LEADERSHIP TEAMMary Bauer, Executive Director
Mary became Executive Director in January 2014. Prior to assuming the Executive Director position, Mary served as Director of Advocacy, where she mentored new and mid-level attorneys in litigation strategy, organized state-level advocacy efforts, and coordinated the programmatic work to ensure service of the greatest need and adherence to the organization’s mission. Prior to that, Bauer was legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Ala. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1990.Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, Senior Lead Organizer, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Edgar came to the Legal Aid Justice Center in 2007 from a legal internship at the Center for Justice and International Law in Washington D.C. He is a recent graduate of the LLM Program in International Law at Temple University and was a practicing attorney in Peru. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Law from the University of Ancash in Peru “Santiago Antunez de Mayolo.”Lisa Bennett, Senior Attorney, JustChildren Program
Lisa Bennett has advocated on behalf of low-income persons since 1989. Her current work in the JustChildren program focuses on education and special education rights of juveniles by providing individual representation to court-involved youth in the City of Richmond’s schools, by training parents and other professionals, and by advocating for positive policy and legislative changes. Lisa obtained her law degree from the University of Richmond.Brenda Castañeda, Economic Justice Program Legal Director
Brenda was a summer intern with the Legal Aid Justice Center during law school and in 2007 came to Legal Aid from Blue Ridge Legal Services. She is a graduate of Yale University and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. In January of 2015, Brenda became the first Legal Director of the Economic Justice Program.Angela Ciolfi, Director of Litigation and Advocacy
Angela joined LAJC in 2004 as a Powell Fellow in the JustChildren Program after clerking for U.S. District Judge Reginald C. Lindsay. She served as JustChildren Legal Director from 2010 to 2017 when she became the Director of Litigation and Advocacy. Angela was the recipient of the Oliver White Hill Award from the Virginia State Bar in 2003 and the Child Advocacy Award from the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division in 2010. Angela was also named the recipient of the 2017 Virginia Legal Aid Award by the Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee for her work advocating for children’s issues throughout the Commonwealth. She is a graduate of The College of William and Mary and University of Virginia School of Law.
Rachael Deane, JustChildren Legal Director
Rachael joined the JustChildren program in 2016 and became its Legal Director in 2017. Her work has focused on shaping JustChildren’s litigation and policy efforts to end the school-to-prison pipeline and to reform Virginia’s public school funding system through the Alliance for Virginia’s Students. Prior to joining JustChildren, Rachael worked for a national civil rights organization, where she developed systemic investigations and impact litigation aimed at eliminating residential segregation and concentrated poverty. In 2012, she received a “Top 40 Under 40” award from the Virginia Housing Coalition for her work as a fair housing advocate. Rachael earned her B.A. from the University of Mary Washington and her law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law, where she participated in the Education Rights Clinic. Rachael interned with LAJC’s JustChildren and Economic Justice programs during law school.
Dan Epstein, Director of Operations
Prior to joining our Charlottesville office, Dan worked as a vice president at Cardagin, and as CEO/co-founder at orderTopia—both Charlottesville-based technology startups. Dan is also one of the founders of Eppie’s restaurant in downtown Charlottesville and helped manage it during its early years. Dan earned his B.S. degree from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.Sylvia Jones, Managing Attorney of the Richmond Office, Economic Justice Program
Sylvia joined the Legal Aid Justice Center to address the needs of children and parents in negotiating the educational system in the greater Petersburg area. She has served as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Sylvia received her B.A. from Eastern Kentucky University and her law degree from the University of Kentucky.Adeola Ogunkeyede, Legal Director, Civil Rights & Racial Justice Program
Before being hired as the first Legal Director of LAJC’s Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program, Adeola was most recently the Director of Staff Development at The Bronx Defenders, one of the premier criminal and civil justice organizations in New York. During her tenure at The Bronx Defenders, she also served as a supervising attorney and the Litigation Supervisor of the criminal practice. Adeola received her J.D. from Tulane Law School where she was a member of the Criminal Law Clinic, president of the Public Interest Law Foundation, and coordinator of the Street Law Program in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Upon graduation, she received the Crest Award for Service and Leadership and the General Maurice Hirsch Award, presented each year to the graduating student who contributes most distinctively and constructively to university or community needs. After graduation, Adeola interned for the Honorable Carl Stewart of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Before law school, Adeola was a paralegal at a national civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. A native of Queens, N.Y., Adeola received her B.A. from Duke University.
