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Leadership

President & CEO
Associate Director, Domestic Violence Law Unit
Chief Diversity & People Officer
Director, Domestic Violence Law Unit
Associate Director, Public Benefits Unit
Associate Director, LegalHealth
Project Director, LGBTQ Law Project
Director, Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP)
Associate Director, Tenants’ Rights
Associate Director, Consumer Protection Unit
Associate Director, Immigrant Protection Unit
Project Director, Veterans Practice
Director, Tenants’ Rights Unit
Director, Training
Director of Special Initiatives
Director of Outreach and Access to Justice Programs
Director, Public Benefits Unit
General Counsel
Director of Communications
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Associate Director, Tenants' Rights Unit
Director, LegalHealth
Director, Pro Bono & Volunteer
Director, Consumer Protection Unit
Project Director, Employment Law Project
Director, Special Education Unit
Director, Special Litigation Unit
Project Director, Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants
Associate Director, Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP)
Director of Institutional Giving & Government Relations
Director, Immigrant Protection Unit
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Lisa Rivera

President & CEO

As NYLAG’s president and CEO, Lisa leads a team of 350 staff and a $44 million organizational budget. Her role centers on NYLAG’s strategic growth, with an emphasis on building innovative outreach and pro bono partnerships and strengthening NYLAG’s client-centered, trauma-informed advocacy for New Yorkers in need of civil legal services. Lisa has devoted her entire professional career to advancing social, economic, and racial justice for all New Yorkers. She joined NYLAG in 2003 as a staff attorney and has since held numerous positions including acting director of the Domestic Violence Law Unit, director of strategic initiatives and, most recently, managing attorney overseeing NYLAG’s legal programs, professional training programs for staff, and strategic planning. Prior to joining NYLAG, Lisa worked at the National District Attorney’s Association where she assisted in developing trainings on domestic violence, sexual assault, and forensic evidence. Lisa also co-directed the Domestic Violence Clinical Center in conjunction with St. John’s University School of Law, where she was an adjunct professor.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Bucknell University, B.A.
George Washington University Law School, J.D.
New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award, recipient
Courtroom Advocates Award, recipient
Lawyer’s Committee Against Domestic Violence, member
Family Court/Family Law Committee of the NYC Bar Association, former member

Shani Adess

Associate Director, Domestic Violence Law Unit

Shani is the associate director of NYLAG’s Domestic Violence Law Unit, and the project director of Project RISE. Shani works with survivors of intimate partner violence, abuse, and sexual assault, both adults and immigrant youth. In addition to her own practice, Shani supervises staff who serve these populations through direct representation in matrimonial law, family law, and immigration law matters. Shani leads trainings and participates in panels on related substantive law; working with survivors of trauma and abuse; trauma’s psychological, physical, and physiological impacts; and provision of client-centered trauma-informed representation. Previously, Shani was the senior supervising attorney for Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project, and an advocacy and communications officer with Jesuit Refugee Services in the Southern Africa Region.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Georgetown University Law School, J.D.
Emory University, B.A.
New York Women’s Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Committee, co-chair
Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence, member
ICE Out of Courts Coalition, member
New York City VAWA Advocates Group, member

Courtney Ball

Chief Diversity & People Officer

Courtney Ball is a human resources practitioner and people advocate. She takes great pride in her ability to empower people to authentically lead. Before joining NYLAG, she served as the inaugural director of people and culture at REFORM Alliance, a nonprofit organization advocating for just parole and probation laws and policies in the US. She also led the HR team at Eurasia Group and got her start working in the legal field in San Francisco. In her role as Chief Diversity and People Officer at NYLAG, Courtney is excited to build out the DEI strategy and provide transformative holistic service to our clients.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Fordham University, M.A.
University of San Francisco, B.A.

Amanda M. Beltz

Director, Domestic Violence Law Unit

Amanda first came to NYLAG as a law student in NYLAG’s Domestic Violence Clinical Center. After graduating from law school, Amanda received a Skadden Fellowship to provide holistic family and immigration law services to survivors of intimate partner violence from Africa and the Middle East.  Amanda returned to NYLAG in 2009 as a staff attorney, representing survivors in family, matrimonial, appellate, and immigration matters. She became a supervising attorney in 2015, and associate director in 2016. Amanda provides trainings to staff and the community in substantive legal issues related to domestic violence, family, and immigration law.

