Lucia Alcántara Dante A. Apaestegui | Sherie V. Boyd | Corey Brinson | Janet Coleman | Gabrielle de la Gueronniere | Ramell Foster | Sally Friedman | Tracie Gardner |Rebekah Joab | Arianne Keegan | Christine Khaikin | Katarina Leiser | Anita R. Marton | Hope Mathis | Colleen McCormack-Maitland | Stephanie McDaniel |Roberta Meyers | Frank Murphy | Sarah Nikolic | Lionel Oglesby | Victoria Palacio | Adela Prignal | Jessica Ramos | Deborah A. Reid | Samantha Reiser | Paul N. Samuels | Alisha Scott | Jacqueline Seitz | Vanessa Severino | Crystal M. Seward | Deborah Steinberg | Kate Wagner-Goldstein | Ellen Weber| Abigail Woodworth |Sika Yeboah-Sampong | Brent Yoshikami
Dante A. Apaestegui, Paralegal: Dante Apaestegui is a paralegal at the Legal Action Center (LAC), where he works closely with clients facing discrimination due to criminal records, substance use disorders, and/or HIV status. He educates clients on their rights and protections and provides advocacy and coaching to clients seeking employment and occupational licensure.
Before joining the Legal Action Center, Dante has worked as a research assistant at the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice. He also is an Aspen Institute Fellow.
Mr. Apaestegui received his B.S. in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Rutgers University – Newark.
Sherie V. Boyd, Office Manager D.C. Office: Sherie V. Boyd, joined the Legal Action Center as an Administrative Assistant in LAC’s D.C. office in November 2006, bringing over a decade of knowledge and expertise in office management to the position. In 2009, Sherie was promoted to the Office Manager for LAC’s Washington, D.C. office and the National Policy Team. Sherie is responsible for a variety of essential administrative functions including managing all business functions of the D.C. office, overseeing all office communications, and providing support to senior management.
In addition to her work with LAC, Sherie also served concurrently as an Administrative Assistant for the State Associations of Addiction Services between 2008 and 2014. Prior to joining LAC, Sherie worked for Joseph J. Blake & Associates, Inc., Washington D.C. and American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers “AACRAO” Washington D.C.
Sherie, also serves as an Election Judge for the state of Maryland.
Corey Brinson, New York Policy Associate: Corey Brinson focuses on advancing Legal Action Center’s policy advocacy priorities in New York. He plays a lead role in Legal Action Center’s criminal justice reform agenda. Before joining Legal Action Center, Corey founded the Second Chance Firm, LLC, where he served as a criminal justice consultant, assisted people with pardons and advocated for criminal justice reform as a lobbyist. Corey has been impacted by the criminal justice system and draws on his unique experiences to inform his work as a policy advocate. Corey has been a member of the Hartford City Council, he operated a law firm where he defended 400 people in criminal matters in state and federal court and won acquittals at trial, and he served in the Air National Guard and received the National Defense Service Medal for military service in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 11, 2001. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCONN and a law degree from UCONN School of Law. He is currently a candidate for a LLM (master of laws) in Human Rights and Social Justice from UCONN School of Law. Corey is from Hartford, Connecticut and he is a big fan of UCONN basketball.
Janet Coleman, Accountant: Janet Coleman joined the Legal Action Center in September 2000. She works as the Center’s accountant.
Gabrielle de la Gueronniere, JD; Director of Policy: Gabrielle de la Guéronnière leads the Center’s federal policy advocacy to expand and improve the health responses to drug and alcohol addiction, and to end discrimination against people with drug and alcohol histories and criminal records. Ms. de la Guéronnière directed the Center’s federal advocacy toward passage into law of the Second Chance Act reentry legislation and successful inclusion of strong addiction and mental health provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Ms. de la Guéronnière currently works with Congress and the Administration to increase funding for drug and alcohol prevention, treatment, recovery, and research programming; to ensure that the federal health care reform law is implemented well for people with addiction and mental health service needs, and for people in the criminal justice system; and to eliminate legal and policy barriers faced by people with criminal records and drug addiction histories. Ms. de la Guéronnière coordinates and helps to direct strategy for the Coalition for Whole Health, a coalition of national addiction and mental health organizations, and is a frequent presenter on health and criminal justice policy at national and state-wide conferences.
