Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director

Dawn Blagrove is an attorney and a proud graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and North Carolina Central School of Law. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a minor in Secondary Education, cum laude from FAMU, where she also obtained a Master’s Degree, magna cum laude, in Applied Social Science. While in law school, Blagrove worked at Williams Mullen Law Firm, formerly Maupin Taylor, Wake County Public Defender’s Office, and North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services.

After graduating law school, Blagrove worked for eight years as a post-conviction staff attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, where she co-managed the jail credit team of five paralegals dedicated to jail credit issues. During this time, Blagrove evaluated and prioritized requests for criminal post-conviction representation from inmates incarcerated in North Carolina’s Department of Correction. On their behalf, she litigated motions for appropriate relief and petitions for writs of habeas corpus in N.C. trial and appellate courts. Blagrove also litigated federal habeas actions in U.S. District Courts in N.C.; the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA.; and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Today, Blagrove’s experience as a post-conviction attorney, combined with her undergraduate training in Secondary Education, fuel her passion for educating youth and the public about challenges in the criminal justice system as Executive Director of the Carolina Justice Policy Center.

Blagrove also serves as an adjunct professor for the Criminal Justice Department of Fayetteville Technical Community College. She has taught courses that include Interviews and Interrogations and Introduction to Criminal Justice. She is also a proud co-sponsor of the Capital City Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.

B. Tessa Hale, Associate Director

B. Tessa Hale is an attorney and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Florida, where she graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

After completing her undergraduate studies, she served in the Americorps. In that role she lead a team of City Year corps members in their service at a Miami elementary school, establishing the program in its inaugural year in the state of Florida.

While in law school she was a summer law clerk at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York, where she worked largely on a case regarding unlawful policing by the New York Housing Authority. She was also one of the first recipients of the UNC Center for Civil Rights Ashley Osment Writing Award, as well as an NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Scholar.

After law school, she did pro bono work at Disability Rights North Carolina and worked at the ACLU Capital Punishment Project. She also served on the Board of Directors of Threshold, a Durham psychosocial rehabilitation program for adults living with severe and persistent mental illness. Following her time at the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, she worked as a sentencing advocate in death penalty cases, opening her own practice as a mitigation investigator. During that time she began a push to introduce mitigating evidence in juvenile court.

She is proficient in three foreign languages, including French, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. She credits her background as a proud first generation Haitian-American for giving her the gift of her language abilities. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her loving husband and son, and doing all things creative.