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 watching movies, sports, and playing pool.
Lynn Wessel is our Financial Administrator. She joins ALS in 2018 with over 30 years’ experience in the financial industry. Lynn is originally from Grand Forks, North Dakota, but resided in the twin cities metro area before relocating back to the Northwoods within the past few years. Lynn and her husband reside in Bemidji with their daughter, and they all enjoy spending as much time on the lake as possible.
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 of 2008. She is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. Born and raised in Minnesota, Chari and her family make their home in Bemidji. Her hobbies include travelling, spending time with her family and hanging out with friends.
Valerie Field is a Staff Attorney 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.
Ellen Weinberg is the staff attorney in the White Earth office. She represents clients in child protection, guardianship, commitment, and landlord-tenant cases. She has a B.A. in ancient history from the University of Iowa and a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law) in St. Paul. She is still a history buff. She founded the Moorhead Civil War Round Table in 2016, and loves reading, tennis, pickleball, vegetarian cooking, and dogs.
Rita Holler is a paralegal/non-attorney representative and Certified Disability Specialist. Rita graduated from Bryant & Stratton College with an Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies. To complete her degree requirements, she interned with Anishinabe Legal Services for over 400 hours and eventually was hired as a full time employee. Following that, she later moved to Duluth and worked for the Public Defender's office and two private attorneys. Rita has since returned to ALS and provides services primarily for disabled and vulnerable individuals including through the 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 has lived in Bemidji since 1989 and has four grown children, two boys and two girls, along with 5 grandchildren, and is happily expecting two new grandsons in 2019.
Mary C. Goggleye is our legal secretary who recently graduated with her Indigenous Leadership degree from Leech Lake Tribal College. She joined our team as a part time intern Spring 2019 to acquire her graduation requirement. In the summer, part-time turned into full-time intern, then was offered a full-time position. Mary is currently pursuing her BA in Law from the University of Arizona Online, with future plans to attend law school and eventually practice within the Ojibwe Nations in Minnesota. She is an Anishinabekwe enrolled in the Hopi Nation of Arizona. Her passions include fostering intertribal relations, and being a positive role-model for native youth. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her 5lb Chihuahua Poquito, and loves to create art.
Andrea Szabo, "Dre," is a Staff Attorney at ALS. She grew up overseas before moving to Florida with her family as a teenager. In 2018, she graduated from University of Florida with a dual degree (J.D. and M.S) focusing on environmental and land use law. She was Vice President of her law school’s Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) and participated in the National NALSA Moot Court. Dre went to University of Montana’s law school for their American Indian and Indigenous Law Program. She co-authored an article in the Florida Bar Journal that was recently cited by the Florida legislature for the passage of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. She recently relocated to Minnesota and is excited to be here! Dre will primarily be handling child protection cases in the Leech Lake Tribal Court. She is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, Florida and the tribal courts of Leech Lake and White Earth. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pets, listening to music, and just about anything outdoors.
Heather Labat is a Staff Attorney at ALS. She grew up on a farm near Marshall, MN, and graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2001 with her B.A. in History. A year later, she attended an accelerated paralegal certificate program receiving her certification in 2002 and started working for the U.S. District Court in MN as a docket clerk, and then as Calendar Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge James M. Rosenbaum. After spending over five years with Judge Rosenbaum, she moved on to her next adventure--law school. In May 2013, she graduated from William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law) and was admitted to the MN Bar in October 2013. Following graduation, she clerked for Judge Lyonel Norris in the Fourth Judicial District (Hennepin County). In January 2014, she moved to Bemidji after accepting a position with the Public Defender’s Office. She worked as an Assistant Public Defender in the Bemidji area and as an Assistant County Attorney in Clearwater County. Prior to accepting her position with ALS, she was the Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights & Title IX Investigator at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College. Heather lives outside of Bemidji with her significant other and their dogs. She loves to travel and watch sports, especially the Twins.
David Eischens is a support staff member at ALS who is also training to become a certified disability advocate. He recently graduated with Honors from the Leech Lake Tribal College with a degree in Indigenous Leadership, and it was during his college career that David became acquainted with ALS through an internship. David is a White Earth Band of Chippewa tribal member and is currently residing in the greater Bemidji area with his fiancée and two children. David's hobbies include attending community functions, fishing with his children, and working on vehicles. He is very passionate about helping people and protecting the environment and looks forward to advocating on behalf of disabled clients.
Joni Tapio is our new legal secretary 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.