Noel Nickle, Director

Noel Nickle (she/her/hers) serves as the executive director of the North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Noel has worked as a mitigation specialist on trial and post-conviction death penalty cases in North and South Carolina since 2006. Working with attorneys from The Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Noel secured life sentences for two individuals previously sentenced to death. Noel has a long history of community organizing in opposition to the death penalty, including her leadership in a successful community effort for the Asheville City Council to adopt a resolution supporting a moratorium on the death penalty. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Noel founded a social media group (WNC Response to COVID-19 For Those In Custody) for families who have loved ones in jail and prison custody and advocated for early release for incarcerated individuals. Noel is deeply committed to the principles and practices of restorative and transformative justice. She has a master’s in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill and lives in Asheville.

You can reach Noel at

Jessica Turner, Board President

Jessica Turner is a community organizer with years of regional experience, most recently as a field manager at the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Jess works to strengthen grassroots support in local chapters and within faith communities to build relationships and coalitions around numerous justice issues with a special focus on reproductive justice. She received her bachelor’s degree from Elon University and worked with faith-based advocacy groups in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., before receiving her Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia.

Prior to joining the ACLU of North Carolina, Jess organized in faith communities to abolish the death penalty, advocated for workers’ rights, and led racial justice workshops. In her free time, Jess enjoys running and volunteering in the community. She got involved in the death penalty around the execution of Kelly Gissendaner in 2015. The execution galvanized her to work so no one else dies at the hands of the state.

Dawn Blagrove

Dawn Blagrove is the Executive Director of the Carolina Justice Policy Center, a nonprofit that works to make North Carolina’s criminal justice system more humane and equitable.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a minor in Secondary Education, cum laude from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, where she also obtained a Master’s Degree, magna cum laude, in Applied Social Science. She is a proud graduate of North Carolina Central School of Law.

After graduating law school, Dawn worked for eight years as a post-conviction staff attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc. In this position, she co-managed the jail credit team, made up of five paralegals dedicated to jail credit issues. As a post-conviction attorney, Dawn evaluated and prioritized requests for criminal post-conviction representation from inmates incarcerated in North Carolina’s Department of Correction. On their behalf, she litigated motions for appropriate relief and petitions for writs of habeas corpus in N.C. trial and appellate courts. Dawn also litigated federal habeas actions in U.S. District Courts in N.C.; the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA.; and the Supreme Court of the United States. She is proud of helping reach positive outcomes through negotiations and non-litigious avenues.

Dawn is also an adjunct professor for the Criminal Justice Department of Fayetteville Technical Community College and is a co-sponsor of the Capital City Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an organization that is dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving, and civic duty.

Jennifer Watson Marsh

Jennifer Watson Marsh is a member of the Executive Staff at Self-Help, where she helps advance their mission of ownership and economic opportunity for all.

She works on projects including reducing pretrial incarceration of people who lack the cash to post bail in North Carolina, immigration bonds, increasing the N.C. minimum wage, and other wealth building issues. She also assists partner organizations in executing their missions while disrupting practices that harm vulnerable populations.

Jennifer served as the Senior Staff Attorney and Project Manager for North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act Study before going on to work with many social justice organizations including, Disability Rights NC, Democracy NC, North Carolina NAACP, and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Jennifer currently serves on several boards including North Carolina Advocates for Justice and the ACLU of North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993 and UNC School of Law in 2009.


Mark Pickett

Mark Pickett joined the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in 2013. Mark graduated from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 2009, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. After graduating from law school, he worked as a J. Kirk Osborn Fellow with the Fair Trial Initiative, where he assisted with trial-level death penalty cases throughout North Carolina.

Before joining CDPL, Mark spent two years conducting research for the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Due Process Review Project.

Erica Washington

Erica Washington joined the Center for Death Penalty Litigation as a staff attorney in 2017 after graduating from New York University School of Law. Prior to law school, Erica spent two years working on issues of fair housing, disability rights and police misconduct with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. In law school, she worked with the Equal Justice Initiative to provide post-conviction legal support to prisoners on Alabama’s death row.

Erica is on the coordinating committee for Restorative Justice Durham, a diversionary program aimed at restoring relationships hurt by wrongdoing and repairing the harm caused by crime.