NCDC Leadership

Natasha Perdew Silas

Natasha Perdew Silas

Dean

Natasha Perdew Silas (“Tasha” to friends) has spent more than a quarter-century defending indigent persons accused of federal criminal offenses as a Staff Attorney and then Senior Litigation Attorney with the Atlanta Federal Defender Program. Tasha first came to the National Criminal Defense College Trial Practice Institute as a baby lawyer in 1995. She credits the techniques she learned at the College with giving her the confidence needed to handle herself in the courtroom. She is proud and happy to have the opportunity to give back to the College, serving as one of its Co-Deans since August 1, 2017.

Tasha is passionate about teaching. She joined the Faculty of the National Criminal Defense College in 2016, but she had been teaching trial skills long before that. She is a longtime faculty member of the Bill Daniel Trial Advocacy Program sponsored by the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. (Her favorite lecture topic is Theory of the Case, which should be the foundation of everything a trial lawyer does in the courtroom.) Tasha has taught trial skills internationally as well. She was part of a team of eight criminal defense lawyers from the State of Georgia who traveled to the Republic of Georgia to help criminal defense lawyers prepare for that country’s first-ever jury trials. Closer to home, Tasha has served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Emory University School of Law and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. She is a frequent presenter at a variety of local and national CLE programs. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Tasha lives in the metropolitan Atlanta area with her husband Kendal, a fellow federal defender. They are the proud parents of two amazing young people.

Karen Smolar

Karen Smolar

Dean

Karen attended the College as a participant in 2007 and has been on faculty since 2009.  After law school, she worked as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, NY and then for a small criminal defense firm as a criminal trial attorney.  In 2000, she joined The Bronx Defenders. When she left in 2019, she had been a staff attorney, a supervisor, a team leader, the Trial Chief and the Director of Homicides. She also created the Defenders’ Academy, an innovative trial skills program which explored the intersection between trial skills and performance work.  

She is now the Legal Training Director for the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts. 

Karen has been an adjunct professor at St. John’s School of Law and Seton Hall Law School teaching Trial Advocacy. Karen graduated from Brooklyn Law School, and holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University. Her interest in performance work stems from her lifelong love of music, dance and sports. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband Jeff, her two children, her two step-children, her two dogs and her two cats.

Bellamy Johnston

Bellamy Johnston

Programs Director

Bellamy Johnston is the heart and soul of the National Criminal Defense College.  She has worked every day for the College for the last 25 years.  Since 2019, she has been NCDC’s Program Coordinator. She manages the Macon office and the day to day functioning of the College.  She also coordinates Continuing Legal Education credits for participants with most of the 50 United States and Territories.

Bellamy strongly believes in what criminal defense attorneys stand for. She is very proud to be a part of the National Criminal Defense College family.

Before joining the College, she worked in the service industry for 35 years.  She worked for the Hilton Hotel in Macon, GA as a switchboard operator, then a desk clerk and finally a reservations manager.  During her time as reservations manager, she was voted employee of the year.

Bellamy earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Service from Middle Georgia State University in 2015.

She enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, traveling and fishing.

Deryl Dantzler

Deryl Dantzler

Dean Emeritus

Deryl became a criminal defense lawyer in 1970. She joined the faculty of the National College for Criminal Defense in 1976 and served as Dean of NCDC from its inception in 1985 through 2015. Deryl is now a retired faculty member of the Mercer Law School.

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