2018 BIOGRAPHIES

SESSION ONE: 9:45 AM TO 11:00 AM

Pro Bono for Paralegals – ROOM 345 

Beverly Lagarde, BGE Legal Department – Moderator
Beverly Lagarde is a veteran paralegal, assisting Baltimore Gas and Electric’s Real Estate and Claims Departments.  She is a member of Exelon’s Pro Bono Committee, Employee Development Committee, and the BGE Office Safety Council.   Her past experience in the fields of estate and trust administration, real estate, employee benefits, corporate law, and litigation all come into play in handling pro bono assignments.  From 2012–2016, she was a key organizer of the BGE Legal Department’s annual “All Hands” pro bono clinics, which featured estate planning and/or immigration services, and has also participated in Senior Legal Services estate planning clinics.   She currently is a volunteer on two attorney teams that provide pro bono assistance to young immigrants via Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), and she received a 2016 Employee Volunteer Program Achievement Award for efforts in connection with KIND.

Makeisha Gibson, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Makeisha Gibson is a paralegal at Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), a private, non-profit legal services organization that aims to meet the need for civil legal assistance in Maryland. Makeisha received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, College Park, where her studies focused on stratification and inequality. While her work as a paralegal primarily entails matching volunteer pro bono attorneys with low-income clients facing legal challenges, she also contributes to a variety of other projects and programs within the organization. These range from identifying legal areas of need and recruiting volunteer attorneys to assisting in coordinating and facilitating legal clinics and services throughout communities in Maryland, among other pro bono efforts. 

Ingrid Hitchens-Hall, Community Law Center
Ingrid Hitchens-Hall, Senior Paralegal and Resource Manager, has worked for the past 18 years at the Community Law Center, Inc., a nonprofit law firm that provides legal services to community and non-profit organizations throughout Maryland to promote stronger non-profit organizations and more vibrant neighborhoods.  She is a trained community advocate, mediator and ordained minister, which helps her in assisting the dozens of inquiries received each week and in managing and guiding all incoming cases through the Center’s rigorous intake process.  Ingrid’s passion and ability to help clients meet their goals have resulted in her being affectionately called “the Sherpa.”

William (“Bill”) Pinner, Johns Hopkins University
Bill Pinner, Paralegal with Johns Hopkins University Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, is President of the Maryland Association of Paralegals (MAP), Member of the National Federation of Paralegals, and Associate Member of the Maryland State Bar Association and of the Bar Association of Baltimore City.  Bill has 14 years of legal experience and primarily focuses on litigation.  He believes that pro bono service is about giving back to the community and helping those who really need help.


Death by a Thousand Cuts:  
How Wage Theft Keeps Families in Poverty – ROOM 346

Sulma Guzman, Public Justice Center – Moderator
Sulma Guzman is an attorney with the Public Justice Center’s Workplace Justice Project. Her work includes state and federal litigation of wage and hour cases; advocating for workers’ rights before state and local lawmakers; and, exploring race equity in the legal system.  Sulma’s career in public service began more than ten years ago with the Capital Fellowship Program, where she spent a year working on policy and enforcement with California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency.  Since then, Sulma has worked at various nonprofits and legal aid offices. Sulma is currently working on the implementation of Maryland’s Healthy Working Families, a recently enacted law that allows workers to earn and use sick and safe leave. She is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and California State University, Stanislaus. 

Sally Dworak-Fisher, Public Justice Center
Sally Dworak-Fisher is the lead attorney of the Workplace Justice Project of the Public Justice Center.  The Workplace Justice Project uses multiple legal strategies to expand and enforce the rights of low-wage and exploited workers.  Working closely with client communities, labor organizations, and other advocates, the Project develops targeted strategies to combat identified problems.  Sally has litigated a number of wage theft cases, and is active in policy advocacy to combat wage theft and improve working conditions of low-wage workers. 

Daniel A. Katz, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
Daniel A. Katz serves as Senior Staff attorney for employment justice issues at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. He has extensive experience representing plaintiffs in wage and hour and discrimination litigation in state and federal courts.  The majority of his clients are immigrants, most from the Spanish-speaking community in the D.C. metropolitan area.  In addition to wage and hour cases, he has represented victims of discrimination before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, other fair employment practice agencies, and state and federal courts.  As part of his commitment to workers’ rights, he teaches at continuing legal education programs and other trainings sponsored by the Maryland and District of Columbia bar associations, NELA and its local affiliates, the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers’ Association (MWELA) and Maryland Employment Lawyers’ Association (MELA).  He can be reached at 202-319-1000 ext 135, Daniel_Katz@washlaw.org

Celine McNicholas, Economic Policy Institute
Celine McNicholas is EPI Labor Counsel and a core member of EPI’s Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages, a policy response team that tracks the Trump administration’s wage and employment policies. As part of the Perkins team, she will help alert policymakers, the press, and the public of any attempts by the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other agencies to dismantle the laws and regulations that protect and defend working people. Before joining EPI in 2017, she served as Director of Congressional and Public Affairs and as Special Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). At the NLRB, she counseled presidential nominees to the Board and the General Counsel throughout the Senate confirmation process. Celine was also responsible for the agency’s Congressional affairs work including all agency oversight matters. From 2009 to 2013, she served as Senior Labor Counsel to Ranking Member George Miller (D-Calif.) for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. She advised Rep. Miller on legal issues surrounding the Fair Labor Standards Act, National Labor Relations Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Davis Bacon Act, Service Contract Act, and Project Labor Agreements. Before working for the committee, Celine was a legislative staffer for both U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Nikki Tsongas from Massachusetts. Celine earned her J.D. at Villanova University School of Law, and her B.A. at Mount Holyoke College.


Everyone’s a Fundraiser – ROOM 347

Deb Seltzer, Maryland Legal Services Corporation – Moderator
Deb Seltzer is the grants manager at Maryland Legal Services Corporation. She helps administer grantmaking to nonprofit legal services organizations across the state. Before taking on this role, she worked in fundraising and nonprofit communications, most recently as grants manager for the National Aquarium. Deb holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a Master of Public Affairs (Nonprofit Management) from Indiana University.

Kristine J. Dunkerton, Esq., Community Law Center
Kristine Dunkerton is the Executive Director of Community Law Center, a legal services organization that provides representation to nonprofit organizations in Maryland. Kristine’s legal work is firmly rooted in the desire to make all neighborhoods safe and healthy places to live and nonprofits effective, stable and sustainable. She is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law and a member of the Maryland Bar.

