Our Team

Marcy Baskin, Director of Grants and Foundational Giving

Marcy is responsible for all aspects of the grant and foundational giving process. She has primary responsibility for researching, cultivating, and applying for private foundation and government grants. Prior to DCVLP, Marcy was a Director at Elevate, a consulting firm that works with mission driven nonprofit organizations. At Elevate, Marcy developed and implemented comprehensive institution fundraising strategies and handled all aspects of foundational grant giving. Before her position at Elevate, Marcy worked in a variety of direct service and fundraising roles at nonprofit organizations in Washington, DC, Charlottesville, Va., and the Dominican Republic. Marcy received her B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Northwestern University. Marcy is passionate about ensuring DCVLP has the resources and support needed to achieve our mission.

Stephanie Bergman, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Stephanie Bergman is a Supervising Attorney in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Program. Stephanie represents survivors of domestic violence in Civil Protection Order and family law matters. Stephanie also works directly in the CPO courtrooms to counsel survivors as part of DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic. Prior to joining the staff, Stephanie was a DVCLP volunteer representing at-risk children as a court-appointed guardian ad litem from 2017-2021. Stephanie previously practiced as a litigation associate at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C., and Connolly Epstein Chicco Foxman Engelmyer and Ewing in Philadelphia, PA, and as a staff attorney at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Stephanie earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. in Political Science, with minors in International Relations and Religion, from Lehigh University. Stephanie is passionate about supporting and empowering survivors as they seek a life free of violence, and feels it is a privilege to be part of the amazing team at DCVLP.

Jennie Berman, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Jennie is a Supervising Attorney and has experience handling civil protection order, custody, divorce and immigration matters. Jennie was a volunteer attorney with DCVLP before joining the staff in 2018 as the Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. Prior to joining DCVLP, Jennie practiced litigation at the New York office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where she also maintained an active pro bono practice representing gender-based violence survivors. Jennie earned her J.D. from Rutgers Law School and her B.A. from Wellesley College. During law school, she worked with survivors through the Rutgers Domestic Violence Advocacy Project and at the Urban Justice Center – Domestic Violence Project. Jennie is proficient in Spanish and passionate about increasing access to justice to non-English speaking survivors. Jennie shares DCVLP’s mission that every individual is entitled to a life free from violence and is committed to providing clients with trauma-informed representation that empowers and supports them throughout the legal process.

Katherine Bradley, Esq., Managing Attorney, Montgomery County

Katherine is a managing attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, where she provides representation to domestic violence survivors in protection orders and family law cases. She is also working to expand DCVLP’s volunteer lawyers model into Montgomery County. Katherine has been involved with DCVLP since she took DCVLP’s first family law case in 2009. Since then, she has both volunteered and been on staff at DCVLP, representing clients in civil protective orders, divorce and custody cases involving domestic violence, and as a guardian ad litem. She was an associate at Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering before taking time off to raise her four children. Katherine graduated with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from UCLA Law School. After law school, Katherine clerked for the Honorable Arthur L. Alarcon on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Katherine is a certified mediator and speaks conversational Spanish. She is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to her community as part of DCVLP’s mission to provide legal representation to survivors of domestic violence.

Tara Branine, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored by Crowell & Moring Foundation

Tara joined DCVLP in 2022 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Crowell & Moring Foundation. Tara’s fellowship focuses on representing survivors who have suffered gun violence or were threatened by gun violence. Her representation focuses on Civil Protection Order and Extreme Risk Protection Order cases. Tara also provides representation in a limited number of family law cases where a child custody order or divorce decree would provide continued stability and violence prevention. Originally from California, Tara graduated with her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 2022 and spent her time in law school working with survivors of domestic violence at variety of organizations. Tara received her B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles. Tara is passionate about working with survivors of domestic violence and loves getting to contribute to DCVLP’s mission.

Samara Braverman, Program Coordinator, Child Advocacy Program

Samara serves as the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) Coordinator at DCVLP, where she facilitates the onboarding of volunteer attorneys, connects them with CAP cases, and connects clients to community resources and other non-legal supports. She has a BA from Bowdoin College, where she graduated with a Major in Government and Legal Studies and a Minor in Mathematics. While at Bowdoin, she worked in the community-engagement center, coordinating a tutoring program in local schools and planning trips across the state of Maine for new students to engage with non-profit leaders and other community partners. Samara has various experiences volunteering and working in school-based settings and is thrilled to be joining a team dedicated to providing a voice for vulnerable children.

