Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D., (magna cum laude), Boston University (2007)
B.A., Williams College (2004)
Daniel Bahls began his legal career at Legal Aid of Western Ohio as an AmeriCorps Foreclosure Defense attorney. Daniel joined Community Legal Aid in 2012. His areas of expertise include foreclosure and eviction defense and fair lending issues. Daniel provides regular trainings for housing practitioners and community groups.
J.D., Georgetown University Law School (1993)
B.A., Philosophy and Economics (magna cum laude), Georgetown University (1990)
Jonathan joined Legal Assistance Corp. of Central Mass. (LACCM) in 1998 as a staff attorney working on housing and homelessness issues. He began his tenure as Executive Director in April 2006, and continued in that role when LACCM and Western Mass. Legal Services combined to form Community Legal Aid (CLA) in 2011. As Executive Director, Jonathan leads and directs the overall operation of CLA in compliance with the policies and guidelines established by CLA’s Board of Directors. Before assuming the role of Executive Director, Jonathan served as LACCM’s Litigation Director, supervising and coordinating systemic litigation and litigating cases in both state and federal court. Before joining LACCM, Jonathan worked at Silver Golub & Teitell, a leading plaintiff-side firm in Connecticut, where he litigated employment discrimination, medical malpractice and complex personal injury cases at the trial and appellate level.
In 2014, Jonathan was appointed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) to serve on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. In 2012, Jonathan was elected to the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). From 2011 to 2017, he served on the SJC’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. In 2008, Jonathan was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to serve on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Advisory Board; he was reappointed by Governor Charlie Baker in 2015. Jonathan served two terms as a member of the Executive Committee of the Worcester County Bar Association. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance for many years and is the past chair of the City of Worcester’s Community Development Advisory Committee. Jonathan is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in the U.S. District Courts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and in the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeal.
J.D. (cum laude), Boston College (1985)
M.A., Spanish, Middlebury College (1979)
B.A., Spanish & Political Science (cum laude), Brandeis University (1978)
Faye B. Rachlin has been a legal aid lawyer for over 25 years, specializing in eviction defense, protection of rent subsidies, and access to homeless shelter programs. Faye has extensive litigation experience, including winning several appeals in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and arguing two cases before the Supreme Judicial Court. In 2002, Faye received the Boston College Law School Judge David Nelson Public Interest Award in honor of her work in public service. In 2008, Faye was honored with the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Legal Services Award, which is given each year to a lawyer who has made a particularly significant or meaningful contribution to the provision of low-income legal services. Faye has served on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s Housing Court subcommittee, the statewide Tenancy Preservation Program Advisory Board, and several Housing Court bench-bar committees. She has conducted numerous trainings on landlord-tenant law, published several articles on tenants’ rights and the effects of criminal conduct in the housing context, and taught civil rights litigation as an adjunct professor at Western New England University School of Law. Faye is fluent in Spanish and English. She is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and the U.S. District of Massachusetts.
Pat Owen worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 5 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. As Fiscal Manager she manages all aspects of finance and many human resources responsibilities for CLA. She has 20 years of experience in accounting and financial reporting for non-profits, with a focus on those receiving federal grants. Pat worked for the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) for 18 years as a Project Accountant and later as the Accounting Manager. WOCCU received grants from USAID to create financial cooperatives in developing countries.
J.D., Columbia Law School (1975)
B.A., Cornell University (1971)
Peter Benjamin was, from 2009 to 2014, a partner at Benjamin & Bers in East Longmeadow, where his practice focused on the legal needs of elders and the disabled, including guardianship and conservatorship. Previously he was the managing attorney of Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) in Springfield. As a lawyer at WMLS from 1979 to 2009, he concentrated in legal problems of elders and in unemployment compensation, and litigated extensively in the Social Security, unemployment compensation and housing areas. Peter is a former adjunct professor at the Western New England University School of Law, has taught numerous continuing and community legal education programs and has written chapters of Legal Tactics, Estate Planning for Aging or Incapacitated Clients and other books.
Liz joined Community Legal Aid in July 2012 and is responsible for processing payroll, accounts payable and reporting to several grant funding sources. Liz has worked in the insurance, manufacturing and non-profit industries and has over 15 years experience in non-profit social services accounting. She is also involved in the financial operations of the family’s automotive repair business.
Intake Paralegal, Family Law Unit
A.A., Springfield Technical Community College
Ines Diaz-Rodriguez started her career in the legal field in 1975 in a clerical staff position in the Hampden County Housing Court clerk’s office. She then began legal aid work in 1977 at Western Mass. Legal Services in the Springfield office as a secretary. In 1997, she joined the Mass. Justice Project in Holyoke as an intake paralegal. At Community Legal Aid, Ines works in the Springfield office as the program’s intake paralegal in the family law unit.