Jennifer K. Pelton, CFRE, Public Justice Center
Jennifer Pelton is a 25-year veteran fundraiser and nonprofit manager. She is the Director of Development for the Public Justice Center in Maryland. Jennifer earned the CFRE in 2006 and became an AFP Master Trainer in 2010. She also focuses a consulting practice on supporting small shops and effective boards. Jennifer has published in Grassroots Fundraising Journal and Management Information Exchange Journal. She has previously served on several boards, including AFP-Maryland and is currently a member of the Vestry of Memorial Episcopal Church.


Community Partnering: 
Best Practices and Case Studies – ROOM 348

Sandy S. Brewer, Howard County Law Library – Moderator
Sandy Brewer enjoys increasing access to justice as the Director of the Law Library & Legal Resource Center at the Circuit Court for Howard County and as Manager of the Circuit Court’s free legal assistance programs – the Civil Law Center and the Family Law Assistance Program.  In addition, Sandy served as Chair of the Conference of Maryland Court Law Library Directors from 2011-2015.  Dedicated to meeting the needs of self-represented litigants, Sandy was an active member of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Section Council from 2014 – 2016.  Sandy earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia; a J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law; an M.S.L.S. from the Catholic University of America; and in 2015, she achieved the status of Certified Court Executive through the National Center for State Courts.  In 2017, Sandy was awarded the Maryland Pro Bono Service Government Award.

Catherine McGuire, Maryland State Law Library
Catherine McGuire is the head of reference and outreach at the Maryland State Law Library in Annapolis, where she previously served as outreach services law librarian. Prior to that, she was assistant librarian and legislative librarian at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in Washington, D.C. She holds an A.B. from Duke University and an M.S.L.S. from the Catholic University of America. She teaches legal research as an adjust faculty member at the Anne Arundel Community College. She is a member of the Conference of Maryland Court Law Library Directors and serves as chair of the education committee of the Legal Information Services to the Public Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Amy Petkovsek, Esq., Maryland Legal Aid
Amy Petkovsek is the Director of Advocacy for Training and Pro Bono at Maryland Legal Aid.  Prior to serving in this position, she represented children for seven years in Legal Aid’s child advocacy practice in Prince Georges and Montgomery County, Maryland. She also served as an appellate law clerk for the Honorable Sally D. Adkins.  Amy serves on the boards of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Alumni, the Maryland State Bar Association Legal Services Section, and the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair. She is also the volunteer camp director of Carroll County 4-H Residential Camping Program. She is a past recipient of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s Rising Star Award, The Daily Record’s “20 in their Twenties” award, the Maryland Legal Aid Diane Kinslow Memorial Award, Maryland 4-H Alumni Award, and American Camp Association President’s Award. 

Reena K. Shah, Maryland Access to Justice Commission
A long-time advocate of social justice and social change, Reena Shah is the Executive Director of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, where she is charged with building a strong and sustainable future for the renewed Commission and implementing programs that increase access and quality of justice for all Marylanders.  Prior to this position, she was a Staff Attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Unit and then, the first Director of the Human Rights Project at Maryland Legal Aid. She went to law school after a few years in public policy and international development, during which period she worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), in a local Kenyan non-governmental organization, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal.  Reena earned a B.A. from The George Washington University; a M.P.A. from Princeton University; and a J.D. from University of Maryland Carey Law School.  Reena has been active in the community, having served on the boards of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland and Maryland Carey Law School, and she has been recognized at Maryland Legal Aid for her service to her clients and by the Daily Record as a Leading Woman. Reena is married with three children and revels in traveling and embraces new adventures.

Human Trafficking in the Courtroom:  Important Insights for the Bench & the Bar – ROOM 349

Rebecca Riemer, Administrative Office of the Courts – Moderator
Rebecca Riemer is Associate Counsel at the Administrative Office of the Courts and is a member of the Judiciary’s Workgroup on Human Trafficking. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Richmond. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2008, and following law school, clerked for the Hon. Terrence J. McGann in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. Prior to joining the AOC, Rebecca served as an Administrative Law Judge in Virginia with a focus on unemployment benefits and medical assistance.

Jessica Emerson, University of Baltimore School of Law
Professor Jessica Emerson began the Human Trafficking Prevention Project at the University of Baltimore School of Law in August of 2015.  The project focuses on reducing the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement for survivors of human trafficking and those populations made most vulnerable to exploitation.  Prior to joining the faculty, Jessica was a staff attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Women’s Law Center of Maryland.  Jessica received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2013.  Prior to attending law school, she was a clinical social worker at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City, where she provided intensive, individual mental health counseling and case management services to HIV-positive and sexually high-risk adolescents.  Jessica received her Master of Science in Social Work degree from Columbia University in 2003.  She trains nationally on vacating convictions, marginalized populations, trauma, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions for people in the commercial sex industry.

Abigail (“Abby”) Hill, Administrative Office of the Courts
Abby Hill is an experienced attorney at the Maryland Judiciary/Administrative Office of the Courts, Department of Juvenile and Family Services. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and, after working for two years in the compliance division of a Boston asset-management firm, moved to Washington, D.C. for law school. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the American University Washington College of Law.  Abby works on a variety of matters related to child welfare, juvenile justice, and human trafficking. She staffs the Judiciary’s Workgroup on Human Trafficking and is the Judiciary’s liaison to the Maryland Human Trafficking Initiative.

Thomas Stack, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice
Detective Thomas Stack retired from the Montgomery County Police Department on September 1, 2014.  Det. Stack has more than 26 years of law enforcement experience including 14 years in the Vice and Intelligence Unit.  Det. Stack is currently the Human Trafficking Coordinator for the City of Baltimore, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.  Det. Stack worked as the Human Trafficking Policy Analyst at the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention from May of 2015 to October 2017, where he oversaw the Governor’s efforts to combat human trafficking in the State of Maryland.  During that time, he was appointed by Governor Hogan to be a member of the Safe Harbor Workgroup to study Safe Harbor policy for Child Sex Trafficking Victims.  Det. Stack conducts Law Enforcement trainings on human trafficking though out the State.

Hon. Barbara Baer Waxman, District Court for Baltimore City
Barbara B. Waxman is an Associate Judge of the District Court of Maryland-Baltimore City. Following her graduation in 1980 from the University of Baltimore Law School, she became an Assistant State’s Attorney in Baltimore City. In 1986, she became Chief of the District Court Division of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. She remained there until May 8, 1991, when she was sworn in as an Associate Judge of the District Court of Maryland-Baltimore City.  Judge Waxman has served on numerous committees and is currently the Chairperson of the Maryland Judiciary’s Workgroup on Human Trafficking.