Ms. de la Guéronnière joined the Legal Action Center’s Washington, DC, office in 2003, and, after serving in various policy positions at the Center, she became the Center’s Co-Director of Policy in 2014. Ms. de la Guéronnière is a graduate of Boston University and American University’s Washington College of Law.
Sally Friedman, Vice President of Legal Advocacy: Ms. Friedman plays a key role in the Center’s strategic planning, fundraising, and program development and directs its Legal Department. The Department engages in impact litigation, direct legal services, technical assistance, and training to remove discriminatory barriers for people with criminal justice involvement, substance use disorders, and HIV or AIDS and to protect their privacy rights. Each year, the department’s team of attorneys and paralegals helps over 2,000 clients access jobs, housing, and other basic rights, train and advise hundreds of health and social programs, and publish educational materials read by tens of thousands of individuals.
Ms. Friedman joined the Legal Action Center as a Staff Attorney in 1993 and served as a Senior Staff Attorney, Deputy Legal Director, and Legal Director, before becoming Vice President of Legal Advocacy in 2018. She has prosecuted cutting edge litigation, including: Beckett v. Aetna, a national class action lawsuit challenging Aetna’s violation of over 13,000 members’ HIV privacy rights; Doe v. Deer Mountain Day Camp, holding that a day camp’s exclusion of a 10-year old with AIDS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act; and Innovative Health Systems v. City of White Plains, establishing that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits using zoning laws to exclude facilities serving people with disabilities. She also has prosecuted numerous lawsuits challenging illegal job discrimination and background screening practices harming individuals with criminal records. Ms. Friedman is a nationally recognized expert on the legal rights to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Her extensive list of publications includes Legality of Denying Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment in the Criminal Justice System, Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Courts: Recommended Strategies, and HIV/AIDS Testing, Confidentiality & Discrimination: What You Need to Know About New York Law. Prior to joining the Legal Action Center, Ms. Friedman worked as a litigation associate at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel. She received her J.D. from NYU School of Law and is a graduate of Brown University.
Tracie Gardner, Vice President of Policy Advocacy: Tracie plays a key role in the overall growth of the Center, creating strategic partnerships that will support LAC’s mission and directs its Policy work. Tracie has worked almost 30 years in the public health, public policy and not-for-profit fields as a policy advocate, trainer and lobbyist. She has led advocacy campaigns that won substantial increases in funding for substance use, HIV and alternatives to incarceration and reentry services, landmark HIV confidentiality and testing legislation, and landmark criminal justice reforms. From 2015-2017, Tracie served as the Assistant Secretary of Mental Hygiene for New York State, where she oversaw the state’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Mental Health, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, and the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Prior to her appointment by the Cuomo Administration, Tracie was a key member of the Legal Action Center for over fourteen years, serving as LAC’s Co-Director of Policy. In this role she conducted and coordinated the Center’s New York State public policy advocacy in the areas of substance use disorders, criminal justice and HIV/AIDS. Tracie focused on special projects to promote Medicaid enrollment and health care access for the justice-involved population in the Office of Health Insurance Programs at the State Department of Health. Tracie received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College.
Rebekah Joab, Staff Attorney: Rebekah Joab joined the Legal Action Center in March 2019. She advocates for individuals who have experienced discrimination because of their criminal records, substance use disorders, and/or HIV status, and fights to protect the privacy rights of individuals in these areas. Rebekah works on the Center’s impact litigation and direct legal services across these areas, and she also educates and trains organizations and individuals about anti-discrimination and privacy laws protecting the Center’s constituencies.
Prior to joining the Legal Action Center, Rebekah was a program analyst at the DC Corrections Information Council. Previously, she was a student attorney with Georgetown’s Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic. Rebekah earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
*Admitted only in Maryland; not admitted in New York; supervised by members of the New York Bar.