Jesse Brennan, Esq., Staff Attorney

Jesse Brennan is a Staff Attorney in the Child Advocacy Program. She serves as Guardian ad litem for at-risk children in complex custody cases in D.C. Superior Court. She represents her child clients’ best interests through zealous investigation and litigation. Jesse joined DCVLP after clerking for Judge Serrette in Prince George’s County Circuit Court, where she managed a busy docket of criminal, civil, and family cases. Jesse earned her J.D. with honors from the George Washington University Law School, where she was a student attorney in the Jacob E. Burns Prisoner and Reentry Clinic, served as a Notes Editor for the George Washington University Law Review, and earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for completing over 250 hours of pro bono work. She earned her B.A., cum laude, from Boston College in International Studies and Political Science. Jesse is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia. She is proficient in Spanish and is working to regain her fluency. Jesse enjoys spending her free time outside and rooting for the Boston Celtics. She has lived in D.C. for seven years (and counting) and is proud to be a voice for children in the District. Jesse is dedicated to a career in civil rights and to working toward a safer, more equitable future for women, children, and members of the LGBTQ+ community

Amy Coles, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Amy is a is a Supervising Attorney in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Program. Amy handles Civil Protection Order and family law matters on behalf of survivors of domestic violence. Amy joined DCVLP in 2021 as a Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. Prior to joining the staff, Amy was a volunteer with DCVLP representing victims in custody and divorce matters. Before that, Amy practiced law as a securities attorney. After law school, Amy clerked for the Honorable Deborah S. Byrnes, on the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland. She received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore Law School and her B.A. from Loyola University.  Amy is an avid runner, loves to read and has 3 children.  Amy is grateful to be a part of DCVLP and is passionate about helping at risk women and children.

Nia J. Cook, Grants & Development Manager

Nia serves as the point person for government grant reporting and collaborates with the Director of Grants and Foundational Giving on drafting, editing, and submitting foundation and government grants and reports. Prior to working with DCVLP, Nia worked as a Legal Aid and Investigator with the Capital Representation Resource Center based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has interned and interpreted for international nonprofit organizations in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Nia received a B.A. in African American Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Virginia. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, boxing, playing in dirt (caring for houseplants), and spending time with her dog, Nugget. Deeply aligned with the organization’s conviction that every individual has a fundamental human right to live free from violence, Nia appreciates the opportunity to play a role in fostering DCVLP’s lasting impact and success.

Betsy A. Crumb, Esq., Managing Attorney, Child Advocacy Program

Betsy Crumb is the Managing Attorney for the Child Advocacy Program, providing supervision and guidance to DCVLP attorneys and volunteers who serve as court-appointed Guardians ad litem for vulnerable children living in dangerous situations. Prior to joining DCVLP,  Betsy was the Deputy Director of the Tenant Justice Program at Rising for Justice, where she represented clients in DC Superior Court and the DC Court of Appeals, as well as supervised a team of attorneys, who provide defense services to low-income DC residents facing eviction. Previously, Betsy worked for ten years as a family law attorney in trial and appellate courts in Seattle, WA, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, acting as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem, and advocating for children and families in all aspects of family law cases. She also co-chaired the Judicial Affairs Committee of the Washington Women Lawyers, producing meaningful evaluations of judicial candidates to help sustain and strengthen the judiciary. Betsy was chosen as a Rising Star SuperLawyer from 2018-2021, before moving across the country to the District. Betsy received her JD from Vermont Law School and her BA from the University of Mary Washington. She has been diligently taking Spanish lessons for the last year with a goal of becoming bilingual. In her spare time, you can probably find Betsy running the trails of Rock Creek Park, baking some sort of elaborate confection, or attending a show at any of the many excellent theaters in DC. Betsy has dedicated her career to gender justice and is incredibly humbled to be working alongside the amazing team at DCVLP.

Sarah Deibler, Esq., SJD, Supervising Attorney

Sarah is a supervising attorney in DCVLP’s Immigration Program, where she works with volunteers to represent clients seeking humanitarian relief both in immigration court and before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Prior to joining DCVLP in March 2023, Sarah provided pro bono legal representation to Massachusetts residents seeking asylum and applying for naturalization. She also spent several years completing her doctoral dissertation which examines the role of international advocacy in the prosecution of forced marriage as a crime against humanity. During that time, Sarah taught legal research and writing skills to LL.M. students as a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School. Sarah received her S.J.D. from Harvard Law School, her LL.M. from Northeastern University School of Law, and her LL.B. from the London School of Economics. At DCVLP, Sarah is glad to work with colleagues and volunteers who are passionate about demystifying immigration law and supporting clients in their efforts to secure permanent legal residence for themselves and their families.

