MEET OUR TEAM

 

Traci Deen, Esq.

Director
tdeen@barry.edu

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Traci's work at CEJ focuses on law and policy, legislative analysis, education, and community outreach to lawyers, students, policymakers, and more. She oversees the leadership and management of the Center, including the planning and implementation of the Center's programs & operations.

An advocate for nature, Traci is currently working on legislation and a constitutional amendment for consideration by Florida's policymakers that will propose true consideration and protection of nature in Florida law. She is also currently working with the United Nations, Harmony with Nature Initiative, in the field of Earth Jurisprudence and Earth-Centered laws. She is a participant and member in the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, Florida Clean Water Declaration Campaign, and the Florida Springs Council. 

Traci leads the CEJ team with years of experience in the Earth Jurisprudence field, litigation experience as a trial attorney, and philanthropic service in her community. Published in the field of Earth Jurisprudence, her article examined the influential philosophy of John Locke to the legal field of Earth Jurisprudence. In particular, when the Founding Fathers contemplated the values for which the United States would stand, an important part of Locke’s theory was ignored—the proviso that one must leave “enough and as good for others.” While in law school, Traci served as Editor-in-Chief of the Earth and Environmental Law Journal.

While working as an Assistant Public Defender in Orange County, FL, she defended thousands of clients in hearings and trial that could not afford legal representation on their own. In the community, she serves as the Political/Public Affairs Chair for the Junior League of Greater Orlando, focusing on advocating for aid in childhood health and hunger in underserved communities with the Florida legislature. She is an active member of the Central Florida Association of Women Lawyers, the Orange County League of Women Voters, and currently serves as an Advisory Board member of the Seminole County Salvation Army.

A nature lover at her core, Traci enjoys horseback riding, exploring trails with her rescue dog Maggie Sue, and bike rides with her husband Michael.

She is a member of the Florida Bar.

 


Margaret R. Stewart, Esq., MPA., LL.M

Associate Director
mstewart@barry.edu

Margaret serves as the Associate Director here at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. Her work includes creating educational forums, working with our team in generating CEJ strategy, and assisting with CEJ communications, publicity, social media, and funding opportunities. Margaret oversees the well-being of CEJ on many levels, and assists with legal research and analysis. Additionally, she oversees the identification and application of grants and other fundraising initiatives that will support the Center’s future work.

Margaret is on the Executive Committee and chairs the Legal Committee of the Florida Springs Council. She serves on the Social Media Sub-Committee of the Orange County League of Women Voters Natural Resource Committee and is an active member of the Central Florida Associate of Women Lawyers.

Margaret has earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science, her Masters in Non-Profit & Human Resources Management, and her Juris Doctor. While in law school, Margaret earned her Environmental Law Honors Certificate, served as Secretary of the Environmental Law Society and Senior Editor of the Environmental and Earth Law Journal, and worked two semesters in the Environmental and Earth Law Clinic. There, her research focused mainly on the Public Trust Doctrine’s application in Florida and issues regarding fracking. She was awarded the Charles A. Modica Student Mentor Award in recognition for her care and compassion on mentoring fellow students, an acknowledgment she takes great pride in. As an Honors Board member of the Moot Court team, Margaret argued in the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, advancing to the semifinals in 2015. She has since continued to coach that competition. 

Margaret enjoys traveling to new destinations and is always ready for the next adventure. Being from an urban jungle like Philadelphia, Margaret has delighted in the natural treasures of Florida over the past four years.  She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, especially exploring new environments through relaxed hikes. She loves using such inspirations in her drawings and paintings. 

Margaret is a member of the Florida Bar.

 


Martha M. Collins, Esq.

Staff Attorney

Martha Collins is the founder of Collins Law Group where she has successfully litigated, lobbied, and negotiated for many of Florida’s largest precedent setting environmental and land use cases and polices. She has appeared before numerous governmental agencies in Florida and Washington, D.C.; including, the Florida Governor, Cabinet and Legislature, and members of the United States Congress. Her work has been quoted or referenced in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes, Politico, National and Florida Public Radio, other newspapers and blogs across the country and world, and in almost every major news media in Florida.   

Martha Collins graduated from Tulane University before she simultaneously earned a Juris Doctorate from Seattle University and a Masters of Law in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. 

Martha is admitted in the Florida Bar and the Federal U.S. Middle District Court of Florida. Ms. Collins is past Chair for the Environmental and Land Use Section of the Florida Bar and currently sits on the Board of Gulf Restoration Network.


Robert A. Williams


redhillsbirder@gmail.com

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Rob brings over 35 years of legal experience to CEJ. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, Rob joined Florida Rural Legal Services in Immokalee, Florida, as a staff attorney, practicing and litigating cases brought under Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act and the Migrant and Seasons Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and managing the office.

Rob subsequently spent five years as the Legislative and Administrative Advocate for Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., advocating for farmworkers at the state and federal levels. In that capacity he drafted and successfully lobbied for the passage of the Florida Agricultural Worker Safety Act and the Florida farmworker housing law; testified before congressional committees and commissions; participated in negotiations with growers and the Department of Labor over amendments to the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act, and provided public comment on proposed regulations. He previously served as the director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project for Florida Legal Services, Inc. Rob and is based in Tallahassee, Florida.

For his work with farmworkers, Rob was selected in 2012 as one of President Barack Obama’s “Champions of Change: Cesar Chavez Legacy,” in recognition of his service to others, knowledge, innovation, acceptance of all people, respect for life and the environment, and dedication to improving the lives of others. He was honored at a White House ceremony, along with the other nine recipients of the award. In 1993, he received the Florida Bar Association’s Legal Aid Public Service Award.

In his 35 years of practice, Rob was admitted before the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for the Eleventh Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida, and the Supreme Court of Florida. In 1997, he taught as an adjunct professor at Florida State University College of Law. He currently serves on the board of the Wakulla Springs Alliance.

Rob has been an avid birder for his entire life and has been a member of Audubon for over 25 years. He travels often in search of new birds for his “life list.”


Josephine Balzac, Esq., LL.M

Staff Attorney

Josephine M. Balzac is licensed an attorney admitted to practice in Florida and the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. She is the President of the Law Office of Josephine Balzac, P.A. and is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Rollins College in the Department of Business teaching Business Law and Ethics and Business Sustainability. She is also an adjunct law professor at Barry University School of Law teaching Sustainability in Business. Ms. Balzac previously worked as an associate attorney at an AV rated trial litigation firm and worked for a food safety regulatory consulting group. She holds a J.D. from Florida A&M University College of Law where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. While at Florida A&M, Ms. Balzac received several scholarships, including the prestigious Holland & Knight Scholarship. She also won the Third Best Oralist Award during the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition, where her team reached the semifinals. She received her LL.M. in International Environmental Law at The George Washington University Law School. While attending GWU Law, she served as a Randolph C. Shaw Research Fellow for the Associate Dean of Environmental Studies and interned at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery in the International Transportation Branch.

She serves her community on the Board of Directors for IDEAS For Us, the Advisory Board of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law, and the Coalition for Puerto Rico Justice.  Ms. Balzac is actively involved in the local community, frequently educating and advocating as an avid speaker on environmental justice, sustainable development, climate change, human rights, food, and social justice issues.  Professor Balzac recently published a chapter entitled Corporate Responsibility: Promoting Climate Justice through the Divestment of Fossil Fuels and Socially Responsible Investment as a contributing author to Climate Justice: Case Studies in Global and Regional Governance, Editor Randall S. Abate, ELI Press (December 2016). She has also published articles on sustainable development, international trade, human rights, and environmental justice, including; Public Engagement “Reach in, Reach out”: Pursuing Environmental Justice by Empowering Communities to Meaningfully Participate in the Decision-Making Processes of Brownfield Redevelopment and Superfund Cleanups, 9 Fla. A&M L. Rev. 347 (2014) and CAFTA-DR’s Citizen Submission Process: Is It Protecting the Indigenous Peoples Rights and Promoting the Three Pillars of Sustainable Development?, 11 Loyola U. Chi. Int’l L. Rev. 11 (2013).

Abraham Elmazahi

Earth Law & Policy Fellow

Abraham serves as an Earth Law & Policy Fellow here at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence where he is primarily responsible for legal and legislative research. His work includes research and writing on legislative matters, as well as preparing advocacy materials and proposed legislation. Abraham also provides legal research and writing regarding earth jurisprudence, environmental law, and environmental justice.

Abraham brings fifteen years of legislative and government affairs experience to CEJ. Abraham worked for nearly a decade in the United States Senate serving as a Legislative Aide to both Senator Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ) and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT). Senator Lieberman served on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and chaired its Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands and Private Property, which provided Abraham with the opportunity to work on several legislative measures on clean air, clean water, and climate change.

As Legislative Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Abraham worked closely with Congress, the Executive Office of the President, and the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama Administration. He helped secure federal funding and programs to serve nearly four million at-risk youth in our nation’s most disadvantaged communities.   

Abraham earned his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Government from Kean University. He is currently pursuing his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law, and is also a candidate for the Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law. Abraham is also an Associate Editor of the Barry Law Journal.


Judah Lieblich

Earth Law and Policy Fellow

Judah is an Australian Attorney with experience in land use, environmental law and litigation. Judah is serving as an Earth Law and Policy Fellow here at CEJ.

Judah studied at the University of Western Australia, where he initially majored in Environmental Management before completing his Bachelor of Laws, which he was awarded with Distinction in 2013. During his studies in Australia, he developed a passion for fisheries and wetland protection, and completed an internship with the Western Australian State Government focusing on recommending alternatives to recreational fishing regulations. Judah worked at Jackson McDonald, one of the largest commercial law firms in Western Australia, where he spent 8 months in commercial litigation before moving to the land use and environment team. Judah worked on cases involving illegal dumping, contaminated land and preventing unlicensed building in environmentally sensitive areas. Most notable was a complex contaminated land case that involved tracing corporate responsibility back decades and translating environmental scientist’s reports into concise legal arguments. 

Since moving to Florida, Judah has undertaken study towards a JD in order to become admitted to practice in Florida. Along with excellent academic results, Judah is on the moot court honors board and law review and is currently interning with Judge Higbee of the 9th Judicial Circuit.

Growing up in Western Australia, Judah spent a lot of time at the beach and in the outdoors camping and hiking, as well as at his family farm. Coming from this background, Judah has been enjoying the unique outdoor environment that Florida offers.

Judah has been a member of the Western Australian Bar and was admitted before the Western Australian Supreme Court and in the High Court of Australia and Australian Federal Courts.