Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project



Dawn Dalton

Executive Director

Dawn Dalton is the Executive Director of DV LEAP, taking that role in March 2014.  Prior to this position she served as a leader in the domestic violence community for nearly 20 years in Chicago, Illinois. While there she provided and managed direct services for domestic violence survivors as well as being heavily involved in advocacy for systems change, specifically within the Cook County Courts--the largest court jurisdiction in the country. Most recently, Dalton was the Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, the Chicago-based domestic violence coalition.  Here she lead numerous community-wide initiatives, including the creation of a domestic violence outcome measurements project that will inform future service delivery models for metropolitan Chicago; an advocacy strategy that pushed the Chicago Police Department to create new survivor-informed tools and training to use in response to high-risk domestic violence calls; the creation of Domestic Violence Court Watch Project; as well as the creation of a local Medical Response Collaborative that builds off of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for domestic violence screening and counseling in healthcare settings.

It is with her history of working alongside survivors, engaging the broader community in systemic advocacy and public policy agendas, and leading nonprofit management style that she comes to her work at DV LEAP. Here, she put her efforts towards growing the agency’s capacity and working to engage more advocates and attorneys in partnering in our work of creating equal justice and safety for domestic violence survivors and their children.


Joan Meier

Founder & Legal Director

Ms. Meier is the Founder and Legal Director of DV LEAP and Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University Law School.  She is a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence and the law, appellate litigation, and teaching in the field. Over the past 20 years she has litigated hundreds of domestic violence cases at the trial, appellate and Supreme Court levels.  While litigating and teaching she also works collaboratively on national and local domestic violence advocacy and legislative reform efforts, delivers regular trainings and presentations for lawyers, judges, advocates, and mental health professionals, and has consulted for numerous organizations including the Department of Justice and American Bar Association Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence.  At the law school, Ms. Meier has founded three pioneering inter-disciplinary domestic violence clinical programs and has received awards for her scholarship.  Ms. Meier is regularly interviewed in the media and was a featured commentator in the PBS documentary, “Breaking the Silence: Children’s Voices,” which aired in Fall 2005.  In 2009 she received the Inaugural Sharon Corbitt Award from the ABA Commission on CSDV; she has also received the Sunshine Lady Peace Award, Justice for Children’s Leadership Award, Washington Area Women’s Foundation Leadership Award, and the Mary Byron Foundation Celebrating Solutions Award. 

Professor Meier received her B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1980, her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School in 1983, and clerked on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  


Sasha Drobnick

Staff Attorney