J.D., Northeastern University School of Law (1996)
B.A., Sociology, Haverford College (1989)
Jennifer Dieringer worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services for over 12 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Jennifer is the managing attorney of the Northampton and Pittsfield offices, and specializes in family and housing law. She has handled a number of appellate cases in both areas of law, served as faculty for continuing legal education seminars, and authored academic and practice-oriented publications. She has also taught in a number of law schools and undergraduate colleges and served as a law clerk for the probate and family judges in the four western Massachusetts counties.
Senior Supervising Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D., Northeastern University School of Law (2007)
B.A., Law and Society (magna cum laude), American University (2003)
Jane Edmonstone worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 4 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Jane is a Staff Attorney in the Housing Unit, primarily handling fair housing and eviction defense issues. She provides know-your-rights trainings to tenants and community groups on a regular basis During law school, Jane interned with the Civil Rights Division of Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, the Child Abuse Unit of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and the Boston law firm of Kotin, Crabtree & Strong. Prior to law school, Jane worked with the HIV/AIDS Services program at Tapestry Health in Springfield, MA. Jane is licensed to practice in Massachusetts.
J.D., Harvard Law School (1958)
Harvard College (1955)
Judge Edward Ginsburg worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 5 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Judge Ginsburg came to CLA after more than 25 years as a Probate & Family Court judge in Middlesex County, and 18 years’ experience as a sole practitioner and an attorney at the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. Judge Ginsburg led the Big Dig Cost Recovery Team and has been reappointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to a four-year term on the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee. In 2002, Judge Ginsburg created Senior Partners for Justice in order to recruit attorneys and retired judges to provide free legal services to low-income individuals in family law matters. He also established a scholarship fund to expand access to MCLE programs to private counsel who provide pro bono representation to low income clients.
In 2005, the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services awarded Judge Ginsburg the Adams Pro Bono Publico Award in recognition of his outstanding commitment to providing volunteer legal services for low-income and other disadvantaged communities. In 2004, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly named him Lawyer of the Year, and in 2005, the Boston Sunday Globe named him Bostonian of the Year. Judge Ginsburg has taught as an adjunct professor at Suffolk University and Boston College law schools.
Pro Bono Coordinator
Carmen Gonzalez worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) and the Massachusetts Justice Project (MJP) for over 25 years before coming to CLA in January 2014. Carmen joined the staff at WMLS in 1988 as the part-time Secretary for the Volunteer Lawyers Service (VLS) and as the part-time Accounting Assistant. In 1990, she became the VLS Paralegal and continued in that capacity at the Mass. Justice Project and currently at Community Legal Aid. She assists clients in Central and Western Mass. with referrals to the private bar for assistance with their legal issues. She also coordinates the Uncontested Divorce Clinic in Hampden County and assists with the coordination of the Senior Partners for Justice Limited Assistance Representation Project at the Hampden County Probate Court.
Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D., Boston College Law School (2008)
B.A., Philosophy & Sociology (magna cum laude), Colby College (2004)
Joshua Gutierrez joined Community Legal Aid as a Staff Attorney in 2012 as part of the HomeCorps foreclosure defense team funded by the Office of the Attorney General. Prior to joining the Community Legal Aid staff, Joshua volunteered at CLA’s Worcester office, where he handled immigration and foreclosure matters. Joshua began his career in private practice, where he worked as a corporate and securities lawyer in the Boston office of a large national law firm. Joshua is licensed to practice in Massachusetts.
Liza Harris worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 10 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Liza has worked as a bilingual secretary, receptionist and intake paralegal. Liza currently provides support for the Worcester Fair Housing Project, a joint project with the City of Worcester that protects the fair housing rights of Worcester County residents. Liza also provides general support in the office and oral and written translations for Spanish-speaking clients. Liza also worked for CLA’s LiveJustice web-based project as an intake paralegal, answering questions for tenants regarding their housing problems.
Judith Herberg worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services and its predecessor agency, Berkshire Legal Services, for over 42 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Judith does intakes and provides support for the program’s Pittsfield office.
Candace Jaegle worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts (LACCM) and the Massachusetts Justice Project (MJP) for over 25 years before coming to CLA in January 2014. Candace was the Executive Secretary for LACCM from 1988 until 1997, and worked at MJP as Administrative Secretary from 2007 until 2014. In 2007, while at MJP, Candace received the Distinguished Catholic Lay Person Award from the Thomas More Society for her work with the low-income community of Worcester County
Paralegal, Benefits Unit
B.A., History, Mary Baldwin Women’s College, Staunton, Virginia (1971)
B.S., Biology, Mary Baldwin Women’s College, Staunton, Virginia (1971)
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2nd bachelor’s degree candidate
Wendy worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) for over 30 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance of Central Mass. to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. She started work at WMLS as a VISTA volunteer in 1974, and worked for the next several years on food stamps issues. Wendy was then hired as a paralegal by WMLS in 1980. She specializes in assisting clients with public benefits issues, including food stamps, cash assistance benefits, unemployment, veterans services, social security, and Medicare. Wendy provides trainings with Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) on basic benefits and food stamps, has served on several advisory boards on issues impacting low-income clients, and has been on the board of directors of Hampshire Community Action Council. Wendy was the first paralegal to receive the Mass. Law Reform Institute’s Brainard award for tireless and exceptional advocacy in November 2013 .
