as one of the top law firms in Washington for intellectual property and is a majority women-owned firm with offices in both eastern and western Washington. Leslie works closely with a wide range of businesses, nonprofits, and religious organizations on intellectual property matters including trademarks, copyrights, licensing, software protection, domain name recovery, online retail marketing, unfair competition, and intellectual property in estate planning. Leslie and the IP team at Stokes Lawrence represent clients in intellectual property enforcement and litigation nationwide and in contested matters before the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board. Leslie graduated from Calvin College with a B.A. in music theory and composition, then obtained a joint degree from Emory University School of Law (J.D.) and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (M.T.S.). Leslie is admitted in Washington, Georgia, various Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She was recently recognized for the fifth year in a row by World Trademark Review as a Leading Trademark Professional. 


Jeffery J. Ventrella serves as senior counsel and senior vice president of academic affairs and training for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Since joining ADF in 2000, he has headed the ADF Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a unique legal internship program that has graduated more than 1,900 outstanding law students. Ventrella also leads the design of Alliance Defending Freedom Areté Academy, providing training for exceptional college upperclassmen and recent graduates on a path to future leadership in law, government, and public policy. He regularly engages the culture through formal debates and serves as an approved speaker for The Federalist Society. Ventrella received his Ph.D. in church and state studies from Whitefield Theological Seminary. He earned his J.D. from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and has practiced law since 1985. He is a member of the state bar of Idaho and is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, and the U.S. Supreme Court.


Sally Wagenmaker is a partner at Wagenmaker & Oberly, a law firm with offices in Chicago and Charleston. Together with her three law partners and additional staff, she provides legal counsel for nonprofit clients including churches and other religious organizations, social service providers, and schools.​ The firm’s values include trustworthiness, cost-efficiency, creative collaboration, mutual respect, and community engagement, consistent with Proverbs 11:24-25 (www.wagenmakerlaw.com). Sally has served as the general counsel and legal review team chair for Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP) since 2019. Sally’s love for CLS began as a student at Emory Law School with a hunger for spiritual growth and meaningful work. Sally has served on the CLS board of directors since 2009, currently the past president of the CLS board. She also serves on her local Chicago CLS chapter board. Sally is blessed by her husband and two young adult children.