Amanda also co-directs the Domestic Violence Clinical Center, where law students litigate family offense, custody, and visitation cases under a student practice order. The clinic collaborates with St. John’s University School of Law, where she is an adjunct professor.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

St. John’s Law, J.D., cum laude
Fordham University, B.A.
Domestic Violence Committee, NYC Bar Association, chair

Abby Biberman

Associate Director, Public Benefits Unit

Abby Biberman is the associate director of the Public Benefits Unit (PBU). Abby is an advocate for systemic changes that lower barriers to accessing these critical benefits for people experiencing poverty. Her work involves supervision of individual cases, impact litigation, involvement in taskforces and working groups, and advocacy for legislative and regulatory changes. Abby also leads trainings and participates in panels on representation at administrative fair hearings to protect and access public benefits, and other topics in public benefits law.

Abby joined NYLAG in 2011, as a legal fellow working on immigrant access to public benefits. During her tenure at NYLAG, she has been a member of several practice groups, including elder law, public health insurance law, and eviction defense in the Tenants’ Rights Unit. Prior to becoming associate director of PBU, she supervised the Public Assistance, SNAP, and Shelter Advocacy Practice. From 2016 to 2019, Abby taught the Economic Justice Clinic at Brooklyn Law School.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Temple University, James Beardly School of Law, J.D. 
Wesleyan University, B.A. 

Julie Brandfield

Associate Director, LegalHealth

Julie coordinates the training curriculum for hospital partners, establishes new clinics, and supervises LegalHealth’s staff attorneys. Julie has extensive experience in employment and insurance law, key focuses of her LegalHealth practice. Before joining LegalHealth in 2002, Julie was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. She clerked for the Honorable Alfred J. Lechner of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Julie served as secretary of the Federal Courts Committee of the New York City Bar Association from 1995 to 1998 and contributed to Trial Ready: A Manual for Pro Se Litigants Appearing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (1997).

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of Chicago, B.A.
Fordham University School of Law, J.D.
New York City Bar’s 24th Annual Legal Services Award, recipient

Heather Betz

Director, LGBTQ Law Project

Heather supervises a team of attorneys and paralegals representing LGBTQ New Yorkers in a range of civil legal matters, including family law, housing and employment discrimination, immigration, and name and gender marker changes. She also leads the project’s systemic advocacy and public education efforts. Prior to joining NYLAG, Heather directed the Dreamer Pro Bono Project at Cornell Law School. She was previously a senior staff attorney at the HIV Law Project, where she represented people living with HIV/AIDS. Heather was also an Echoing Green Fellow at Immigration Equality and began the organization’s in-house representation of LGBTQ and HIV+ immigrants seeking asylum and other relief from deportation.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

CUNY School of Law, J.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A.
Echoing Green Fellow

Valerie Bogart

Director, Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP)

Valerie directed EFLRP at Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. from 2002 through its move to NYLAG in April 2013. EFLRP is a comprehensive legal services program that advocates for access to long-term care and other health care services for seniors and people with disabilities through a combination of direct representation, policy advocacy, professional legal education, and online resources through the website NYHealthAccess.org. Earlier, Valerie was a litigator and trainer on Medicaid long-term care for the Legal Aid Society Brooklyn Office for the Aging and Legal Services for the Elderly in Manhattan (part of Legal Services-NYC) and was a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at the Legal Aid Society in Minneapolis. She lectures and writes extensively for bar and social services organizations and has taught adjunct courses at CUNY and Fordham law schools.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Law Journal’s Lawyers who Lead by Example Award, recipient
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Felix A. Fishman Award for ExtraordinaryAdvocacy, recipient
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ President’s Award, recipient
Access to Justice Award of Project FAIR, recipient
New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section’s Medicare Committee, co-chair
Board of Neighbors Together in Brooklyn, member
New York University School of Law, J.D.

Ed Campanelli

Associate Director, Tenants’ Rights

Ed joined NYLAG as associate director of the Tenants’ Rights Unit (TRU) in August 2017, the same month that the right to counsel for tenants became law in NYC. Ed supervises TRU’s Queens team and helps guide new and recent law school graduates in becoming part of the next generation of attorneys providing NYC tenants with a fair shake at preserving their homes, keeping their families stable, and averting homelessness. Ed started his legal career at the AIDS Center of Queens County representing indigent HIV-positive individuals in Housing Court, Family Court, and before various administrative tribunals. Immediately prior to NYLAG, Ed was a staff attorney at the community-based nonprofit Housing Works, Inc., where he focused almost exclusively on housing-related matters for clients.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

City University of New York School of Law, J.D.
New York University, B.F.A.

