Megan was born in Staten Island, New York to parents who were already dedicated social activists. Megan’s father, Van, was a committed advocate of civil rights reform and traveled from New York to Virginia in 1965 and 1966 to participate in civil rights support and voter registration in marginalized communities.
Van was also a long-time member of the War Resistors League, an organization dedicated to nuclear non-proliferation and the practice of non-violent protest in support of social justice. After graduating from law school, Van’s career included legal work with the Criminal Justice Coalition (an anti-death penalty lobby), the Counsel for the Commission of Corrections for New York state, and as a public defender until his retirement.
Megan’s mother, Janet, has always been a staunch supporter of the rights of women and members of the LGTBQ community. Early in Megan’s life, as co-chair of the Staten Island Fair Housing Committee, Janet would attend and participate in the organization of community events. Along with supporting fair housing initiatives, Janet worked for women’s rights, early childhood education, and local food banks.
In 1974 Megan and her parents moved to NJ to live in a commune they co-founded, called Cedarcroft. It was “an experiment in non-violent living” where the ideals of non-violent social action were discussed, taught and modeled. Unlike what many think of as a commune, the inhabitants of this one did not isolate; instead they took these ideas to their community through being active members: a lawyer, a mechanic, a teacher, a newspaper editor and a photographer. While Megan’s father continued his peace activism, her mother became more and more involved in the Woman’s Movement co-organizing and hosting the 1978 Sussex County, New Jersey First Women’s Weekend attended by 100s of women for all over the country.
After moving to Saratoga Springs, NY, Megan’s mother continued to take her to events such as the Equal Rights Amendment marches of the 1980s in Saratoga, where 30 years later, Megan and Janet (along with Janet’s wife, Linda) would march in the streets of Saratoga again in support of equal rights for women. Janet’s career road lead her to elementary education where she spent over 30 years working in classrooms of economically underserved neighborhoods in Troy, NY.
Megan’s involvement in community justice and civil rights started with her parents and continued through her choices in her own education, career, and community engagement.
Megan came to Norfolk, Virginia to attend college where she graduated magna cum laude from Old Dominion University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. During her undergraduate work, Megan was awarded outstanding criminal justice student for 1990-1991 and was also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Additionally, Megan externed at the H.E.R. Shelter for Battered Women in Portsmouth, Virginia where she was hired as the Special Project Coordinator after graduation. A year after graduation, Megan started at Albany Law School in Albany, New York. During law school she was a founding member of the school’s Domestic Violence Clinic at Albany Law School. Megan’s third year of law school was completed at the University of Richmond where she was a staff member of the Virginia Supreme Court’s Commission on Family Violence Prevention.
As a career prosecutor, Megan has served on the juvenile team, drug team, violent crime team, and general prosecution teams of both Virginia Beach and Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Offices, as well as serving as the deputy of the juvenile team and special crimes team in Norfolk. In 2012 Megan moved to the Gloucester County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office where she took over as the Chief Deputy of that office. Megan has successfully prosecuted cases at every level of seriousness including both high-profile cases and cases of importance only to those involved. Of special interest to her are the crimes committed against our children. Of her many child abuse cases, one involved a 4-year-old who was starved to death and another involved a child who was kept in a cage for 5 years. Both cases ended in Megan successfully prosecuting multiple defendants who all received significant prison sentences.
Megan takes very seriously the purposes of juvenile court and treats each case on an individual basis, often working with Court Services, defense attorneys, and the guardian ad litem to reach an appropriate disposition that balances the demands of justice, the needs of the juvenile, and the wishes of the victims. Megan is a multidisciplinary team facilitator where she collaborates with multiple stakeholder agencies and also participates in a regional task force on elder abuse. Megan is also a mentor and teacher to countless new prosecutors believing in the importance of fostering talents to better serve the community. She is very proud of the fact that several legal interns who planned on being defense attorneys after law school, changed their career path to that of prosecution after working with her.
During the past few years Megan has also made her personal experiences with vicarious trauma public to educate others and to reassure many that they are not alone. Part of this effort has involved teaching about vicarious trauma to prosecutors, law enforcement and DSS workers, publishing an article in the University of Richmond’s Law School Public Interest Law Review, and adding it to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Services Council Trial Advocacy program. Megan is also recognized as a Mental Health Expert in the Virginia Supreme Court’s Report of Wellness. Most recently, in 2020, Megan was awarded the Virginia S. Duval Distinguished JDR Prosecutor Award in recognition of outstanding service in juvenile and domestic relations district court.
Other highlights of Megan’s professional career include:
- Teaching at Old Dominion University as both a full-time instructor (1995-1997) and an adjunct professor of criminal justice (2000-2015).
- Adjunct professor at William and Mary School of Law teaching Legal Skills for first year law students and Criminal Pre-trial Motions Practice for second year law students.
- Faculty member at the Commonwealth Attorney’s Service’s Council Spring Institute teaching juvenile detention hearings, cross-examination, case themes, and the effects of vicarious traumatization in public service lawyering.
- Faculty member and Lead Faculty member of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Service’s Council Trial Advocacy training for attorneys teaching voir dire, abusive head trauma in prosecution, vicarious traumatization, group facilitation, and charging decisions in juvenile and domestic violence cases.
- Faculty member of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Service’s Council Train the Trainer program teaching newer faculty members to develop, plan, and teach legal courses to newer prosecutors.
- Faculty assistant for the National District Attorney’s Association Career Prosecutor’s Course
- Lecturer at the University of Richmond Law School Public Interest Law Society’s Symposium on Lawyering in the Era of #Me Too (2018): Interviewing Victims in the #MeToo ERA.
- Lecturer on Strangulation for Prosecutors, law enforcement, and Department of Social Services (2018): Strangulation Code and Case Law; Investigation; Vicarious Trauma.
- Published: Vicarious Trauma in Public Service Lawyering: How Chronic Exposure to Trauma Affects the Brain and Body, 22 Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev. 269 (2019).
Megan’s history of public service and community engagement are what motivate her to carry on the early lessons learned from her family. Always looking for ways to give back to the citizens of Norfolk, Megan has volunteered for multiple organizations dedicated to community improvement. In particular, REACH, Inc (Reading Enriches All Children) and Teens With a Purpose are two causes close to Megan’s heart. Beginning in 2007, Megan volunteered as a shelter reader for REACH, an organization focused on childhood literacy, especially in underserved communities. She eventually became a Board member, later becoming Board Secretary, then Board President. She remains on the Board today. Since 2018, Megan as volunteered for Teens with a Purpose and serves as a member of both their Executive Advisory Committee and current Board of Directors. Teens With a Purpose is supports underserved teens through poetry, art, leadership, and education in community activism.