Elaine Poon, Managing Attorney of the Charlottesville Office
Elaine joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in 2017. Prior to working at LAJC, Elaine worked as a senior staff attorney at Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. before moving to Virginia. There, she represented low-income individuals in a variety of areas including predatory lending, disability rights, heir property, and domestic violence prevention. Elaine is a graduate of Cornell University and Emory University School of Law.Simon Y. Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Director, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Simon joined the Immigrant Advocacy Program in 2011, and became its Legal Director in 2015. Simon specializes in consumer, housing, civil rights, immigration, and employment litigation in federal and state court. Simon is also LAJC’s Team Leader for consumer law. He was awarded the 2016 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award from the Virginia State Bar, and the 2013 LASSY award from the Virginia Poverty Law Center for greatest achievement in consumer law. Simon is also on the Board of Governors of the Litigation Section of the Virginia State Bar. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School, where he was awarded the Munson prize for excellence in clinical practice.Tim Wallace, Director of Development
Tim joined Legal Aid Justice Center’s development team in January 2014 as Director of Foundation Relations and became Director of Development in June 2016. Prior to joining LAJC, he served as the Director of Development for Cabrini Green Legal Aid, an organization that serves Chicagoans suffering collateral consequences from the war on drugs. After 10 years of harsh Midwestern winters, Tim is thrilled to be back in sunny Charlottesville with his family. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Virginia in 2004.
CHARLOTTESVILLEMary Frances Charlton, Attorney, Public Benefits and Affordable Care Act Coordinator, Economic Justice Program
Mary Frances joined LAJC in 2013 and coordinates LAJC’s Affordable Care Act and public benefits programs, which has enrolled thousands of Virginians into coverage with subsidies through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. She also co-supervises the Health and Employment Law Clinics LAJC runs in conjunction with the University of Virginia School of Law. Mary Frances has also served as lead counsel on Manning v. Caldwell, a federal challenge to Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law currently on appeal to the 4th Circuit. Along with co-counsel, she has headed up an effort to pursue federal civil rights complaints on behalf of Virginians with limited English proficiency who have been discriminated against in the process of applying for SNAP and Medicaid based on their national origin and has also ferreted out systemic national origin discrimination in the SNAP fraud investigation process. Mary Frances advocates for clients’ participation in the rights and benefits to which they are entitled and where necessary using a lawyer’s tool box to smash barriers to those rights and benefits and the unjust systems that keep our clients from realizing justice. She received her J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law.Tanishka Cruz, Attorney, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Tanishka Cruz joined the Immigrant Advocacy Program in 2015 and now coordinates LAJC’s Special Immigrant Juvenile project. She earned her B.A. from Temple University and her law degree from Drexel University School of Law.Emily C. Dreyfus, Community Education and Outreach Director, JustChildren Program
Emily joined LAJC in 2000, bringing two decades of experience directing programs and implementing many successful community organizing campaigns with non-profit organizations. She is dedicated to racial and economic justice, and deeply appreciates all she has learned from community members. As a community organizer, Emily connects individuals to our statewide efforts to dismantle the Preschool to Prison Pipeline. She also coordinated efforts to draw attention to the “graduation gaps” in Virginia, ultimately leading to a successful JustChildren campaign resulting in statewide accountability and incentives to increase graduation rates. She championed the need for user-friendly Procedural Safeguards, a document school divisions are required to give to parents of children with disabilities. Due to this campaign, hundreds of thousands of families have benefited by learning more about their children’s rights. Emily also works locally with the Public Housing Association of Residents and with other low-income Charlottesville residents, including members of the Friendship Court Residents Association. These efforts have contributed to leadership development among often under-represented people, and resulted in improved safety, housing security and supportive services for our most vulnerable neighbors, as well as increasing public awareness of the impact of gentrification and the extreme shortage of affordable housing for very low-income people. Emily is a graduate of the College of William and Mary.Libby Fulcher, Administrative Assistant