Arianne Keegan, Liman Communications Associate: As the Liman Communications Associate at the Legal Action Center, Arianne helps to expand the organization’s outreach and visibility, enhance messaging and communications strategies, and innovate new methods to build LAC’s fundraising and advocacy efforts. For nearly a decade, Arianne has worked in communications and development in the non-profit realm, utilizing her skills to elevate social justice causes. Arianne is also the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of She/Folk, a women’s creative collective that promotes empowered story-telling and artistic activism. She was named one of Brooklyn Magazine’s “30 Under 30” in 2016, has organized several grassroots social justice campaigns and events, and spoken on panels focused on gender equity and reproductive justice.
Christine Khaikin, Health Policy Attorney: Christine Khaikin joined the Legal Action Center in January 2019. She advocates for full implementation of the mental health and addiction parity act as well as other health care access issues by developing and implementing policy advocacy strategies, conducting educational presentations and trainings and coordinating the [email protected] campaign in New York. She also participates in all aspects of LAC’s substance use disorder and HIV confidentiality education and policy work and provides legal counsel on the privacy law to treatment providers nationwide and provides technical assistance through the Center of Excellence.
Prior to joining Legal Action Center, Christine was a Senior Policy Analyst and Attorney at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and previously focused on advocating for access to reproductive health while working at the Merger Watch Project of Community Catalyst and the Ms. Foundation for Women. She was a legal intern at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Physicians for Reproductive Health and the Urban Justice Center. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her JD from Brooklyn Law School where she was chair of the Legal Association for Women.
Katarina Leiser, Director of Corporate & Individual Giving: Katarina joined the Legal Action Center in May 2014. She helps individual and corporate donors make a real impact with their giving, and plans LAC’s annual Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit. Prior to joining the Center, Katarina worked at The Child Center of NY in the external affairs department, where she had various responsibilities in development, event planning, and communications.
Anita R. Marton, Senior Vice President: Anita Marton joined the Legal Action Center in 1988, after spending five years at the Legal Aid Society in the Criminal Defense and Criminal Appeals Divisions. During her tenure at LAC, Ms. Marton has provided legal advice and assistance to individuals with alcohol and drug histories, criminal records, and HIV and has participated in ground-breaking litigation on all of these issues. She has also provided training and technical assistance to health and social service providers, federal, state, and local policymakers, employers, employee assistance programs, and unions on such issues as managed care and welfare reform, confidentiality of treatment records, and employment discrimination. Ms. Marton has drafted legislation, written position papers, testified before legislative committees, and developed funding proposals. She has also served on advisory committees at the state and local levels. Ms. Marton is a graduate of Brandeis University and Northeastern Law School.
Hope Mathis, Development Associate: Hope Mathis joined the Legal Action Center in May 2019 bringing over three years of experience in non-profit fundraising to her role. She works closely with the Director of Individual & Corporate giving to help raise a large portion of fiscal year funds through the Center’s annual Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit, and the development and execution of LAC’s various giving campaigns. Ms. Mathis graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University in the Spring of 2019 with a B.A. in Communication and Culture. In her free time she enjoys reading Eileen Myles and walking her rescue dog Willoughby around Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
Colleen McCormack-Maitland, Senior Staff Attorney of Legal Services: Colleen provides legal services to LAC’s clients, participates in litigation, oversees the client services performed by paralegal and administrative staff, and directs client education and outreach. She also provides technical assistance and training to professionals in the re-entry, substance use disorder, and HIV fields.
Outside of LAC, Colleen serves as chair of the advisory board at the Worker’s Justice Project, a Brooklyn worker center organizing day laborers in the construction and home cleaning industries. She is a founding member of the Survived and Punished New York Chapter, a project that works to end the criminalization of survivors of gender-based violence.
Colleen began her legal career as a public defender at New York County Defender Services. She has also worked at the FDNY Equal Opportunity Employment Office and at Goddard Law, where she focused on employment discrimination. Colleen also taught Constitutional Law at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Eugene Lang College and is a proud lifelong Brooklynite.
