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. Though new to NCDC Faculty before stepping into the role of Co-Dean, she 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 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 after attending as a Participant in 2007. After working as a public defender and then in private practice as a criminal trial attorney, she has been a public defender in NYC at The Bronx Defenders since 2000. Karen's previous roles there include staff attorney, supervisor, team leader and she is now the Trial Chief and the Director of Homicides. She is responsible for trial training, supervision and trial preparation with attorneys across all practice areas. Karen created The Defenders' Academy in 2007, 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 NY with her two children.
Deryl Dantzler, Dean Emeritus
Deryl has been a criminal defense lawyer since 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.
Diana Becker, Executive Director
Originally from Hawkinsville, Georgia, Diana was graduated from Wesleyan College and then made Macon her home. She has 22 years of experience in banking, and as a community volunteer and board member of several area non-profit organizations, she brings a multitude of knowledge and Middle Georgia contacts to NCDC. Diana will facilitate the management of the NCDC finances and investments and will be the point of contact for NCDC Faculty members. Her responsibilities will also include the management of scholarship funds, website administration, and other technological upgrades for the College. When not hard at work on NCDC projects, Diana enjoys life in the country with her husband Will and their dogs Dillon, Flea, Mutt, and Ellie.
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 your CLE credits and can help you with any questions you may have regarding your state's requirements. She will process your application, contact your office to coordinate with you and help with any dietary or travel needs that you may have. She's also the nicest person we've ever known.