Staff and Alumni

John PhiloExecutive Director & Legal Director. Email John.

Rashida Tlaib, Community Partnerships & Development DirectorEmail Rashida.

Tony ParisLead AttorneyEmail Tony.

Phyllis  Kassab JedenLegal Analyst & Development Associate.  Email Phyllis.


We remain grateful for the dedication and skills of our former colleagues, without whose efforts the Center would not be where it is today.

James Hunter worked for over three years as our Stronger Michigan Communities Project Coordinator.  James has been a labor activist for over 35 years and continues to be actively involved in community efforts for more equitable development in Detroit.

Patrina Griffin worked with Sugar Law over two decades and provided invaluable service as our Office Manager.  She has an Associate degree in Legal Assistance from the Detroit College of Business (aka Davenport University), where she is a continuing member of the alumni association.

Susanne Meredith, Staff Attorney, works with the AFL-CIO as a Research Analyst.

Mark Fancher, Senior Staff Attorney, has joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

David Santacroce, served as Senior Staff Attorney at the Law Center, before taking a position as Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Michigan.  He is a founding member of Equal Justice America.

Thomas W. Stephens, Of Counsel Staff Attorney, is now Public Policy Analyst-Legal with the City of Detroit Research and Analysis Division.

Tonya Myers Phillips, Attorney Fellow, is an attorney with Michigan Legal Services and is the President and Founder of Vision Legal Services PLLC, a law firm specializing in small business, nonprofit organizations, and estate planning.

Alma Lowry, Environmental Justice Staff Attorney, is now Assistant Professor of Law at Syracuse University.

Hector Ricardo (Ric) Urrutia, Community Trainer, entered a masters program in labor studies at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst.

Brenda Smith, Environmental Justice Community Training Organizer, became a community organizer with the United Catering Restaurant Bar & Hotel Workers, local 1064.

Gary Gant, Paralegal, is currently working on police misconduct and other civil rights cases with Julie Hurwitz, former SLC Executive Director, as well as working as a freelance paralegal.

Sheila Harris, Administrative Assistant, is providing expert office management assistance and enjoying the flexibility of working for a variety of companies

Shanell Lyons, File Clerk, completed her college certificate and is working in retail.

Phoebe Crandall, Development Director, in 2003 returned to private practice and grantwriting.

Charlie Grose, Development Director, created GrantWorks Detroit, an independent consultancy providing fund development, marketing and proposal writing.

Cheryl Graunstadt, Development Director, continues her service as an elected member of the Westland City Council.

Nancy O’Neale, Development Director, moved on from the Law Center in 2004 to fulfill other dreams.

Craig Regester, Development Director from 1999-2000, continued in the nonprofit development world in Detroit for several years after leaving Sugar. He began working for the Residential College at the University of Michigan in 2002, and today is the Associate Director for U-M’s Semester in Detroit program.

Jeff Ditz, Advocacy Manager, worked with the Law Center during 2012. He is a tireless advocate for workers and organized labor and is active in progressive causes throughout Southeast Michigan.

Stephanie R. Vaught, is a 2007 graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School and served the Sugar Law as a Legal Analyst providing litigation support and acting as strong advocate for binding community benefits during the course of large-scale development projects .

Virginia Romano, educated as a clinical and community psychologist and with over 25 years in the nonprofit human services field, Virginia served as Sugar Law’s Executive Director, before returning to work in the foundation field.

Tova Perlmutter, the founder of Engine of Progress, Inc.,  returned to private consulting on nonprofit development and management issues after serving as Executive Director of the Sugar Law Center.

Kary Moss, after graduating from Columbia University’s graduate school on international affairs and CUNY Law School at Queen’s College, Kary served as Executive Director of Sugar Law before moving on to lead the Michigan ACLU as their Executive Director.

Julie Hurwitz, after two stints as the Executive Director of Sugar Law, returned to private practice as a founding partner of the noted constitutional and civil rights law firm of Goodman & Hurwitz. Julie continues to serve on Sugar Law’s Board of Directors.

Contact Us

Address: 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit MI 48201 | Phone: (313) 993-4505 | Email:

This website provides general information to people interested in the Sugar Law Center. Visitors should not consider the information available via this website to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship, should not rely on the information provided herein as legal advice for any purpose, and should always seek the legal advice of competent counsel in the relevant jurisdiction regarding specific facts and legal issues.