The Cowlitz Wahkiakum Legal Aid Program is operated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose purpose is to provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. We provide legal advice and forms clinics, and match up volunteer lawyers with qualified clients.
The Board is made up of community members who are passionate about Access to Justice.
Our board meets once a month for the majority of the year. If you have any interest in connecting with any board members, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Committee of the Board
The Executive Committee manages day to day decision making in between regularly scheduled full board meetings. They are charged with signing checks, daily oversight and work closely with the Executive Director.
Alice Millward works with the Clark County, WA Public Works Department. She was a long-time Judicial Administrative Assistant to Judges of the Cowlitz County Superior Court.
Alice received her Bachelors Degree in Business Management from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.
Alice has three amazing kids in college.
Americorp worker currently working at Cowlitz County CASA.
Robert MumfordVice-President of Operations
Melissa VaqueroVice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
This often involved working with the juvenile court. He has also been an advocate for equal rights and positive interpersonal relationships. He has always had an interest in the rights of individuals and how to insure people have their basic needs for living met. He is working with his church as a liaison with other agencies or resources for the homeless in our community. Until recently, he has been a certified judge on the Pacific Northwest 4H Horse Judges list.
He has always enjoyed riding horses (both teaching and gaining new skills), music, gardening, and his various pets. Upon retiring Robert began taking music classes at Lower Columbia College. During that time he performed in numerous concerts and went to New York City with the LCC choir to perform in Carnegie Hall. He also sings with the Castle Rock Men’s Ensemble, LCC Community Choir, SW Washington Symphony Chorale, and various other groups. He has sung for many solo opportunities and has recently started to sing for his own in solo concerts. Just for fun he has a YouTube channel to share past performances with his family and friends (or anyone else who cares LOL). He recently performed as the “Funeral Singer” in a short movie and hopes to occasionally sing in local plays (such as NW StageWorks production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance”).
Robert appreciates his husband’s patience with all his activities as he often says Robert “cannot say ‘no’ to anything”! Robert’s attitude is keeps him busy and out of his hair!
Melissa is an Advocate for survivors of Domestic Violence with the Emergency Support Shelter. She has worked in the advocacy field for over 5 years in Cowlitz County and previously in the Multnomah County area of Oregon. Before joining the field of advocacy she worked as a Spanish interpreter and Translator for the Ethnic Support Council.
She serves as our Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Donna is an active community volunteer, former Director of the Highlands neighborhood Association and partner in the efforts of Belly Brigade meal sharing program. She is a mom with kids in school, works and volunteers on the board of Legal Aid. We’re so happy she is connected to the agency, as she brings a wonderful connection to the Highlands Community and understands the issues experienced by the residents there.
Keith is one of the Court Appointed Family Law Guardian ad Litems for Cowlitz County Superior Court.
He served many years on the Juvenile Court Staff as a Probation Officer and did numerous adoption home studies in that capacity, a vocation he has continued in his private practice.
My name is Darlene “Sunnie” Smith. I was born in Oakland, California and raised in Los Angeles. I am married and have four grown children and nine grandchildren. I have an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree from Lower Columbia College and a Certificate in Para-Education. I also know ASL, but am quite rusty! I did attend Evergreen State College, but did not complete my degree.
I served two terms in AmeriCorps working with developmentally disabled adults. I worked at disAbility Resources of Southwest Washington for five years and became very interested in disability rights and voting rights as well as service animal laws. I served on the local disability voting rights committee through the County Auditor’s office as well as the Committee for disability voting rights through the Washington State Secretary of State office. I served on the Disability Transportation committee at Three Rivers Transit and served on CWLA board. I was one of the founding members of Bikers Against Child Abuse for the Coldwater Lake Chapter. I was the Superintendent of the Home Canning department at the Cowlitz County Fair for 18 years and am a Master Food Preserver.
I enjoy tie dying, motorcycle riding (as a passenger) and my pets (I have 4 exotic birds and two dogs).
Meike Weyrauch is a seasoned non-profit development professional who has raised millions of dollars for organizations ranging from community empowerment, reproductive rights, health and disabilities, environment, and end of life care and advocacy. Meike began her career working as a Volunteer in Service to America in low-income minority communities in New York State, where she worked and lived in a Black neighborhood.
While working on Jesse Jackson’s first presidential bid, Meike moved to California, and in 1984 served as a delegate at the convention and attended his Rainbow Coalition speech. She moved with her family to Kelso, Washington 15 years ago, working to raise funds for The Audubon Society of Portland, the AFS International Student Exchange, the Compassion & Choices national office, and Death with Dignity. She is now mostly retired while helping organizations through her fundraising consulting firm, DonorRelationshipConculting. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in American Government from the New York State University at Stonybrook, New York.
Meike lives in Castle Rock, where she recently co-founded “Castle Rock against Racism.” She enjoys the rural home life she shares with her husband, a friend, her elderly parents, two dogs, and a cat. Meike loves playing games with her two grown sons, outdoor activities, and travel. Recently, she drove solo to New York and back in her van, visiting national treasures such as The Badlands and The Arches National Parks. She and her husband are often heading out with their boat on the Cowlitz or Columbia River to catch fish or crabs.
Meredith Long is a civil attorney in private practice in Longview, Washington. Meredith is a Longview native who recently returned after many years on the east coast, where she earned her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law. Meredith is the immediate past-president of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Bar Association and currently serves on the board of Community Home Health and Hospice in Longview.
David Rorden is a Longview attorney whose practice emphasizes Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate and Guardianships.
He is a former longtime reporter and editor for The Longview Daily News.
He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Washington and earned his law degree from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College.
David is a member of the Washington chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, of which he was named chapter member of the year and served a term as president. He has served as a director of Longview Rotary, Community Home Health & Hospice, Cowlitz County Guidance Association, Arc of Cowlitz Valley and Jerry Chapman Ministries.
He is married with two grown daughters and a grandson.
Ed Putka, was a local attorney for many years until he joined the Cowlitz County District Court as a Judge. Ed retired from the bench at the end of 2018 and now brings his legal acumen to our board.
Heidi Spencer is a Social Services Contractor with WA State Office of Public Defense and runs the Parent Representation Program in Cowlitz County. Heidi primarily practices in Cowlitz County and has been practicing here locally since 2019 assisting Parents navigate through Dependency. Part of Heidi’s role is to support our Family Legal Defense Team, in supporting Parents who are navigating through Dependency, by offering connections to resources and possible services needed, in order to reunify with children safely. What is interesting about Heidi; is at one time in her life, she had a Dependency as well. Heidi offers a shared experience with the folks she is connecting with on her caseload or any parent that has navigated Dependency.
In 2019 Heidi became a proud member of the Cowlitz County Hope Team. Heidi loves to be apart of such an instrumental team of people that gives back to our community in such a therapeutic positive way. Some of the supports offered by the Hope Court Team are, supporting parents in becoming their very best self, by offering loving support, an accountability team, bi-weekly team meetings to discuss how the last 2 weeks and how they went, in-person check-ins with our Local Dependency Judge and a plethora of other skills to support social transformation and possible reunification with one’s child or children.
Before Heid was assisting parents and families in reunifying with their children, she was serving the community with the Cowlitz AmeriCorps Network. While serving with AmeriCorps Heidi provided Financial Education Services at Lower Columbia CAP as a Financial Education Specialist. During her time with AmeriCorps and CAP, Heid taught Money Smart and was also a licensed AARP Tax aid that provided free tax services to anyone in need. Heidi took part in multiple community projects while she was an AmeriCorps member and serving at Lower Columbia CAP. One of many projects that she is proud of, is refurbishing the Beef Barns with the AmeriCorps Team at our local Fair Grounds.
Heidi is a proud mother of 2 beautiful boys, her oldest is 15 and her youngest is 7. Her children are the light of her life and always keep her on her toes and fill her heart with joy. Heidi and her family enjoy bike riding, walking the dike together, camping at the beach, and cooking together in their family kitchen. One of Heidi’s favorite things to do aside from spending time with family is assisting parents and families in reunifying with each-other. Also, to assist in giving a parent the capacity to use their voice and thoughtfully advocate for themselves and their families.
In 2021 Heidi Joined the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Legal Aid Board and is so thrilled to take part in such important work that Legal Aid provides our Community.
