Our Team

STAFF

Clare Gilbert
Executive Director
As Executive Director, Clare Gilbert leads the organization while focusing on litigation, policy and board development. Her work on GIP’s Joey Watkins case was featured for seven months in 2016/17 on the popular Undisclosed podcast.
Prior to joining GIP, Clare worked for six years as a public defender in Snohomish County, Washington, and before that as a public interest lawyer representing nonprofits with Smith and Lowney, PLLC, and as a policy lawyer at the Government Accountability Project. Clare also has the unfortunate distinction of working as the victim advocate on the prosecution team that secured wrongful sexual assault convictions against four women now known as the San Antonio Four (all exonerated in 2016). Clare graduated from the University of Washington School of Law and Vassar College, and has been at GIP in various roles since April 2015. When not fighting wrongful convictions, Clare enjoys hiking and mushroom hunting with her husband, two small kids and very noisy beagle.
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Grace Akan
Deputy Director
As Deputy Director, Grace Akan is responsible for directing GIP’s fundraising and donor development, communications and exoneree engagement programs.
Grace obtained her law degree from Emory Law School and bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs and French from the University of Georgia. Grace’s first experience with GIP was through a deeply moving law school internship, which precipitated her commitment to indigent defense and criminal justice reform. She went on to practice as a felony public defender in Georgia’s Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Hall and Dawson counties. Grace then took her advocacy skills to the DC area where she worked as a publicist representing national trade associations, businesses, and Congressional programs, and then as a political organizer. She joined GIP in February 2017. Grace sings in a local band and her family is from Nigeria, where Grace travels regularly and enjoys walking barefoot.
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Matt Holbrook
Operations Manager
As Operations Manager, Matt Holbrook manages the organization’s finances, operations, IT and human resources, and provides administrative supervision and support for interns.
Matt defines success in his role as creating a culture of organizational excellence, and developing tools and processes to form a solid foundation from which GIP can most effectively advance its mission. Matt joined GIP in November of 2016. He previously worked as business manager at a small contracting company, where he handled everything from customer relations to supply chain logistics. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Mexico in 2015, where he worked in the law library at UNM's School of Law. Matt is a sci-fi lover, contemporary board game enthusiast, and casual musician.
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Raylynn Hughes
Intake Coordinator
As Intake Coordinator, Raylynn Hughes is responsible for assessing and responding to inmate and other requests for GIP’s assistance, and managing cases through our intake screening process.
Raylynn joined GIP in December 2016, thanks to generous support from GIP's Georgia Gives Day donors. Before coming to GIP, Raylynn worked as a Librarian and Continuing Education Services Coordinator for DeKalb County Public Library, in Decatur, GA. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University and her Master of Librarianship from Emory University. Raylynn is fluent in Spanish. She picked up running as a sport when she previously worked as a manager the Atlanta Track Club, and she still goes out for morning runs and weekend races.
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Melissa Arends
Bookkeeper
As GIP’s part-time bookkeeper, Melissa Arends records the organization’s financial transactions. She is GIP’s longest tenured employee and has been with the project for several years, previously as the organization’s operations manager.
Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Iowa in 2005. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and is working towards becoming a licensed counselor, splitting her time between her studies and her work with GIP. Melissa loves collecting things, and her favorite collection is of young Elvis Presley memorabilia.
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

CURRENT

Julie Seaman - Board President

David Sarnat

David Balser

Mark Hackner

Robert Sheft

Garret Van de Grift

EMERITUS

Emmet J. Bondurant

James C. Bonner, Jr.

Bobby Lee Cook

Charles K. Edmondson, Jr.

September Guy, Co-Founder

Jill G. Polster, Co-Founder

Greg Hampikian, Ph.D.

John R. Martin