The IIP Team
The IIP team includes attorneys supported by professional staff and a broad network of UIS students, law students and community volunteers.
John J. Hanlon, Executive Director & Legal Director
John joined IIP in 2011 and is based at IIP’s home office at the University of Illinois Springfield in Springfield, Illinois. He is an expert in postconviction appeals and death penalty litigation. Before joining IIP, John practiced criminal defenders for 25 years in the Office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender where he worked almost exclusively on the appellate defense of death penalty cases. He represented four of the 20 former Illinois death row inmates who ultimately were proven to be innocent and freed, including Rolando Cruz, from the well-known Nicarico case from DuPage County. He represented 4 of the 21 wrongfully convicted individuals, including Rolando Cruz of the nationally known Nicarico case, who ultimately were released to freedom from Illinois’ death row.
Larry Golden, Founding Director
Larry Golden co-founded the Illinois Innocence Project in 2001. With a Ph.D. in Political Theory from the University of Minnesota, Larry was one of the founding faculty of Sangamon State (which later became the University of Illinois Springfield), specializing in civil liberties, injustice and inequality. After 34 years of teaching, he retired in 2004 in part to work pro bono for IIP. Larry contributes to a UIS course on the conviction of the innocent and regularly lectures on the prevention of wrongful convictions. Larry was the recipient of the Spencer Faculty Service Award and most recently the University’s Distinguished Service Award.
Lauren Kaeseberg, Legal Director, Chicago Office
Lauren joined the Project in 2013. She is based at IIP’s Chicago office and oversees the work of IIP staff attorneys. Lauren attended Cardozo School of Law in New York City where she participated in the Innocence Project clinic program as a law student, an intern and a teaching assistant. Lauren has extensive experience in trial level, post-conviction and appellate cases, and bringing DNA cases to resolution. She was the Project’s lead attorney in its recent exonerations of Christopher Abernathy, Angel Gonzalez, Teshome Campbell and Bill Amor.
Courtney Cosgrove Reed, Development Director
Courtney joined IIP in 2014. She received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has extensive experience in not-for-profit communication and development, and has lent her skills pro bono to a variety of causes, including social justice. Courtney oversees advancement activities for IIP, including the annual fundraiser, federal grant applications and donor communications, and supports organizational development efforts. Texas Exoneree Michael Morton’s story inspired her to get involved in the innocence movement.
Christine Ferree, Case Intake & Evaluation Manager
Christine joined IIP in 2017. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Springfield and is enrolled in the Political Science Master’s program at UIS with an emphasis in Political Theory and Women and Gender Studies. Christine is responsible for researching and evaluating cases for actual claims of innocence, and supervises students, interns and volunteers. Her interests include further exploration of injustice regarding women in the criminal justice system.
Paralegal Assistant – Andrea Davidsmeyer
Andrea Davidsmeyer joined the Illinois Innocence Project as an intern in 2015. After completing her bachelor’s degree in legal studies at UIS with a concentration in the Paralegal field and seeing the great work that is accomplished at the IIP she decided to stay and volunteer for one more year. That one more year turned into more, and in 2018 she became the Paralegal Assistant. In addition to assisting in office management, she works on various aspects of cases and “Shaken Baby Syndrome” research.
Project Assistant – Karen Meidl
Karen joined the Illinois Innocence Project as a volunteer in 2018 and became a staff member while completing a Psychology degree at Lincoln Land Community College. Karen wears many hats at IIP, assisting with social media, event support and case intake. She also works on a few active cases providing research, investigative and administrative support. Karen is committed to social justice issues and is a passionate advocate for the wrongfully convicted.
Dedicated volunteers share their extensive professional experience with IIP by providing legal expertise and administrative, legislative, database management, event, website and case investigations support.