Libby joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in 2014. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Libby lived in Tampa, Fla., for 24 years before moving to Virginia in 2013. Libby has a bachelor’s degree in business management and more than 20 years of financial, investment, business administration and management experience. She has also served as liaison and interpreter for the international training of credit union executives.Margaret Hennessy, Supervising Attorney, VJPFIW
Margaret came to LAJC as the supervisor of the Virginia Justice Project for Farm and Immigrant Workers (VJPFIW) in January 2017. She worked as a farmworker attorney in Maryland, Florida, and Oregon in years past. She also has several years experience as a professional mediator dealing with Special Education issues. Her legal career has been spent working on poverty law issues affecting low wage workers, including farmworkers and sweatshop workers, foster children, and seniors. She has practiced law in California, Oregon, Florida, and Maryland.Rachel McFarland, Attorney, Economic Justice Program
Rachel joined Legal Aid in 2015 as a Georgetown Partner Fellow. She originally began as a part of the Immigrant Advocacy Program, but now focuses on housing law in the Economic Justice Program. She received her B.A. from the University of Richmond and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she received a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. During law school, Rachel was a summer intern in the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Falls Church office.Liz Moore, Outreach Coordinator/Paralegal, Economic Justice Program
Liz Moore joined Legal Aid in 1986. Her work with the Economic Justice Program focuses on helping clients obtain public benefits (Medicaid, SNAP, SSI/SSDI, TANF) as well as applying and enrolling for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She also coordinates the Medical Legal Partnership with the University of Virginia School of Law and UVA Children’s Hospital. Liz received a B.S. from James Madison University.Mario Salas, Attorney, JustChildren Program
Mario joined the JustChildren team in 2014. He focuses on special education law and advocacy on behalf of students with disabilities who are nearing the end of school. After Mario earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 2003, he worked at a non-profit day school serving students with autism. In 2014, Mario received his law degree from UVA and the Powell Fellowship in Legal Services. The law school recognized his contributions to community service by awarding him the Herbert Kramer/Herbert Bangel Community Service Award.Effie Smith, Immigrant Farmworker Organizer
Effie joined the Legal Aid Justice Center as an intern in 2016 while studying at the University of Virginia. She graduated with a BA in Spanish Language and Global Security Justice in 2017. Shortly thereafter she began working in LAJC’s Immigrant Advocacy Program as an Immigrant Farmworker Organizer. She has lived in Spain and the Dominican Republic where she became fluent in Spanish.Kyna Thomas, Accountant
Kyna joined Legal Aid in May 2015. She moved to Charlottesville in December 2014 from the Virginia Beach area, where she had lived for 16 years working as an accounting manager for a property management and development company. Kyna has more than 35 years of accounting experience and is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a B.S. in finance.Abigail Turner, Of Counsel
Abigail joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in 2006 as an attorney with the JustChildren Program, and became litigation director in 2008. Her 30-year legal career has focused on civil rights and redressing poverty. She is a graduate of Auburn University and the George Washington University School of Law.Amy Walters, Clinic Supervisor and Attorney
Amy joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in the summer of 2014 to supervise University of Virginia School of Law clinic students in the health law clinic and the child advocacy clinic. She previously worked at Maryland Disability Law Center, where she joined the staff as a Skadden Fellow after clerking for U.S. Magistrate Judge F. Bradford Stillman. She received her B.A. and law degrees at the University of Virginia, where she received the Claire Corcoran Award for Public Service.Jason Yarashes, Attorney, Virginia Justice Project for Farm and Immigrant Workers
Jason joined LAJC in 2017 as an attorney for our Virginia Justice Project for Farm and Immigrant Workers. Before LAJC, he served the Commonwealth of Virginia as a judicial officer, practiced tribal law at a private firm in Portland, Oregon, worked at a citizen diplomacy non-profit in Washington, D.C., taught primary school in Honduras, and hitchhiked Central and South America. Jason received his B.A. from the College of William & Mary, and his J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School, where he received the Pro Bono Honors Award.Henry Young, Kennedy Fellow, Economic Justice Program
Henry joined Legal Aid in 2016 as a Kennedy Fellow and focuses on housing law in the Economic Justice Program. He received his B.A. from Elon University and his law degree from the University of Virginia.
