About Us

Kristen Nelson — Prior to directing the Powell Project, Kristen Nelson served for six and a half years as a Deputy State Public Defender on the Complex Litigation Team for the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender in Denver, which represents indigent clients at the trial level in complex felony cases, including those in which the State is considering or has declared it is seeking the death penalty.  As the designated appellate-minded lawyer on the trial team, Kristen was responsible for developing the legal issues in the case, drafting and arguing the motions, interlocutory appeals, and jury instructions, and providing legal analysis and input on other strategic decisions in the case.  Along with her teammates, Kristen helped secure a life sentence in 2015 for James Holmes, who was convicted of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  Prior to moving to Colorado in 2011, Kristen spent four years as a staff attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, where she spent the majority of her time representing indigent clients in various stages of appeal on Alabama’s death row, as well as other criminal defendants and prisoners denied fair treatment under the law.  During her four years at EJI, Kristen won appellate relief for three clients on death row, who were ultimately re-sentenced to life terms.  In addition, along with her colleagues, she won the reversal of the capital murder conviction of Marsha Colby, a mother of six who was wrongly convicted of intentionally killing her newborn child and was sentenced to life without parole.  Ms. Colby was released from prison and reunited with her family in December of 2012.  Kristen began her indigent defense career as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia from 2005-2007 following a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson in the Middle District of Alabama.  Kristen received her undergraduate degree in English summa cum laude from Wellesley College in 1999, an M.Phil in Criminology from Cambridge University in 2000, and her law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2004.

Celia Ouellette — Celia Ouellette founded the Powell Project trial consulting program in 2015. Previously, Celia was a staff attorney at Reprieve, an international human rights charity. At Reprieve, Celia focused on the representation of capitally charged and condemned European nationals in the US and acted as a consultant to foreign governments. Formerly, Celia spent many sunny years practicing as a trial attorney in Southern California. Celia regularly engages in training and advocacy related to the death penalty, both domestically and internationally and, in particular, on matters concerning pre-trial practice. Celia holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oxford. Celia speaks fluent French and Spanish. She is licensed to practice in New York, California and several federal jurisdictions.

Julianne Hill — Julianne joined the Powell Project in 2016 and serves as Assistant Director. Formerly she worked for Reprieve, a human rights organization, focusing on issues of lethal injection and cases of foreign nationals facing the death penalty in the U.S. During law school she became passionate about capital defense, interning with the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in California and the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama as well as participating in the Capital Punishment Clinic. She also directly represented clients for three years through the Prison Legal Assistance Project, Harvard Defenders, and the Criminal Justice Institute. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and holds a master’s degree in Political Science from Arizona State University.

Amy Weber — Amy Weber spent nearly a decade working as a trial and appellate attorney at the Public Defender’s office in Miami, Florida, representing clients in all phases of Florida criminal proceedings. She has also served as a law clerk for Judge Janet C. Hall on the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut and as a Staff Attorney in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. Amy obtained a BA from Cornell University and a JD from Yale Law School.