Lawyers and Staff


President and General Counsel
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Vernadette Broyles is the President, General Counsel, and founder of Child and Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. She is an experienced family law litigator and Guardian Ad Litem representing the best interests of children in court, and has been an advocate for student privacy, parental rights, and Title IX protections in public schools. She brings to this role her knowledge and experience in the legislative process and background in science and research. Vernadette graduated with Honors from Yale University with a bachelor of science degree in Biology, and received her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Vernadette has practiced as a commercial litigator and served as a state Prosecutor with the Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney’s Office. Prior to law school, she worked in neuro-pharmaceutical research. Vernadette was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue to the State Board of the Georgia Department of Human Services for five years, where she co-chaired the Department of Family and Children Services Committee and gained many insights into state child protective services. She has served on Advisory Boards to the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women program and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention program and as a Public Interest Director with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. Vernadette has also been featured as a columnist with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She and her husband have two children.


Senior Litigation Counsel
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Mary McAlister, Esq. is Senior Litigation Counsel with Child & Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. She is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, having advocated for parental rights and First Amendment rights at all levels of federal and state courts. She has been an advocate for children’s rights, particularly protection from the harms of early sexualization and sexual exploitation. She brings to this role nearly three decades of experience as an attorney, as well as a passion for protecting the innocence of children. Mary received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor of science degree, summa cum laude, in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

Prior to law school, Mary worked as a journalist in California. She has worked as a commercial and real property litigator, including as part of a team overseeing complex environmental contamination litigation, in California. She also worked as senior litigation counsel for a national public interest law firm defending constitutionally protected civil liberties. Mary is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and in every federal Circuit Court of Appeals throughout the country, and is licensed to practice in Virginia, California, and Florida. Mary has authored and co-authored numerous academic articles and white papers on the subject of gender identity, girls’ body image, sexually explicit materials in public schools, child protection, and the family and civil society, as well as columns in national news magazines. She and her husband have two children.


Senior Litigation Counsel
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Ernie Trakas, Esq. is Senior Litigation Counsel with Child & Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. Ernie is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, having advocated for parental and student rights at the federal district and appellate court level. He has worked in civil and disability rights and on Title IX Educational rights for parents and children. He brings to this role more than three decades of experience as a trial attorney, including as a public defender, as well as twenty years of experience representing K-12 public school districts and charter schools. Ernie received his law degree from the George Mason University in Virginia, and a bachelor of arts degree, from Wheeling College in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Ernie has concentrated his practice in the areas of education law and civil and disability rights, including Titles IV, V, VI, and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). Ernie has litigated cases in the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri, and Washington D.C. He has also argued appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth and District of Columbia Circuits.


Chief Operating Officer and Director of Advocacy
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Joel Thornton is Chief Operations Officer and Director of Advocacy for Child and Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. He brings thirty years of law practice experience to this role. He is an experienced litigator in the area of child protective services representing parents’ rights in court. He has worked on cases in the federal court system across the United States, including numerous cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. He has also worked as an international human rights lawyer litigating in Norway and before the European Court of Human Rights in France. Joel graduated from Berry College and received his law degree from Georgia State University College of Law..

Joel has served as Chief of Staff to the State School Superintendent of Georgia, where he worked on a variety of legislative initiatives and educational policies and projects. Prior to law school, Joel worked as a middle school teacher in the Floyd County, Georgia public schools. He has published two books, one a practical guide on leadership. Joel worked for over fourteen years with an internationally known public interest law firm where he worked on a variety of civil rights cases, including before the U.S. Supreme Court, and helped manage the development and operations of the firm. Joel has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs. He and his wife have two children.

Stephanie Bagwell

Director of Finance and Administration
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Stephanie Bagwell is the Director of Finance and Administration for Child & Parental Rights Campaign. Stephanie has over ten years experience in finance and accounting in both nonprofit and for-profit corporate settings.

From her own personal experience, Stephanie has a passion for standing up for vulnerable children in public schools and for their right to grow up healthy and live out their full potential in the unique bodies, talents, and gifts they were born with.

Noelle Kahaian

Government & Community Relations Paralegal
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Noelle Kahaian is the Government & Community Relations Paralegal for Child & Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. Noelle is also the President and Co-Founder of Protect Student Health Georgia, a statewide coalition of concerned parents and citizens formed to protect the health and innocence of students.
Noelle has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from William Tyndale College and received her ABA approved Paralegal Certificate from Oakland University. She brings over twelve years of paralegal experience in litigation and a passion to work with strategic allies to protect children.

Amber Kuhlman

Litigation Paralegal
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Amber Kuhlman is a litigation paralegal for the Child & Parental Rights Campaign. She has an associate's degree in Legal Science from Gwinnett College. Amber has over 13 years of experience in litigation. As a mom, Amber is passionate about fighting for parental rights and the protection of children in the school systems and is a strong advocate for families..

Susan Beidleman

Executive Assistant
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Susan Beidleman is the Executive Assistant to the President at Child & Parental Rights Campaign. Susan received her Bachelor of Arts, Master’s degree and Specialist degree from Georgia State University in Early Childhood Education. She has 35 years of teaching experience. Susan has a passion for standing up for parents’ rights to protect their children from dangerous ideologies being implemented in educational settings.

Board of Directors

Leticia R. Hashem

Board of Directors

Leticia Ramirez Hashem is Co-Founder and Chief Consulting Officer of Infused Impact Inc., a nonprofit venture capital and consulting firm with the mission of empowering job-creating business formation in developing countries.
Leticia is a graduate of Harvard University with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Leticia provides pro bono consulting services to nonprofit organizations in Connecticut, and serves on the boards of Harvard Business School Community Partners of Connecticut and Love146, an organization working to end the sex trafficking of children.

Terri Burkhalter-Pierce, Esq.

Board of Directors

Terri Burkhalter-Pierce is an attorney who practices in the areas of family law, juvenile court matters, and personal injury and is a partner at the Burkhalter Law Firm in Georgia, a general practice litigation firm, and has served as an Associate Juvenile Court Judge.
Terri earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia School of Journalism and graduated Magna Cum Laude from John Marshall School of Law. She is a former member of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia and former Chairman of the Floyd County Child Fatality Review Committee and currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Darlington School.

Chelsea R. Sabo

Board of Directors

Chelsea Sabo is the Executive Director and founder of the Foster Care Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for families to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement of children by Child Protective Services.
Chelsea received her Bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in writing from Samford University. As a single mom and former foster parent, Chelsea is passionate about helping other moms overcome life’s challenges in order to keep their families together.

Vernadette R. Broyles, Esq.

Board of Directors

Vernadette Broyles is the President and General Counsel of Child and Parental Rights Campaign, a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting parental rights and children’s well-being from the transgender agenda.
Ms. Broyles received her law degree from Harvard Law School and was admitted to practice in Georgia in 1995. She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University. (See top of page for additional biographical information.)