The Safety Net for the Safety Net: Supporting Our Undocumented Immigrant Neighbors – ROOM 350

Eric Seymour, Esperanza Center, Catholic Charities of Baltimore – Moderator
Eric Seymour is the manager of the Client Services Program at the Esperanza Center, where he also oversees the volunteer and outreach programs. Eric has been with the Esperanza Center since 2013, when he started as an AmeriCorps volunteer in the ESL and Health Services programs. Eric graduated from Dickinson College with degrees in Spanish and Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies. In addition to his work with the Esperanza Center, Eric is a board member of the Latino Providers Network and volunteers with the Hugh O’Brien Youth organization, a non-profit dedicated to global youth leadership and service. 

Virginia Fitchett, Ph.D., Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Virginia Fitchett is a skilled nonprofit leader with over eight years of experience administering nationwide programs serving migrant and refugee youth. As Assistant Director for Family Reunification at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, her expertise includes organizational management, program development, grants management, budget development, and strategic planning. Virginia is an expert on issues of child welfare, unaccompanied migrant and refugee children and families, research and has developed and implemented family strengthening projects in collaboration with the LIRS network of service partners. Virginia oversees a complimentary portfolio of services to unaccompanied children and families, through a network of 34 nationwide social service partner agencies. She provides strong programmatic management, strategic vision, and leadership to a team responsible for the overall implementation, oversight and quality of the Family Reunification and Safe Release Support programs being implemented by LIRS Children Services.  Prior to joining LIRS, Virginia served as an adjunct professor in English at various universities in the UK, and held positions in marketing, public relations, and global strategies at various firms in London and Durham, UK. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Durham University, UK.

Williams Guevara Martinez, Former Unaccompanied Minor Client
Williams Guevara Martinez immigrated to the United States on his own, as an unaccompanied minor, fleeing domestic violence and gang violence. After arriving in the United States, he was placed in deportation proceedings. He eventually won his deportation case and was granted lawful permanent residence in 2014 through the help of the Esperanza Center and pro bono counsel. Williams testified before the Maryland legislature in 2014 in support of legislation that expanded access of immigrant minors in Maryland to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. In 2016, Williams was interviewed by W. Kamau Bell on the CNN program United States of America, sharing his experiences immigrating to the United States, and accessing the services he needed to build his life. He is a positive, intelligent and contributing member of his community in Baltimore, and shares his story to explain the challenges that young immigrants to the United States face when they arrive.

Dr. Kathryn Kline, Johns Hopkins
Kathryn Kline, MD, MPH, serves as Medical Director at Esperanza Center Health Services and is a general internist on the faculty of Johns Hopkins. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the internal medicine-urban health residency at Johns Hopkins. Prior to medical school, she studied Latin American history and worked for a Mexico City-based community health NGO. Her current professional interests center on improving health care access, delivery, and coordination for immigrants and other vulnerable populations.

Ivette Riera Salarich, Mid-Shore Pro Bono
Ivette Salarich was born in Barcelona, Spain and graduated from University of Barcelona Law School. She specialized in European and International Law and worked in a Family Law office. When she moved to the United States, she worked for a non-profit organization helping victims of domestic violence. Ivette now serves as Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Vulnerable Population Assistance Project Manager and is also a BIA Accredited Representative.

 

SESSION TWO: 11:15 AM TO 12:30 PM

Fair Housing Act: New Frontiers after 50 Years – ROOM 345

Robert Strupp, Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. – Moderator
Robert Strupp is Executive Director of Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI), a 59 year old statewide non-profit committed to the advancement, understanding and enforcement of fair housing and tenant/landlord laws. Robert oversees day-to-day operations of BNI, including working for housing justice through fair housing and tenant-landlord initiatives. Before becoming executive director of BNI, he was Manager of Systemic Investigations at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), where his work focused on initiatives designed to promote policies and practices that prevent housing discrimination and strengthen enforcement of fair housing and consumer protection laws. Previously, Robert served as the Director of Research and Policy with the Community Law Center (CLC) in Baltimore City, where he worked to combat predatory and deceptive real estate practices. Robert holds a JD degree and is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.

Robyn Dorsey, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Robyn Dorsey is the Policy Research & Reinvestment Manager at the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition where she oversees the organization’s Community Reinvestment Act work. Prior to coming to MCRC, Robyn was a Regional Organizer at NCRC where she provided technical support in leveraging the Community Reinvestment Act to organizations from Maryland to Maine. She has a Masters of Social Work in Social Action and Community Development from the University of Maryland. Robyn is a proud resident of Highlandtown, Baltimore and serves on the board of the Highlandtown Community Association.

C. Matthew (“Matt”) Hill, Public Justice Center
Matt Hill is an attorney in the Human Right to Housing Project at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Human Right to Housing Project seeks to protect and expand tenants’ rights to safe, habitable, affordable, and non-discriminatory housing and to fair and equal treatment by Maryland’s landlord-tenant laws, courts and agencies.  Matt’s team has litigated a number of significant individual, class and appellate cases and successfully lead legislative efforts to reform Maryland’s landlord-tenant laws, including making the protections of the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act permanent in Maryland state law. Prior to working in the project, he was the Francis D. Murnaghan Appellate Advocacy Fellow at the PJC (2008-2009) and represented numerous parties and amici in state and federal court on various poverty law and civil rights issues. Matt clerked for the Honorable Deborah S. Eyler on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Before law school, Matt taught eighth grade at Mother Seton Academy, a school for disadvantaged youth in Baltimore City.

Tracy McCracken, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
Tracy McCracken is the Director of Fair Housing of NCRC’s Center for Civil Rights.  She has garnered extensive fair housing and fair lending testing experience as a project coordinator with DB Consulting Group, as a senior project coordinator with the National Fair Housing Alliance, and as the executive director of the Mobile Fair Housing Center. She has conducted testing in the areas of rental, sales, lending, insurance, and public accommodations. She is one of the authors of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Study of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.”  Tracy is a graduate of The University of Montevallo and Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law.  She is a member of the Alabama State Bar Association.
 

Access to Justice for Youth Experiencing Homelessness – ROOM 346

Rachel White, Advocates for Children & Youth – Moderator
As the Child Welfare Policy Director at Advocates for Children and Youth, Rachel White, is tasked with developing strategies to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families involved in Maryland’s child welfare system.  To improve outcomes for Maryland’s most vulnerable youth, Rachel collaborates with child welfare stakeholders across the state to advocate for child welfare reform through policy change and program improvement. Rachel is a former professor at Montclair State University, teaching classes within their Child Advocacy Department. Rachel currently chairs the Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Children and is on the executive board of the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative as well as the Youth Equality Alliance. Rachel graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2012.