FALLS CHURCHKarina Arango, Administrative Assistant
Karina joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in 2016. She previously lived and worked in Peru trial monitoring for human rights cases. She has a dual bachelor’s degree in international development and political theory and law from George Mason University where she also received her paralegal certificate in 2011.Arnoldo Borja, Community Organizer, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Arnoldo brings a multitude of skills to his work with Latino day laborers. He worked for five years as an outreach coordinator with Neighbors’ Consejo in Washington, and was Professor at the Institute of Agricultural Technology in Guerrero, Mexico, where he also received his degree in Agricultural Engineering.Krupskaya Elliot, Community Organizer, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Krupskaya joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in January of 2015. She previously worked for Catholic Charities where she managed a complex Citizenship and Instruction grant from USCIS. Krupskaya has BA from Universidad Centroamerica, in Nicaragua and a master’s degree in International Studies with a specialization in Latin American Studies from Ohio University Athens. She has lived in Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Colombia.Sophia Gregg, Attorney, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Sophia joined Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program in 2016. Previously, she was a law clerk at the juvenile divisions of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. During law school, Sophia was a Pro Bono Scholar of New York State and dedicated herself to public interest law and advocacy for indigent individuals and their families. She received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from Syracuse University College of Law.Nicholas Marritz, Attorney, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Nick comes to Legal Aid after serving as a litigation attorney with Farmworker Justice in Washington, D.C., and now coordinates LAJC’s Unaccompanied Child Refugee project. A dedicated advocate for low-wage immigrant workers and their families, Nick serves Virginia’s most vulnerable communities in the areas of employment, housing, and consumer law. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from the University of Washington, where he was a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar.Nady Peralta, Attorney, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Nady joined LAJC’s Immigrant Advocacy Program as a Fellow in September 2016. Throughout law school, Nady demonstrated her commitment to public interest law as an intern for LAJC and for Legal Services of Northern Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of New Mexico, and her law degree from George Mason University School of LawClaudia Quevedo, Community Organizer, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Following six years as a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, and four years working for domestic and global nonprofits, Claudia joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in 2012 as an administrative assistant. Claudia now works as a community organizer in our Northern Virginia office. She graduated with honors from the University of Maryland in 1999 with a B.S. in electrical engineering.Becky Wolozin, Equal Justice Works Fellow, JustChildren Program
Becky joined the JustChildren Program at Legal Aid in 2015 as an Equal Justice Works fellow, sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation. She received her B.A. from Cornell University, her master’s degree in education policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her law degree from Harvard Law School.
RICHMOND AND PETERSBURGJames Braxton, Juvenile Justice Organizer
James Braxton is a Juvenile Justice Organizer with Legal Aid Justice Center. James previously worked as an area director at the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula where he mentored youth one-on-one who were on probation, on trial and in and out of court and jail. James worked to develop multiple programs that allowed his youth to engage a new creative outlet as well as expose them to the possibilities of entrepreneurship. James has a passion for working to improve outcomes for justice involved youth and brings his wealth of experience to help RISE end youth incarceration and dismantle the school to prison pipeline!Mara Casseday, AmeriCorps Elder Justice Fellow
Mara joined Legal Aid in the fall of 2016 as one of AmeriCorps’ inaugural Elder Justice fellows. She addresses the legal needs of seniors who are survivors of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Mara received her B.A. from Chaminade University of Honolulu, and her J.D. from Suffolk University, where she was awarded pro bono honors for her commitment to legal aid.Gloria Crook, Legal Assistant
