our board

Alicia Alvarez of Detroit, Michigan, is a clinical professor of law and director of the Community and Economic Development Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, where she specializes in issues affecting nonprofit and community-based organizations. Her area of interest is economic justice. 

William Goodman of Detroit, Michigan, practices civil rights law in the firm of Goodman and Hurwitz, PC. His past achievements include almost ten years in New York City as legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he led the Center’s work representing Guantanamo Bay detainees, Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange and the wrongfully convicted teens in the notorious "Central Park jogger" case. 

Julie Hurwitz of Detroit, Michigan, practices civil rights law in the firm of Goodman and Hurwitz, PC. Julie served as executive director for the Sugar Law Center for the first several years of its existence and again from 1998 to 2004. Clients in her private practice include victims of police misconduct and targets of attempts to stifle press freedom. 

Ria Julien of New York, New York, practices labor and employment law with the firm of Mirer Mazzocchi Schalet & Julien PLLC.  [Bio coming soon].

Saleem Khalid of Detroit, Michigan, serves as the Executive Director of the Muslim Enrichment Project, a project providing support to new Muslims.  [Bio coming soon].

Joseph Lipofsky of New York, New York, is an retired attorney whose experience includes serving as Deputy Counsel to the Attorney General of New York, as an attorney and Executive Director with legal service programs in New Jersey, Missouri, and Michigan, and representing labor unions. Joe also serves as a Board Member for Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A.

Denzel McCampbell of Detroit, Michigan, is currently the Social Justice Organizer for Engage Michigan.  His work includes providing assistance to community groups throughout the city with media and communications.  Denzel also serves as the Policy Chair for the Detroit chapter of Black Youth Project (BYP) 100 - an organization fighting for the liberation of all black people through a queer and feminist lens. 

Jeanne Mirer of New York, New York, practices civil rights and employment law. Among her clients are Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange who have taken to court the U.S. chemical companies that profited from manufacturing the poison. She is a member of the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, the National Employment Law Association, and the NAACP. Jeanne has been a moving force in the founding and leadership of the International Commission for Labor Rights. 

Jerome L. Reide of Lansing, Michigan, is an attorney whose practice includes public policy advocacy, civil rights, and probate matters. Jerome is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association. He is also Chair of the Legal Redress Committee of the Michigan State Conference NAACP, and serves on the Council of the ABA's Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR). 

Herb Sanders of Detroit, Michigan, is an attorney practicing labor, employment and civil rights law with The Sanders Law Firm, P.C. [Bio coming soon].

Sue Marx Smock of Washington, DC, is a consultant with the Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program. Retired from her position as the dean of Wayne State University’s College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs, Sue is a member of the Urban Affairs Association and serves on the boards of the Coalition of Women’s Organizations and the Women’s National Democratic Club. 

David D. Whitaker of Detroit, Michigan, has served since 2003 as chief legal advisor for the Detroit City Council and head of the Council’s Legislative Policy Division. David has successfully litigated major issues as Special Co-Counsel to the City Council. He also serves as a trustee of the Gospel Temple Missionary Baptist Church, on the Board of Advisors of Evergreen Children’s Services, and serves as a case evaluator for Wayne County Mediation Tribunal. 

our staff

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John Philo, Executive & Legal Director

Executive & Legal Director


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Tonya Myers Phillips, community partnerships & development director


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Lead Attorney


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shannon stuckey

Paralegal & Office Manager


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rasheed gilmer

Legal Fellow



Ray Leggett


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rashida tlaib, Former community partnerships & development director

Following the elections, last Fall Rashida is no longer with the Sugar Law Center. She now proudly services the residents of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District as a member of the U.S. Congress.


The Sugar Law Center arose from Maurice and Jane Sugar’s donation their estate to the newly formed Sugar Foundation.  The couple’s lives had been dedicated to work on behalf of poor and low-income people.  Five trustees were named to oversee the Foundation, with instructions that the assets were to be used to further economic and social justice. In 1990, the trustees established the SLC as a nonprofit center dedicated to this mission.

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Maurice & Jane Sugar