Ciera Dunlap, Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center
Ciera Dunlap is the Case Manager Supervisor at Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop-In Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded and run by formerly homeless youth and their allies, the YES Drop-In Center provides a safe drop-in space where youth experiencing homelessness can meet basic needs, receive financial assistance for security deposits or transportation, and establish supportive relationships with peer and ally staff; engage in case management to access identification, benefits, health/mental health services, education/training, employment, housing, and more; receive support accessing and retaining jobs; receive assistance navigating legal systems; and engage in youth leadership and advocacy opportunities. Ciera can be contacted at 410-235-7744 or ciera@yesdropincenter.org.

Amy Horton-Newell, ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty
Amy Horton-Newell has served as the Director of the Commission on Homelessness & Poverty at the American Bar Association (ABA) since 2001. She developed and leads the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network, an innovative national network that provides information and fosters collaboration to improve outcomes for homeless youth and young adults. She coordinates ABA policy development and programming related to the special legal needs of people experiencing homelessness and poverty, and she collaborates with national, state and local advocacy groups, associations, and government agencies to provide free technical assistance and address issues related to homelessness and poverty. Amy currently chairs the Montgomery County Interagency Commission on Homelessness. Amy graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2000. While there, she focused on poverty law and street outreach in Baltimore. Amy can be contacted at 202-662-1693 or amy.hortonnewell@americanbar.org.

Ingrid Löfgren, Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.
Ingrid Löfgren is Director of the Homeless Youth Initiative (HYI) at Homeless Persons Representation Project, a non-profit legal services organization in Baltimore, Maryland. In this role, Ingrid engages in outreach, education, legal representation, and systemic advocacy on behalf of and in partnership with youth aged 24 and younger who are disconnected from familial support systems and struggling with housing instability. Ingrid joined HPRP as a Skadden Fellow to start the HYI in 2012. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law and School of Social Work and served as law clerk to Judge Andre Davis on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Judge Susan Gauvey on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.


Pushing Back on School Pushout in Maryland – 
ROOM 347

Michael Pinard, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law – Moderator
Professor Michael Pinard is the Francis & Harriet Iglehart Professor of Law and Co-director of the Clinical Law Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He is teaching a new course, Youth Education and Justice Legal Theory and Practice, which is focused on assisting efforts to improve disciplinary processes and procedures in Maryland’s public schools so that students are provided the resources necessary to remain in school and out of the juvenile and criminal justice systems. He has published several law review articles and op-eds on the criminal process, criminal defense lawyering and the interconnections between the reentry of individuals with criminal records and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. He is currently writing a book on race, criminal records, and reclamation. He was formerly a staff attorney with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City. 

Neeta Pal, Maryland Office of the Public Defender
Neeta Pal is a juvenile public defender with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Prince George’s County. She splits her caseload between delinquency cases, school discipline, and special education advocacy. Neeta was previously a legal fellow with Maryland OPD in Baltimore City, representing clients in collateral educational matters and advocating on school to prison pipeline issues before the Board of School Commissioners. Neeta is a graduate of Brown University and UC Berkeley School of Law, where she was a member of the Youth Defender Clinic and Housing clinics with the East Bay Community Law Center.

Renuka Rege, Public Justice Center
Renuka Rege joined the Public Justice Center as the Education Equity Fellow in the Education Stability Project in September 2016. She works to counteract the problem of school pushout driven by suspension, expulsion, transfers to alternative schools, and the lack of positive school climates using a combination of individual representation, community education, and systemic advocacy. Renuka previously worked at a public school in Houston, Texas as a tutor for sixth grade students in reading skills. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2016 and from Rice University magna cum laude in 2012, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Anthropology. 

Amanda White, Disability Rights Maryland
Amanda White is a staff attorney in the Education Unit at Disability Rights Maryland, formerly Maryland Disability Law Center. Ms. White represents students with disabilities and their families in IEP, Section 504 and school disciplinary matters. She is also the membership chair for the Maryland Coalition to Reform School Discipline, where she advocates on matters related to school police and the disproportionate use of out-of-school removal for students of color and students with disabilities. Ms. White graduated from Northeastern University School of Law and earned her Master of Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine.

Justice for a Multicultural Maryland: Language Access Planning – ROOM 348

Spencer Larkin, Pro Bono Resource Center – Moderator
Spencer Larkin joined the Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC) in 2017 and serves as the bilingual Project Assistant for the Unaccompanied Children Pro Bono Project. Spencer manages PBRC’s pool of Spanish-speaking volunteers, assists in the coordination of in-court and out-of-court legal clinics, and is responsible for client communications and support after Project clinics. Prior to joining PBRC, Spencer worked as a family advocate at a transitional housing organization in Washington, D.C. He received a B.A. in Spanish from Oberlin College in 2014. 

Maria Idrovo, LEP service seeker
Maria Idrovo is from Ecuador and the mother of three children. She immigrated to the United States when she was 20 in search of medical care for her first child, who was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy. Before coming to the U.S., Maria studied and worked as a teacher at an academy of beauty and aesthetics. Today, Maria considers herself to be a determined and enterprising mother. She runs a small cleaning business while working to help her children realize their educational goals and their dreams, so they can be productive and good role models for younger generations. 

Tatiana Sandoval, Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers
Tatiana Sandoval joined Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers (MMYC)/Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) three years ago. She has served in a number of positions supporting different projects that target at-risk youth in Prince George’s County. Previously at MMYC, Tatiana served as case manager and program coordinator for the Adelante project, a five-year, multi-level intervention focused on building community, family, and individual assets as a mechanism to prevent youth risk behavior. Currently, she serves as the case manager for the Host Homes program, which addresses the complex needs of youth 12-17 years old dealing with homelessness or who are at-risk of running away by providing emergency shelter through placement with host families and support with basic needs. Tatiana is bilingual (Spanish and English) and has an Associate’s degree in mental health. She will be graduating from University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2018.

David Steib, Ayuda
David Steib is the Language Access Director at Ayuda. In that capacity, David helps to lead a program that trains interpreters, educates legal and victim service providers on language access best practices, advocates for enforcement and amendment of local and federal language access laws, and uses public funding to arrange for free interpretation and translation services for dozens of nonprofits throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Prior to joining Ayuda, David was the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest at American University Washington College of Law. David serves on the governing boards of the Washington Council of Lawyers (DC’s voluntary bar association dedicated to promoting public interest and pro bono) and the DC Bar’s Courts, Lawyers, and the Administration of Justice Community. David received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in Spanish and Theater Studies from Yale University.


