Hon. Benes Z. Aldana, J.D.

Benes Aldana.jpg

Learn more about Judge Aldana

The National Judicial College

President, The National Judicial College

Benes Z. Aldana became the ninth president of The National Judicial College on May 1, 2017. Before joining the NJC, he was on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard for over 22 years, retiring in the rank of captain and serving as chief trial judge during his last tour of duty. Prior to this assignment, he served as the chief legal officer for the 8th Coast Guard District in New Orleans, Louisiana, overseeing legal advice to Coast Guard operations spanning 26 states and the Gulf of Mexico. He was first appointed a military trial judge in 2005 and as an appellate judge in 2015.

Other notable assignments as a Coast Guard judge advocate included: chief counsel, Legal Engagements Division, U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany; deputy staff judge advocate, 13th Coast Guard District; special assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington; trial attorney at the Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division; legal advisor to the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; deputy chief, Office of Environmental Law, U.S. Coast Guard; and appellate and trial counsel.  He also served as the commanding officer, personnel services and support unit, Seattle, and executive officer for Coast Guard Base Seattle. 

He is also a dedicated bar association leader and served as 2009 president of the Asian Bar Association of Washington. Although he grew up in the Seattle area, graduating from Seattle University and University of Washington School of Law, his career has taken him around the world.  Among his many other achievements and accomplishments, he served as 2012-2013 chair of the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division, which has approximately 20,000 members and is one of the largest entities in the ABA. He also served in the ABA House of Delegates and on the ABA Rule of Law Initiative Board, ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence, ABA Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360, and as the assembly speaker of the ABA Young Lawyers Division. He recently concluded his service as a member of the ABA Law and National Security Advisory Committee. 

His military awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals, four Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and two Commandant’s Letters of Commendation, as well as various team and unit awards.  Non-military awards include the DHS General Counsel’s Award of Excellence, the NAPABA Daniel Inouye Trailblazer Award, ABAW Judge of the Year, ABA Outstanding Young Military Lawyer Award, NAPABA's "Best Lawyer Under 40,” and the American Bar Foundation Fellows Outstanding Chair Award.

President Aldana and his wife, Rowena, have a son, Ehrik, who is a senior at Yale University.  

Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, J.D.

Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, photo b  y Seattle Photography Inc.   

Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, photo by Seattle Photography Inc. 

Chief Justice, Washington State Supreme Court

Chair of the Board of Directors, Civility Center for Law

Elected in 2002, Mary Fairhurst began serving as a justice on the Washington Supreme Court in 2003.  She felt she had come home because she started her legal career in the Supreme Court as a judicial clerk, working first with Chief Justice William H. Williams in 1984 and then with Justice William C. Goodloe until 1986.

In 2016, her colleagues elected her Chief Justice. As Chief Justice, she is the court’s chief spokesperson, presides over Supreme Court hearings and conferences, and co-chairs the State’s Board for Judicial Administration. She also chairs the Judicial Information System Committee and serves on the court’s Administrative Committee, Budget Committee and various other workgroups.  As Chief Justice she represents the court at the Conference of Chief Justices and Bench-Bar-Press Committee. 

Before returning to the Temple of Justice, Justice Fairhurst served the citizens of the state of Washington in the Washington Attorney General’s Office for the preceding 16 years.  She worked with Attorneys General Christine Gregoire and Ken Eikenberry.  She specialized in the areas of criminal justice, transportation, revenue, and labor.  When she left, she was serving as the Division Chief of the Revenue, Bankruptcy and Collections Division.  In 1998, Attorney General Gregoire gave her Steward of Justice Award to Justice Fairhurst.

Justice Fairhurst also did work not related to her cases that made a difference to Washington citizens.  She worked on the constitutional amendment to increase the rights of crime victims while still honoring the constitutional rights of the accused. She organized the first statewide conferences on domestic violence.  She planned and facilitated a youth violence summit and organized and moderated conferences dealing with sex offenders in the community.

Justice Fairhurst is and has been a leader in the legal profession.  She served as President of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA).  She was the second woman and first public sector attorney to hold this position.  She also served on the WSBA Board of Governors representing the Third Congressional District. She has served on many WSBA committees. The WSBA gave her its highest honor, the Award of Merit, in 2011.

Throughout her career, Justice Fairhurst has worked to enhance the opportunities for women and minorities in the profession and to ensure access to justice for low-income individuals and families.  She was president of Washington Women Lawyers (WWL) and served on its state board. She has served on the Supreme Court’s Gender and Justice Commission and Access to Justice Board committees.  WWL has awarded her its President’s Award, the Betty B. Fletcher Judge of the Year Award, and Passing the Torch Award. LEGALS, P.S. gave her its Allies for Justice Award.