Stephanie McDaniel, Receptionist: Stephanie joined the Legal Action Center in April 2017. She provides reception and data entry support.
Roberta Meyers, Director of State Strategy & Reentry (DSSR): Roberta “Toni” Meyers is the Director of State Strategy & Reentry (DSSR). As the DSSR she executes strategic state-based criminal justice and health advocacy goals and priorities for Legal Action Center (LAC). She also directs the National Helping Individuals with criminal records Reenter through Employment (H.I.R.E.) Network project, LAC’s national project to improve employment and other opportunities for people with criminal records. She has decades of experience training workforce development, corrections, and behavioral health practitioners on employment strategies that best serve job seekers with criminal histories; authored dozens of guidebooks and policy briefs on criminal record policies that impact employment, housing, education and other opportunities; and testified before and served as a technical assistant provider to members of Congress, government agencies, and state legislators about effective reentry policies and practices that reduce recidivism. She co-leads LAC’s newest campaign, No Health=No Justice to achieve racial equity in health care & criminal justice reform. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, Management, and Economics from the State University of New York/Empire State College and a Master of Science degree in Public Safety with specialization in Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Capella University.
Frank Murphy, Legal Advocacy Specialist / Senior Paralegal: Frank Murphy has worked for LAC as a Paralegal/Legal Assistant since September, 2005. His duties include assisting individuals with criminal records clean up their New York State rap sheets as well as advising them about their legal rights and obligations when seeking employment. Mr. Murphy currently undertakes this work through the Rikers Island Single Stop (RISS) program. At RISS he helps clients obtain their official criminal history “RAP sheets” and reviews them for errors. Mr. Murphy works with the Office of Court Administration (OCA), various district attorneys’ offices and the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to help correct common RAP sheet errors. He then counsels clients on how to understand their criminal histories, the collateral consequences of it and how to explain their histories during job interviews. He does all of this with the goal of making clients more able to obtain employment. Additionally, Mr. Murphy trains people with histories of drug and alcohol dependency and HIV/AIDS, and people who work with them about their right to be free from discrimination. Mr. Murphy received his Bachelors Degree from Canisus College of Buffalo. Also, Mr Murphy served in the US Navy and is a decorated soldier.
Sarah Nikolic, Director of Program Support: Sarah Nikolic works closely with LAC’s legal and policy staff to develop, support and track progress on programming, projects and campaigns. Ms. Nikolic is also the primary liaison with our institutional funders, stewarding foundation and government grants and contracts. Before coming to LAC, Ms. Nikolic managed grants for a national nonprofit provider of children’s health care, a small New York City’s girls’ theater organization, and several organizations serving refugees on the East Coast. Ms. Nikolic holds a master’s degree in International Affairs and Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Lionel Oglesby, Paralegal Supervisor: Lionel Oglesby has worked at the Legal Action Center as a legal assistant, and was recently appointed the task of creating client education materials – written and visual. Some of Lionel’s other responsibilities include providing tailored trainings and presentations to clients and service providers on various issues related to barriers to employment, including Article 23-A, and most recently, The Fair Chance Act.
During his tenure at the Legal Action Center, Lionel has successfully advocated on behalf of, and represented, clients in administrative court hearings with the New York State Department of Health, New York City Housing Authority, and other government and private agencies.
Lionel attended Brown University where he majored in Sociology and Organizational Behavior Management.
Victoria Palacio, State Advocacy Coordinator: Victoria joined the Legal Action Center in January 2018. Prior to her role at LAC she was a research assistant at the Center for Law and Social Policy, where she supported advocacy efforts on improving access to work support programs for low-income communities and justice involved populations. Victoria also has a passion for affordable housing, which stems from her earliest professional experiences. Victoria is a graduate of California State University Long Beach and American University.
Adela Prignal, Director of Finance: Adela joined the Legal Action Center in January 2015. She has over 6 years of accounting experience and has held roles at variety of nonprofit organizations and corporations, including Single Stop USA and Barreabon Corporation. In addition to her role at LAC, Adela is an Accounting Professor at Medgar Evers College, and serves as a Site Coordinator for their Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program. Adela graduated with a Masters of Arts in Economics from Brooklyn College and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Medgar Evers College. She is a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, and is a recipient of the association’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Dedicated Service Award.
