IAALS Promotes One, Welcomes Two as Momentum Builds in 2023

January 30, 2023

"exterior of brick building with dark roof"IAALS is pleased to announce a promotion and new hires who will bring their leadership and years of expertise to our team. Former manager Michael Houlberg has been promoted to director of special projects, and Jessica Bednarz has joined IAALS as director of legal services and the profession along with Kirk Jones as senior director of operations.

Houlberg, who joined IAALS in 2018, will lead our work in family justice, as well as key projects across the organization. He currently leads IAALS’ Allied Legal Professionals project, which is working to standardize and grow legal paraprofessional programs nationwide. In November, Houlberg and the IAALS team hosted a national convening which brought together dozens of representatives from courts, academia, and nonprofits, with the goal of developing recommendations and best practices for states looking to implement allied legal professional programs. Houlberg also leads IAALS’ work on unbundled legal services and our partnership on the Cady Initiative for Family Justice Reform.

Bednarz is the former associate director of innovation and the Justice Entrepreneurs Project at The Chicago Bar Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s legal incubator program that assists lawyers in launching socially conscious and innovative law practices for the middle market. No stranger to the Centennial State, she helped launch a similar program in Colorado in 2018. At IAALS, Bednarz will direct our work on the delivery of legal services and the legal profession, including our Unlocking Legal Regulation project, which promotes a regulatory system equipped to better meet the needs of everyday people and provide a more sustainable practice for lawyers. She’s excited for the opportunity to work on access-to-justice issues at the national level.

Jones formerly served as the associate dean and chief operating officer at the University of Denver’s College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, where he managed the college’s finances, business planning, communications and marketing, human resources, and other areas of operations. In addition to extensive experience in higher education, Jones has worked in national laboratories, venture capital environments, and private industry. In his role as senior director of operations, Jones will oversee the strategic and day-to-day leadership of IAALS, including development, budgeting and human resources, communications, and events. He looks forward to applying his skills at a mission-focused organization and contribute to fostering a justice system that works for all people.

We’re thrilled to begin 2023 with these additions to our team and the expertise they bring to our core areas of our work.