THE WREN COLLECTIVE, LLC
Strategic Advising for Social Change
We live in a time where change is badly needed but difficult to achieve. True impact requires expertise and commitment. The Wren Collective provides both to clients who want to take the bold action needed to radically transform the criminal legal system.
STRATEGY & CAMPAIGNS
We design full-throttle campaigns to achieve change. We craft messages, identify those who can effectively communicate them, and determine how and when they should be delivered. We will show you which levers need to be pulled to obtain radical transformation, and then we help you pull them.
We design ballot initiatives and legislation and provide the research and strategy necessary to get them passed. We help clients throughout the process, tracking amendments, identifying whether proposed changes will harm the client’s goals, and developing strategies to oppose these modifications when necessary.
We provide a rapid response strategy in a crisis, helping to mobilize those voices that can help combat an attack.
RESEARCH & POLICY
We perform deep, evidence-based research to identify the solutions that will help our clients achieve their goals. We write position papers, reports, policies, and white papers, and then distill them into clear messaging to help you push for change.
We help place stories in all forms of media—print, digital, radio, and television—to get our clients' message to the widest audience possible.
As long-time criminal defense lawyers, we can provide specialized media and strategy support for your litigation.
The Wren Collective is a strategic advising firm that provides our clients with significant substantive knowledge, experience, and an unparalleled work ethic. We are lawyers and policy experts who deploy our considerable criminal justice system expertise to provide communication, policy, legislative and campaign support.
We are not your ordinary firm:
We are deeply client-centered. We are a boutique firm that is entirely focused on achieving our client's end goals—meaningful change. We are selective so that we can give our clients as much time and attention as they need.
We believe subject matter expertise matters. Successful communications and policy work requires people who understand both how things do and should operate. We have that expertise.
We believe hands-on experience is critical. We have been in the trenches, both in courtrooms and on campaigns. We understand how to create targeted and effective advocacy.
Jessica Brand, Founder
Jessica Brand is a criminal justice expert with significant experience in policy and political communications. Previously, she served as the Legal Director at The Justice Collaborative, heading a team of attorneys, researchers, journalists, and media strategists that worked to reduce the harm caused by the deeply flawed criminal justice system. In that job, she advised elected officials across the country as they tried to proactively implement meaningful change, while leading communication strategies to roll out policies to safely shrink incarceration levels and supervision in their jurisdiction. She also led teams in responding to crisis situations, and worked with media to soften the groundwork for criminal justice reform.
Jessica previously worked at the Texas Defender Service in the capital trial project, where she consulted with trial teams in death penalty cases across the state of Texas and conducted state-wide trainings on understanding mental health and performing capital defense investigation. Prior to that, Jessica was a staff attorney in the appellate division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. She also served as a member of the forensic practice group, and she continues to train lawyers across the country on litigating the admissibility of forensic evidence. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Michael McConnell on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Jessica has been published in Slate, CNN, and The Appeal, and been featured on NPR and CSPAN.
Jessica graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007, and summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Defender Service and the University of Pennsylvania Platt House Performing Arts Alumni Council.
Julia Brown is an experienced attorney with a background in criminal law and immigration policy. Before joining the Wren Collective, she directed advocacy for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, Maine's only nonprofit provider of immigration legal aid. Her achievements included passing legislation that opened up a pathway to a green card for Maine noncitizen youth, leading state-wide public education and advocacy efforts in response to anti-immigrant federal policies, and spearheading the organization's media and communications strategies.
Prior to her move to Maine, Julia was an attorney at the Georgia Resource Center, where she represented death-sentenced clients in their state and federal habeas post-conviction cases. She litigated these cases in state and federal courts, including appellate courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. Julia also built up clemency cases, talking with victims’ family members, jurors, community members, and expert witnesses, in order to advocate for her clients’ lives. She has a deep understanding of the criminal legal system, and all its failures and injustices, from this work.
Julia obtained a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. After law school, she clerked for Justice Brian Morris of the Montana Supreme Court.
Before joining Wren, Kate was Chief of Staff for District Attorney Chesa Boudin. There, she worked with Chesa and others to reduce the county jail population by ending the use of cash bail and providing alternatives to incarceration. She was proud to oversee the team that worked tirelessly to reduce the state prison population from San Francisco through a robust resentencing division. Kate was the organizer for impact litigation against corporations profiting from ghost guns; helped draft legislation to expand murder resentencing; drafted legislation to provide funding for Chesa’s office to expand re-sentencing and restorative justice work; and legislation to protect victims of sexual assault from having their DNA stored and illegally searched by the San Francisco Police Department in investigations in unrelated crimes years after their assault.