Staff Attorney, Benefits Unit
J.D. (cum laude), Suffolk University School of Law (1996)
B.A., International Relations, Mount Holyoke College (1992)
Staff Attorney, Families and Children’s Unit
J.D., Pace University School of Law (2007)
B.A., (magna cum laude) University of Massachusetts at Boston (1989)
Margery Kennard worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) for over four years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Marge’s first two years at WMLS were as the Medicare Advocacy Project paralegal. Margery entered law school in 2004 and returned to WMLS in 2008 as a family law attorney. Marge specializes in assisting domestic violence survivors with family law cases. In law school, she was a student attorney in the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and worked at Kuntz, Spagnuolo, & Murphy, an education law firm.
M.B.A., Babson College (1992)
B.S., Babson College (1989)
Kebby E. Lee joined Community Legal Aid in February 2014. She has a long career of working with organizations that provide services to those in need. The list of organizations includes GFA Federal Credit Union, Girls Inc. and the government funded 21st Century afterschool program for at risk children. As well, she is an active volunteer in Worcester County: since 2006 she has mentored children grades Kindergarten through second through the House of Peace and Education in Gardner; and since 2009 she has been a volunteer doula, assisting laboring families non-medically, at Heywood Hospital in Gardner.
J.D., University of New Hampshire School of Law (1997)
B.A., Communications Sciences, University of Connecticut (1991)
Hisham Leil worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services for more than four years before the program joined Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. While serving as lead attorney for the immigrant justice project, Hisham directed the efforts of several partner agencies to provide legal services to hundreds of immigrant victims of domestic violence and crime, many of whom were facing imminent deportation and separation from their families. Hisham also trained and collaborated with numerous law enforcement, prosecution, shelter, and immigrant relief agency staff on matters relating to immigration law throughout Western Massachusetts. He has also appeared in local radio, television, and newspaper media and is a frequent lecturer at Western New England University School of Law on topics relating to immigration law. Prior to his career in legal services, Hisham was in private practice for nine years.
Coordinator, Volunteer Lawyers Service
Patricia Walsh-Ollari started her career in legal services at Western Massachusetts Legal Services in 1989, where she was the Program Paralegal for the Volunteer Lawyers Service (VLS) and was then promoted to Coordinator of VLS. In 1997, Pat began the same position at the Mass. Justice Project. Pat is now a VLS Coordinator at CLA, where she interviews clients, assesses their legal needs, and refers their cases to volunteer attorneys. She coordinates and participates in the Senior Partners for Justice-West programs and also organizes the recruitment and retention of volunteer attorneys through recognition events, receptions and trainings. Over the years, Pat has been member of a number of pro bono related committees, including the Foreclosure Task Force, The Pro Bono Alliance, the Massachusetts Pro Bono Coordinators Coalition, and the Pro Bono Legal Services Advisory Committee of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. In 2009, Pat was the first recipient of the annual John M. Greaney Award.
Linda Boss worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 20 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Linda has worked on the Probate Court Lawyer for the Day Program as well as the Medicare Program, and she currently provides support to the Families and Children Unit.
Staff Attorney, Elder Unit
J.D., Boston College Law School (2004)
B.A., Linguistics & Cognitive Science (magna cum laude), Brandeis University (2001)
Rachel Shannon Brown worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over five years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Rachel is a Staff Attorney in the Elder Unit, where she handles Medicare, housing, and public benefits cases, among other elder law issues. Rachel is active in CLA's Diversity and Equity Committee and is a member of the Worcester County Bar Association. Before coming to LACCM, Rachel was a law clerk at Greater Boston Legal Services, where she worked on a class action lawsuit against the MBTA under the Americans with Disabilities Act and represented clients in MassHealth and Medicare matters. Rachel also interned at Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services (now Prisoners’ Legal Services), the Boston Medical Center Domestic Violence Project, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the City Attorney Prosecutor’s office in Columbus, Ohio. Rachel is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and the U.S. District of Massachusetts.
Judith McLellan worked for Western Massachusetts Legal Services and the Massachusetts Justice Project for more than 28 years before coming to CLA in January 2014. Judy does intakes and provides support in CLA’s Springfield and Northampton offices. Judy also provides support to CLA’s five-county Volunteers Lawyers Service, and assists with oral and written translations for Spanish-speaking clients.
Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D., George Washington University (1990)
B.A., International Relations, Tufts University (1986)
Ray Mestre worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 20 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. He has worked in all of the program’s practice units, and is now a Senior Attorney in the Housing Unit and part of the HomeCorps foreclosure defense team funded by the Office of the Attorney General. Ray’s areas of specialization include civil litigation, consumer rights, housing matters, guardianship defense, public benefits, and protection against elder abuse. Ray also conducts trainings for other advocates and service providers on the financial exploitation of elders. Ray’s extensive community and volunteer experience includes serving as a past member of the Boards of Directors of the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance and Centro Las Americas, and as a member of the Worcester County Bar Association’s Committee on Services to the Poor & Homeless. Ray is also a former coach of the Westborough Softball League. Ray is licensed to practice in Massachusetts.
