In September 2019, Zealous launched a new community of defenders and held its first national training: A media and movement building event in Brooklyn for 52 defenders, representing 42 different offices, in 27 different states.



The interactive training combined plenary sessions with interactive, small group workshops led by a range of expert facilitators from a wide variety of fields and anchored by original curriculum, worksheets, and exercises. Participants were pushed to think about new ways to leverage their expertise to drive systemic change



Media Studio

During the training, NowThis, the most-watched news outlet on social media in the world, partnered with Zealous to set up a studio on site, and filmed over 20 Zealous Advocates to create justice-topic explainer films featuring public defenders.

Mandatory Minimums

Criminalization of Mental Health

Drawing Injustice

Art Exhibition

The event included an art talk and exhibition by award-winning artist, writer, and author, Molly Crabapple.



How to communicate experiences for maximum impact.


How to identify key allies and build trust to fight together.


How to use multi-dimensional strategies to change laws.

Social Media

How to harness new tools to raise awareness and drive action.

Traditional Media

How to work with journalists to share the injustices we see.

New Media

How to propel policy advocacy with video, web, data, technology and art.

Narrative Shifting

How to command language to disrupt the status quo.

Media and Ethics

How to be thoughtful and deliberate in how we share.

Speakers & Trainers:

Raj Jayadev

Founder: Silicon Valley De-Bug

Organizer & Activist

Alec Karakatsanis

Founder: Civil Rights Corps

Lawyer & Activist

Samuel Sinyangwe

Founder: Campaign Zero

Data Scientist, Policy Analyst, & Activist

Jon Rapping

Founder: Gideon’s Promise

Defense Attorney

Andrea James

Executive Director: National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls

Community Organizer

Reginald Dwayne Betts

Author: Bastards of the Reagan Era

Poet & Attorney

Emily Bazelon

Author: Charged

Journalist & Law School Teacher

Scott Hechinger

Senior Staff Attorney & Director of Policy: Brooklyn Defender Services

Public Defender

Kassandra Frederique

NY State Director: Drug Policy Alliance


Radley Balko

Opinion Writer: The Washington Post

Author & Journalist

​Rachel Barkow

Author, Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration

Law Professor & Faculty Director, Center on the Administration of Criminal Law

Rebecca Brown

Director of Policy: Innocence Project


Soledad O’Brien

CEO: Starfish Media Group

Journalist, Author, & Philanthropist

​Rabia Chaudry


Advocate, Author, & Podcaster

Josie Duffy Rice

President: The Appeal

Journalist & Lawyer

Tom Meagher

Managing Editor for Digital & Data Journalism: The Marshall Project

Investigative data journalist

Nico Pitney

Political Director: NowThis

Journalist & Filmmaker

Erin L. George

Criminal Justice Campaigns Director: Citizen Action of New York

Organizer and Policy Advocate

Danielle Sered

Founder & Executive Director, Common Justice

Author & Advocate

Molly ​Crabapple

Artist & Writer

Jamil Smith

Senior Writer, Rolling Stone


William Fitzgerald

Founder: Worker Agency

Campaign & Communications Strategist

Nick Encalada-Malinowski

Civil Rights Campaign Director, VOCAL-NY

Social worker & Organizer

Khalil Cumberbatch

Chief Strategist, New Yorkers United for Justice

Advocate and Strategist

Lisa Schreibersdorf

Executive Director, Brooklyn Defender Services

Chief Defender

Derrick Hamilton

Co-Founder, Family & Friends of the Wrongfully Convicted

Advocate & Exoneree

Bianca Tylek

Founder & Executive Director, Worth Rises

Industry Strategist & Organizer

Scott Levy

Chief Policy Counsel, The Bronx Defenders

Public Defender & Strategist

Yung-Mi Lee

Supervising Attorney, Brooklyn Defender Services

Public Defender

Topher Sanders

Reporter, Pro Publica


Andrea Nieves

Senior Policy Attorney, New York County Defender Services

Litigator & Policy Strategist