Maximizing Resources to Reduce Barriers to Access to Justice – ROOM 349
 

Joan M. Bellistri, Anne Arundel County Public Law Library – Moderator
Joan M. Bellistri is the Director of the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. She is a member, and past chair, of the Self Represented Litigation Network Law Librarians’ Working Group; the public member of the Maryland Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Service; a member of the Court Access and Community Relations Committee; a member of the Pro Bono Coordinating Council; and a member and past chair of the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee. Joan instituted the weekly MVLS-sponsored “Lawyer in the Library” program and has partnered with the Anne Arundel County Public Library to offer the program twice a month in two branches. The Law Library also houses and supports the court’s Family Law Self Center staffed by Legal Aid.  Joan was awarded the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award in 2016; was a Pro Bono Resource Center 25th Anniversary Honoree in 2015; received the Maryland Access to Justice Commission Judicial Branch Excellence Award in 2011; the Maryland Pro Bono Service Herbert S. Garten Pro Bono Special Project Award in 2010; and the Anne Arundel Bar Association President’s Award in 2009. Joan has a B.A. and M.L.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Pamela Cardullo Ortiz, Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts
Pamela Cardullo Ortiz is the Director of the Access to Justice Department of the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. Her office works to enhance access to the justice system for all Marylanders. The department’s responsibilities include educating the public about how to the use the courts, developing resources for the self-represented, and overseeing the Court Interpreter Program. From 2008 through 2014, Pam served as the founding Executive Director of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission. During that period, Pam also staffed the Task Force to Study Implementing a Civil Right to Counsel in Maryland. She served as the founding Executive Director for Family Administration with the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts from 1999 until 2008. She has also directed the Anne Arundel Pro Bono Program, and began her legal career with Maryland Legal Aid. Pam received the Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation in 2015. She also received the Champion of Justice Award from the Equal Justice Council of Maryland Legal Aid (2014), was twice named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women (2014 and 2007), was named a Human Rights & Justice Champion by Maryland Legal Aid (2011) and is a Lifetime Fellow of the Maryland Bar Foundation. Pam holds a law degree from Georgetown University, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Hon. Mark F. Scurti, District Court for Baltimore City
Mark Scurti has served as an Associate Judge, in the District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City, since September 3, 2013 and is the Judge in Charge of Civil Division. Judge Scurti chairs the Self Represented Litigant Committee of the Judicial Council’s Community Access and Community Relations Committee. In addition, he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, Maryland State Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Association of Maryland, and the Maryland Bar Foundation. Awards received demonstrate Judge Scurti’s commitment to access to justice: Presidential Award, Baltimore City Bar Association, 1997; Edward Shea Professionalism Award, 2000; Maryland Bar Foundation Legal Excellence in the Advancement of Public Understanding of the Law Award, 2013; Distinguished Community Service Award, GAYLAW, 2003; Leadership in Law Award, Daily Record, 2006;  Alan J. Belsky Award, Consumer Bankruptcy Section, Maryland State Bar Association, 2010 and 2011; Volunteer of the Year, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Services, 2011; Top 100 Civil and Human Rights Award, Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland, 2011; Member of the Judiciary Pro Bono Service Award, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, 2017; and Recognition of Service to promote ADR services in the District Court, ADR Office, 2017. Before joining the bench, he provided numerous hours of pro bono time providing legal counsel in the areas of bankruptcy, debt consolidation, foreclosure assistance, and same-sex legal issues through the Pro Bono Resource Center, the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland, and Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law, and a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University Maryland.

Hon. Pamela J. White, Circuit Court for Baltimore City
Pamela White has served for 11 years on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. She had been in private practice for 30 years with the Ober|Kaler law firm. Judge White was President of the Maryland State Bar Association (2001-02, during the Great Pro Bono Debate), President of the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland (1989-90, when the Gender Bias Task Force Report was published), Bar Examiner for nine years (1986-94, for 18 bar exams), and Board Member of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (2007-16) for ten years. Judge White was Vice-Chair (3 years) and now Chair of the Maryland Judiciary’s Access to Courts and Community Relations Committee. She is a Distinguished Alumna and former board member of both Washington and Lee University (J.D. 1977, Honorary Doctor of Laws 2013), and Mary Washington College (B.A. 1974). Judge White has received a number of awards and honors, including the 25th Anniversary Pro Bono Resource Center Honoree (2015), Maryland Judge of the Year (2014, Maryland Access to Justice Commission), and Maryland Legal Aid’s Human Rights and Justice Champion (2011). A critical impetus for Judge White’s long-time leadership in the organized bar, to identify and overcome gender bias in Maryland’s judicial system, led to her steadfast commitment to equal access to justice and promotion of ‘professionalism’ at the bar, especially, ‘competence, compassion, civility, unquestioned integrity, commitment to community in public service, an overarching respect for the rule of law and the critical role of lawyers in our communities.


Law Firms and Pro Bono Program Engagement: 
What Makes Them Click? – ROOM 350

Leta (“Shelly”) Jackson, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland – Moderator
Shelly Jackson joined Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland in 2017 and serves as a staff attorney for the Home Preservation Project. Shelly is responsible for community education, support to Baltimore City’s Project Household, and assisting with recruitment, training, and mentoring of volunteer attorneys who participate at estate planning clinics, foreclosure prevention clinics, and tax sale prevention clinics.  Shelly also supports the Courts of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services and the State’s local pro bono committees in promoting and delivering pro bono legal services. 

Lisa Dewey, DLA Piper
Lisa Dewey is DLA Piper’s full-time Pro Bono Partner. As such, she advises and represents individuals and public interest organizations on a pro bono basis and cultivates DLA Piper’s strategic thinking on pro bono on a national level, including over 1,300 lawyers. She also works extensively with the firm’s clients to develop and deliver collaborative pro bono projects. Additionally, she serves as the Director for New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s nonprofit affiliate dedicated to providing long-term pro bono legal assistance in under-served regions around the world to support access to justice, social and economic development, and sound legal institutions. Lisa holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa and a Juris Doctor (summa cum laude) from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Eleanor Hunt, Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A.
Eleanor Hunt is senior counsel in Joseph, Greenwald & Laake’s Family Law practice. She represents clients in divorces, adoptions, child custody and visitation disputes, domestic violence proceedings, drafting qualified domestic relations orders, and child and spousal support matters. Eleanor also counsels individuals and families in estate planning issues, including wills, trusts, power of attorney and advanced medical directives, as well as probate administration. Before turning her focus to family law and Estates and Trusts, Eleanor was a transactional real estate attorney who worked on residential real estate settlements, advised homeowners’ associations and condo associations, and drafted residential real estate contracts and leases. Eleanor holds a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and a B.A. from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She is admitted to practice in both Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Robin D. Leone, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP
Robin Leone, Special Counsel at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, is a litigator who helps clients resolve complex commercial business disputes in state and federal courts. She concentrates her practice on developing litigation strategies, including writing legal arguments for both trial and appellate courts, establishing discovery protocols using e-discovery tools, and preparing witnesses for deposition and trial. As a member of both Saul Ewing’s Pro Bono Committee and the Baltimore City Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee, Robin promotes opportunities for pro bono service within the Baltimore legal community. Over the last two years, her efforts have helped Saul Ewing’s Baltimore-based attorneys contribute almost 4,000 pro bono hours, rendering services valued at more than $2 million. Additionally, she serves as pro bono general counsel for a non-profit corporation, chairing the organization’s Litigation and Advocacy Committee, and coordinating access to a broad range of firm resources, including labor and employment, real estate, and environmental law attorneys.