Rose Marie Cantanno

Associate Director, Consumer Protection Unit

Rose Marie Cantanno has represented homeowners in all aspects of foreclosure litigation since 2010. In addition, she advocates for homeowner protections on both the state and city level. Before working at NYLAG, she was a partner for twelve years in the real estate law firm of Liotta & Cantanno, LLP, which specialized in representing buyers, sellers, and lenders in residential real estate transactions.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Brooklyn Law School, J.D.
Hunter College, B.A.

Melissa Chua

Associate Director, Immigrant Protection Unit

Melissa provides legal and programmatic guidance to the Immigrant Protection Unit’s (IPU) team in all areas of the unit’s wide-ranging practice. She began her career at NYLAG in 2008, serving for more than seven years as a staff attorney and supervising attorney in IPU. In those roles, Melissa worked on a wide range of immigration matters, including removal defense, asylum, and relief for survivors of violence. In 2015, Melissa joined the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as the director of immigration, where she was responsible for developing agency-wide policies and practices on immigration and supervising the oversight of immigration field staff in the IRC’s 24 field offices.Melissa later served as an adjunct professor at Cardozo Law School, where she taught the course on Immigration Law. Melissa rejoined NYLAG in 2019.

Following law school, Melissa spent three years as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, handling a range of complex commercial litigation and pro bono matters, including detained and non-detained asylum cases.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D.
Colgate University, B.A.

Ryan Foley

Project Director, Veterans Practice

Ryan is the project director of NYLAG’s Veterans Practice, which provides assistance and advice to low-income veterans in the areas of VA benefits, discharge upgrades, public benefits, housing, consumer rights, and advance directives and planning. Ryan also designed and runs an experiential project for students at Columbia Law School, which has been in operation since the fall of 2021. Prior to joining NYLAG, Ryan worked as lecturer in law and attorney fellow at the University of Miami Health Rights Clinic’s Veterans Rights Project. He also worked as the director of Veteran Legal Support Services at Operation Sacred Trust, a Supportive Services for Veteran Families-funded non-profit organization focused on assisting homeless veterans. Ryan previously served as chair of the American Bar Association’s Military and Veterans Health Law Interest Group and participated in National Science Foundation research on Veteran Treatment Courts across the country.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of Miami, J.D., cum laude
Boston College, B.S.

Jonathan Fox

Director, Tenants’ Rights Unit

NYLAG’s Tenants’ Rights Unit represents New York City tenants with low incomes and strives to preserve safe and affordable housing for its clients by defending them in eviction cases and by asserting their rights affirmatively under tenant protection laws. Before becoming director, Jonathan served as a supervising attorney in TRU. Prior to that, Jonathan was a supervising attorney in NYLAG’s Storm Response Unit representing Sandy-affected families in consumer-related legal matters, especially issues related to unscrupulous home improvement contractors. Before joining NYLAG, Jonathan worked at The Financial Clinic, where he handled consumer law cases for New Yorkers experiencing poverty and survivors of intimate partner violence in the areas of foreclosure defense, debt collection defense, tax, and bankruptcy.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of Connecticut School of Law, J.D.
Columbia University, B.A

Maya Grosz

Director of Training

Maya Grosz comes to NYLAG after more than 20 years as a legal educator, facilitator, and legal services lawyer. Before joining NYLAG she served as a consultant facilitating conversations about antiracism, equity, and inclusion. From 2009-2019 she was a law professor and Director of the Legal Practice Curriculum at Seton Hall Law School, where she supervised the experiential practical skills courses and programs, and she taught in the first year Introduction to Lawyering course.  Prior to her position at Seton Hall, she taught Lawyering for three years at New York University Law School.  Before she entered teaching, Maya was an attorney at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where she represented clients in a range of civil matters including abuse and neglect cases in family court, eviction proceedings, and federal police misconduct cases. In the year after law school graduation, Maya clerked for Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV on the Southern District of New York.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Brown University, B.A. 
New York University Law School, J.D.