Jaquelyn Diaz, Client Advocate, Immigration Program

Jaquelyn provides social support to immigrant clients and their families by connecting them with community resources in DC. Prior to joining DCVLP, Jaquelyn worked with unaccompanied immigrant children who were detained by the government at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Jaquelyn supported children upon their release from custody by connecting them and their families to local community resources throughout the country. Jaquelyn studied Political Science with a comparative focus on Latin America at American University. She is a native Spanish speaker. As a child of immigrants, Jaquelyn is passionate about supporting immigrant families in their resettlement efforts.

Courtney Federico, Esq., Staff Attorney, Immigration Program, Medical-Legal Partnerships

Courtney Federico is a Medical-Legal Partnership Staff Attorney at DCVLP providing legal advice regarding immigration and domestic violence at the DCVLP legal clinics. She also provides high quality direct representation in immigration and domestic violence cases. During law school, Courtney started a clinic, providing free legal services to immigrants seeking naturalization. In addition, Courtney participated in the Human Rights at Home Law Clinic, assisting on various immigration cases. Prior to joining DCVLP, Courtney worked as an associate at the Law Office of Johnson & Masumi where she provided assistance in family based and humanitarian cases. Courtney earned her B.A. in Psychology and Political Science from the University of Kentucky and her J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law. Courtney is passionate about aiding and supporting individuals and families in their immigration journey.

Karen Foxman, Esq., Managing Attorney, Montgomery County

Karen Foxman is a Managing Attorney in the Montgomery County office, providing legal services and direct representation to domestic violence survivors, while developing and implementing a volunteer attorney program.  Karen’s relationship with DCVLP began a decade ago, as a volunteer taking on challenging family law cases, and serving as a Guardian ad litem in DC Superior Court.  While Karen was experiencing her own personal challenges during that time, volunteering with DCVLP was an extremely fulfilling and empowering experience for her, and she hopes to empower both domestic violence survivors and volunteers through the Montgomery County program.  Throughout her legal career, Karen has been passionate about helping vulnerable individuals and ensuring that their voices are heard, and a career highlight was her five years as a CINA (Child In Need of Assistance) attorney in the Montgomery County Office of Maryland Legal Aid, representing children involved in the child welfare system.  Karen was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and received her B.A. from Brandeis University and her J.D. from Seton Hall Law, where she was a Public Interest Fellowship recipient.  Karen is conversational in Spanish and credits her comprehension abilities to the Spanish film class that she loved taking in college.  She enjoys taking long walks, almost as much as she enjoys sitting on her couch.  Karen believes that helping spearhead the Montgomery County office is a privilege and an incredible opportunity to create a positive impact on the entire community.

Madison (Maddie) Glennie, Esq., Medical-Legal Partnerships Supervising Attorney

Maddie is DCVLP’s Medical-Legal Partnerships Supervising Attorney. In that role, she manages two medical-legal partnerships that she created, which are located at Children’s National Columbia Heights and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Maddie also supervises volunteer attorneys on cases in DCVLP’s Immigration practice area. Maddie joined DCVLP in September 2021 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by DLA Piper LLP (US) and Verizon Foundation. During law school, Maddie represented domestic violence survivors as a student attorney with the Georgetown Law Domestic Violence Clinic. She also assisted refugee survivors of gender-based violence at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia. With the National Women’s Law Center and Legal Voice, Maddie aided in ongoing cases and researched reproductive justice law and policy. Maddie also worked with human trafficking survivors on expungements. Maddie graduated with her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2021. Prior to law school, Maddie received her B.A. from Drake University. Maddie is excited to continue her work helping survivors of gender-based violence at DCVLP through the expansion of her medical-legal partnerships.

Ignacio Gomez, Child Advocacy and Immigration Program Coordinator

Ignacio Gomez serves as the Child Advocate (CAP) and Immigration (IMM) Program Coordinator at DCVLP. In this role, he facilitates the onboarding of volunteer attorneys and connects them with representation opportunities on cases within the organization’s CAP and IMM practices. Ignacio previously interned and volunteered with DCVLP, and he separately has nonprofit, private, and government work experience. Ignacio is from Long Island, New York, and proficient in Spanish. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University. Ignacio is deeply committed to pro bono work and looks forward to collaborating with colleagues, partners, and organizations, who are dedicated to serving local populations and communities.