Paralegal, Benefits Unit
B.A., Psychology, Rutgers University
Certificate of Advanced Paralegal Studies, College of Our Lady of the Elms
Susan O’Connor worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services for over 6 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Susan represents clients in disability appeals before the Social Security Administration. She also assists disability recipients with issues affecting their payments. Susan serves as a resource to staff in CLA’s Western offices and outside attorneys regarding disability benefits and the effects of income, assets, and proposed legal agreements on clients’ eligibility and payments.
Mildred Otero worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services for over 36 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Along with providing general support for the Springfield office, Millie handles front-desk inquiries in English and Spanish. She also interprets and translates for Spanish-speaking clients. Millie also assists with solving computer problems for advocates.
J.D., Boston University School of Law (1996)
B.A., Political Sociology, Boston University (1992)
Christina (Tina) Paradiso worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 5 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. Tina Paradiso is a senior supervising attorney in the Family Law Unit of Community Legal Aid (CLA). She handles complex divorce, custody, support, visitation, and abuse prevention matters at the trial and appellate level, and supervises all family law work at CLA. In 2006, Tina was chosen to serve on the Trial Court’s Child Support Guidelines Task Force to evaluate and redesign the Commonwealth’s Child Support Guidelines. In 2012, Tina was asked to serve on Governor Patrick’s Working Group on Child-Centered Family Laws. Tina received the Women of Justice Award in 2009 in recognition of her meaningful and inspiring contributions in the fields of social justice and advocacy. Tina is currently the co-chair of the Worcester County Bar Association’s Family Law Section.
Before joining CLA, Tina was a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement Division, where she was also a special assistant district attorney for nonsupport crimes. In that capacity, she successfully prosecuted many high-profile cases. Tina has participated as a lecturer, panelist, and author in numerous continuing legal education programs.
Francisca Reyes worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services for over eight years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Mass to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. She provides support for the Northampton office, handles front-desk inquiries, and does oral interpretations and written translations for Spanish-speaking clients. Francisca also conducts intakes for new clients. She previously worked in private law firms as a legal assistant for over ten years.
Staff Attorney, Benefits Unit
J.D., (cum laude), Georgetown University Law Center (2013)
A.B., English (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), College of the Holy Cross (2010)
Corrine joined Community Legal Aid’s Springfield office in August 2013. She represents claimants seeking disability benefits before the Social Security Administration and handles appeals to the federal district court. During law school, Corrine worked in Washington DC at the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, a nonprofit organization that advocates for people with developmental disabilities. Corrine is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and the U.S. District of Massachusetts.
B.A. Liberal Studies (cum laude) & certification in Paralegal Studies, Anna Maria College (1980)
Dianne worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts for over 30 years before the program joined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. She started work at Central Mass. Legal Services in September 1981 as a volunteer in the elder unit. She was hired as a an advocacy paralegal in February 1982, focusing primarily on elder law. She served as coordinator of the elder unit for many years prior to being promoted to Senior Paralegal. She has served on numerous committees and advisory boards including the Mass. Bar Elder Law Committee, Supreme Judicial Court Gender Bias Study, Anna Maria College Paralegal Studies Advisory Board, Central Mass. Area on Aging Advisory Board (serving as Vice Chair and Chairperson for several years) and the Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Roundtable. Dianne was named Advocate of the Year in May 2003 at the Worcester County Bar Association’s Equal Justice Reception. Dianne has served as a resource to staff and community agencies on elder law issues. She has conducted many trainings and presented at conferences on a variety of elder issues including elder abuse, guardianship, MassHealth, Medicare, housing, government benefits and advance directives.
Intake Paralegal, Housing Unit
Blanca Santiago worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) and the Massachusetts Justice Project (MJP) for more than 34 years before coming to CLA in January 2014. Blanca joined WMLS in 1976 as a Secretary and, except for a three-year absence, worked there until 1999 when she became an Intake Paralegal for MJP’s hotline service, assisting callers with questions about benefits, housing, family law, unemployment, and disability. Blanca also assists with the Volunteers for Justice Program in Housing Court, where volunteers help tenants with eviction cases. At CLA, Blanca is an Intake Paralegal for the Housing Unit.
Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D. (cum laude), Boston University (1984)
B.A., (magna cum laude), Case Western Reserve University (1978)
Paul Schack worked at Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) for over 17 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Mass. to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. He has also been in private practice, representing clients in criminal defense, family law, landlord/tenant matters, and consumer law. Paul began his legal career in 1984 at North Shore Community Action Programs administering one of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s local consumer protection programs. Paul’s areas of expertise include eviction defense and public and subsidized housing admissions cases. Paul also has experience in public benefits and unemployment cases. Paul has extensive litigation experience, including appeals in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court. Paul has conducted legal clinics and has provided training for volunteers and community education for agencies and client groups. Paul served on the Housing Court Committee of the Supreme Judicial Court’s Access to Justice Commission. Paul is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and the U.S. District of Massachusetts.
