Natasha Perdew Silas, Co-Dean
Tasha’s legal career was inspired by famed civil rights attorney C.B. King, who represented both of her parents when they were arrested as protesters with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the summer of 1963. Mr. King's legendary courtroom presence, courageous advocacy, and impact on his clients fueled Tasha's dreams of becoming a powerful courtroom presence herself. After completing her education with a B.S. from MIT and a J.D. from UVA, Tasha did not feel that much closer to her dream of becoming an outstanding courtroom advocate...until she came to NCDC as a Participant in 1995. She credits NCDC with helping her discover the path to her unique voice, style, and power in the courtroom. For 23 years, Tasha's NCDC skills have served her well at the Federal Defender Program in Atlanta, where she represents clients at trial and appellate levels in all types of federal criminal cases. Tasha is a veteran trial skills teacher and she has lectured on many topics. She was recently honored with an invitation to teach trial skills in the Republic of Georgia to help defense lawyers prepare to represent clients in their country's first jury trials. Tasha met her husband of twenty-two years, Kendal, at UVA Law. They both work at the Atlanta Federal Defender Program and are blessed to be the proud parents of two wonderful young people.
Karen Smolar, Co-Dean
Karen has served as a devoted faculty member of NCDC since the year after attending as a Participant in 2007. After working as a public defender and then in private practice as a criminal trial attorney, she was a public defender in NYC at The Bronx Defenders from 2000 to 2018 as a staff attorney, supervisor, team leader and finally as the Trial Chief and the Director of Homicides. She is now the Legal Training Director at the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts. While at the Bronx Defenders, Karen created The Defenders' Academy, an innovative trial skills program for public and private attorneys across the nation, which focuses on the intersection between trial skills and performance work. Karen has been an adjunct professor at St. John’s School of Law teaching Trial Advocacy and at Seton Hall Law School teaching Persuasion and Advocacy. She has lectured on various topics for the NACDL and the New York State Defenders Association. She has also been a guest trainer at various state-wide public defender programs across the nation. Karen graduated from Brooklyn Law School, where she was an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Fellow and holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University. Her interest in performance work stems from her lifelong love for music, dance and sports. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband Jeff and her two children.
Deryl Dantzler, Dean Emeritus
Deryl became a criminal defense lawyer in 1970. She joined the faculty of the National College for Criminal Defense in 1976 and served as Dean of NCDC from its inception in 1985 through 2015. Deryl is now a retired faculty member of the Mercer Law School.
Bellamy Johnston, Program Director
Bellamy joined NCDC in 1995, on April Fool's day. Nine times out of ten, when you call, it'll be Bellamy that you're speaking to. She takes care of everything you can think of for NCDC's participants and faculty members and she does it all with a loving and nurturing touch. We are so very lucky to have her and we hope she stays with us forever.