Mario Gutierrez

Director of Special Initiatives

Mario leads a division that is responsible for financially empowering NYLAG clients and New Yorkers in general. He has been in the field for eight years, mainly as a financial counselor and coach, as well as a project lead, trainer, and technical assistance provider. He oversees a team of 13 counselors and coaches serving more than 3,000 clients a year.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

City College of New York, M.A.
Baruch College, B.B.A.

Sirrah Harris-Dobbert

Director of Outreach and Access to Justice Programs

Sirrah Harris is NYLAG’s first-ever director of outreach and access to justice programs. She supervises and develops strategies for outreach and engagement through a number of community-based legal access projects including the Mobile Legal Help Center, Legal Hand, the UJA Safety and Stability Project, and the COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline. These projects serve community members through partnerships with sites across NYC’s five boroughs to provide civil legal information, resources, and representation to individuals who otherwise may not have been able to access legal assistance. She supervises a team of lawyers, paralegals, and volunteers who are committed to the mission of increasing access to justice by providing quality legal services within communities that may not be reached by traditional legal offices.

Sirrah was most recently the project director for the Mobile Legal Help Center, which she will continue to lead. Prior to then, she worked as the onsite NYLAG attorney at the Legal Hand office in Crown Heights to provide legal resources, information, and referrals to unrepresented community members in a walk-in storefront office. Before that, she was a staff attorney in NYLAG’s Storm Response Unit, where she worked primarily with people affected by Superstorm Sandy on consumer issues. Before joining NYLAG, Sirrah worked at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow and staff attorney in their Workers’ Rights Project.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Fordham University School of Law, J.D.
New York University, B.F.A.

Maria Hunter

Director, Public Benefits Unit

Maria Hunter leads the Public Benefits Unit (PBU), which works to ensure that families, children, and the elderly experiencing poverty, and those with disabilities, veterans, and other vulnerable populations, have access to the public benefits to which they are entitled, including public assistance, veterans’ benefits, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security Income. PBU also provides life planning assistance in order to help clients access and maintain these critical benefits in the future. Maria was previously the supervising attorney for the Elder Law Practice where she led a team that represented senior clients on issues regarding access to public benefits, advance planning, and elder abuse.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York University School of Law, J.D.

Randal Jeffrey

General Counsel

Randal has worked at NYLAG for the past 20 years, first as a staff attorney in the Special Litigation Unit, then as a unit director, and now as general counsel. As general counsel, he provides assistance to the President, senior management team, and program directors on contract, personnel, and compliance issues. Randal also serves as an in-house resource for all staff on matters of professional legal ethics and works with NYLAG’s Board on matters of nonprofit governance. He also oversees legal matters involving NYLAG as a party. Prior to coming to NYLAG, Randal was a pro se law clerk with the Second Circuit’s Staff Attorney’s Office and a Georgetown fellow at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Columbia Law School, J.D.
Harvard University, B.A.
New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award, recipient

Nadia Khasawneh

Director of Communications

Nadia works to amplify NYLAG’s work, uplift the stories of clients, and elevate the expertise of staff to increase visibility and support for NYLAG’s mission and to further the fight for fair and equal access to justice. Prior to joining NYLAG, Nadia worked in similar roles to advance healthcare access and equity at Children’s Health Fund, ensure housing and supportive services for marginalized communities at Services for the Underserved, and to support survivors of violence and crime at Safe Horizon.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of Colorado, B.A.

Alison Lavan

Chief Financial Officer

Alison joined NYLAG in 2016 with 15 years of experience in accounting, auditing, and financial management in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining NYLAG, Alison held positions at Credit Suisse and Ford Models. She served as Vice President of Finance at Jitasa, an outsourced accounting firm focused on nonprofits, where she gained extensive experience and passion for managing the complex financial challenges facing nonprofits. She worked with over 50 organizations in this capacity, including charity: water, New York Cares, and the Battery Park Conservancy.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Lehigh University, B.S.

Sara Meyers

Chief Operating Officer

Sara manages administration and operations for NYLAG, including human resources, information technology, and office management. She is responsible for developing and maintaining office-wide systems to track outcomes and improve productivity, works closely with the Finance Department to monitor budgets and reporting, and provides senior management with leadership and guidance, including multi-year strategic planning. Sara also oversees NYLAG’s development team, which is responsible for the organization’s revenue generation.