Justice Fairhurst is committed to public legal education and is active working for children and youth. She is an ambassador of the iCivics program and is active with the YMCA Youth and Government Program and We the People.  She served two years on the Girl Scouts Board of the Pacific Peaks Council. Justice Fairhurst speaks regularly to individuals and groups about the judiciary.  The Council for Public Legal Education awarded her its Flame of Democracy Award and the Washington Judges’ Foundation awarded her the 2011 Judge William Nevins Award for distinguished service in public legal education.

Justice Fairhurst earned her law degree magna cum laude from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1984.  She earned her undergraduate degree in political science cum laude from Gonzaga University in 1979.  She also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga University in 2006.  She received the Distinguished Judicial Service Award and Myra Bradwell Award from Gonzaga Law School.  She was a member and served as president of the Gonzaga Law School Board of Advisors and served as president of the Gonzaga Law School Alumni Association.

Seattle University School of Law honored her at the 2011 Red Mass and established a Public Interest Law Association grant in her name.

Timothy Jaasko-Fisher, M.A., J.D.

Timothy Jaasko-Fisher

Founder and Principal Consultant, 
TJF Consulting

Tim works with people and organizations to build capacity to thrive in complexity.  He catalyzes positive change on a strategic, systemic, and individual level.  Through the use of Liberating Structures and other tools, he helps groups to meaningfully include everyone in exploring the complex challenges they face, and provides concrete, meaningful ways to unleash a groups full potential to maximize return on investment.  Tim serves as the Director of Internal Capacity Building for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau’s Capacity Building Center for Courts, where he provides consulting, coaching, and advice to a team of national experts working to build courts’ capacity to respond to child abuse and neglect on a systemic level.


Tim served as the Senior Director of Curriculum and Program Development at the Civility Center for the Law at Seattle University School of Law and was the founding director of the Court Improvement Training Academy (CITA) at the University of Washington School of Law.  He was a member of the federal Quality Improvement Center on Youth Representation curriculum team. In 2010, he was awarded the Lee Ann Miller Individual Award for outstanding leadership in furthering the goals of the Washington State Children’s Justice Act and he led the Court Improvement Training Academy to receive the Lee Ann Miller Team award in 2014.


Tim worked as an Assistant Attorney General for 11 years. He has litigated at all levels of the justice system in Washington State, including administrative tribunals, the Superior Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. He presents nationally and internationally on issues relating to leadership, civility, and engaging groups in complex problem-solving. 


To learn more about Tim’s work, visit www.TJFConsulting.org.

Paula Lustbader, J.D.

Paula Lustbader

President/Executive Director, The Civility Fund
President/Executive Director, Alfie’s Fund
Professor Emerita, Seattle University School of Law

Professor Paula Lustbader is highly respected internationally in the legal-education academy and locally in the Seattle legal community for the passion and energy she brought to her work as co-founder and director of the Academic Resource Center and its Access Admissions program at Seattle University School of Law. For 28 years, she provided instruction, support, and mentorship to law students from under-represented groups and, in the process, has been instrumental in increasing the diversity of the legal profession. She has touched the lives of more than 1,000 law students who, on graduation, have gone on to impact the lives of literally thousands of clients and fellow citizens in Washington and across the country.

Professor Lustbader’s contribution to the academy was acknowledged in 2015, when she was given the Association of American Law Schools Section on Academic Support Award for Excellence in Legal Education. The Washington State Bar Association recognized Professor Lustbader’s outstanding contributions by naming her co-recipient of the organization’s Award for Excellence in Diversity (2006). In 2010, she received the Loren Miller Bar Association President’s Award for her role in increasing the diversity in the legal profession.

Professor Lustbader is an internationally recognized leader, scholar, and speaker on law school academic support programs, learning theory, teaching methods, and diversity. She has also lectured in England, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. In addition to using her vision to help found two national organization sections on Law School Academic Support and the Center for Teaching and Learning at Seattle University, she has assumed numerous leadership roles with the legal academy’s national organizations.

She retired from Seattle University School of Law in 2015. Between 2010 and 2015, Professor Lustbader began phased retirement from the Law School in order to enable her to shift her focus to her work as president of Robert’s Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering civility in the legal profession. In that role, she has undertaken a variety of initiatives. In addition to writing articles about civility, she is developing curriculum, programs, and seminars to promote civility; she is facilitating conversations on civility with focus groups; and she is making multiple presentations and providing consulting to law firms and other legal professional organizations.

In 2014, Professor Lustbader became the president of Alfie’s Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support to help change a life. She is currently spearheading the foundation’s first initiative, Alfie Scholars at Seattle University, whose mission is to make the dream of a bachelor’s degree achievable for diverse transfer students who are committed to fostering civility. 