J.D., Northeastern University School of Law (1990)
Gordon Shaw worked for Massachusetts Justice Project (MJP) for more than 15 years before the program joined Community Legal Aid in 2014. At Community Legal Aid, Gordon became the first Director of Client Access. After he received his law degree in 1990 from Northeastern University School of Law, Gordon served two years as a judicial law clerk to the Massachusetts Superior Court (the second year, as the Deputy Chief Law Clerk). He then spent several years in private practice prior to joining MJP as a staff attorney in 1998, then Managing Attorney in 2005 and Executive Director in 2011. From 1996 to 2000, he served as co-chair for Hampshire County Reinventing Justice, a task force charged with examining how to make the justice system more accessible.
Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School (2011)
M.A., Queen’s University, Belfast (2007)
A.B., (magna cum laude), Kenyon College (2004)
Maureen R. St. Cyr joined Community Legal Aid in September 2012. Maureen is a Staff Attorney in the Housing Unit, practicing in the area of housing and lending discrimination. Prior to joining Community Legal Aid, Maureen was a law clerk for the Vermont Superior Court. During law school, Maureen interned at the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Before law school, Maureen was a project assistant at Jones Day in Columbus, Ohio, where she was a member of the trial team that litigated the fair housing case, Kennedy v. City of Zanesville (S.D. Ohio).
Intake Paralegal, Elder Unit
B.A., Spanish (summa cum laude), Dickinson College
Priscilla Sotak worked for the Massachusetts Justice Project (MJP) for more than 14 years before the program joined Community Legal Aid in 2014. Priscilla started her career in legal services in 1999 as the assistant to the coordinator of MJP’s Volunteer Lawyers Service. She became a paralegal in that program in 2002 and was MJP’s Equal Justice Award recipient in 2004. Priscilla started to specialize in elder law when she became MJP’s paralegal for the Massachusetts Senior Legal Helpline. At CLA, she is an intake paralegal for the Elder Law Unit. Priscilla speaks Spanish and some Portuguese.
J.D., Rutgers University School of Law - Newark (1984)
B.A., Hampshire College (1979)
Jan Stiefel worked for Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) for over 23 years before the program joined with Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011. While working for WMLS, Jan served as a staff attorney providing assistance to elders with Older Americans Act funding from local home care agencies. In this capacity she was the recipient of the Franklin County Home Care Corporation Area Agency on Aging’s Quinn-Manwell-Cevasco Elder Advocacy Award in 2004 for her service to elders in need of legal representation. She also staffed the Housing Court Intervention Project, where she assisted tenants with their eviction cases. Jan assumed the position of Senior Supervising Attorney for the Benefits, Elder and Employment Unit at CLA in 2011. She first joined legal services after completing a clerkship with the New Hampshire Superior Court in 1985 when she was hired as a staff attorney for the newly-funded Medicare Advocacy Project at Greater Boston Legal Services.
Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
J.D., (magna cum laude) Case Western Reserve University School of Law (2009)
M.A., Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2006)
B.A., Linguistics (honours), York University (1997)
Uri Strauss joined Community Legal Aid in 2012. He is a Staff Attorney in the Housing Unit, where he worlks as part of the HomeCorps foreclosure defense team funded by the Office of the Attorney General. Prior to joining CLA, Uri worked for the Western Massachusetts office of the American Friends Service Committee, where he focused on foreclosure and civil rights matters; the Service Employees International Union, where he was involved with campaigns to win recognition for hospital workers; and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, where he handled discrimination, immigration and tax matters. Uri also interned in Greater Boston Legal Services’ Employment Unit, where he handled unemployment insurance, FMLA, tax, and wage and hour cases. Uri is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and the U.S. District of Massachusetts.
Staff Attorney, Housing Unit
LL.M., Animal Law (magna cum laude), Lewis & Clark Law School (2013)
J.D., (magna cum laude), Boston University School of Law (2007)
B.A., English & History (summa cum laude), Temple University (2004)
Amanda Winalski joined Community Legal Aid in 2014 as part of the HomeCorps foreclosure defense team funded by the Office of the Attorney General. Prior to joining CLA, Amanda worked as a commercial litigator. During law school, she was a student attorney in the Civil Litigation Clinical Program, interned with the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, and worked as a summer associate at a law firm. She was also a Note Editor on the Public Interest Law Journal. Following five years of private practice, Amanda returned to school to obtain an LL.M. and transition to public interest work. Amanda was a student attorney in the Animal Law Clinic, where she represented nonprofits and worked on animal protection issues. She is a volunteer literacy tutor. Amanda is licensed to practice in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island (inactive), and the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.
Anita is a pro bono coordinator with the Volunteer Lawyers Service in Worcester. She handles recruitment, training and retention of private bar attorneys who seek to fulfill their professional responsibility through Volunteer Lawyers Service at Community Legal Aid to give back to those in need in our community. Anita manages a variety of projects that reflect priorities of our agency to widen the access to justice gap currently affecting low income residents. Anita’s entire professional career reflects a commitment to mission driven work and achieving positive outcomes for those she works with.
Staff Attorney, Foreclosure Unit
J.D., Boston College School of Law (2013)
B.A., Political Science and Psychology (cum laude), Williams College (2010)
Kristen Williams started working in CLA's Worecester office in 2015 as a disability benefits attorney. Previously, Kristen served as an AmeriCorps Attorney in the Housing Unit in CLA's Northampton office assisting tenents in their eviction cases in Housing Court. Prior to coming to CLA, Kristen worked as a research assistant at Boston College Law School and previously was a legal intern at the University of Massachusetts Office of the General Counsel and a legal intern at the Redevelopment Authority for the City of Philadelphia. She is licensed to practice in Massachusetts.
M.S., Nonprofit Management, Northeastern University (2013)
B.S., Communications, Boston University (2007)
Andrew Felper joined Community Legal Aid in 2014 as the Grants Manager. Prior to joining CLA, Andrew was a Grants Writer & Specialist at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) where he wrote grant proposals and designed programs for the agency's antipoverty efforts, including fuel assistance, elder services, summer youth employment, financial literacy, and ABCD’s two alternative high schools. At ABCD, he took the lead on writing a successful proposal to the Walmart Foundation for ABCD’s substance abuse recovery high school, the first grant to be awarded by Walmart to the organization. Prior to ABCD, Andrew worked as a Development & Communications Consultant for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay in Boston and, before that, he was a Program Director at Spectrum Health Systems. Andrew is a contributing writer for Spare Change News, the nation’s oldest street newspaper based out of Boston.
B.A., Paralegal/Legal Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (1996)
Marla joined CLA in the spring of 2015. She works as a paralegal for the housing and elder units. Marla has experience in immirgration law, personal injury law, and social security law. Previously, she worked at The Legal Aid Society in the Bronx as a housing paralegal and at the Essex County Legal Services in New Jersey as a paralegal for the SSDI and SSI project.
Harry H. Dow Fellow, Harry H. Dow Asian Outreach Project
J.D. Suffolk University Law School, cum laude (2015)
B.A. History and Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston, cum laude (2008)
Janet started working for Community Legal Aid in 2015 as the Harry H. Dow fellow. She is fluent in Vietnamese, and previously worked as a summer legal intern at Natural Justice in Malaysia and at Cochingyan & Peralta Law Offices in the Phillipines. She also worked as a legal intern at a domestic violence shelter called Finex House and was a student attorney with Suffolk University Law School's Education Advocacy Clinic during her third year of law school.
Evelyn started working at CLA in the fall of 2014. Evelyn provides clerical support and coverage for the front desk at CLA. She is also fluent in both English and Spanish. Previously, she worked as a secretary at the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
Senior Supervising Attorney, Civil Legal Aid to Victims of Crime program
J.D., Boston University (1985)
B.A., History, Smith College (1981)
Catherine first joined CLA in February 2016 in the family law unit in Northampton. Prior to that, she worked for fifteen years at SEMLAC-New Bedford and WMLS Pittsfield and Northhampton. From 1987 through 2000, she was on staff at Western Massachusetts Legal Services, which was later merged into CLA, in housing benefits, family law, and elder law. She has taught Legal Services Clinic and Poverty Law at the Western New England University School of Law. She returned to CLA in 2017.
Besiders her career in law, she has taught music, directing adult and youth choral groups. Most recently, she worked with her husband in his business, the State Street Fruit Store and Cooper's Corner.
J.D., Leadership Scholarship Recipient, Roger Williams University School of Law (2007)
B.A., Psychology (magna cum laude), Rhode Island College (2002)
Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies worked at Central West Justice Center as a Benefits and Medical-Legal Partnership attorney prior to joining Community Legal Aid in 2015. Currently, she oversees the day-to-day operations of Community Legal Aid’s medical legal partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care that addresses the unmet health-harming legal needs of low-income families through a new pro bono initiative. Her areas of practice include public benefits, housing and family law. As a former Bart Gordon Fellow with South Coastal Counties Legal Services, she focused on promoting diversity and breaking down barriers created by structural racism. Weayonnoh has also co-facilitated a Health Systems and Policy Course at Brown University Medical School and taught a civic engagement law based course as an adjunct professor at the Community College of Rhode Island. She is a proud AmeriCorps alumna.
B.A., (cum laude) History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Michael Morelli served as an AmeriCorps Paralegal through the Massachusetts Legal Assistance for Self-Sufficiency Program (MLASSP) for three years before joining Community Legal Aid (CLA) as a Paralegal in July 2013. Michael is currently a Paralegal in the Benefits Unit at CLA and assists clients with public benefits issues, including SNAP/food stamps, cash assistance benefits, unemployment, veterans services, MassHealth and Medicare. Michael has provided benefits trainings for several social service agencies throughout Berkshire County and currently serves on the DTA advisory board, which address issues impacting low-income clients.