Ricardo Gomez, Esq., Staff Attorney, Immigration Program, Medical-Legal Partnerships

Ricardo Gomez is a Medical-Legal Partnership Staff Attorney at DCVLP. In this role, he provides brief legal advice in immigration and domestic violence at DCVLP legal clinics co-located inside medical clinics throughout DC and provides high quality direct representation in immigration and domestic violence cases. Ricardo began working with immigrants during law school where he played an active role in various immigration clinics, assisting in asylum, SIJS, U-visa, and custody and bond cases. In addition, he was an Equal Justice Works – Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow at Legal Services of Greater Miami, where he provided direct legal services, engaged in community outreach and education, and assisted in litigation concerning affordable housing and evictions. Prior to joining DCVLP, Ricardo was a bipartisan legislative advocate, where he met with Congress and federal government departments and agencies to advocate for increased education, resources, and programs to help veterans access economic opportunities after service. Ricardo earned his B.A. from Hawaii Pacific University and J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. He is an eight-year Marine Corps veteran and a native Spanish speaker. Ricardo is thankful to be part of the DCVLP team and offer access to justice.

Vanessa Hernandez, Esq., Managing Attorney, Civil Protection Order Practice

Vanessa is the Managing Attorney for the Civil Protection Order Practice. She joined DCVLP in February 2022. Vanessa handles Civil Protection Order cases and family law matters on behalf of survivors of domestic violence. Prior to joining DCVLP, Vanessa worked for CAIR Coalition as a Senior Attorney in the Detained Children’s Program. In this role, Vanessa mentored pro bono attorneys and represented unaccompanied minors in their humanitarian immigration cases. Vanessa also worked with survivors of domestic violence during her internships with Ayuda, Womenslaw.org, and the Domestic Violence Division in DC Superior Court. Before starting her legal career, Vanessa worked for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a Senior Resources Analyst. Vanessa earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus; her Master’s degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus; and her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family and friends and cuddling with her little crazy pups. Vanessa is a native Spanish speaker and is passionate about working with survivors and being able to serve Hispanic clients in their native language.

Elaine Holmes, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Elaine Holmes is a Supervising Attorney handling protection order and family law cases on behalf of survivors of domestic violence. She joined DCVLP in 2021. Prior to joining the staff, Elaine was a staff attorney at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, where she handled a full caseload of protective order, family law and employment cases. Prior to that, Elaine was an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLP and the New York office of Duane Morris LLP. While in private practice, she also worked on pro bono cases assisting domestic violence survivors. Elaine earned her J.D. from New York University of Law and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Elaine remains committed to upholding the organization’s values and is excited to participate in projects that will further enhance the impact of DCVLP in supporting survivors of domestic violence.

Daniela Huerta Garcia, Esq., Co-Legal Director

Daniela Huerta Garcia is the Co-Legal Director and oversees the Immigration Program where she is responsible for supervising a team of five attorneys, providing mentorship and supervision to volunteer attorneys, developing and maintaining relationships with local partners, and driving the development of an ever-evolving practice. Daniela was previously an antitrust associate in the Washington, DC office of a corporate law firm where she maintained an active pro bono practice, including counseling clients regarding asylum matters and drafting comments in response to proposed Department of Homeland Security rules. During law school, she led and participated in various immigration clinics and worked at an immigration law firm. Prior to her legal career, Daniela worked as a field representative for a Member of Congress, focusing on community building and advocating for constituents. Daniela earned her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law and two B.A.s from The University of Texas at Dallas. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia. Daniela is passionate about providing legal services to clients in their own language and assisting them in achieving their immigration goals. She was inspired to work with the Latinx community due to her own story: born in Mexico, she moved to the United States when she was 11-years old and grew up in a mixed-immigration-status household. Through her personal and previous work experience, Daniela has seen how Spanish speakers come up against language barriers, especially in the legal space, and is dedicated to providing access to clients who face these issues.