Scott Petit, M.A., LMHC

Paula Lustbader

Senior Director of the Psychology of Civility Curriculum and Program Development

Scott Petit brings his 25 years working as a psychotherapist to The Civility Fund. His work with individuals and couples has provided him with a unique perspective and skill-set that helps people gain self-awareness and psychological health, and develop effective ways of relating with others. These are critical aspects to foster civility. Scott works with the Fund’s two main programs: The Civility Center for the Law and Alfie Scholars. As the Associate Director of the Fund, he is responsible for developing the curricula on the Psychology of Civility and on the Fundamentals of Civil Communication. This work combines compassionate self-awareness and effective communication skills, with the goal of cultivating ambassadors and leaders for civility who can inspire and teach others.

Scott’s work has been highly influenced by the work of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. As a result, he embraces both the personal and mythological dimensions of the human experience. With regard to the psychology of the individual, Scott’s focus is on cultivating radical self-acceptance – the ability to meet every aspect of ourselves with the same kind of unconditional regard that healthy, loving parents have for all of their children.

He also sees built into the very nature of human existence the path of the mythological hero: Are we going to proceed in life in a half-asleep state, based on our programming and wounding since birth; or are we going to choose to awaken, face the dragons of fear and self-doubt, and embrace the destinies with which we were born?

In his work with the Alfie Scholars specifically, Scott incorporates these dimensions to help the scholars learn psychological tools for self-awareness, self-investigation and self-regulation, while at the same time, helping them to see their story as part of the larger, hero’s-journey story that has been with us throughout time – the path of becoming an authentic human being.

Scott received his Masters of Arts in Counseling from the Leadership Institute of Seattle in 1993.

Craig Sims, J.D.

Craig Sims

Trial Lawyer

Craig is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 20 years of litigation and leadership experience.  His calling “to be of service to others” is what drew him to his position at Schroeter Goldmark & Bender to represent victims of asbestos exposure. Craig’s focus is to seek accountability while honoring the lives of his clients and their families.  Craig has a proven track record litigating cases including large verdict wins and settlements exceeding $20 million.  He has been the lead trial lawyer in multiple trials with successful settlements and plaintiff verdicts, including the largest asbestos jury award in the state of Oregon.

Craig’s focus on asbestos trial work began in late 2015.  Prior to his asbestos litigation practice, Craig served as the Criminal Division Chief in the Seattle Attorney’s Office where he led a team of more than sixty attorneys and staff.  Craig has also served as a Senior King County Prosecutor. While on assignment with the Most Dangerous Offender Program, he prosecuted a number of homicides and high-profile cases; seeking justice while advocating for those who’d been harmed.

Craig has taught as an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law and a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington Law School. He’s a member and past-president of the Loren Miller Bar Association, which gave him the Excellence in the Legal Profession award in 2013. Craig is also a member of the Washington State Bar Association, and a board member for the Washington State Bar Leadership Institute. The King County Bar Association designated him Mentor of the Year for the Young Lawyers Division in 2013.

Craig has traveled the country consulting on issues of diversity and equity.  He is often asked to speak at lawyer trainings on all aspects of trial presentations.  He also enjoys spending time with his family and barbequing year round.

Sergio Tamassia

Sergio Tamassia

Learn more about Mr. Tamassia


Artist in Residence

Sergio Tamassia received his degree from the State Institute of Art, Florence, in 1966. Since 1978, he has resided in Sorano, Italy. He is an accomplished photographer and visual artist, having shown his work in Austria, Germany, Holland, and throughout his home country.

In addition to teaching seminars in traditional art such as drawing, painting, frescos, and mural painting, Sergio created and teaches art programs designed to help students find their creative flow. He believes that through the process of making art, we can discover our emotions, learn to see from different perspectives, and find ways to express ourselves. To him, art is self-expression.

He also directs and teaches Socializing Through Visual Art, a program for regional schools in Tuscany.

Debra Wiley, M.A., J.D.

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Debra is based in Alexandria, Virginia, and has been associated with Roberts Fund and the Civility Center for Law Italy seminars since the inaugural class of 2011.

A graduate of Seattle University School of Law, Debra practiced briefly in Tacoma and was Executive Director of the Pierce County Center for Dispute Resolution before joining the U.S. Department of Education. She served as the first Federal Student Aid Ombudsman and later as Senior Advisor for Customer Experience, until leaving federal service in late 2012. Debra also holds an M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was formerly with state higher education agencies in Colorado and Virginia and a coordinator of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). Known for her intense interest in conflict resolution, consumer issues, and end-user perspectives, Debra focuses on program and policy development to minimize conflict and maximize efficiency. She is also a licensed tour guide for the District of Columbia and is a member of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC.