Board of Directors
HRDC's current Board of Directors includes:
Christopher Zoukis is a nationally recognized federal prison expert. Chris joined HRDC's board of directors as Board Chair after being a contributing writer for Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News for many years and also publishing several books with HRDC. He is a former prisoner. He is the author of the Federal Criminal Defendant’s Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, forthcoming 2024), The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (Prison Legal News Publishing, forthcoming 3rd Edition 2022), Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2017), and College for Convicts (McFarland & Company, 2014).
While in law school, Mr. Zoukis was the Articles Editor of the University of California Davis Law Review, a Trial Practice Honors Board member, and Vice President of the Criminal Law Association and Students Against Mass Incarceration. He was awarded the Witkin Award for Academic Excellence and the Reynoso Award for Academic Excellence. He also holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (business administration and legal studies) from Adams State University.
Mr. Zoukis has contributed articles to the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Prison Legal News, Criminal Legal News, and other media outlets. He is regularly quoted in major media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, ABC News, Associated Press, United Press International, New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, The Hill, Bloomberg Law, The Guardian, Yahoo News, and Vice News, among other outlets worldwide.
Armando Romo is HRDC’s treasurer. Born in Mexico, Armando emigrated to the United States in 1988 where he was hired by General Motors as an automotive engineer and where he worked for the bulk of his career until retiring in 2023. Armando is a graduate of the Instituto Politecnico Nacional in Mexico City where he holds a BS in Aeronautical Engineering. He also has an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University and an MS in Management of Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of New York. Armando has long been interested in international human rights issues, immigration policy and conditions of confinement. He serves as HRDC’s treasurer.
Cornelia Smith is a life long Seattle native. Cornelia joined HRDC’s board as Secretary after being a volunteer for nearly 25 years from HRDC’s earliest days. Cornelia has been self employed as a salon owner for the bulk of her career. She is personally impacted by the criminal justice system with a child who has been imprisoned and has advocated around conditions of confinement and the financial exploitation of prisoners and their families for several decades.
Paul Wright is the founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center. He is the President of the Board of Directors. He is also editor of Prison Legal News (PLN), the longest-running independent prisoner rights publication in U.S. history. He has co-authored three PLN anthologies: The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry (Common Courage, 1998); Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor (Routledge, 2003); and Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Imprisonment (New Press, 2008). His articles have appeared in over 80 publications, ranging from Counterpunch to USA Today. A former prisoner, Paul was imprisoned for 17 years in Washington state until his release in 2003. During and since his incarceration, he has successfully litigated a wide variety of censorship and public records cases against prison systems around the country, both as a pro se plaintiff and on behalf of PLN. Paul is a former military policeman, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Soviet history, and the former National Lawyers Guild Jailhouse Lawyer co-vice president (1995-2008). He is a 2005 Petra Fellow; the Freedom Fighter of the Month for High Times magazine in July 2006; a 2007 recipient of the James Madison Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government; the 2008 inaugural recipient of the National Lawyers Guild's Arthur Kinoy award; a 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Public Interest Service Award from the City of New York Law School; the 2017 recipient of the Julio Medina Freedom Award from Citizens Against Recidivism; and a 2017 recipient of a New York City Council Citation. In 2018 he received the Frederick Douglas award from the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington DC. Since 2007 he has served on the board of directors of the National Police Accountability Project.