Most recently, Sara was Assistant Vice President, Institutional Advancement at Hunter College, where she built a leadership team and developed organizational strategies for the Hunter College Foundation (HCF). Before joining Hunter College, Sara served for over ten years at two City of New York agencies. Earlier, she was Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Finance, and an Assistant Commissioner of the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York University, M.P.A.
Connecticut College, B.A.

Khushbu Patel

Associate Director, Tenants' Rights Unit

Khushbu started her legal career in NYLAG’s Housing Project, which is now the Tenants’ Rights Unit. NYLAG’s Tenants’ Rights Unit represents New York City tenants with low incomes and strives to preserve safe and affordable housing for its clients by defending them in eviction cases and by asserting their rights affirmatively under tenant protection laws. Before becoming Associate Director, Khushbu served as a Supervising Attorney in TRU. Prior to that, Khushbu was an Associate Supervising Attorney, Coordinating Attorney, Staff Attorney, and Poverty Justice Solutions Fellow in TRU. Before joining NYLAG, Khushbu was Pro Bono Scholar at the City Bar Justice Center working for the Elder Law Project, Cancer Advocacy Project, and Veterans Assistance Project. 

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Law School, J.D.
University of Connecticut, B.A.

Randye Retkin

Director, LegalHealth

Randye Retkin, Esq., is currently the director and founder of LegalHealth, a Division of NYLAG. LegalHealth is the country’s largest medical-legal partnership, serving hospitals and community-based health organizations, including some VA hospitals. Prior to joining NYLAG, Ms. Retkin served as director of legal services for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s oldest and largest organization serving people with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Retkin served as a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS), where she established the VOLS Immigrants’ Rights Project. She is a co-author of New York States’ Standby Guardianship law and helped spearhead the recent expansion of the law to assist immigrant families. She is also an author of New York’s Health-Related Legal Services law.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Immigration Coalition, founding member
National Cancer Legal Services Network, founding member
OneCityHealth Executive Committee, member
New York City Bar Association Ethics Committee, memberd

Amira Samuel Headshot

Amira Samuel

Director, Pro Bono & Volunteer

Amira Samuel is NYLAG’s director of the Pro Bono & Volunteer Unit. In this role, she builds and maintains NYLAG’s pro bono relationships and partnerships, developing new opportunities, special projects and initiatives that advance NYLAG’s mission, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) priorities and fundraising goals. Amira designs and oversees legal and best practice CLE trainings in collaboration with NYLAG attorneys and shapes and leads professional engagement and recruitment efforts for NYLAG’s law school, and emeritus attorneys. Previously, Amira was the pro bono manager at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice and the director of Economic Justice Programs at FreeFrom. From 2010-2016, Amira represented Orthodox Jewish survivors of domestic violence in their civil and rabbinical court matters as the Project Eden Coordinator at NYLAG.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, J.D.
University of California at Santa Cruz, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors
Judge Gertrude Mainzer Memorial Fellow

Daphne Schlick

Director, Consumer Protection Unit

In her role at NYLAG, Daphne oversees the Foreclosure Prevention Project, The Office of Financial Empowerment’s Debt Collection Project, and the Access to Justice of the NY State Courts’ Volunteer Lawyer For a Day Project (VLFD) in the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond counties. She is also a vocal public advocate for consumer economic justice and legislative
change, both through local NYC coalition groups and a variety of community workshop presentations. Daphne previously practiced family law at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation legal services, representing survivors of intimate violence in their orders of protection, custody, and visitation proceedings, as well as advocating for survivors’ consumer rights. She also previously interned at NYLAG’s Family Law Unit. Daphne has worked for a variety of government and nonprofit agencies, including the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the Legal Aid Society, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Chicago Public Arts Group.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award, recipient
National Association of Consumer Advocates Education Committee, member

Anamaria Segura

Director, Employment Law Project

Anamaria Segura is the Project Director of NYLAG’s Employment Law Project. The ELP represents New Yorkers in a range of employment matters in federal and state court, and federal, state and local agencies, including employment discrimination, wage theft, sick and family leave issues, and denials of unemployment insurance. Anamaria has litigated cases on individual and class-wide bases, as well as appeals in the Appellate Division and Appellate Term. Prior to coming to NYLAG she was a Senior Staff Attorney at Mobilization for Justice (formerly MFY Legal Services), in the Workplace Justice Project and in the Consumer Rights Project.  