Jessica Ramos, Senior Administrative Assistant & Rap Sheet Coordinator: Jessica Ramos joined the Legal Action Center in July 2006, bringing a wealth of experience in administrative work. Before coming to LAC, Ms. Ramos worked as a Receptionist at New York Sports Clubs. As a member of our support staff team, she served as both LAC’s receptionist for our New York office as well as an Administrative Assistant to the National H.I.R.E Network coordinating administrative tasks for all of LAC’s various departments. In April of 2017 Ms. Ramos was promoted to an Administrative Assistant to not only the National H.I.R.E. Network but also to the assist the Fiscal department, the Communications department and the Paralegal department as well as serving as a back up to the Office Manager. Ms. Ramos graduated from the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers with a Diploma in Information Systems and the Sanford-Brown Institute with a Medical Assistant Certificate.
Deborah A. Reid, Senior Health Policy Attorney: Ms. Reid joined the Legal Action Center in April 2015. She directs LAC’s legislative and policy work to protect the confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment and prevention records. She also participates in LAC’s advocacy to ensure implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for justice-involved individuals.
Prior to coming to the Legal Action Center, Ms. Reid was a senior attorney at the National Health Law Program, where her work focused on issues relating to reproductive health, health equity, Medicaid, and ACA implementation. Previously, she was also an attorney advisor in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., and a senior health care program planner analyst at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Ms. Reid has a J.D. from Rutgers School of Law-Newark; a Master’s of Professional Studies in health services administration from the New School for Social Research (Milano-The New School for Management and Policy); and a B.A. in Sociology from Rutgers University. She is currently a board member of the Black Women’s Health Imperative.
Samantha Reiser, Skadden Fellow: As a Skadden Fellow at Legal Action Center, Samantha Reiser provides legal representation to individuals seeking to avail themselves of New York State’s new criminal record sealing law, CPL § 160.59 and engages in advocacy to increase access to sealing for New Yorkers living with a criminal record. In addition, Samantha gives technical assistance on 160.59 and advocates for New Yorkers facing criminal justice barriers.
Prior to joining the Legal Action Center, Samantha was a coordinator in the US Program of Human Rights Watch, and a legal intern with the Criminal Law Reform Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans. She graduated with honors from Harvard University and New York University School of Law, where she was a Dean’s Scholar, an Arthur Garfield Hays fellow, and a student advocate in the Global Justice clinic.
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Paul N. Samuels, Director and President: Paul N. Samuels is Director/President of the Legal Action Center, a not-for-profit public interest law firm with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. specializing in legal and policy issues involving alcohol and drug abuse and dependence, AIDS and criminal justice. For more than three decades Mr. Samuels has worked on a wide range of alcohol and drug and criminal justice policy issues at the federal, state, and local levels, including developing creative strategies to increase public and private financing for prevention, treatment and recovery and improve the quality of services, and working with government agencies, service providers, national organizations, and the recovery community to implement those strategies and educate the public and policymakers. He has testified before Congressional and state legislative committees and lectured in more than 30 States on a range of policy issues related to alcohol and drug problems.
Mr. Samuels has served on numerous national and state advisory groups, including the Expert Panel of CSAT’s National Treatment Plan and the Advisory Council of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Mr. Samuels is the Co-Chair of the national Coalition for Whole Health. He was appointed in June 2013 by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as the inaugural Chair of New York State’s Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council, and also serves on the Governor’s Council on Community Reentry and Reintegration. Mr. Samuels is the recipient of a number of awards, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s John P. McGovern, M.D. (ASAM) in 2014; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Innovator Combating Substance Abuse in 2002; AMERSA’s Betty Ford Award in 1998, and Awards from the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors in 1998 and 1992. Mr. Samuels joined the staff of the Legal Action Center upon graduation from Columbia Law School in 1979. He became Executive Vice President in 1983 and Director/President in 1992. He is a graduate of Harvard College.
