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MEET THE TEAM

MICHELLE WEIDNER

Executive Director

Weidner has over 20 years of experience in public relations, writing, and nonprofit advocacy. She is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which she served as a radio and television broadcaster for the American Forces Network. She has a Master of Public Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, summa cum laude, from Northern Illinois University. She and her husband experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation of abuse in 2010 due to a radiological interpretation error.

DIANE REDLEAF

President

Redleaf is the principal at Family Defense Consulting , the co-chair of United Family Advocates (a bipartisan federal policy advocacy group for families in the child welfare system), and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. She founded and led legal advocacy at the Family Defense Center in Chicago for 12 years, until 2017. She is the author of They Took the Kids Last Night: How The Child Protection System Puts Families At Risk.  She is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where she was an Articles Editor of the Stanford Law Review, and Carleton College, magna cum laude.

ALAN NOVICK

Vice President

Novick  has litigated extensively in the trial courts in child protection cases, including cases involving complex medical and psychological issues. He has a Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois

TONY LAWLOR

Secretary & Treasurer

Lawlor is the owner of Lawlor Consulting Group LLC and the co-founder and former Associate Director of SYESA, a Chicago social services agency that helps youth in foster care transition to successful adulthood. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and is currently seeking a Master of Arts in Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College. A former ward of the state himself, he experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation in 2013.

MARY BRODERICK

Family Advocate
Member, Board of Directors

Broderick is the President/Owner of ClearView Research, Inc. and is a former board president of the Family Defense Center. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She and her husband experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation of abuse in 2003, due to a radiological interpretation error. As a volunteer Family Advocate, Broderick helps families navigate the child welfare system. 

BRIAN BRAY

Member, Board of Directors

He is a Director at Willis Towers Watson specializing in human resources strategy consulting.  He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Geneseo State University and an Master of Business Administration and Master of Science from Clarkson University.  Brian and his wife experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation in 2017.

LIZ BRAY

Member, Board of Directors

Liz is an attorney at Polsinelli in the firm's employee benefits and executive compensation group.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Villanova University and a Juris Doctorate and Latin Legum Magister from Villanova University School of Law.  She and her husband experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation in 2017.

TARA CRADY

Member, Board of Directors

Crady is a Crisis Therapist for the Children's Home Association of Illinois and a former Forensic Interviewer at Tazewell County Child Advocacy Center. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Government from Illinois State University. She and her husband experienced a medically-based wrongful allegation in 2015 as a result of medical misdiagnosis.

DOUGLAS PARROTT

Member, Board of Directors

Parrott is the President/CEO/Chairman of the Board of the State Bank of Toulon and President of Stark County Bancorp, Inc. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana; the CBAI School for Community Banking; the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin;  and the Moore and from CBAI School for Community Banking; the Graduate School of Banking, Madison, Wisconsin; and the Graduate School of Bank Investments and Financial Management at the University of South Carolina. 

MELISSA STAAS

Member, Board of Directors

Staas is a supervisory attorney in child and family law matters at a Chicago-area legal aid organization. She previously worked as a staff attorney at the Family Defense Center where she routinely represented families facing a medically-based allegation of child abuse and is a founding board member of Protecting Innocent Families (www.protectinginnocentfamilies).  She graduated from Loyola Chicago School of Law, magna cum laude, where she was also Editor-in-Chief of the Children’s Legal Rights Journal.  Staas received her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota.