Leadership Team

Cherise Fanno Burdeen

Chief Executive Officer


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Cherise Fanno Burdeen, PJI’s CEO, has spent more than 20 years working to improve public safety policies and practices across the country. After earning a bachelor’s in public administration from Miami University (Ohio) and a master’s in criminal justice from Indiana University, she began her career with the DOJ's National Institute of Justice. After fieldwork that included time with the Safer Foundation in Chicago and post-9/11 federal service with the Department of Homeland Security, Cherise joined PJI. Since 2006, Cherise has developed innovative strategies to raise awareness of pretrial justice issues, amassed a broad constituency of criminal justice stakeholder groups, provided technical assistance and training on policy reforms, and engaged in communications and media efforts. She has extensive experience with strategic planning, initiative management, and change efforts across the criminal justice system. She serves as an issue expert for legal and correctional professionals, national and community advocates, the media, influencers, and artists.

Meghan Guevara

Vice President, Innovation & Impact


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As the vice president of innovation and impact, Meghan Guevara leads PJI’s learning communities and technical assistance efforts. She has spent nearly 20 years providing training and professional development to criminal justice and human services professionals who seek to advance their work using the latest research and to improve outcomes for individuals and communities. For the past decade, Meghan has focused on local- and state-level systems change and has also worked extensively at the county level to build collaborative, data-driven justice systems. Meghan began her career as a health educator working with youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. She received a Master of Public Health degree in social and behavioral sciences from Boston University.

Tenille Patterson

Vice President, Mission Support Services


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As the vice president of mission support services, Tenille Patterson is responsible for and oversees the activities and processes that provide core mission support to PJI. Tenille's accounting career began 16 years ago when she worked as an auditor for the global professional services firm PwC. To align her professional aspirations with her spirit of advocacy and social justice, Tenille transitioned into the nonprofit field, working with and for organizations serving the most underserved and disenfranchised. In her most recent nonprofit leadership experience, Tenille served as chief operating officer of the Center for Urban Families, a human services organization dedicated to supporting fathers and families suffering from the effects of systemic and institutional inequality. Tenille has a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Morgan State University and is a certified public accountant.

Dianne Beer-Maxwell

Manager, Outreach & Engagement


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Dianne Beer-Maxwell, who comes from a law enforcement family, has built her career around evidence-based public safety and criminal justice system practices. As PJI’s outreach and engagement manager, Dianne applies her skills to building relationships and creating fun spaces and experiences conducive to sharing and learning. Previously, Dianne provided training, resources, and policy guidance to public safety leaders throughout the country as a program manager for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Dianne also managed IACP’s Pretrial Justice Reform Initiative; her accomplishments included raising awareness and engaging law enforcement leaders in pretrial reform through the Pretrial Justice Champions Group and helping the IACP earn the Partner Award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies. Dianne holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration/marketing and a bachelor of arts in anthropology from Colorado State University, as well as a master’s in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Jeanine Burchard

Manager, Grants, Contracts & Events


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Jeanine Burchard, the grants, contracts and events manager, has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit arena, including coordinating and facilitating meetings, conferences, and special events. Her primary responsibility at PJI is planning meetings and events (and providing support) and consolidating these functions into a single, streamlined process. A graduate of Mary Washington College (University of Mary Washington), Jeanine holds a B.A. in history and historic preservation.

John Clark

Senior Manager, Technical Assistance


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John Clark is a Senior Manager for Technical Assistance at the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI).  In over thirty years at PJI, John has provided technical assistance to thousands of entities around the country on implementing evidence-based pretrial justice practices. He has authored numerous articles relating to pretrial justice in such publications as: the American Bar Association’s The Improvement of the Administration of Justiceseries; The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice;the Journal of Court Innovation; and Judicature. He began his career in the pretrial justice field in the 1970s as a pretrial services officer in the District of Columbia. He has a Master’s Degree in the Administration of Justice from American University. He is the recipient of the Ennis J. Olgiati Award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies for lifetime commitment to pretrial justice.

