Meet Our Team
An all volunteer woman run organization
When Leanne’s daughter first became a public defender they talked about all of the (seemingly small) things that keep clients from freeing themselves from the legal system and moving forward in their lives. Leanne had never experienced these problems first hand and couldn’t really understand how they impacted individuals. Interested in understanding and helping, she traveled to Columbia where she volunteered and went to a variety of social training classes. She also went to court – city court as well as homeless court. Her eyes were opened to the endless list of barriers to success that the clients and lawyers deal with daily. She watched as the lawyers worried about their clients and paid out-of-pocket for the needs of their clients and how those seemingly small barriers for hundreds of clients became a real financial burden for the lawyers themselves. Many social services were in place, but there were gaps in the system that kept clients from utilizing those services. In early 2021 Kieley and Leanne co-founded RDF to provide assistance for those small expenses that prove to be barriers for clients to move forward in terms of housing and employment. Leanne Sutton has an MS in Health and Community Wellness from Oklahoma State University and an MS in Kinesiology from The University of Illinois. She is a small business owner and former teacher who loves puzzles, games, and travel.
Patti is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) for the Richland County Public Defender Office. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a master’s degree in social work and is licensed to practice in South Carolina. Her practice is rooted in advocating for justice impacted individuals. She works daily to structure community support plans to increase the likelihood of success post-incarceration for her clients. She has seen how gaps in services can create barriers that place justice impacted individuals back in the vicious cycle of re-offending in her work. She welcomed the opportunity to be a part of an organization interested in bridging those gaps. When Patti is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren. A quote that guides her practice is as follows; “Don’t feel bad if people remember you only when they need you. Feel privileged that you are like a candle that comes to their mind when there is darkness” ~ Anonymous
Kieley co-founded the RDF with her mom at the beginning of 2021. She was continually battling financial barriers for her clients and it was a growing sense of frustration. It did not seem “just” to her that pre-trial classes cost hundreds of dollars or that clients could not get hired because they didn’t have access to identity documents. There is an element to navigating the criminal legal system that is purely financial and she wanted to do her part to help eliminate that barrier until there is a systemic change such that finances are no longer a factor.
Kieley was born in Stillwater, O.K. but spent most of her childhood in Williamsburg, V.A. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Tech in 2014 and her Juris Doctorate from American University in 2017. When she isn’t working, Kieley enjoys hiking and perfecting the chocolate chip cookie. She hopes to finish touring all of the SC State Parks this year and then will begin training to thru hike the Palmetto Trail.
Maisie was a public defender in Richland County for six and a half years. As a public defender, Maisie felt privileged to walk with people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. She saw wildly resilient people, sometimes recently released from incarceration, who were constantly being asked to overcome considerable barriers in order to simply break even. Frustratingly, many of these added obstacles came in the form of unnecessary and onerous costs. Maisie believes that financial burdens should never limit a person’s ability to reintegrate into our community and not only survive, but thrive. The Rainy Day Fund is an opportunity to alleviate some of those daily pressures and Maisie is excited to be involved. At the end of 2020, Maisie moved home to Virginia and is a lawyer with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Civil Rights & Racial Justice program. Maisie attended Hofstra University and Washington & Lee School of Law.
Shaun Scott has been working in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years, where she’s gained invaluable experience with community service, program management, and board leadership. She dedicates her time, energy, and talents to helping the members of society who are often the most in need. Included are the homeless, the elderly, people with low income, veterans, and individuals with prior justice system involvement.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and currently works at The Alston Wilkes Society, a non-profit that provides services to veterans and previously incarcerated members of society. Combined with her learned experiences and passion to improve the quality of life for so many, she continues to serve the most vulnerable and at-risk populations here in Columbia, South Carolina.
Morgan Yarborough Drapeau
Morgan began her legal career as a Public Defender in Lexington County, South Carolina. It was abundantly clear that incarceration forced most of her clients to lose the little they already had. In hopes to help after incarceration, she found herself and many other Public Defenders utilizing their own money to help with groceries, clothes, housing and transportation for the amazing people they worked with every day. This willingness to give was rooted in a desire to do everything possible to ensure their clients found stability and success. It became a dream of hers to find a way to help Public Defenders everywhere have access to these funds, instead of constantly having to use their own. She’s excited that the Rainy Day Fund is beginning to make this dream come true.
Lindsay Adler graduated from American University Washington College of Law in 2018 and now works as a Public Defender at the Richland County Public Defender’s Office. As a public defender, Lindsay experienced the bureaucracies of criminal law and bore witness to the court’s hyper-focus on efficiency rather than humanity. Our clients, usually in at-risk populations, need help, but sometimes have the hardest time gaining access to it. Lindsay supports removing the financial barriers people who are seeking successful lives after being involved in the criminal injustice system. All of Lindsay’s experience in the criminal defense field, working as a mentor to youths involved in the criminal legal system, and as an advocate for public interest and social justice provided her with a firm foundation of skills to do this work.