About Us

Kristen Nelson, Director — Prior to joining the Powell Project in 2018, Kristen 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.  Previously, 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.  Kristen began her indigent defense career as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia 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.

Julianne Hill, Assistant Director — Julianne joined the Powell Project in 2016 and provides resources, assistance, and support to capital trial teams in several states. She has previously presented to capital defense attorneys on topics including investigating and litigating intellectual disability, partnering with clients and negotiating with prosecutors to achieve resolution, and defense-initiated victim outreach. Julianne formerly worked for human rights organization Reprieve, focusing on issues related to capital punishment, and was an intern with the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in California. She received her JD from Harvard Law School and holds a master’s degree in Political Science, as well bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Political Science, from Arizona State University. She is currently based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

William Ahee, Attorney — William joined the Powell Project in 2021 and focuses on providing resources and assistance to capital defense teams. Previously, he clerked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremy Peterson in the Eastern District of California and was a Senior Trial Attorney at the Public Defender’s Office in El Paso, Texas, where he tried numerous felonies, including several murder cases. As an inaugural member of Texas’ Future Indigent Defense Leaders Program, William received intensive trial advocacy training.  In law school, William was the recipient of the Gary Bellow Public Service Award in recognition of his work representing several dozen clients through the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, Harvard Defenders, the Harvard Housing Clinic, and the Criminal Justice Institute. William hails from Detroit, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2017.

Isadora Ruyter-Harcourt, Arthur Liman Public Interest Law Fellow — Isadora joins the Powell Project on an Arthur Liman Public Interest Law fellowship from Yale Law School, where she received her J.D. in 2021. At Yale Law School, Isadora spent her summers interning at the San Diego and Colorado Public Defender offices, as well as with the Powell Project. She was involved with the Capital Assistance Project her 1L and 2L years, and was a student member of the Capital Punishment Clinic as a 3L. She also participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic and was a board member YLS Defenders, the public defenders student group. Prior to Yale Law School, Isadora was a paralegal at the Federal Defenders, Eastern District of New York for two years. She received a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2016.

Dan Meyer, Legal Fellow Dan joined the Powell Project in 2021. As a Fellow, he works on behalf of clients serving extreme and excessive sentences in Colorado. During law school, he helped represent clients facing a range of extreme sentences, including the death penalty and juvenile life without parole, while interning with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Complex Crimes Unit of the Colorado State Public Defender, and the Southern Center for Human Rights. In addition, as a clinical student in the Impact Defense Initiative of Harvard Law School, he argued and helped litigate a challenge to a discriminatory charging practice in federal court in the District of Columbia. Dan graduated from Harvard Law School in 2021 and received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Brown University in 2017.