Alisha Scott, Administrative Assistant and Training Coordinator: Alisha joined the Legal Action Center in February 2019 and provides administrative support to the legal team with over 6 years of customer service and administrative experience. Before coming to the Center, Alisha worked for an online aggregator for auction houses and galleries as their Senior Account and Customer Service Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Brooklyn College and has a deep interest in mental health awareness especially in disenfranchised groups in urban communities.
Jacqueline Seitz, Staff Attorney: Jacqueline Seitz advocates for privacy rights and anti-discrimination protections for individuals living with HIV/AIDS and histories of substance use or criminal justice involvement. She provides legal counsel and technical assistance on privacy law to providers and public officials, advises individuals denied access to medication-assisted treatment in courts, jails, and prisons around the country, and represents individuals whose confidential HIV-related information has been unlawfully disclosed. Jacqueline also supports LAC’s national and state policy advocacy to maintain and strengthen individual privacy rights. She conducts trainings on confidentiality and privacy, and contributes to LAC’s law and policy publications. Jacqueline also directs the legal internship program in the NYC office.
Prior to joining the Legal Action Center, Jacqueline was an Excelsior Fellow at the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, and a legal intern at the Legal Aid Society’s Consumer Rights Project, the New Economy Project, and the National Institute for Reproductive Health. She has also worked as a journalist and translator in Chile, and is fluent in Spanish. Jacqueline graduated with distinction from the University of California at Berkeley and received her JD from New York University School of Law, where she was a Dean’s Scholar, a fellow in the Guarini Government Scholars Institute, and participated in the Litigation, Organizing, and Systemic Change clinic.
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Vanessa Severino, Manager of Administration: Vanessa Severino joined the Legal Action Center in October of 1998. In 2018, Ms. Severino was promoted from Office Manager to Manager of Administration. In her new role, she is responsible for supervising the administrative support staff as well as overseeing the smooth operation of the office, including managing telecommunications, space planning, supplies and equipment and other key functions. She previously spent five years working in a variety of capacities for the Women’s Prison Association and Home, Inc.
Crystal M. Seward, Executive Assistant: Crystal joined the Legal Action Center as an Administrative Assistant in November of 2006 bringing over 8 years of administrative experience. In 2008 Crystal was promoted to Senior Administrative Assistant and promoted once again in 2014 to the position of Executive Assistant/Office Manager. In that position, she assisted the Center’s Deputy Director/Vice President, Senior Vice-President, Co-Director of Policy and Chief Financial Officer. In April of 2017 Mrs. Seward was promoted once again to the position of Executive Assistant where she is currently the assistant to the President, Deputy Director/Vice President, Associate Director and Director of New York State Policy. Before coming to the Legal Action Center, Crystal worked at the National Development and Research Institutes, Fortune Society and the NYC Department of Health-Vital Records.
Deborah Steinberg, Health Policy Attorney: As the Health Policy Attorney at the Legal Action Center, Deb advocates for state and federal policies that expand and improve access to evidence-based mental health and substance use disorder care. Prior to joining LAC, Deb was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Health Law Advocates, where she developed and implemented a project to combat barriers to accessing mental health and substance use disorder care for low-income residents of Massachusetts through direct client representation and state-based advocacy. She also worked in the Office of Patient Protection at the Health Policy Commission in Massachusetts before attending law school, where she realized her passion for mental health parity. In addition, Deb has interned for the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the D.C. Superior Court Mental Health Community Court, the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Deb graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in Psychology and received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Kate Wagner-Goldstein, Director of New York Reentry Initiatives: Kate engages in policy and legal advocacy to decrease criminal record barriers. She spearheads Legal Action Center’s work to expand criminal records clearance in New York State, including helping to coordinate New York’s Clean Slate Campaign. She also advocates for other legislative and systemic practice changes to expand opportunities for people with criminal records. She advises and trains organizations about privacy and anti-discrimination laws protecting LAC’s constituencies, represents clients facing discrimination, and helps write LAC’s numerous publications on these issues. From 2011 to 2019, Kate served as Senior Staff Attorney, supervising LAC’s legal services. She helped hundreds of people overcome discrimination and get redress for privacy violations, litigated a class action lawsuit which sealed approximately 350 people’s criminal convictions en masse, and established offsite legal services programs and pro bono partnerships. Prior to joining the Legal Action Center in 2010, Ms. Wagner-Goldstein was a Staff Attorney at the Bronx Defenders where she represented parents with criminal and family court cases. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School.
