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Board Members

Carlos Moreno

Hon. Carlos R. Moreno: A key advisory board member for LEAP is the Honorable Carlos R. Moreno, former California Supreme Court Justice and former US Ambassador to Belize. Justice Moreno brings a high level of expertise to LEAP from a 25-year career on the judiciary, where he authored more than 140 majority opinions on a wide range of precedent-setting cases, including opinions implicating LGBT rights, arbitration, and insurance policy coverage.

Justice Moreno is a first-generation Mexican American, the third Latino to serve on the Supreme Court of California, and a former president of the Mexican American Bar Association. Justice Moreno brings invaluable expertise in our core objective to elevate diversity in the US legal system. He also currently serves on the boards of the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center and the Western Justice Center Foundation.


Ashley Inouye Rodriguez

Also on LEAP’s advisory board is Ashley Inouye Rodriguez, former associate at Reed Smith. In her role at Reed Smith, Inouye Rodriguez specialized in insurance recovery. In addition, Inouye Rodriguez has significant experience in general commercial contract disputes, financial services litigation, and appellate matters. Prior to her work at Reed Smith, Inouye Rodriguez spent a year working for the Ninth Circuit where she served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Ferdinand F. Fernandez. As a former Ninth Circuit clerk, Inouye Rodriguez has developed a keen understanding of appellate issues. Inouye Rodriguez is a 2015 magna cum laude Loyola Law graduate.

Purvi G. Patel

Purvi G. Patel, a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, is a recognized leader, mentor, and role model in her practice, within the firm, and throughout the community. Purvi has a defined niche that cuts across the firm’s Class Actions & Mass Torts and Privacy + Data Security Groups. In addition to her class action defense and privacy litigation and counseling practice, Purvi is an advocate for those in need, dedicating her time to pro bono work relating to immigration issues.

Purvi is also dedicated to supporting diversity in her practice and to serving as a leader and mentor within the firm and in the broader legal community. Her commitment to mentoring and helping to advance the careers of diverse and female attorneys is evident in the several influential positions she has assumed at the firm. She serves as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity Strategy Committee, hiring partner for the Los Angeles office, and a member of the firm’s Women’s Strategy Committee.

In addition, Purvi’s commitment to advancing diversity in the legal profession at large can be seen by the many programs and initiatives to which she dedicates her time. For example, in addition to serving on LEAP’s board, Purvi is a member of a steering committee of judges, in-house and outside counsel, and educators working with Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization to develop and implement a Los Angeles‒based summer legal institute for diverse high school students. In 2018, she served as co-president of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California, which recently recognized her as its 2019 Mentor of the Year.

Roger Lowenstein

Advisory board member Roger Lowenstein was selected as the first Federal Public Defender in New Jersey. He has also taught courses in constitutional law and was one of the first writers for the hit television show LA Law. In 2002 Lowenstein founded LA Leadership Academy, a school for low income students that was founded to academically prepare and to orient students as community activists. Lowenstein brings a sense of social justice and deep experience in education and law to LEAP’s board.

Sergio C. Tapia

Sergio C. Tapia was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning BA degrees in Ethnic Studies and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his law degree from the University of Iowa, College of Law. In 1996, Judge Tapia was an AmeriCorps attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. In 1997, Sergio became a Deputy Public Defender for Los Angeles County and in 2001 transferred to the Alternate Public Defender’s Office (APD).

In 2013, Governor Brown appointed him to be a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Tapia is currently the Assistant Supervising Judge of Criminal and presides over a felony trial court. Judge Tapia serves on the Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness, the Traffic Advisory Committee, and the Futures Traffic Working Group. In addition, he serves on the Executive Boards of the California Judges’ Association and the California Latino Judges’ Association. In 2019 Governor Newsom appointed him to serve on the Governor’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee for LA County.

Judge Tapia is a volunteer Teen Court Judge at Bell Gardens High School. He has been a volunteer judge with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, an Adjunct Professor of Law, and every year he mentors high school, college, and law school students. He actively works with many local bar associations and previously served on the Board of Trustees of the Mexican American Bar Association and the Board of Directors of the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. Judge Tapia has received many awards, including the 2019 Lanterns Award from MOSTe (a nonprofit who helps underserved girls get into college).

Tiffany Tsao

Tiffany Y. Tsao, Pro Bono Manager at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (“LAFLA”) is dedicated to creating access to justice through community service. She joined LAFLA in November of 2017 as a Managing Attorney and oversaw all client intake for the foundation. In her current role, Tiffany works directly with law schools, colleges, and community partners to build service opportunities. She also co-directs the Pro Bono Training Institute, a collaborative online learning platform that connects expert legal services trainers to existing and potential volunteers.