Terri Lowery, Trozzo, Lowery &   Weston, LLC
Terri Ann Lowery is a partner with Trozzo, Lowery & Weston, LLC, with offices in Cumberland and Hagerstown, Maryland. Although the firm represents individuals and businesses in real estate, personal injury, criminal defense, and family law, Terri’s sole area of practice is consumer bankruptcy, representing debtors in Chapter 7 and 13 in Maryland and West Virginia. She is also licensed in Virginia (inactive) and the District of Columbia (inactive). Terri graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and magna cum laude from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She received the Maryland Pro Bono Service Lee A. Caplan Award in 2002 and the Allegany Law Foundation Attorney of the Year Award in 2003. Terri is currently Chair of the MSBA Consumer Bankruptcy Section. She is involved with many civic organizations; currently, she serves as President of the Board of Directors of Allegany County Habitat for Humanity and is on the Board of Directors of Allegany Law.

 

SESSION THREE: 2:15 PM TO 3:30 PM 

Successful Partnering with Private Counsel – ROOM 345

Joseph Mack, Civil Justice, Inc. – Moderator
After graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law with Honors, Joe Mack served as a law clerk to the Honorable Alan M. Wilner of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Joe spent the next several years as an associate of Venable LLP, before starting his own law practice in 2009. Joe joined Civil Justice as Deputy Director in 2014 and was named Executive Director in 2017. Joe has served as lead counsel on numerous bench and jury trials in state and federal courts, and authored appellate briefs in numerous cases that established important consumer protection rights. His primary work is to increase access to justice in Maryland by connecting the working poor and Marylanders of moderate income with innovative private lawyers who can provide affordable help.

Gregory Countess, Maryland Legal Aid
Gregory Countess works as the Director of Advocacy for Housing and Economic Development for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau. Greg is responsible for providing state support to Bureau offices in matters pertaining to Housing and Community Economic Development. That support work includes affordable housing preservation matters, as well as tenant council organizational issues. Prior to 2002, Greg was the Chief Attorney of the Bureau’s Cherry Hill Office for 20 years, and was responsible for managing a community law office that specialized in community economic development matters. In 1986, Greg received the Community Economic Development Attorney of the year award from the National Economic Development Law Center. He also received the Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award awarded by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation in 2003. Greg is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Maryland Law School.

Andrew Freeman, Brown, Goldstein & Levy
Andrew Freeman is a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, where his practice focuses on civil litigation. He has worked as co-counsel with the Legal Aid Bureau on cases including preventing the closing of a trailer park that provides low-income housing on the Eastern Shore; with the ACLU of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on Thompson v. HUD, a long-running suit challenging the segregation of the Baltimore region’s public housing that resulted in special vouchers and mobility counseling that have helped over 4,000 families move to communities of opportunity; and with the Public Justice Center challenging improper late charges imposed by Westminster Management (owned by Jared Kushner). A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Andy was voted one of the Top 100 Maryland Super Lawyers for 2018 and selected by Best Lawyers as the 2018 Baltimore “Lawyer of the Year” for Employment Law – Individuals and as the 2014 Baltimore “Lawyer of the Year” for Mass Tort Litigation/Plaintiffs Class Actions. He was recognized by the Legal Aid Bureau’s Equal Justice Council as a “Champion of Justice” in 2009, by The Daily Record with its “Leadership in Law Award” in 2006, and by the Maryland Association for Justice as Maryland’s Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2000. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and with distinction from Stanford Law School.

Chelsea Ortega, Santoni, Vocci & Ortega
Chelsea Ortega is a private attorney in the law firm of Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, LLC. She graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law, cum laude in 2012. Chelsea regularly represents consumers in debt collection cases and landlord/tenant cases, and has recently brought several class action cases against large property management companies. Chelsea is admitted to practice before the Maryland Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She is an active member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, and volunteers with the Pro Bono Resource Center and Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service as part of the Consumer Protection Project Clinic and Tenant Volunteer Lawyer of the Day Program, providing legal advice to consumers being sued.


Advising and Representing Veterans with Adverse Discharges – ROOM 346

James S. Richardson, Homeless Persons Representation Project – Moderator
James S. (Jim) Richardson, Sr. (B.A. Frostburg University; J.D. University of Maryland) is Chair of the Veterans and Military Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. He previously served as national president of the FBA from 2007-2008. Jim has a long history of involvement with veterans and military affairs. He served a combat tour as Marnie Corps field artillery officer and in garrison as a Judge Advocate of Marines. Following active duty, he was the head of the Discharge Review Section of the Board for Correction of Naval Records and was also Senior Attorney Advisor for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Jim presently provides pro bono legal services to veterans in the Baltimore-Washington area. In addition to his work as an advocate, he teaches continuing legal education classes in veterans’ law, and serves as a mediator in family law matters. In 2017, the Maryland State Bar Association named him the Senior Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.

Alan Goldsmith, Federal Bar Association Veteran and Military Law Section
Alan Goldsmith served as a section head at the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) for 25 years. His section reviewed requests for discharge upgrades, reinstatement in the service, changes in reenlistment codes, removal of nonjudicial punishments and related matters. Alan also served on active duty as an Air Force judge advocate, specializing in administrative separation actions. He received his B.A. from Kenyon College and his J.D. from the Catholic University School of Law. Alan has been awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Judge Advocates Association and is vice-chair of the Veterans and Military Law Section of the Federal Bar Association (FBA).       

Danica Gonzalves, Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program
Danica Gonzalves is an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, LLP and AT&T. She currently serves as director of The Veterans Consortium Discharge Upgrade Program. The Program provides pro bono representation to veterans who received Other Than Honorable discharges due to conduct related to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other mental health conditions. Danica’s legal background includes mental health law and advocacy.

Lonnelle Calloway, Homeless Persons Representation Project Client
Lonnelle Calloway had two enlistment periods in the United States Navy spanning, from January 1999 to March 2007. While in service, he received various accolades including: Navy Good Conduct Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Surface Warfare Specialty Insignia, Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist Insignia, Pistol Sharpshooter Ribbon, and Sea Service Deployment. Since his service, Lonnelle has been involved in various community service activities. Currently, he volunteers with his local YMCA.


