The Network Support Unit

History of the Innocence Network Support Unit

The Innocence Network Support Unit (NSU) was established in 2012 to provide organizational support to the Innocence Network and its individual member organizations. To address the varying sizes and organizational structures of the Innocence Network organizations, the NSU is structured to provide customized organizational development support to individual network members, oversee platforms for resource sharing, and assist with the administrative functions of the Network. The NSU also organizes the Innocence Network’s annual conference and manages this website.

 

Meet the team

Meredith Kennedy

Meredith Kennedy

Director

Meredith Taylor Kennedy joined the Innocence Project in 2012 to direct the Innocence Network Support Unit, a team of professionals dedicated to strengthening individual innocence organizations working in coalition to free innocent people and redress the causes of wrongful convictions. Meredith provides capacity-building support to innocence organization leaders around the country, helping them identify and achieve goals in the areas of strategic planning, board engagement, and organizational structure. Nothing thrills her more than seeing the growth of the organizations that make up the Innocence Network and witnessing their ability to help more people every year achieve their freedom. She works closely with the bodies that move the collective work of the Network forward, which include the Network Executive Board, its committees, and a variety of ad hoc working groups. Meredith is responsible for the Innocence Network Conference, an annual international gathering of innocence leaders and exonerated people and their families, and represents the Network in key strategic partnerships, such as its collaboration with the NBA and National Basketball Coaches Association.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Meredith directed the coalition of 80 chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council. She also served as the manager of special projects for Friends of the High Line. Meredith holds a master’s degree in Urban Affairs from Hunter College and a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from Indiana University’s Lily School of Philanthropy. She lives with her husband, two children, and cairn terrier in Jersey City, NJ.

Elisa Espiritu

Elisa Espiritu

Organizational Development Specialist

Elisa Espiritu joined the Innocence Network Support Unit as the organizational development specialist in April 2017. In her role, she designs, develops, and facilitates customized learning and change management initiatives for members of the Innocence Network.

An idealist at her core, Elisa brings her enthusiasm for people – and processes that bring people together to share information, build alignment, or solve problems – to work each day. To date, Elisa’s training and coaching work has strengthened individual member projects across the country in the areas of board governance, strategic planning, and organizational growth and structure. Elisa’s current work builds on her 15+ year career in the nonprofit industry, which has spanned numerous fields including higher education, community development, and leadership development.

Outside of work, Elisa consumes an enormous amount of content – she loves books, podcasts, television shows, movies, and social media – and enjoys spending quality time with her family, friends, and neighbors.

As a first-generation college graduate born and raised in the Bronx, Elisa is proud to hold a B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College, and a M.A. in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy from NYU Steinhardt.

Sajia Hanif

Sajia Hanif

Innocence Network Coordinator

As the Network Coordinator, Sajia coordinates Network membership, serves as a liaison to the Network Executive Board, supports planning and implementation of the Network conference, and acts as bridge-builder for Network leaders in relation to governance and organizational resources. She manages these numerous efforts every day thanks to her adaptability, resourcefulness, and ability to keep many lists. 

Sajia is passionate about empathy, equity, and justice, and those principles guide her work and perspective. She prizes insight and inclusion and believes those values are fundamental to the mission of the Innocence Project and Innocence Network.

While she isn’t working, you’ll find Sajia carrying around more books than she is capable of reading at any given time or binging her newest favorite TV series . But if you really want to get her excited, ask her about the best coffee spots. As a first-generation New Yorker, Sajia is a proud alumna of Fordham University, where she earned an M.A. in History and a B.A. in History and Middle Eastern Studies. 

Sara LaCava Lieberman

Sara LaCava Lieberman

Assistant Director of Development

Sara LaCava Lieberman is passionate about how her commitment to grassroots fundraising, collaboration, and intersectionality can contribute to the mission and impact of the Innocence Network.

As the assistant director of development in the Network Support Unit, Sara is responsible for supporting leaders to be confident fundraisers; helping organizations build a culture of giving; and providing resources, guidance and thought partnership on fundraising, communications, and other organizational challenges. Her enthusiasm for fundraising, creative problem-solving skills, and commitment to making learning fun help her to be successful in these efforts. As a fundraiser, a board member, and a trainer, Sara has a track record of working with nonprofit networks and organizations to achieve double digit fundraising growth.

Sara graduated from Vassar College (where she met her now-husband on the debate team) with a degree in Political Science and Africana Studies.  When she isn’t working, you’ll find Sara at the farmer’s market with her son, planning a party, or baking. But if you really want to get her excited, ask her about UConn women’s basketball or her favorite episodes of Parks and Recreation. 

Cait Murray

Cait Murray

Manager, Network Stakeholder Engagement

Cait Murray joined the Innocence Project as Manager of Network Stakeholder Engagement in January 2020. In this role, she works to strengthen the 68 organizations that comprise the Innocence Network by planning and executing high-quality events, facilitating priority partnerships, and ensuring effective stakeholder communication. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, she worked in education, social services, community organizing, and policy advocacy. She earned a BA in English and Hispanic Studies from Boston College in 2011 and concurrent graduate degrees in Social Work (MSW) and Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University in 2019. She is passionate about criminal justice reform and is thrilled to support Innocence Network organizations in their mission to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.