Anamaria received her law degree from the Fordham University School of Law in 2007, where she graduated cum laude and received the Dean’s Special Achievement Award. She was awarded the Fordham University Rising Star award in 2015. Anamaria is a member of the New York chapter of the National Employment Lawyers’ Association and Bar Association of the City of New York.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Fordham University, J.D., cum laude

Jessica Selecky

Director, Special Education Unit

Jessica Selecky oversees NYLAG’s Special Education Unit (SEU), which works to ensure that low-income New York City children with disabilities receive the free appropriate public education guaranteed to them by federal and state law. SEU attorneys represent parents of children with disabilities by advocating at Individualized Education Program meetings, seeking funding for independent educational evaluations, and obtaining appropriate educational services and school placements, including reimbursement for private specialized schools for children with disabilities and home-based programming.

Before joining NYLAG in 2019, Jessica was a clinical law fellow and staff attorney at Rutgers Law School in the Education Health Law Clinic’s H.E.A.L. Collaborative—an innovative medical legal partnership project—where she represented families of children with disabilities in Newark, New Jersey in a variety of civil legal services matters, including special education cases. Prior to her work at Rutgers, Jessica was a law clerk on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi and a litigation associate at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Rutgers Law School, J.D., cum laude, Order of the Coif
New York University, B.A.

Danielle Tarantolo

Director, Special Litigation Unit

Danielle Tarantolo joined NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit in May 2011. She became the Unit’s associate director in 2015, a co-director in 2017, and the director in 2021. She has litigated complex class actions on behalf of consumers who are low income, individuals with disabilities, recipients of public benefits, student loan borrowers, and others. Many of these cases have resulted in judgments or settlements that have brought critical relief—including expanded access to public benefits, education, accommodations, and due process, as well as financial compensation—to New Yorkers experiencing poverty.

Before joining NYLAG, Danielle spent three years as an associate at Jenner & Block, where she was honored with the firm’s pro bono award for her outstanding work on behalf of clients unable to afford private attorneys. Danielle clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Yale Law School, J.D.
Williams College., B.A.

Robyn Tarnofsky

Director, Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants

Robyn is the director of NYLAG’s Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants in the Southern District of New York. She came to NYLAG in 2016, after a 20-year career as a litigator specializing in complex commercial litigation and government investigations at a major New York law firm. At the firm, she performed substantial pro bono work. Before starting at the firm, she clerked for the Honorable Sandra L. Lynch of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Honorable Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Harvard Law School, J.D.
Harvard Law Review, Executive Editor
Yale University, B.A.
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

Rebecca Wallach

Associate Director, Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP)

Rebecca Wallach is the associate director of the Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP), which represents low-income New Yorkers in accessing and maintaining Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term care services. Rebecca began her legal career at NYLAG as a Skadden Fellow advocating on behalf of “dual eligible” clients – those with Medicaid and Medicare  as their Medicaid long-term care services were transitioned to managed care. Following her Skadden Fellowship, she was a law clerk for Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom in the Eastern District of New York. She returned to NYLAG in 2017 to continue her advocacy for dual eligible and other vulnerable Medicaid recipients.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

CUNY School of Law, J.D.
Wellesley College, B.A.

Emily Ward

Director of Institutional Giving & Government Relations

In her role at NYLAG, Emily is responsible for institutional giving and managing the lifecycle of grants and contracts. Emily is also the main point of contact with our valued partners in government and philanthropy, whose support is critical in helping NYLAG achieve our mission. Prior to joining NYLAG, Emily worked in similar positions at the Police Athletic League of NYC, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and St. Francis College.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MPA
University of Delaware, BA

Jodi Ziesemer

Director, Immigrant Protection Unit

Jodi leads a large team of innovative and passionate immigration advocates. In addition to overseeing staff, she works with senior management to establish and implement a strategic vision for the unit, undertakes the management and reporting on grants and deliverables, and develops effective programs to meet client needs. Prior to joining NYLAG, Jodi was a supervising attorney at Catholic Charities in their Unaccompanied Minors Program. In addition, she has worked for the past ten years representing a wide variety of immigrants in front of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Jodi worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals representative for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago and as a paralegal at Fitzgerald and Company, LLC in Boston. Jodi served an adjunct professor at St. John’s University.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Law School, J.D., summa cum laude
Fletcher School of Law, M.A. in Law and Diplomacy
Grinnell College, B.A.