Post-(In)Equality: An Exploration of Legal Issues Impacting LGBTQ Marylanders – ROOM 347

Alexa Bertinelli, Civil Justice – Moderator
Alexa Bertinelli is a staff attorney with Civil Justice, where she represents Maryland consumers in challenging abusive practices by unscrupulous businesses in both state and federal court. Alexa also works with Civil Justice’s JusticeReferrals.org website, which facilitates warm referrals between legal service organizations and private attorneys in order to better connect Marylanders with legal representation. Prior to joining Civil Justice, Alexa worked as a staff attorney for Maryland Legal Aid for approximately six years, where she litigated housing and consumer cases in Prince George’s and Howard counties. She previously worked at the District Court Self-Help Center, providing brief legal advice to self-represented litigants on a variety of civil matters. While at Maryland Legal Aid, Alexa chaired the organization’s LGBTQ Inclusion Group, which worked to address the needs of Legal Aid’s LGBTQ clients. Alexa is active in a number of professional activities; she serves as an officer of the LGBTQ Bar of Maryland and is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Editorial Advisory Board and Leadership Academy Committee. Alexa received her J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law in 2011 and her B.A. from the University of Arizona in 2006.

Laura DePalma, FreeState Justice
Laura DePalma joined FreeState Justice as a Staff Attorney in March of 2015. She represents LGBTQ clients in a wide-range of civil legal matters emerging out of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, including name change and gender identity petitions, family law cases, and anti-discrimination matters. Additionally, Laura manages FreeState’s Pro Bono Panel, where she recruits, trains, and mentors volunteer attorneys across the state on how to effectively represent LGBTQ clients and handles all aspects of pro bono case referrals. Laura also leads FreeState’s criminal justice efforts, with an emphasis on local police reform. She serves as Co-Chair of the Baltimore Police Commissioner’s LGBT Advisory Council, and advocates for law enforcement accountability at the highest levels of the Baltimore Police Department. In addition to her role at FreeState, Laura is a Court Appointed Attorney for the District Court of Maryland, and represents indigent detainees before Court Commissioners in initial appearance hearings at the Baltimore City jail. Laura serves as a member of the Maryland LGBTQ Bar Association’s Judicial Nominations Committee and the Pro Bono Coordinating Council’s Steering Committee. Laura attended Smith College and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in 2008. She graduated from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 2012. Laura is admitted to practice law in all Maryland state courts and the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Collaborative Resources Institute, LLC
Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Esq. of Collaborative Resources Institute, LLC is an attorney, mediator and collaborative resources consultant in the Mid-Atlantic region who specializes in mediating complex civil litigation and family disputes, including probate matters. She is an adjunct at Penn State Dickinson Law and serves as an ADR Advisor for the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Mala is a founding director of the ADR Division in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and served as the director of ADR for the U.S. Air Force. She was a presidential management fellow for the U.S. Departments of Interior, Justice, and Transportation. During her tenure with the federal government, Mala negotiated international air-rights agreements, facilitated multiple-party discussion around public land-use planning, negotiated divestitures involving corporations under anti-trust investigations, and litigated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Department of Justice.  Her law practice is specialized in small businesses, immigration and family law. She is past chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, a roster mediator for the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, board member of Free State Justice (2015-current), and past president of the LGBT Bar Association of Maryland where she chaired the judicial nomination committee. Mala has mediated over 1,500 disputes including business, domestic relations, estates, multiple-party environmental conflicts, products liability, real property, worker’s compensation and zoning.  She has served as counsel in over 200 matters in both state and federal forums. Mala earned her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law (2004); is a cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park; and studied at the American School of International Business in Vevey, Switzerland and the University of North London, U.K. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps (1996-1999) and AmeriCorps VISTA (1999-2000), and is fluent in Guarani, Hindi, Punjabi, and Spanish.

Susan Silber, Silber, Perlman, Sigman & Tilev, P.A.
Susan Silber is founding partner of Silber, Perlman, Sigman & Tilev in Takoma Park, MD. She is an experienced attorney in family, employment, civil rights, and municipal law. In addition to drafting, counseling, negotiation, and litigation, Susan is a mediator and collaborative lawyer, committed to multidisciplinary approaches to mutual problem-solving. Susan was the City Attorney for the City of Takoma Park for over 35 years, as well as representing other municipalities. Her broad family law practice has included a focus on LGBTQ individuals and families. She spearheaded the development of second parent adoptions throughout Maryland and handled numerous trial court and appellate matters on behalf of lesbian/gay/transgender parents. Susan was president of the LGBT Bar of Maryland and a board member of Equality Maryland during the critical period when Maryland voted to adopt marriage equality. She was selected to represent Maryland on the National Family Advisory Council (NFLAC) and has been active on this national network continuously since its inception. Susan was honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards from Gay Law and Children of Lesbian & Gays (COLAGE). In addition to her focus on family law, Susan has been actively engaged in employment and labor law throughout her career. She taught at Antioch Law School in Washington, DC and while there, directed a legal clinic for the Urban Law Institute on employment issues concerning women. She drafted an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court for national women’s organizations on affirmative action. She also co-founded the National Committee on Pay Equity. Susan later served as a staff attorney for a federal labor union before beginning her private practice. Susan has served as co-chairperson of the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the Individual Rights Section of the DC Bar. She later appeared on public television on behalf of the Montgomery County Bar Association’s section on Employment Law to provide public education on employment law. Susan has also spoken to numerous groups on sexual harassment, severance agreements, civil rights and discrimination, including the Council of Education in Management, Personnel Law Update, the Interstate Conference of Employment Security Agencies, and the Maryland Municipal League.


Home Buying Scams: 
The Evolution of the Foreclosure Crisis – ROOM 348

Ellyn Riedl, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service – Moderator
Ellyn Riedl currently serves as a Staff Attorney for Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service in their Foreclosure Prevention and Consumer Law Projects. Ellyn coordinates MVLS’ foreclosure and tax sale programs, including individual representation and the Foreclosure Brief Legal Advice Project. Ellyn also operates a debt collection defense clinic in the District Court for Baltimore City as part of a statewide collaborative Consumer Protection Project. Prior to joining MVLS, Ellyn practiced estates and trusts at Joseph, Greenwald, & Laake, P.A. in Greenbelt, and served as judicial law clerk for the Honorable Charles J. Peters in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Kira Gardner-Marshall, Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore
Kira Gardner-Marshall is a certified housing counselor at Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore where she specializes in Foreclosure Prevention counselling, but also provides pre-purchase counseling and financial coaching. Kira started working in housing with ACORN Philadelphia, where she also worked in areas such as outreach for public assistance programs and voter rights protection. She holds a Masters in Fine Art, but is currently working toward an MSW from Simmons School of Social Work. 