Staff Attorney, Family Law Unit
J.D., 1998, Western New England School of Law
B.A. in Political Science and Criminal Justice, State University of New York at Potsdam
Dana is a certified mediator, certified conciliator, collaborative law attorney, parenting coordinator, and guardian ad litum investigator, and has been a member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1998.
Prior to joining the family law unit at CLA in 2017, she worked as a solo practitioner at the Berkshire Mediation Group (2012-2017), as an associate at Cianflone and Ciaflone, P.C. (2005-2012) and Gobel and Hollister, P.C. (2002-2005), and at Western Massachusetts Legal Services (1998-2002).
She is a member of the Berkshire County Bar Association's executive committee and probate bench/bar committee, and the Pittsfield Licensing Board. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Elizabeth Freeman Center and of the Massachusetts Justice Project.
Staff Attorney, Education Law Project
J.D., Boston College Law School cum laude (2016)
B.A., Boston College, International Studies magna cum laude
Prior to joining Community Legal Aid in 2017, Nicole was a research assistant at the Greater Boston Legal Services housing unit. During her second year of law school, she was a certified Supreme Judicial Court rule 3:03 law student intern through her school's Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project. During law school, she also interned with the GBLS housing unit, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project.
For a year after attaining her B.A., Nicole worked at Raphael House, a shelter for families experiencing homelessness in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
Fair Housing Testing Coordinator
J.D., Roger Williams University School of Law, 2014
B.A., Liberal Studies with a Concentration in Historical, Social, and Cultural Studies, Union Institute and University
Prior to joining CLA, Alyssa practiced law in Fall River, Mass., as a staff attorney with the Committee for Public Councel Services, defending individuals charged with crimes in the district court. Briefly after that, she represented children and parents in care and protection cases in juvenile court in Worcester County. Before attending law school, Alyssa worked for nearly ten years in the field of domestic and sexual violence survivor advocacy in a variety of capacities.
Staff Attorney, Family Law Unit
J.D., Hofstra University School of Law, 2010
M.P.H., University of South Carolina School of Public Health, 2006
Admitted to the New York State Bar in 2011, Meredith started working with Community Legal Aid in early 2017. Prior to that, she was a Staff Attorney at the Children's Law Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she represented children in custody, visitation, paternity, and family offense proceedings. In 2011, she was the Fair Courts Project Manager at Lambda Legal, where she managed a project aimed at countering harmful attacks against the judiciary that threaten LGBT and HIV-affected civil rights.
While in law school, Meredith was an LGBT Advocacy Fellow at Hofstra. While studying for her M.P.H., Meredith focused on LGBTQ health issues in her work.
J.D., Boston University School of Law, 2015
B.A., Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Miami University, 2012
Before joining CLA's fair housing unity in 2017, Caitlyn worked at the Disability Law Center doing fair housing work. While in law school, she interned at Greater Boston Legal Services, working on SSDI, SSSI, Medicare, and Medicaid issues. She was also an intern at DLC, where she worked on the Bridgewater investigation.
Staff Attorney, Family Law
J.D., The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, 2016
B.A., Political Science, Classical Humanities, The Ohio State University, 2013
Julie Dick was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and will be sitting for the New York Bar in 2017. Before joining CLA in early July of 2017, she was practicing pro bono family law and guardianship through the Volunteer Lawyer's Project and the Women's Bar Foundation. She also spent time as a legal intern for GLAD: GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, and as a law clerk with the Franklin County Public Defenders office in Columbus, Ohio.
She is a member of the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association.
College of the Holy Cross, B.A. in Sociology, 2007
University of Connecticut School of Law, J.D., 2011
Michael serves as Pro Bono Coordinator at CLA's Worcester office. Prior to joining CLA, he practiced law in Connecticut, engaging in the general practice of law with an emphasis on civil and criminal litigation.
Michael attended the College of the Holy Cross, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. While at Holy Cross, he interned with the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts, which later merged with other organizations to become CLA. Michael received his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
As part of the Board of Directors of the Manchester Scholarship Foundation, Michael helps to lead an organization that provides financial help to graduating seniors who are residents of his hometown, Manchester, Conn. Financial aid is given based on academic achievement, financial need, community service, and work experience.
J.D., Western New England University School of Law, 2011
B.A. in Psychology, Vanderbilt University
Mary "Franci" Gazzaniga is a staff attorney in the CLAVC unit at CLA, working out of the Pittsfield office. She spent two years as an AmeriCorps with that program's Legal Advocates of Massachusetts in the housing unit of Northeast Legal Aid, as well as at the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center. Franci also worked with the City of Springfield's law department and as a temporary assistant clerk in the Connecticut Superior Court's criminal division.
She has volunteered at Legal Services of Connecticut and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. She has been admitted to the bar in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.