Masooma Hussain, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Masooma Hussain is a supervising attorney in the Domestic Violence and Family Law practice at DCVLP. She arrives at DCVLP having worked at other local direct legal services organizations addressing domestic violence, sexual assault, and crime victims’ rights. Prior to becoming an attorney, Masooma spent years doing policy-work at The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew), advocating on issues such as early childhood education and home visitation at the local, state, and federal levels. In addition to policy-work, Masooma spent several years at Pew ensuring that the organization maintained lobbying compliance at the state, federal, and international levels, and then later as an analyst for the Office of the DC Auditor, evaluating and auditing District programs and agencies. Masooma has a BA in Politics and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University and a JD from Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America. In her free time, Masooma enjoys checking out art exhibits, riding her bike, exploring bookstores, fostering dogs, practicing Spanish, and brushing up on her photography skills. Masooma is passionate about serving children and families, giving back to the communities that raised her, and is grateful to be working at DCVLP, an organization where she can practice her values.

Sara Jamison, Director of Volunteer Engagement and Strategic Partnerships

Sara oversees DCVLP’s volunteer engagement and strategic partnerships, serving as the initial point of contact for new volunteer lawyers, law firms, and community partners. In her role, Sara partners with DCVLP’s Development team to implement the organization’s individual and corporate fundraising program. Sara also works closely with DCVLP’s Legal team to enrich volunteer experience. Sara is a member of Paladin’s Legal Services Advisory Council, an online platform for connecting the pro bono community and empowering legal teams to do pro bono more efficiently. Her background is in educational advancement, having most recently served as the Annual Giving Manager at Connelly School of the Holy Child. She currently serves on the Board of Directors at Mary of Nazareth Catholic School. Sara has a B.A. in Mass Communication and Spanish (Cum Laude) from the University of Delaware; an M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature (Honors) from the University of Delaware; and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of Maryland. Sara embraces the opportunity to use her diverse skill set to make a positive impact for DV survivors, immigrants, and children in the DC metro area.

Michaela Lovejoy, Esq., Immigration Supervising Attorney

Michaela mentors DCVLP’s pro bono attorneys as an Immigration Supervising Attorney. She also advocates for immigrant rights in the D.C. community through targeted policy outreach. Prior to this role, Michaela was an Equal Justice Works Fellow and Staff Attorney at Bread for the City, where she worked with survivors seeking relief from violence in the D.C. Family Court and immigration systems. As a fellow, she launched a civil protective order petition writing project with her pro bono sponsor, Crowell & Moring, that served over 100 survivors of domestic violence in under two years. Michaela earned a J.D. from The George Washington University School of Law in 2020, and a B.A. from Tulane University in 2015. She is proficient in Spanish. As DCVLP’s Immigration Team grows, she is grateful for the chance to learn from her colleagues and excited for the opportunity to further our impact in the District.

Claire MacKay, Program Coordinator/Client Advocate, Montgomery County

Claire coordinates the implementation of the volunteer lawyer model in Montgomery County, Maryland, to build broader access to legal services. She connects volunteer attorneys with cases in DCVLP’s domestic violence clinic and serves as a non-legal support during and after their legal case, connecting them with community resources. Prior to joining DCVLP, Claire coordinated clinical research studies of neurodevelopmental disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital and has served as court-appointed special advocate for children in the greater Boston area experiencing abuse or neglect. Claire received her undergraduate degree in English and Psychology with a minor in Spanish from Bates College, where she completed an AmeriCorps community outreach internship supporting students at Lewiston High School in their postsecondary plans. She spent the year after she graduated college teaching in a public high school outside of Madrid, Spain to advance her professional proficiency in Spanish. Claire hopes to eventually attend law school to pursue public interest law. Claire is motivated by a desire to connect individuals with powerful resources within their community and identify systemic barriers to access, and is thrilled to be working alongside a dedicated team

Gargie Nagarkar, Data Evaluation & Grants Compliance Manager

Gargie manages our client and case data tracking systems to ensure grant compliance and uses data to help the organization learn more about itself and make educated decisions to better serve clients. She oversees our intern program, supervises the data team, assists with grant writing, and is a member of the fun committee, which plans events for the staff. Prior to joining DCVLP, Gargie was a Legal Assistant with Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center in Charlottesville, Va. She received a B.S. in Sociology with Honors, Summa Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech in 2018. Gargie is fluent in Marathi. In her down time, she enjoys candle-making, painting, playing soccer, and hiking with her dog. In 2013, Sporcle published and featured her “Harry Potter ‘B’ Game” quiz on their front page, one of her proudest achievements to this day. During her time with DCVLP, Gargie has developed a passion for using data to support and improve the services provided to survivors of domestic violence and at-risk children. She is extremely grateful to work with compassionate and hardworking colleagues!