Ameshia Cross

Director, State Policy


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Ameshia Cross is the Director of State Policy for PJI. An experienced professional with a background in P-12 education, Ameshia most recently served as national director of policy and external relations at the National Black Child Development Institute. Previously, Ameshia served as manager of government affairs for the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Illinois. During her tenure at Noble, Ameshia was tapped by Organizing for America to lead a fellowship program in Chicago that taught the key components of effective advocacy, with a particular focus on service initiatives designed to counter gun and gang violence. She also was a White House fellow and served as an editorial staffer for former Vice President Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. Ameshia has a personal commitment to ending cash bail, as it resulted in the separation of her own family. She holds a B.A. in political science and journalism from Belmont University and a master’s in public administration from Roosevelt University.

Sue Ferrere

Manager, Technical Assistance


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Sue Ferrere lives and works in Evergreen, Colo. As the technical assistance manager, Sue helps communities improve the outcomes and fairness of their pretrial justice systems. Before joining PJI, Sue was a criminal justice planner in Jefferson County, Colo., and was instrumental in developing the Colorado Improving Supervised Pretrial Release project, a 10-county effort that was the predecessor of the CPAT (Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool). Sue, who also specializes in developing coordinated justice system responses to individuals with behavioral health challenges, helped start the Jefferson County Recovery Court. In a previous life, Sue was a renewable energy scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Sue especially enjoys the fusion of law and science necessary to transform our pretrial justice system.

Katie Nelson

Senior Associate, Communications


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Katie Nelson, PJI’s senior communications associate, has a background grounded in visual storytelling. She received her master of arts in new media photojournalism from the Corcoran School of Art & Design at George Washington University in May 2015. Katie’s multimedia master’s thesis, “Being Atticus Finch,” focuses on the importance of public defenders in the U.S. criminal justice system. Her project combines film, photography, and traditional reporting to tell a complete story about the intersection of criminal defense, an underserved population, and federal and state jurisprudence in America. The film portion has been selected for six film festivals throughout the country and was named a semi-finalist for the 2015 Student Academy Awards. She brings to PJI a passion for criminal justice reform and plans to use her new media skills to reach a broad audience in the American legal community.

Beth Oprisch

Manager, Learning Innovations


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Beth Oprisch has worked in the juvenile justice field for more than 28 years. In her role as PJI’s learning innovations manager, Beth carries out the work of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) through in-person events, by providing technical assistance, and by overseeing JDAI’s online community platform, JDAIconnect. Before coming to PJI, Beth was the state JDAI coordinator for Ohio. She is a former superintendent at the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility and former executive director for the Belmont Harrison District. She is a past president of the Ohio Juvenile Detention Directors Association and former chair of the Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee of the Governor’s Council for Juvenile Justice. Beth served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She has a bachelor of science in social work from Bowling Green State University and a master of arts in counseling from West Virginia University.

Wendy Shang

Associate, Research & Communications


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As the research and communications associate at PJI, Wendy Shang uses her legal and writing background to research and create reports, blogs, and other communications materials for a broad range of audiences. While working as an attorney for the American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center, Wendy identified ways to improve access to counsel and the quality of representation of juveniles. She helped produce several reports, including “A Call for Justice: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings”; “More Than Meets the Eye: Rethinking Assessment, Competency and Sentencing for a Harsher Era of Juvenile Justice”; and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention bulletin “Innovative Approaches to Juvenile Indigent Defense.” Wendy is also an award-winning author of children’s books. She received a bachelor of arts in psychology and a juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia.

Bryan Taylor

Manager, Technology Innovation


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Bryan Taylor joined PJI in 2012 after earning a master’s degree in public policy from Brigham Young University. While in school, Bryan focused on issues related to substance abuse, reentry, and pretrial justice and worked closely with Utah County Government to improve pretrial practices. Bryan has led the development of PJI’s online presence and technical infrastructure, including, in his role as PJI’s technology innovation manager, the University of Pretrial, an online learning community for policymakers and pretrial professionals. Bryan enjoys birding, hiking with his family, and pop music from the ‘90s/’00s.

Anne VanDercook

Manager, Accounting


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Anne VanDercook serves as PJI’s accounting manager. Before joining PJI, she had 16 years of experience in accounting, 10 of them in the nonprofit arena. Throughout her career, Anne has managed the administration of grants and contracts at all levels of government, as well as grants and contracts from private foundations. Her primary responsibilities at PJI are managing the day-to-day finance and accounting operations and serving the Mission Support Services team as needed.

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