Tiffany previously worked at Bet Tzedek Legal Services and began her legal career as an impact litigation fellow. Following her fellowship, she led a community outreach project providing food pantry clients across Los Angeles County with legal advice and representation. By cultivating partnerships with social service agencies, she established holistic client services onsite at food pantries and was promoted to Director of Intake Services in 2014. Through this work, Tiffany cultivated a passion for working with students and found her way to the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, where she served as the public service law counselor for several years. As a student counselor, she developed public interest workshops, administered fellowship projects and programs, and advised students and alumni.

Honored with the opportunity to continue to follow her inspiration, she joins LEAP’s Advisory Board in relentless pursuit of access to justice for all.

Malcolm Ranger-Murdock

Malcolm is a second year associate at Business Affairs, Inc., where he works on various projects, drafting and negotiating a wide range of agreements at all stages of development and production. Before joining Business Affairs, Inc., Malcolm began his legal career as a litigation associate at a boutique firm in Southern California and focused on a range of issues including constitutional, employment, and insurance coverage, but ultimately specialized in breach of contract claims. Malcolm later joined Sony Pictures Entertainment as a Director of Business Affairs where he specialized in licenses and distribution agreements for Sony’s television networks. While in law school, Malcolm interned at NBC Sports Group and his law school’s Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurial Clinic. Malcolm received his J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law and graduated with an Intellectual Property Certificate for his extensive coursework and work focused on Intellectual Property. Malcolm also served as the President of the Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Society. Malcolm received his Bachelor of Science from New York University where he majored in Applied Psychology. Malcolm is a licensed attorney in the State of California.

Cyn Yamashiro

Cyn Yamashiro has dedicated his professional career to representing and serving individuals charged with crimes. He studied Economics at UCLA before attending Law School at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He finished his career as a public defender as a long cause trial deputy and served as a trainer and supervised the juvenile office in Compton, CA. Cyn was recruited to Loyola Law School to create one of the first legal clinics on the West Coast dedicated to criminal defense. At Loyola Law School, he taught courses in advanced criminal litigation skills, trial advocacy, criminal law and juvenile delinquency law.

He has commented on cases and trends in criminal and juvenile law for television, radio and print media and frequently lectures on criminal and juvenile delinquency law. He has published in the area of indigent defense delivery systems and how different systems affect dispositional outcomes. Cyn Yamashiro is L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas’ appointee to the Los Angeles County Probation Commission, where he served as president for two years. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy and was a founding member of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center and the Center for Juvenile Justice in Boulder Colorado. He is currently a member of the board of Outward Bound Adventures. Prior to his appointment as the directing attorney of the IJDP, he was in private practice, representing clients in trial and appellate matters in state and federal court.

Derek Meeker

Derek Meeker, a partner with the Spivey Consulting Group, has over 20 years of experience in law school admissions and legal recruiting. He has served as the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for the University of Pennsylvania Law School, as a global recruiting manager for Paul Hastings LLP, and as an admissions reader for the University of Chicago Law School. As a consultant for Spivey, he guides law school applicants through the admissions process and has advised law schools on their admission, financial aid, and career services strategies.

A first-generation college student from rural Ohio and member of the LGBTQ+ community, Derek is most proud of his legacy of increasing racial, sexual orientation, and socio-economic diversity at Penn Law and in helping to launch diversity scholarships at Paul Hastings. He also has volunteered as a career mentor and writing coach to first-generation college applicants in the Los Angeles area through the Posse Foundation and College Summit. Derek graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. in Journalism, then earned his J.D. from Capital University as a part-time evening student while working as a Legislative Aide for the Ohio Senate.

Thaila Sundaresan

Thaila Sundaresan is a partner in the Telecommunications and Appellate Litigation practice at Davis Wright Tremaine. She leverages her years of practice in government and the private sector to solve problems for broadband, communications, and tech clients who find themselves involved in matters before state and federal regulators and the courts. As a former appellate litigator at the Federal Communications Commission for six years, Thaila has briefed and argued numerous complex cases in the federal courts of appeals. The extensive first-chair litigation experience she gained at the Commission gives her particular insight into the regulatory process, the industries affected, and the technologies at issue before regulators and the courts. Thaila's work also includes representing communications clients before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other state public utility commissions.

As a first generation law student and daughter of a mother who never had the opportunity to attend college, Thaila is committed to mentoring and increasing diversity in the legal profession. In addition to her work on the LEAP board, Thaila serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association – Northern CA (SABA-NC) chapter and is the co-chair of the SABA-NC Endorsements Committee, whose mission is to help appoint qualified diverse candidates to the judicial bench. She is also the co-chair of the Northern California chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association, where she has mentored many law students interested in pursuing careers in telecommunications and tech law.

Thaila received her B.A. from Stanford University, with honors, and her J.D. from the University of Maryland's Francis King Carey School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude.