Our Team | First Liberty

Our Team

About Kelly Shackelford, Esq.

Kelly Shackelford

President and CEO

Kelly Shackelford, Esq., is president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, the largest legal firm in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans.

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About David Holmes

David Holmes

Chief Operating Officer

David Holmes is Chief Operating Officer for First Liberty Institute, where he oversees all program operations regarding finance, personnel, legal, and development.

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About Hiram Sasser

Hiram Sasser

General Counsel

Hiram Sasser, Esq., is General Counsel for First Liberty Institute, where he oversees Liberty Institute’s litigation efforts. Sasser’s practice focuses on First Amendment and other constitutional and civil rights issues.

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About Benjamin Bull

Benjamin Bull

Executive Director of Advocacy, Washington D.C.

Benjamin Bull is widely recognized as one of the top religious freedom attorneys in the country, as well as internationally. He served previously as Chief Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) where he launched and led its trial and appellate advocacy work.

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About Michael Berry

Michael Berry

Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs

Michael Berry, Esq., is Deputy General Counsel & Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute and is an expert on religious liberty within the military.

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About Matthew Kacsmaryk, Esq.

Matthew Kacsmaryk

Deputy General Counsel

Matthew Kacsmaryk, Esq., is Deputy General Counsel, where he oversees First Liberty Institute’s education initiatives and policy advisory team.

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About Andrew D. Graham, Esq.

Andrew D. Graham

Executive Director for Policy and Education & Senior Fellow

Andrew D. Graham, Esq., is Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute, where he leads the Institute’s policy initiatives and is responsible for building coalitions with allied organizations around the country.

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About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys

Deputy General Counsel

Jeremy Dys, Esq., is Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute, where he focuses on religious liberty matters and the First Amendment.

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About Ken Klukowski

Ken Klukowski

Senior Counsel and Director of Strategic Affairs

Kenneth A. (“Ken”) Klukowski, Esq., is Senior Counsel & Director of Strategic Affairs for First Liberty Institute, specializing in cases involving the First Amendment and freedom of belief and expression.

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About Roger Byron, Esq.

Roger Byron

Senior Counsel

Roger Byron, Esq., is Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute. His practice focuses on religious liberty matters and the First Amendment.

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About Stephanie N. Taub

Stephanie Taub

Senior Counsel

Stephanie N. Taub serves as Senior Counsel with First Liberty Institute, focusing on litigation, appellate advocacy, and legal education.

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About Chelsey Youman, Esq.

Chelsey Youman


Chelsey Youman, Esq., is Counsel for First Liberty Institute, concentrating on religious liberty matters and First Amendment rights.

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About Joe Bingham

Joe Bingham


Joseph Bingham is counsel with First Liberty Institute. Located at the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, his practice focuses on litigation and policy, especially matters involving freedom of conscience and First Amendment issues.

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About Keisha Russell, Esq.

Keisha Russell

Associate Counsel

Keisha Russell is Associate Counsel with First Liberty Institute, concentrating on religious liberty matters and First Amendment rights. Russell attended Emory University School of Law, where she was heavily involved in Emory’s prestigious Center for the Study of Law and Religion. She served on the Emory Journal of Law & […]

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Lea Patterson, Esq.

Lea Patterson

Judicial Fellow

Lea Patterson serves as a Judicial Fellow with First Liberty Institute, focusing on litigation. Before joining First Liberty, Patterson worked in St. Louis, Missouri as a law clerk to the Honorable Raymond W. Gruender in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Patterson received her law degree […]

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About Lathan Watts

Lathan Watts

Director of Community Relations

Lathan Watts is Director of Community Relations for First Liberty Institute, responsible for all efforts to increase First Liberty Institute’s profile in local and national markets. His focus is on expanding public awareness of First Liberty’s mission, legal matters, and educational projects by coordinating communication with community leaders, influencers, policy […]

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About Bill Bourland, CMO

Bill Bourland

Chief Marketing Officer

As Chief Marketing Officer for First Liberty Institute, Bill Bourland is responsible for leading the strategic marketing program, and working with the executive leadership to serve the interests and needs of First Liberty’s mission to clients, friends and partners. His role is to help find the best ways to tell […]

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About Linda Thomas

Linda Thomas

Senior Director of Market Research

Linda Thomas is the Sr. Director of Market Research for First Liberty Institute, where she oversees market intelligence and First Liberty’s work with foundations. She leads the effort to use data and market insight to improve strategic decision making.

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Dear Coach Kennedy,

I would like to say thank you. Your dedication to your faith and your commitment to the positive education of our youth is truly admirable. I am deeply grateful for your military service and for taking a courageous stance in protecting religious liberty rights for teachers and administrators.

If our First Amendment protects a player’s right to kneel in protest, it certainly protects your right to kneel in prayer.

I was shocked to learn that Bremerton High School suspended you after denying your request to continue your wholesome practice of giving thanks after football games.

The Bremerton School District’s actions violate the law and send the wrong message to coaches, young people, our communities, and our nation — a message of hostility to religious freedom and intolerance toward personal religious expression.

Please know that you are not alone in this difficult time — I support you and First Liberty as you continue to fight for religious freedom! Our schools need more coaches like you, our country needs more citizens like you, and our world needs more people like you.