Before joining Chesa’s team, Kate was a Director of Policy at The Justice Collaborative and The Appeal, a national, non-profit research and advocacy organization. At TJC, Kate worked with state and federal lawmakers, community groups, and other leaders to draft legislation and policies in policing, sentencing reform, and housing for all. During this time, Kate also led District Attorney Boudin’s Policy Transition Team and was on Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s Transition Resentencing Committee.
Prior to her time at TJC, Kate was co-founder and policy director of Re:Store Justice. There she worked on state legislation and the lead drafter and organizer for Senate Bill 1437, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner, which amended California’s felony murder rule and other common law doctrines related to accomplice liability for homicides. Kate wrote the Guidebook for Petitioners and trained attorneys, judges, and incarcerated people in California state prisons with a months-long tour of California prisons. Kate later helped draft and get votes for SB 775, which expanded the reach of SB 1437 to those serving time for manslaughter and attempted murder.
Before that, Kate was an Associate Professor and Interim Director at the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she trained students to represent indigent clients in the trial court and in parole hearings. Kate worked as a criminal defense attorney in the trial and appellate courts, both in private practice and at the Office of the State Public Defender.
Kate attended law school at night at the University of San Francisco School of Law when her daughters were then 3 and 6 years old. Kate started law school after 10 years of working with the unhoused at Catholic Worker, helping to purchase and run houses that provided permanent housing for the formerly unhoused. Kate still works with CWHH where she manages a re-entry house in Oakland for people leaving prison after being sentenced to life imprisonment.
Henna Khan is an experienced criminal defense attorney and litigator. Prior to joining The Wren Collective, she served as a staff attorney in the criminal defense practice of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the first community-based, holistic defense office in New York City. Henna successfully tried a variety criminal cases ranging from misdemeanors to violent felony offenses, and negotiated hundreds of cases benefiting her clients. In her practice she oversaw an interdisciplinary team of attorneys, advocates, social workers, investigators, paralegals, and interns who practiced in criminal, civil, immigration, and family courts in Manhattan.
Prior to becoming a public defender, Henna was a Teach for America corps member, and served as a founding middle school special education teacher in Washington, D.C.
Henna received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where she concentrated in critical race studies and specialized in the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from UC Berkeley.
Amy Weber has over fifteen years of experience in criminal justice litigation and advocacy work. Prior to joining the Wren Collective, Amy was a Senior Attorney at the Justice Collaborative, where she partnered with elected prosecutors to design and implement significant criminal justice reforms driven by data and research, while considering political feasibility, timing, and strategies for optimizing expansive change. Before her involvement in designing and supporting new criminal justice policies, Amy provided litigation assistance and constitutional briefing to attorneys handling capital, juvenile life-without-parole, and nonviolent life-without-parole cases across the country. Amy contributed to many significant victories, including the Delaware Supreme Court decision invalidating the State’s capital punishment law and a successful challenge to the first true juvenile life-without-parole sentence imposed in Florida following the State’s legislative response to Miller v. Alabama.
Prior to her work litigating these constitutional criminal issues, she spent nearly a decade as a trial, training, and appellate attorney at the public defender’s office in Miami, Florida, representing clients in all phases of Florida criminal proceedings. She made significant changes to the office’s felony training program that are still in effect today and regularly trained lawyers in the Miami community. Amy has also served as a law clerk for Judge Janet C. Hall of the District of Connecticut, a staff attorney in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement, and an analyst at the Congressional Budget Office.
Amy obtained a B.A. from Cornell University in 1996 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 2002.
Bethany Young is a lawyer, researcher, and policy expert with deep experience conducting legal and policy research about social stratification and its adverse effects on individuals in academic, professional, and legal settings. She worked directly with clients and other stakeholders for several years, including federal and state government officials, donors, and community organizers during her time at the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in North Carolina. In these roles, Bethany provided representation in capital appeals and pushed policymakers to reconsider the breadth and administration of the death penalty. She also led community discussions about racial and economic inequality, worked on a team to create resources to educate the public about racial injustice’s history, and participated in efforts to remove confederate monuments in southern cities.
Along with Bethany’s legal background, her social science research experience gives her a unique lens on criminal legal systems and policies. Her doctoral studies and independent research centered on intersectional experiences of structural inequity. She used qualitative methods to gather firsthand accounts of these experiences. This training prepared Bethany for her community-centered research and advocacy work as Project Director for the Prison Research and Innovation Initiative and the DC Police Reform Commission and Deputy Director for DC Justice Lab.
Bethany received a B.A. from Spelman College, a J.D. from The George Washington University Law Schol, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University.