Cody Nelson is the Executive Director at ALS. He has been with the program as a staff attorney since graduating magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2006. Cody is a licensed attorney in Minnesota as well as the tribal courts of Red Lake, White Earth, Mille Lacs, and Leech Lake. In his spare time, Cody enjoys spending time with his wife and cat, watching movies, sports, and playing pool.
Chari LaDuke-Clark is the Administrative Director in our central office in Cass Lake. She has been employed with ALS since October 2006 and has been licensed as a Red Lake Nation Court Advocate since April 2008. She is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. Chari is currently a volunteer parent-board member for the Voyageurs Expeditionary School which is a local charter school. Born and raised in Minnesota, Chari and her family make their home in Bemidji. Her hobbies include travelling, rock/gem collecting, spending time with her family and hanging out with friends.
Valerie Field is a Litigation Director at ALS. She passed the Minnesota Bar exam in 2004. She grew up in northern Minnesota and is a graduate of Bemidji State University, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati School of Law in 2003. Valerie has worked for a legal service organization in Minnesota for 10 years. Prior to attending law school, Valerie worked for programs that help survivors of domestic violence as an advocate and later Program Director.
Rita Ostman is a paralegal and Certified Disability Representative. Rita graduated from Bryant & Stratton College with an Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies. To complete her degree requirements, she interned with ALS for over 400 hours and was later hired as a full time employee. Following her initial employment, she later moved to Duluth and worked for the Public Defender's office and two private attorneys. Rita has since returned and provides services primarily for disabled and vulnerable individuals through their disability benefits approval process. Rita is excited to work more intensively with the SSI/RSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) program initiative to reach the homeless citizens in our area and working to obtain benefits for their financial security. Rita lives in the greater Bemidji area since 1989 and has four grown children, two boys and two girls, along with 7 grandchildren.
Joni Tapio is our newly promoted paralegal/non-attorney legal advocate and comes to us as a long-time resident of Cass Lake who has recently moved back to the area after a 4-year hiatus. She brings many years of experience in customer service and administrative roles. She is a graduate of Leech Lake Tribal College, class of 2013, with her AA in Business Management as well as in 2017 with her AA in Liberal Education. She is an enrolled member of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a proud mother of 3 children- JessLyn, Mark & Kyson. Outside of work she pursues her private business endeavor she hopes to make happen by 2023 which focuses on offering healthier lifestyle options for her community. Joni enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and creating regalia and beadwork for her children.
Jaime Sipe is the financial administrator based out of our Cass Lake office. She is a lifelong resident of Northern Minnesota and joins the organization with almost 6 years of experience in the nonprofit finance field. When she is not working, you will most likely find her camping or at her cabin with her husband, dogs, family and friends. If she’s not there, she’s at the barn or on the trails with her horse, Bear.
Joel Vorhes is a staff attorney at ALS with 15+ years of practice. Joel provides defense services in child protection and civil commitment cases through a contract with the White Earth Tribal Court in addition to a variety of other civil legal matters for residents of the White Earth Reservation.
Jenna Finn is the office secretary in our central office in Cass Lake, been employed with ALS since September 2022. Jenna graduated from Cass Lake-Bena High School in 2009 and went on to get an AA in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in special needs education. Born and raised in northern Minnesota. Jenna and her family make their home in Cass Lake, MN. Her hobbies include recreating “Tik Tok” DIY Crafts and recipes with her 7-year-old daughter, traveling and spending time with family.
Catherine Cotton (Catie) is our Front desk/office assistant, She was a Teacher at the Leech Lake Head Star in Cass Lake for 2 Years in the Infant/Toddler rooms. Catherine is an enrolled Red Lake band member. Catie has 2 cats, she loves dearly. Some hobbies of hers are Beading medallions, BTS (Korean Boy Group), watch anime and she is a Wicked Gamer, a daily player of Genshin Impact & Honkai Star Rail!
Scott Gollwitzer Joining ALS from the high desert surrounding Moab, Utah (a.k.a. “Abbey Country”), Scott has been a dedicated public-interest attorney for more than twenty years—protecting the environment and defending the rights of criminally-convicted, indigent clients through the appeal process. Most recently, he spent more than a decade with Appalachian Voices as an attorney, campaign coordinator and organizer working to phase out coal-fired power plants and permanently end mountaintop removal coal-mining in the Appalachian Mountains. Despite the dramatic climate change from the high desert of Utah, Scott is eager to use his skills and passion to defend the rights and sovereignty of the Ojibwe people and their Nation! In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, snowshoeing, stand-up comedy, jam bands, learning to play the congas (albeit ineptly) and contemplating the wonders of the universe.
Taylor L. R. Burdick is a staff attorney with ALS. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law is 2017. He is also a member of the 2014 PLSI (Pre-Law Summer Institute) Class. He began his career with ALS in 2017. He served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Tohono O’Odham Nation in Southern Arizona from 2020-2022 and as a Staff Attorney for the Kalispel Tribe in Eastern Washington from 2022-2023. Taylor helps clients on the Leech Lake, White Earth, and Red lake reservations, as well as on matters in Minnesota courts. When he has time, Taylor enjoys outdoor activities, watching MN sports, cooking, and playing with his dog. Taylor is a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
Lily Harper, staff attorney. Lily graduated from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in 2021. She has experience in a private law firm working with individuals on case preparation for issues dealing with domestic violence and civil harassment restraining orders, and immigration or health law issues. Lily is passionate about helping disadvantaged individuals and will be assisting ALS clients across all three reservations with their cases. She is fluent in Russian and English. Lily has adult children and lives with her two French bulldogs who were formerly show dogs. She enjoys the peace and quiet of rural living.
Srimathi Kannan is our newest ALS Staff Attorney. In 2023, she graduated from UC Davis Law School. Sri interned for Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. and was involved in TIG (Technology in Grant), which created new projects and initiatives to improve our civil justice system. She also created reports on free civil legal services for low-income communities in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, which totaled nearly 47 counties in Miami City. During law school, she also worked as an Art Law Intern at CA Lawyers for the Arts, where she aided with case development for mediation, including intake and document preparation, as well as guided meeting preparation and telephone communication with members, artists, attorneys, and clients. She has also helped with event planning, filing, and other administrative tasks.