Over the past 25 years, Teresa Purcell has consulted and collaborated on over 200 political, issue, public relations, and media campaigns throughout the United States. Teresa has served as a consultant, lobbyist, executive director, and senior project director and has worked with state-based organizations across the country – 34 states in total – as well as with many national organizations. In 1992, she managed the successful, long-shot campaign for the first female Senator elected from Washington State, U.S. Senator Patty Murray.
In 2001, Teresa founded Purcell Public Affairs Inc. to provide clients with expertise in strategy, communications, and mobilization. She specializes in strategic planning, communications, fundraising, public opinion research, message development, campaign planning, training, organizational development, issue management, and media relations. Teresa has extensive experience in non-partisan civic engagement, and issue education program development & implementation, and program evaluation.
Teresa has run several multi-state civic engagement programs involving both state and national organizations. She has extensive experience in targeting and engaging under-represented voting populations on a variety of issues – including social justice, reproductive rights and justice, and environmental issues. She brings a unique understanding of the election process, mastery of campaign tools and tactics, expert knowledge of best practices, and a desire to ensure that resources are wisely invested to build long-term capacity.
A native of Washington State and a graduate of the University of Washington, after having spent many years living in Washington D.C., Olympia, and Seattle, Teresa now resides in her hometown of Longview, Washington.
Jason Laurine is a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Cowlitz County Prosecutors, who focuses on prosecuting sex offenses and major crimes.
He is an active member of the Cowlitz County multi-disciplinary team with the Children’s Justice and Advocacy Center.
Jason earned his bachelor of arts in English from the University of Utah, and his law degree from Seattle University School of Law.
He is married and a father to two adorable children. In his spare time he runs, hikes, and longs to perfect a double spey cast.
Advisory Board Members
Kevin D. RahnAdvisory Board
Judge John A. HaysAdvisory Board
Judge Marilyn HaanAdvisory Board
Debra BurchettAdvisory Board
Kevin D. Rahn
Before Practicing law, Kevin practiced as a Certified Public Accountant for over six years. Kevin spent approximately four of those six years working in the tax department of a big four international accounting firm.
Kevin’s legal practice includes Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, estate planning and administration, business formation and business transactions. Kevin is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Castle Rock.
He has served as an advisory board member for the Salvation Army and is a former board member of the Lower Columbia College Foundation and Cowlitz County Mental Health. Kevin and his wife Diana have three children.
Judge John A. Hays
John was elected to Position 3 of the District Court Bench in Fall, 2018.
Prior to his election he was a private attorney in Longview licensed in 1986.
He has represented defendants in Class A, B and C felonies in Cowlitz County Superior Court and has represented defendants in over 100 felony jury trials. Since 1988, he has represented clients in Cowlitz, Clark, Lewis, Wahkiakum, Skamania, Pacific, Grays Harbor, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties in cases to the Washington State Court of Appeals for both criminal and civil matters.
John also serves as a Judge Pro Tem for Cowlitz County.
John has a deep understanding of the issues experienced by those in poverty and we look forward to his contributions to the oversight of the organization.
Judge Marilyn Haan
Judge Marilyn K. Haan graduated from Central Washington University (Law and Justice/BA cum laude) in 1984 and University of Puget Sound School of Law in 1988 (JD).
Judge Haan is currently the Juvenile Court Presiding Judge.
She previously served for over twelve years as a part-time Judge/Commissioner pro tem in Skagit County. Her prior experience also includes public service as municipal/litigation attorney, deputy prosecutor and public defender, as well as private practice in primarily criminal, personal injury and family law. She served as the City Attorney for the City of Longview prior to her appointment to the bench in 2011 by Governor Chris Gregoire.
She heads the Cowlitz County Superior Court Local Rules committee and Case Flow Management of the Superior Court’s Strategic Plan. In addition she serves on the statewide Criminal Law and Rules Committee, Judicial Assistance Services Program and Rural Courts Committee.
Debra was elected to Position 1 of the Cowlitz County District Court effective January, 2019.
Prior to that Debra has been the owner of a law practice and served as public defender for cities of Kelso, Kalama and Castle Rock.
Debra is also a single adoptive mom of the most beautiful, amazing boy in the entire universe. Have totally remodeled home and Josh and I live with Summer, our Golden Retriever, Brian our Chiweenie and 3 cats, Belles, Candy and Missy.
Debra got her BA at Northeastern University in Chicago and Law Degree at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She worked at IBM as a marketing rep for years in a past life.