Where did you grow up?
I started out in Baltimore City, on the east side in Cedonia, but moved to Harford County when I was seven. I would say my hometown is Bel Air, MD. I’m the Fresh Princess of Bel Air.
What brought you to Maryland/Baltimore?
I couldn’t wait to get out of the suburbs and I followed my family tradition by going to Morgan State University for college. I’ve been in and around Baltimore ever since. I settled in the beautiful neighborhood of Mount Vernon just before getting married in 2012.
Where did you go to school and what was your major/focus?
I studied Telecommunications and Music at Morgan. I wanted to be a record producer like Diddy. I somehow got stuck in legal records management after college. I always joke that I wasn’t being specific enough in my prayers.
What are your interests/hobbies?
I love singing, but I never wanted to be a famous singer. I love to sing karaoke (very active on the Smule Karaoke mobile app) and my family has a gospel group called the LBs (Ellbees), which sounds like pounds, but are the last name initials of our great-grandparents, Leatherberry & Brooks. (Listen to Kiah, her sister, Kesla, and her cousin, Bryan Jeffrey singing “Total Praise” a capella. Kiah is the soprano!).
How did you connect with PBRC?
I had to take a job in DC after getting laid off from a firm that was downsizing. I remained friends with former colleagues on Facebook and used to complain about my train commute from Bel Air to DC and back every day. My friend and former colleague, now Honorable, Mark Scurti, served on the board for PBRC, noticed my frustrations, and told me about the position. I interviewed for the Data Coordinator position in the Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project and it was a perfect fit! That was 10 years ago!!
What were you doing prior to working here?
I worked in legal records management at Steptoe & Johnson in DC, and prior to that at Pessin Katz Law, and DLA Piper, (both back when they had different names). My dad has worked for Piper my whole life and is a records management guru. He really took me under his wing and set me on this path.
What do you do at PBRC?
I am the Training & Records Manager. I build partnerships with legal services providers in need of volunteers to take on their pro bono caseloads, coordinating pro bono trainings for lawyers, recruiting and referring trained lawyers to legal service providers, and tracking the status of their pro bono activity. I’m also a Salesforce administrator (Salesforce is what we use to manage records), a website administrator, and I assist the whole staff with in-house technical support alongside my Director of Education & Tech, Dave. Finally, my most important and rewarding role at PBRC is coordinating our annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. I get to work very closely with some of the most brilliant legal services minds, in Maryland and beyond, put on a 16-18 panel event, drive the missions of all our programs, and unite Maryland’s legal services program staff with attorneys and other advocates for the day.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My 3 year old son is pretty amazing, but there’s something really special about grant reporting and seeing how your reach has grown at an exponential rate! I had help (shout out to Jaci Jones and my wonderful Conference Planning Committee), but last year’s Partners for Justice Conference was our highest registered and highest attended event since I started coordinating it in 2011. I feel the proudest at the end of the day when judges, elected officials, lawyers, my Planning Committee, my boss, and my co-workers tell me how “this was the best conference we’ve had to-date.” The conference falls around my birthday every year and I don’t even begin to celebrate until I’ve heard those words!
What is a quote that inspires you to do the work you do?
There’s a meme of Harrison Wright from the TV show Scandal, and one of his quotes, that I have hanging on my bulletin board in my office. It reminds me of legal services workers – how many sad stories we have to hear, how little resources we have to work with, how little we get paid in comparison to those at for-profit law firms, and how we all still come in to work with warm smiles for anyone who needs help.
“We do what needs to be done and we don’t question why. We put the personal to the left. You want to cry about your feelings? We don’t get to have feelings. That’s the job. Gladiators don’t get to have feelings. We rush into battle. We’re soldiers. We get hurt in the fight we suck it up and we hold the line and we don’t question.”
– Harrison Wright, Scandal, S2Ep13 “Nobody Likes Babies”
What has been your most meaningful experience with PBRC?
I don’t miss working on Saturdays all the time, but I really enjoyed my time working for the Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project because I got to work at the Foreclosure Solutions Workshops. Just like at our other clinics, you get to see someone come into the event distressed and see them walk out with tears of joy and thank yous for everyone involved. Seeing the product of your work actually help provide hope to a person in need is the best thing about working in legal services and at PBRC.
What sets PBRC apart in your mind?
I love that we are the only legal services organization in Maryland that recruits, trains, and deploys attorneys to other programs. There isn’t one program that can solve the access to justice problem on its own. I’m glad that we can be a support service to other organizations that are all driven by the same core mission.
What is your professional goal for 2019?
I want 300 or more attendees at the biggest legal services conference in Maryland, the 2019 Partners for Justice Conference! You can help us get there by registering today! See you there!!