People living in poverty struggle daily to meet basic needs for themselves and their families. Critical relief: housing, nutrition, health care, fair employment, and protection from violence, often turn not on rights but on access to those rights and remain out of reach for many trying to navigate complex rules and requirements. While legal representation can transform an individual’s ability to access what they need to survive and thrive, low-income litigants are the least likely to have an attorney to help them exercise their rights. Pro bono attorneys who fill this gap literally change and save lives.
Learn more about the wide-ranging legal issues individuals living in poverty face and what pro bono opportunities are available in D.C. and across the country to help address these needs at our 2023 Summer Forum Panel on Poverty Law on Thursday, June 15 from 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm ET. Register here to join the virtual conversation.
Jen Masi will moderate the Summer Forum Poverty Law panel. Jen is Children’s Law Center’s Pro Bono Director and engages with hundreds of pro bono attorneys from area law firms, corporations, government agencies, and solo practice as they represent caregivers in adoption, guardianship, and custody cases, represent the best interests of children as guardians ad litem in contested custody proceedings, advocate for parents in special education cases, and bring affirmative housing conditions litigation when a child’s health is at risk. Jen also leads Children’s Law Center’s family law team, which includes attorneys and support staff who represent children’s best interests in contested custody cases and caregivers in family law cases. Jen has been with Children’s Law Center since 2011 and previously clerked at D.C. Superior Court and taught sixth grade. Jen has been a member of our Board of Directors since 2020.
The panel includes:
Aida Vindell, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project
Aida is DC Volunteer Lawyers Project’s (DCVLP’s) Co-Legal Director, overseeing their Domestic Violence Program. She is a native Spanish speaker and a licensed attorney in the District and Maryland. Before joining DCVLP in 2019, Aida was a Senior Attorney at Children’s Law Center where she represented children in abuse and neglect proceedings and represented plaintiffs in custody matters. Before that, she was a Staff Attorney at Ayuda, where she represented domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in protection order, custody, and divorce proceedings. Aida earned her Bachelor of Public Administration from Florida International University and her J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.
Sébastien Monzón Rueda, AARP Foundation Litigation
Sébastien started at AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) after four years as a Staff Attorney in the Tenant Advocacy and Support Practice at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) where he represented older adults with low to moderate income in housing-related cases before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He also litigated reasonable accommodation cases and discrimination claims before administrative bodies, such as the D.C. Housing Authority and the Office of Administrative Hearings. Sébastien received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and his B.A. from the University of British Columbia. He clerked for the Honorable Tyrona De Witt and the Honorable Diane Lepley at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Sébastien is a Board Member of the Washington Council of Lawyers and serves as Co-Chair of its Advocacy Committee.
Harmony Jones, Steptoe & Johnson
Harmony assists in managing Steptoe & Johnson’s pro bono program. In her role, she provides legal services to low-income individuals and charitable organizations. She supports access to justice for civil rights matters and public benefits law through representation and mentorship. Before working with Steptoe, Harmony gained extensive experience in providing legal services to indigent clients at a local and federal level in areas of housing, family, and public benefits law. She also has experience working internationally on civil rights, criminal defense, and federal habeas corpus cases at the trial and appellate levels.
Tracy Goodman, Children’s Law Center
Tracy leads the Healthy Together medical-legal partnership, which brings Children’s Law Center lawyers side-by-side with pediatricians in health clinics to find and fix the root causes of a child’s health problem. Under her leadership since 2002, the project has grown from one staff attorney to 13 attorneys and 3 investigators. Prior to her work at Children’s Law Center, Tracy was an attorney at the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland representing children in abuse and neglect proceedings, and she also worked with a non-governmental organization in Brazil specializing in labor rights issues. During law school, she represented individuals seeking political asylum in the United States and also worked on issues related to domestic and family violence.