Gloria joined Legal Aid in 2006 as our administrative assistant and intake specialist, a job she had handled at Central Virginia Legal Aid. Gloria has a background in Richmond’s financial services industry, where she developed efforts to expand services to the region’s Spanish-speaking community.Gladys D. Garcia, Paralegal/ACA In-person Assister
Gladys joined the LAJC in November, 2014. Born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Gladys moved to Virginia in 1999 after graduating from college. Gladys has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in computer science (Interamerican University of Puerto Rico), and a master’s degree in Operations Research (Florida Institute of Technology/Fort Lee). In October 2010, she became a trained Interpreter for Health and Community Settings. Gladys obtained a Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University in Sept. 2015.Rebecca Keel, Juvenile Justice Organizer
Rebecca Keel MSW joined LAJC as the newest Juvenile Justice Organizer with the JustChildren program. Her background is in conflict resolution and community organizing. She holds degrees in psychology, gender, sexuality and womens studies and social work. In 2016 Rebecca received the VCU School of Social Work’s Social Justice Award for her work on racial justice in education.Pat Levy-Lavelle, Attorney, Economic Justice Program
Since coming to Legal Aid in 2005, Pat’s work has focused primarily on workers’ rights, individual representation of low-income tenants, advocacy on local public housing policy issues, and the rights of homeless citizens of Richmond. Pat graduated from Carleton College and received his law degree from the University of Virginia.Tonya Osinkosky, Community Organizer, Immigrant Advocacy Program
Tonya joined the Legal Aid Justice Center in the fall of 2014. She worked in education and health advocacy with immigrant communities in the Shenandoah Valley for 19 years through the Migrant Education Program, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and Sentara RMH Medical Center. Tonya has lived in Bolivia and Guatemala, and she received her B.A. from Eastern Mennonite University.Kim Rolla, Housing Team Coordinator/Attorney, Economic Justice Program
Kim joined Legal Aid as the Lewis F. Powell fellow in 2013. Kim originally focused on housing law, providing both individual legal representation and legal support to tenant organizations. In her role as Housing Team Coordinator, Kim witnessed the brutality with which racism and poverty continue to shape the contours of our neighborhoods and impact lives within them. She was also privileged to witness the strength of organized communities and the power of naming and attacking at the root the systems that harm our clients. In 2017, Kim transitioned to the Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program, where she now develops campaigns to combat the criminalization of the poor, people of color, and far too many Virginians. She earned her B.A. from the College of William and Mary and her law degree from the University of Virginia, where she received the Herbert Kramer/Herbert Bangel Community Service Award.
Marcel Slag, Senior Attorney, Economic Justice Program
Marcel Slag has worked at Legal Aid (and its sister program Central Virginia Legal Aid Society) for more than seventeen years. His practice focuses in the areas of housing and consumer law, and he runs the Housing Unit, a pro bono project that engages dozens of private attorneys each year in representing low-income tenants in the greater Richmond area. After earning his law degree in the Netherlands, he earned a master’s degree in comparative law at George Washington University.Valerie Slater, Attorney/RISE for Youth Coalition Coordinator, JustChildren Program
Valerie joined Legal Aid’s JustChildren Program in 2016 as a juvenile justice attorney and coordinator for the RISE for Youth Coalition. Previously, Valerie worked at Virginia’s protection and advocacy agency representing juvenile justice involved youth and youth with disabilities with issues related to special education, transition, conditions of confinement, and access to services. Valerie earned her B.A. from Colorado State University and her law degree from the University of Richmond.Phil Storey, Attorney, Immigrant Advocacy Program
After two summers as an intern and participation in several clinics, Phil joined Legal Aid in 2009 on a Powell Fellowship from the University of Virginia to defend immigrants’ rights in the Commonwealth. Phil earned a B.A. from Brigham Young University, an M.A. from Southern Methodist University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.Megan Lisa Watkins, Lewis F. Powell Fellow
Megan joined the Legal Aid Justice Center as the Lewis F. Powell Fellow in August 2016. Throughout law school, Megan demonstrated her commitment to child advocacy as a volunteer and summer intern with the JustChildren program and participant in the Child Advocacy and Health Law Clinics. After Megan earned her B.A. from Davidson College in 2006, she taught high school Spanish in a high needs school in Charlotte, NC. In 2016, Megan earned her law degree from the University of Virginia, where she received the Claire Corocan Award for Public Service.