Najja Ogundiran, Esq., Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow

Najja is currently serving as the Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. Najja assists with civil protection orders and custody cases with the domestic violence team.  Prior to this role, Najja was the Assistant Director for Academic Advising at The George Washington University’s School of Engineering & Applied Science. Najja earned a J.D. from Stetson College of Law in 2013 and a B.A. from Howard University in 2007. During law school, Najja served as a Guardian ad Litem and a certified legal intern with the Pinellas County Public Defender’s Office Juvenile Division where she represented youth in dependency and delinquency court. Najja is looking forward to growing in her role and developing her legal skills as her fellowship continues.

Abbey Ojala, Client Advocate, Domestic Violence Program

Abbey provides non-legal support to survivors in civil protection order, divorce, and custody processes. She works with clients to assist them with accessing public benefits, safe housing, and various other resources they may need during and after their legal case. Prior to joining DCVLP, Abbey held case management roles at both a transitional women’s shelter and a men’s emergency medical shelter. Abbey is hoping to eventually go back to school to get her MSW (Master’s in Social Work) to further her career in social services. Abbey is excited to use her experience to walk alongside those experiencing domestic violence.

Maya Pearl, Operations and Human Resources Coordinator

Maya (she/her) collaborates closely with the Director of Operations at DCVLP, providing support in human resources, administration, and finance. In her role, Maya serves as the point person for human resources across the organization, manages the physical office space, and supports the processing and reporting of financial data. Prior to joining the DCVLP team, Maya was an Engagement Assistant at J Street, where she specialized in data management and contributed to various operational, fundraising, and event planning initiatives. Maya received her BA in Politics from Oberlin College. Beyond academic pursuits, she contributed to the Oberlin community as a Village Assistant for the Office of Residential Education. Maya’s experiences reflect her commitment and passion for justice and equity, and she eagerly looks forward to furthering the DCVLP’s mission.

Colleen Petroni, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Colleen is a Supervising Attorney in our Child Advocacy Program. In this role, she provides guidance and expertise to court-appointed Guardians ad litem (GALs) who represent children pro bono in complex custody cases in DC Superior Court. Prior to joining the DCVLP staff, Colleen was a stay-at-home parent hoping to leverage her legal skills to help others, and she was drawn to DCVLP because it offered both meaningful work and an effective support structure for volunteers. She volunteered as a GAL through DCVLP for ten years. Colleen began her legal career as a litigation associate in the Washington D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Prior to attending law school, Colleen served as an officer in the United States Air Force. Colleen earned her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she graduated magna cum laude, and a B.S in computer science from the University of Notre Dame. Colleen is passionate about helping children and loves that her job allows her to help provide DCVLP volunteers with the same guidance, support, and fulfillment that she experienced during her time as a volunteer with DCVLP.

Nellie Phelan, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Nellie is a Supervising Attorney in DCVLP’s Child Advocacy Program, where she provides guidance and oversight to court-appointed Guardians ad litem (GALS) who represent at-risk children in complex custody cases in DC Superior Court.  Nellie joins DCVLP from Community Advocates for Family & Youth, a non-profit organization in Maryland, where she represented clients affected by domestic violence in protective order and custody matters.  Nellie started her legal career with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, investigating housing and employment discrimination cases, and later transitioned to the role of lead mediator for the agency.  She is a certified mediator.  Nellie received her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, and her B.A. in Psychology from Connecticut College, where she graduated magna cum laude.  She is licensed to practice in D.C., Maryland and New York.  Nellie believes that a life free from violence is a human right and is thrilled to bring her passion and experience to the amazing team at DCVLP.

Valerie Sakellaridis, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Valerie is a Supervising Attorney in DCVLP’s Child Advocacy Program, where she oversees pro bono lawyers who act as court-appointed Guardians ad litem for at-risk children in complex custody cases in DC Superior Court. Valerie joined DCVLP after four years at the Queens District Attorney’s Office in New York City, where she served as a domestic violence prosecutor for her entire tenure. While at the DA’s office, Valerie conducted dozens of hearings, multiple trials, and balanced a caseload of over 100 cases, while advocating for victims tormented by domestic abuse, stalking, gun violence, and sexual abuse. Having had exposure to vulnerable children in high-intensity familial conflict, Valerie was thrilled to join the DCVLP team in a new role, having now the privilege to advocate for children impacted by many of the same circumstances, and to help teach her supervisees trial advocacy. Valerie earned her J.D. from Fordham Law University School of Law, where she served as the Managing Editor of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center, and was awarded the Abramovsky Award for Outstanding Performance in Trial Advocacy. She earned her B.A. from George Washington University, where she received special honors for her Criminal Justice major, and double minored in Law & Society and Creative Writing. She is licensed to practice in New York and is awaiting submission to the DC Bar. Valerie is working diligently on Duolingo to become fluent in Greek, so that she may be as Greek as her last name implies. Valerie hopes to spend her legal career serving this country’s most vulnerable, by giving a voice to those who need it most, both inside and out of the courtroom.

Juliette Singarella, Esq., Staff Attorney

Juliette is a Staff Attorney in the Child Advocacy Program. She serves as Guardian ad litem for at-risk children in complex custody cases in DC Superior Court. She represents her child clients’ best interests through zealous investigation and litigation. Juliette joined DCVLP after clerking for two associate Judges on the Domestic Relations Branch of the Superior Court, where she managed a high-intensity docket of custody, child support, and divorce cases. She previously advocated for victims of sexual abuse at the Sexual Assault Legal Institute of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Sexually Violent Predator Unit of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Juliette earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where her clinical experience focused on international reproductive rights litigation and national domestic violence policy. She earned her B.A. from Vanderbilt University, where she received highest honors in Sociology for her thesis on sex and gender. She is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Juliette speaks basic Spanish and is working towards proficiency. Juliette is dedicated to achieving gender equity through the actualization of the rights of women, children, families, and survivors of gender-based and sexual violence.

Norah Sloss, Esq., Managing Attorney, Custody and Divorce

Norah Sloss is a Managing Attorney for custody and divorce in our Domestic Violence program, representing domestic violence survivors in family law cases. Prior to joining DCVLP in 2021, Norah was an associate at The Law Office of Rebekah Sullivan, where she represented clients in various family law matters in Washington, DC and Maryland. Previously, Norah was the Staff Attorney for the Domestic Violence Legal Wellness Program of Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County. Norah began working with survivors of domestic violence on civil protective order and family law cases in D.C. Superior Court, as a student attorney with the Families and the Law Clinic at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. Norah received her JD from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law with a concentration in family law and she received her B.S. from Loyola University New Orleans. Norah is a native Washingtonian and is incredibly proud to serve her community through representing clients in their family law cases and assisting survivors with brief advice at DCVLP’s weekly clinics.

Lea Sondheimer, Program Coordinator, Domestic Violence Program

Lea serves as the Program Coordinator for DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Program, where she connects volunteer attorneys with cases in DCVLP’s domestic violence practice and coordinates our weekly community-based legal clinics. Prior to joining DCVLP, Lea served as a Training Coordinator and Social Media Manager for an Annapolis-based company, and she also has previous project management experience.  She is a DMV native and graduated with a B.A. in Communications from University of Maryland.  Lea’s passion for human rights brought her to DCVLP and she looks forward to upholding DCVLP’s mission by helping survivors of domestic violence and making a positive impact in her community.

Robyn Swanson, Esq., Supervising Attorney for Impact Litigation and Advocacy

Robyn oversees DCVLP’s appellate and policy practices. Since 2017, she has advocated on behalf of at-risk children and domestic violence survivors in civil protection order, immigration, and family law cases, first as a volunteer attorney and then as a member of the DCVLP staff. Prior to her current role, she supervised court-appointed Guardians ad litem in custody cases in D.C. Superior Court. Robyn began her legal career as an Honors Attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor and as an associate in the Washington D.C. office of Cohen Milstein, where she gained experience in all stages of complex plaintiff-side litigation and trial advocacy. She also briefed and argued numerous matters before U.S. Courts of Appeals. Robyn earned her J.D. from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Washington. During law school, she was a student fellow at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law and the Chicago Legal Clinic, and she represented children and victims of gender-based violence in asylum cases through her school’s clinical program. Robyn is a proud DC resident and is passionate about advocating for and empowering the most vulnerable members of her community.

Sara B. Tennen, Esq., MSW, Executive Director

Sara has devoted her career to working with vulnerable populations, first with incarcerated women re-entering the community and then as a prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Arizona, where she prosecuted sex crimes against children. Sara has worked at DCVLP for over 10 years, initially as a front-line attorney before moving into leadership roles and becoming the Executive Director in 2019. DCVLP has more than doubled in budget and staff size under Sara’s leadership.  Both a trained mediator and forensic interviewer, Sara earned her J.D. and M.S.W. from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Rochester.  When she is not working, Sara enjoys hiking and traveling.  Sara is honored and grateful to work with an incredible team of Board, Staff, and volunteer attorneys to ensure that DCVLP continues to serve as a shining light in the community for years to come.

