Equal Access to Justice Commission Staff
Jennifer M. Lechner
Executive Director, North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission
Jennifer M. Lechner is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, a position she has held since 2008. Under her direction, the Commission assesses unmet legal needs, engages in statewide strategic planning, coordinates efforts between legal aid organizations and other legal and non-legal organizations, manages resource development efforts, and works generally to expand civil access to justice.
Before moving to North Carolina, she founded and operated a Maine-based company focused on legal association management. She served as the first Executive Coordinator of the Justice Action Group, Maine’s access to justice entity, and as the first coordinator of a unified statewide fundraising campaign for all Maine legal aid providers.
Jennifer began her career as the legislative counsel to the Maine State Bar Association where she lobbied state and federal governments on behalf of Maine’s largest professional trade association.
Jennifer has worked as a consultant to access to justice entities, legal aid organizations, bar associations, and political candidates. She is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice where she has served on the Board of Governors and the Strategic Planning Committee. She is also a member of the North Carolina Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Jennifer is an honors graduate of Truman State University and Drake University School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Maine. She is an author of numerous articles on access to justice and a frequent speaker at state and national conferences.
She and her husband Steve have two children and live in Garner.
Housing Stability Project Manager, North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center
Anh LyJordan serves as the Project Manager for the Housing Stability Project with the Pro Bono Resource Center. In this position, Anh manages a program of volunteer attorneys with an aim to increase housing stability by providing income-based assistance to North Carolina’s most vulnerable tenants, who are in imminent danger of eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while providing property owners with alternatives to eviction through the HOPE program.
Prior to joining the Center, Anh spent over 25 years working in the field of employee and labor relations – first at Nabisco where she had the pleasure of working amongst cookies and crackers at several Nabisco bakeries in Philadelphia, New Jersey and the Bronx before attending Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. After a stint with a NYC big law firm, she moved to the DC area, where she spent ten years as a trial attorney with the US Department of Labor litigating cases on behalf of American workers. The LyJordan family relocated to Raleigh in 2017 so that Anh could create Accelerate The Climb – an organization dedicated to helping first-generation college students transition from college to career.
Anh was born in Saigon, Vietnam and came to the U.S. with her family in 1975. She grew up outside of Buffalo, New York and attended Cornell University as a first-generation college student, graduating with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. She currently lives in Wendell, NC with her husband, two teenage sons and black Labrador Wilbur.
Contract Attorney, North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center
Meghan Martie serves as a staff attorney with the Pro Bono Resource Center focusing on driver’s license restoration. Meghan oversees pro bono volunteer work and communicates with clients.
Prior to joining the Center, Meghan spent two years volunteering part-time as an attorney with the Wake County Office of the Public Defender, representing clients in District Court. She also clerked for Justice Robin Hudson on the Supreme Court of North Carolina for four years.
Meghan grew up in Raleigh, spent her undergraduate and law school years in D.C., attending Georgetown University and the Georgetown University Law Center, and then found her way back to Raleigh after law school graduation. She and her husband have two young boys and in her (infrequent) spare time, Meghan enjoys reading, running, and dancing.
Sylvia K. Novinsky
Director, North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center
Sylvia K. Novinsky is the Pro Bono Resource Center’s inaugural director. Chief Justice Mark Martin launched the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center as a program of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission in 2016.
In this role, Sylvia has already garnered state and national recognition for her work. In June 2018, Sylvia received the NC Bar Association Citizen Lawyer Award, recognizing lawyers who provide exemplary public service to their communities. At the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference in May 2018, Sylvia received the William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award, honoring an individual who has made outstanding commitments to and positive impacts on the institutions or systems of providing pro bono legal services.
Sylvia comes to this role after nearly twenty years of service to the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she most recently held the role of Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs. During her tenure at Carolina Law, Sylvia founded and advised the UNC Law Pro Bono Program, a national model for inspiring students and alumni to participate in pro bono service. She has also served as the institution’s Associate Director for Public Interest Law, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Sylvia also spends time inside the classroom as an adjunct professor, teaching “Spanish for American Lawyers” and “Leadership for Lawyers.”
In addition to her career in higher education, Sylvia has experience working for legal aid providers. After law school, Sylvia litigated federal employment-related issues and administrative unemployment, wage and hour claims, and consumer cases, for Peninsula Legal Aid in Virginia. She then served as Legal Director for the Center for Immigrants’ Rights in New York, New York, where she supervised a statewide hotline for immigrants and advocates and represented domestic workers on employment matters.
Sylvia grew up in Queens, NY, and is from Argentina. She is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and The American University’s Washington College of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Maryland, the District of Columbia and New Jersey. She is a member of the N.C. Bar Association serving on the Pro Bono Committee and the Minorities in the Profession Committee. She also volunteers with the Fairfield Summer Swim Team in Durham. She lives in Durham, with her husband, who teaches at Durham Public Schools, and her daughter.
Senior Project Manager, North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission
Jennifer Simmons is the Senior Project Manager of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. Working with Commission members and other stakeholders in the Access to Justice community, she strives to expand access to civil legal assistance for North Carolinians of low and modest means. As Senior Project Manager, Jennifer develops and implements special projects to broaden the impact of the state’s legal aid programs and the work of the Commission and the Pro Bono Resource Center.
Jennifer joined the Commission after more than a decade working for Legal Aid of North Carolina, where she focused on increasing clients’ access to public benefits as a Staff Attorney and Supervisor in the Raleigh office. She later served as the Project Director for LANC’s Navigator Project, a program that helps North Carolinians understand and access health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. Jennifer also provided strategic leadership and day-to-day support to twelve other nonprofits as Director of the NC Navigator Consortium, the second-largest Navigator grant in the US.
Prior to working at Legal Aid, Jennifer served as Judicial Clerk to Justice Sarah Parker on the North Carolina Supreme Court. She performed disability determinations for the Social Security Administration before going to law school.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Jennifer received her B.A. cum laude from Davidson College with honors in Cultural Anthropology. She studied law at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she was awarded the Order of the Coif and inducted into the James and Carolyn B. Davis Society. She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina.
Jennifer and her husband Matthew live in a historic home near downtown Raleigh with their two children, Bebe and Archie.
B. Leigh Wicclair
Senior Staff Attorney and Restorative Justice Program Director, North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center
Leigh Wicclair serves as the Pro Bono Resource Center’s Senior Staff Attorney focusing on driver’s license restoration and relief from the collateral consequences of a criminal record. Leigh conducts attorney trainings, coordinates pro bono opportunities for attorney volunteers, and works on policy issues.
After law school, Leigh worked as a public defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia. She then worked as an Equal Justice Works / AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, a nonprofit focused on expungement and increasing opportunities for individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system. Following her fellowship, Leigh worked as a Judicial Law Clerk for the PA First Judicial District Court of Common Pleas.
Leigh was born in Asheville, NC, raised in Lewisville, NC and is a proud double Tar Heel. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and playing soccer.