Ellen Weber, Vice President for Health Initiatives: Ellen Weber, J.D., is the Vice President for Health Initiatives at the Legal Action Center, a law and policy organization whose mission is to fight discrimination against individuals with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas. Ms. Weber helps lead the Center’s efforts to expand access to comprehensive and equitable substance use treatment at both the state and federal levels. Ms. Weber worked at the Center from 1985 to 2002, during which time she conducted disability rights litigation, established the Center’s D.C. office, and led the Center’s national policy work. She led the field’s efforts to obtain protections for person with substance use disorders under the Americans With Disabilities Act, participated in the first round of national health care reform legislation and advocated for a more balanced federal budget for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.
Prior to rejoining the Center, Ms. Weber held an appointment as Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. From 2002 through mid-2017, she established and directed the Drug Policy and Public Health Strategies Clinic in which she worked with students on disability rights litigation and legislative advocacy, implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Parity Act in public and private insurance in Maryland, and adoption of harm reduction legislation to address the opioid epidemic. Ms. Weber has published in the areas of disability rights, women’s health issues, integration of substance use disorder treatment in primary care, medical cannabis laws, and the enforcement of the Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act.
Ms. Weber started her career in 1980 as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, where she litigated cases to enforce the Voting Rights Act. She graduated from Dickinson College and the New York University School of Law.
Abigail Woodworth, Vice President of External Affairs: Abigail oversees communications and public engagement in support of the policy and advocacy priorities. For over fifteen years, Abigail has worked to advance public understanding of mental health and substance use disorders, and to advocate for better treatments and policies for those affected. From 2012-2017, Abigail was the Vice President of Public Affairs at the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), a non-profit organization focused on substance use research and policy. At TRI, Abigail directed the communications and fundraising strategies, and served as the Institute’s spokesperson with the media and stakeholder organizations. Before her appointment at TRI, Abigail occupied senior management positions at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Johns Hopkins University, developing and directing external relations efforts for mental health and addiction treatment and research programs. In addition, she has served as co-chair of the Public Policy Committee for the National Network of Depression Centers, representing 20 leading academic Departments of Psychiatry. Abigail has co-authored numerous publications about the impact of policies on the financing and management of addiction treatment; she has taught graduate classes on mental health and addiction policy; and has presented at academic and policy conferences, including at the White House. She has earned both her B.A. in Psychology and her M.S. in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Sika Yeboah-Sampong, Staff Attorney: Sika Yeboah-Sampong joined the Legal Action Center as a Staff Attorney in December 2018. She primarily works on issues related to the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (“CHAMP”), New York State’s substance use and mental health parity ombuds program. Sika works with partner organizations to conduct outreach about CHAMP, conducts trainings and provides technical assistance about enforcement of rights under the mental and health and addiction parity act. She also works on the [email protected] campaign…
Prior to joining the Legal Action Center, Sika worked on telecom issues at DISH. Previously, she also worked at the Office of the New York Attorney General as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General/Social Justice Fellow in the Health Care Bureau. In 2017, Sika earned her J.D. from UCLA School of Law where she received the California Bar Foundation’s Diversity Scholarship and served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the National Black Law Journal. In 2013, she graduated cum laude from New York University where she was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar.
Brent Yoshikami, Director of Information Systems: Brent Yoshikami joined the Legal Action Center in November of 2011. His work includes data and Information Systems analysis, web site maintenance, and grants management. Before coming to LAC, he worked as a budget analyst for the Hawaii State Legislature and a data systems analyst for the State of Hawaii Department of Health. Brent has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.