Ted Mermin, J.D., M.Ed., is the co-founder and Executive Director of Public Good. For the past decade, he has litigated consumer protection, First Amendment, and civil rights law cases at the trial and appellate levels, and has written and spoken extensively on issues of preemption, privacy, free speech, and unfair competition.
Prior to founding Public Good, Ted served for eight years as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice, where he brought consumer cases against abusive loan companies, rental car outfits and telecom providers. He handled the first case to rein in the practices of a predatory lender with more than 3000 outlets nationwide, and wrote a law that led the way to successful prosecutions of “immigration consultants” who routinely took thousands of dollars from those seeking asylum in the United States and provided nothing in return. Ted also authored a wide variety of amicus briefs on behalf of the California Attorney General (and often the AGs of many other states) in appellate courts around the nation in cases addressing deceptive advertising, tobacco promotion and digital marketing.
Before going to work for the Attorney General, Ted litigated in private practice, where his work included pro bono representation of victims of racial discrimination in retail sales, and clerked for the Honorable Louis H. Pollak of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Ted is a graduate of Yale and the University of California at Berkeley, where he was Senior Articles Editor of the California Law Review. He also counts a first career as an elementary school teacher.
In addition to his work at Public Good, Ted is a legal consultant on public health and constitutional law, an adjunct professor of consumer law at UC Berkeley School of Law, and of counsel to the consumer law clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center.
Tom Bennigson, J.D., Ph.D., Legal Director and co-founder of Public Good, has been active in politics, civil liberties, and environmental causes for four decades. After an earlier academic career in philosophy, Tom entered law school at the age of 43 in pursuit of more concrete and direct engagement with issues of social justice. He received his J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) (Order of the Coif), his Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell University, and his B.A. from Amherst College (Phi Beta Kappa). In his legal career he has worked with the ACLU, the East Bay Community Law Center, the Sierra Club, and the Public Defender of Contra Costa County, among others, on issues including free speech, criminal defense, environmental protection, immigrants’ rights, tenants’ rights, and product liability. He has also published scholarly articles on topics ranging from commercial speech under the First Amendment to moral relativism, as well as delivering numerous presentations to refereed national academic gatherings. In addition to serving as Legal Director of Public Good, Tom is President of the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund, and leads trips to Zambia to see wildlife, and learn about African wildlife conservation and its impacts on indigenous people and about innovative non-profit initiatives in rural and urban communities. You can find out more about Tom’s safari trips at OpenHeartSafari.com.
Susanne Stolzenberg, J.D., M.A., is Public Good’s first fellow. She received her J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and her M.A. from the Freie Universität Berlin. In law school, she was a managing editor of the Berkeley Journal of International Law and a member of the California Law Review. She also worked as a legal extern for Judge John T. Noonan of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Bay Area Legal Aid, and the Federal Trade Commission.
Susanne previously worked as a book editor. She is passionate about libraries and serves as a board member of the Friends of the Jewish Community Library.