Blanca Torres, Client Advocate, Domestic Violence Program

Blanca (she/her/ella) assist clients with non-legal needs in civil protection order, divorce, and custody cases. She works with clients to ensure they have safe housing and any other resources they may need during and after their legal case. Prior to joining DCVLP, Blanca worked at the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Minority Staff, working on border issues. Blanca has worked with immigrant communities throughout her career by interning at the Tahirih Justice Center and through Children @ Risk. As a proud DACA recipient herself, Blanca is passionate about vulnerable communities and their intersections with the legal system. In this role, she hopes to aid survivors by providing support and community as they begin a life free of violence.

Maria Velez, Victim & Community Outreach Manager

Maria manages and designs DCVLP’s online and print communications, marketing, and outreach materials for clients, community partners, and donors. Maria manages all aspects of DCVLP’s events including volunteer trainings and fundraisers and serves as the primary point of contact for community outreach partners, coordinates MOUs, and manages DCVLP’s website. Maria’s background includes event management, marketing, and entrepreneurship as well as experience in social services. Maria started working at DCVLP as the Client Advocate for the Immigration Program. Prior to that she worked as a Family Liaison for Fairfax County Public Schools and as an Account Assistant in a marketing and branding agency. She also volunteers as an Advocate for children in the foster care system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). With a passion for making a positive impact, Maria expresses gratitude for the chance to contribute to DCVLP’s mission and eagerly anticipates future collaborations, bringing her expertise in communications and event management to support the organization’s growth and outreach.

Aída Vindell, Esq., Co-Legal Director

Aída is the Co-Legal Director and oversees the Domestic Violence program which provides direct legal services to survivors of domestic DV, sexual assault, stalking and gun violence. Aída recruits, trains and mentors pro bono attorneys to represent survivors in civil protection order, custody, divorce, child support and criminal advocacy matters. Prior to joining the DCVLP, Aída was a Senior Attorney at the Children’s Law Center and served as a Guardian ad litem attorney for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. She also served as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault attorney at Ayuda and worked as an associate in a private law firm in Rockville, Maryland where she practiced family law, criminal defense, immigration defense and civil rights litigation. Aída was recently appointed and is serving a 3-Year term as a Commissioner on the D.C. Access to Justice Committee. Aida holds a Juris Doctor from the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Florida International University. In 2023, DC SAFE awarded Aída with the Laura Banks Reed Award for Community Service. In 2019, Aída was recognized by the American Bar Association as a Reunification Hero. And in 2008 she was awarded Guardian ad litem of the Year by the 11th Judicial Circuit of the Florida Guardian ad litem Program. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and is a native Spanish speaker. Aída looks forward to continuing to serve survivors of violence through pro bono representation and expanding access to justice in the District.

Jakiah Webb, Data, Grants, and Operations Coordinator

Jakiah provides support for the Data Evaluation & Grants Compliance Manager through managing and reporting client and case data, as well as assisting with grant writing and compliance. She also supports organization-wide operations by processing financial statements and assisting with IT. Prior to working with DCVLP, Jakiah worked as a researcher for Trans Lifeline, a suicide hotline, and volunteered for a few local nonprofits in her hometown of Fort Pierce, Florida. She earned her MS in Justice, Law, & Criminology from American University. Jakiah believes that a life free of violence is a basic human right and is committed to improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable communities.

Brian Yourish, Director of Operations

Brian is Director of Operations and oversees DCVLP’s administration, finances, IT infrastructure, and human resources. He also plays a role in grants management and event planning. Previously, Brian was Constitutional Accountability Center’s Office Manager, where he was responsible for daily office operations, including office management, technology support, human resources, and vendor relations. Prior to joining CAC, Brian was the Office Manager at The Constitution Project. Brian also worked as the Legal Assistant with the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Brian was the Climate Change Program Administrator at the Vancouver, Canada-based David Suzuki Foundation. Brian received his B.A. in English from the University of Maryland. Brian looks forward to continuing to support the staff in their work for survivors.

Since I came into the clinic and went to court with my lawyer, everything is CALM. I can now focus on being a student and a mother to my children. Thank you for bringing this FEELING OF RELIEF into my life.

– DCVLP client and survivor of domestic violence