Andrew Pizor, National Consumer Law Center
Andrew Pizor is a Staff Attorney in the National Consumer Law Center’s Washington, D.C. office, where he works on issues related to mortgage financing and defending homeowners from foreclosure. He is a contributing author to Federal Deception Law, Foreclosures, Truth In Lending, and a co-author of Mortgage Lending and Consumer Credit Regulation. Andrew also serves as an expert witness on mortgage origination and servicing issues. He was previously an attorney at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, the Consumer Law Group, LLC, and Legal Services Corp. of Delaware. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Fordham University School of Law.

The Impact of Sentencing on Children – ROOM 349

Hon. Cathy H. SerretteCircuit Court for Prince George’s County – Moderator
Judge Cathy Hollenberg Serrette is a member of the Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, a member of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, vice-chair of the Maryland Judicial Conference Domestic Law Committee, lead judge for Prince George’s County Model Court and a liaison for the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. She served as Family Division Coordinating Judge for Prince George’s County Circuit Court for eight years and chaired the Prince George’s County Family Justice Center Task Force. Judge Serrette co-chairs the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Committee of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) and serves on NAWJ’s Women Moving Forward/Maryland Correctional Institution for Women Re-entry Conference Committee. She initiated the Maryland Women’s Bar Association’s (WBA) Thomas J. Waxter Children’s Center program for girls in detention, served as district director and Maryland chapter president of NAWJ, board president of Maryland’s Pro Bono Resource Center, president of the Prince George’s County chapter of the WBA, and as an International Electoral Commission electoral monitor for South Africa’s first nonracial election. She authored Invoking International Human Rights Law in Litigation: A Maryland Judge’s Perspective, 45 Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy 239, (September-October 2011), and co-authored A New Day, or More of the Same? Girls in the Juvenile Justice System, National Association of Women Judges Counterbalance, Winter 2013, Vol. 31, Issue 6. Judge Serrette holds a Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Pittsburgh, a Juris Doctor from George Washington University, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in international legal studies from American University.

Dr. Pamela Brown, Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families
Dr. Pamela Brown is currently the Executive Director of the Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families. Over the past 30 years, she has held several leadership positions in the fields of education, social services, and government, including Vice President of Programs at a nonprofit agency, Assistant District Administrator for Family Services in state government, and Chief of Staff for a board of City Commissioners. She completed her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. Her dissertation focused on the importance of community partnerships in diverse neighborhoods to improve outcomes for children and families. Pamela is a University Research Reviewer and Dissertation Chair for the University of Phoenix specializing in qualitative case study methods. She is certified to conduct ethical research through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative at the University of Miami. She has been conducting community needs assessments for over 20 years.

Alfreda Robinson-Dawkins, Bon Secours Community Works
Alfreda Robinson-Dawkins, affectionately called “Frieda” was born, raised, and educated in Baltimore, MD. She married early and gave birth to her son, David, at an early age, becoming a “mature woman” at 15 years old. She divorced at 16. She followed her dreams and started working for the Baltimore City Public School System, first teaching and then becoming a guidance counselor for Johns Hopkins University. Upon completing two Master’s Degrees while raising her son as a single mom, David began making poor choices and got involved in the drug trade. While trying to save him, Alfreda was indicted for making a phone call on behalf of her son and indicted as a conspirator. Alfreda was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, while her son was sentenced to 45 years. Life changed drastically for both herself and David. Upon her release in 2000, Alfreda founded the National Women’s Prison Project to help women like herself, while becoming a reentry specialist known for gender specific programming. After 13 years directing the National Women’s Prison Project, David was released and she now does special projects to help nonprofits flourish, while assisting those still involved in the criminal justice system.

Thaddius Smith
Thaddius Smith graduated from Franklin Senior High in 2012 and resides in Baltimore County with his with wife and two sons (ages fourteen and seven). Like many African American males, Thaddius was directly affected by the penal system in the United States. He was raised in an environment unfamiliar with people going jail, especially mothers, but, at the age of six years old, his mother had a conversation with him that would immediately change the life he knew. That conversation would have one of the greatest impacts on a child’s life. His mother told him that she would be serving an eleven year prison sentence and would not return home until the end of that sentence, missing some of the most critical times in her child’s life. Thaddius was challenged on many occasions when he was questioned about the whereabouts of his mother; he would answer, “She’s away at college.” During his mother’s incarceration, Thaddius was raised by family members, primarily his grandmother and uncle, who attempted to fill the void his mother left. After countless visits to the jail, Thaddius was fifteen years old when his mother was released from prison. He unaware of her upcoming release and met her at the door of the prison on the day she was set free.

Twist & Shout: We All Need a Little Teambuilding – ROOM 350

Bekah Carmichael, Family League of Baltimore – Moderator
Bekah Carmichael is the Manager of People & Culture at Family League of Baltimore. She specializes in Nonprofit Organization Management, and is also the Standards Co-Chair for the American Camp Association’s Local Council of Leaders in the Chesapeake Region. She has presented at regional, state and local events with the American Camp Association.

Amy Petkovsek, Maryland Legal Aid
Amy Petkovsek is the Director of Advocacy for Training and Pro Bono at Maryland Legal Aid. Prior to serving in this position, she represented children for seven years in Legal Aid’s child advocacy practice in Prince Georges and Montgomery County, Maryland. She also served as an appellate law clerk for the Honorable Sally D. Adkins. Amy serves on the boards of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Alumni, the Maryland State Bar Association Legal Services section, and the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair. She is also the volunteer camp director of Carroll County 4-H Residential Camping Program. She is a past recipient of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s Rising Star Award, The Daily Record’s “20 in their Twenties” award, the Maryland Legal Aid Diane Kinslow Memorial Award, Maryland 4-H Alumni Award, and American Camp Association President’s Award. 

Amanda Wahle, Maryland 4-H Program
Amanda Wahle is a University of Maryland Extension faculty member with 15 years of experience in the area of 4-H Youth Development. Her program work and research focuses on leadership development, camping, diversity and Inclusion, healthy living, and community service. In addition to running a county program, Amanda serves as the Maryland 4-H State Camping Coordinator. Amanda’s prior experience includes working as mental health counselor in Baltimore City Schools and a special education behavioral specialist in Washington, D.C. schools. She has a B.A. degree in Psychology and a M.S. degree in Applied Psychology. Amanda has led more than 50 interactive, hands-on presentations at regional, state, national, and international events.