Franci is originally from New Orleans, where most of her family still resides.
J.D. Harvard Law School, 2011
B.A., Cornell University, 2006
Prior to joining CLA's housing unit as a staff attorney, Aaron worked as a judicial law clerk in the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Boston, as well as an associate litigation attorney at Heisler, Feldman & McCormick, P.C. in Springfield, where he specialized in representing tenants in Housing Court. He was a member Harvard Legal Aid Bureau from 2009 through 2011, where he practiced as an SJC Rule 3:03 counsel, and served on the organization's Board of Directors from 2010 to 2011.
Aaron has volunteered at the Women's Bar Foundation Attorney for the Day program, as a volunteer attorney at Springfield No One Leaves, as a legal trainer at Amherst Regional Tenants Association, as an Attorney for the Day Training Panelist at the Hampden County Bar Association, as well as in other agencies and institutions.
Aaron is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in the federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Roger Williams University, School of Law (2015)
B.S., (summa cum laude), University of New Hampshire, (2008) Social Work, Pubic Health
US Department of Veteran’s Affairs Accreditation, Samhsa Soar Certification.
Medical-legal partnership at Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida. Advocacy for victims of human trafficking at Gateway Healthcare in Rhode Island, and medical-legal partnership at Hashbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island.
M. Ed., University of Massachusetts Amherst (2000)
BBA, University of Massachusetts Amherst (1992)
Prior to joining Community Legal Aid in 2018, Tom served as Vice President of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at World Learning, an international education, development, and exchange organization. Before World Learning, Tom had an 18 year tenure at his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he held several positions in the development office including roles as a Leadership Gift Officer and as Director of Annual Giving. As Director of Annual Giving, he was responsible for the strategy and implementation of all annual appeals to the University's 200,000+ alumni and friends, and oversaw significant growth of dollars, donors, and functions in the annual fund.
J.D., Columbia Law School, 2002
B.A., Harvard University, Government magna cum laude, 1997
Before joining the Community Legal Aid team in July of 2018, Irit Tau-Webber was a family lawyer in private practice in New York City, and a professional volunteer at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants in Israel. She worked on pro bono cases for Metrowest Legal Services in Framingham, Massachusetts and for Sanctuary for Families in New York City, and was a stay at home mom.
Irit is a member of the Worcester County Bar Association and a director of Metrowest Jewish Day School in Framingham.
J.D., University of Maine School of Law cum laude (2002)
B.A., University of Notre Dame, Psychology and Government & International Relations (1996)
Amanda served as a U.S. Army Medical Service Corps Officer from 1996 to 2002, and then spent two years as a Judge Advocate for the U.S. army. From 2011 to 2017 she served as a Department of the Army Attorney and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Amanda joined Community Legal Aid in Worcester as a Staff Attorney on the Veterans Project in August 2018.
In 2005 Amanda was admitted to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
J.D., Harvard Law School (2018)
B.A., Wesleyan University (2011)
In law school Elizabeth was a member of the Prison Legal Assistance Project, where she helped clients prepare for their hearings before the Massachusetts Parole Board, and Executive Online Content Editor for the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review. She represented clients as a rule 3:03 attorney through the Criminal Justice Institute Clinic and the Family Law and Domestic Violence Clinic. In between semesters, Elizabeth worked for Loevy & Loevy, the Law Offices of Howard Friedman, and the ACLU’s National Prison Project, working on individual and class action cases involving wrongful convictions, police misconduct, and unconstitutional conditions of confinement.
M.A., University of Chicago, 1997
B.A., Allegheny College, 1993
In 2018, Leigh joined CLA as Litigation Director. In that role, Leigh coordinates and supervises state and federal litigation designed to effect positive impacts in the communities we serve. Before joining CLA, Leigh defended commercial clients in trials and appeals nationwide. Leigh’s prior cases often involved aviation, such as a three-month 2016 trial in Seattle in which Leigh’s team won a defense verdict for an aircraft engine manufacturer. In national class actions and single-plaintiff actions, Leigh also defended employers against discrimination and wage claims. Leigh is trained in mediation and admitted to practice law in numerous state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Currently, Leigh serves on QCC’s Foundation Board and the YWCA’s Board of Directors; and her prior volunteer work has included mediating child custody disputes. Leigh resides in Worcester with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.
M.A., Clark University, Community Development & Planning (2018)
B.A., Clark University, Cultural Studies & Communication magna cum laude (2017)
Prior to joining CLA in September 2018, Hallie was a student at Clark University where she studied Cultural Studies & Communication and Women & Gender Studies before going on to earn her Master's in Community Development & Planning. During her time as a student Hallie was an Organizer with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and interned with NARAL Oregon and Ascentria Care Alliance & the City of Worcester. Hallie is the co-producer of "Foreclosures for Sale: Revisiting Stories of Worcester's Mortgage Crisis," a 2018 radio documentary about self represented litigants fighting their foreclosure's in court. She is a member of the Board of Directors at WCUW 91.3 FM Community Radio in Worcester, MA.