Our Staff

The staff members of Legal Aid at Work are leaders in their areas of specialization and have won national and statewide awards. Many are bilingual. Our attorneys are regularly named among the nation’s top lawyers, and they advocate tirelessly for individuals and groups of clients — and to strengthen civil and employment rights.

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Attorneys

Attorneys

Special Counsel

Special Counsel

Program Services

Program Services

External Relations And Development

External Relations And Development

Administration

Administration

President

Joan Graff

Joan Messing Graff

President

Joan Graff has been President of Legal Aid at Work since 1981. She began her legal career working in the General Counsel’s office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and she was a founding staff member of Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco.

Joan worked as an attorney with Equal Rights Advocates for nearly a decade. The organization was one of the first nonprofit legal organizations in the country dedicated to securing equality for women and it became one of the leading proponents for women’s rights nationally. She has served on a number of boards and advisory committees and, among other honors, received the Loren Miller Legal Services Award from the State Bar of California.

Joan received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1967 and her B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1964. She is a member of the bars of California and the District of Columbia.

Reach Joan at jgraff@legalaidatwork.org or 415-864-8848.

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Attorneys

Alexis Alvarez

Alexis Alvarez

Staff Attorney

Alexis Alvarez advises and represents people with disabilities facing discrimination in employment and unequal access to government programs and services. Before joining Legal Aid at Work’s Disability Rights Program, she was a staff attorney with the Disability Rights Legal Center’s Cancer Legal Resource Center in Los Angeles, where she helped people tackle legal issues related to cancer.

Alexis clerked for Judges Robert L. Hess and Barbara M. Meiers of Los Angeles Superior Court and Judge Gilbert M. Román of the Colorado Court of Appeals. She is a founding member of the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities.

Alexis received her J.D. in 2011 from the UC Davis School of Law and her B.S. with honors in 2007 from Colorado State University. During law school, Alexis was a senior articles editor for the UC Davis Law Review and served on the board of the La Raza Law Student Association.

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Mana Barari

Mana Barari

Senior Staff Attorney

As a member of our wage protection team, Mana represents workers who are coping with nonpayment of wages and other unjust employment practices, including labor trafficking. Mana came to Legal Aid at Work from Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, where she advocated for the rights of migrant workers and survivors of human trafficking in Palau as the senior advocate for vulnerable workers.

She also has represented low-wage and immigrant workers as an associate with Sundeen Salinas & Pyle in Oakland. She was a consulting attorney with the Pars Equality Center in San Francisco. And at the Urban Justice Center, she helped produce a report on racial discrimination in New York City that was presented to the UN Committee on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination.

Mana recently served as president of the Iranian American Bar Association-Nor Cal. She served on a delegation to monitor the elections in Venezuela in October 2012. And she is a commissioner on the California State Bar Access to Justice Commission.

She received her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2007 and completed a BA in interdisciplinary studies with high honors at UC Berkeley in 2003. During law school, Mana was production editor on NYU's Journal of International Law and Politics, and she spent her summers interning with human rights organizations in Brazil and Costa Rica. Mana also served as a research assistant to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, and she participated in the International Human Rights Clinic’s project addressing the discriminatory effects of counterterrorist policies. She also was a member of the 2007 academic delegation to Cuba.

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Marisa Diaz

Marisa Diaz

Staff Attorney

Marisa defends and promotes the rights of workers who are immigrants or members of minority groups. Before joining Legal Aid at Work, Marisa was a fellow at Equal Rights Advocates, where she participated in litigation, legislative advocacy, community education, and direct legal services on behalf of women who faced gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 2013, Marisa clerked for the Honorable Michael Daly Hawkins on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. During law school Marisa interned with Legal Aid at Work and the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. At Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, she advocated on behalf of immigrants facing removal from the country.

Marisa began her work with and on behalf of immigrant communities well before law school. She received a Fulbright Grant to research the experiences of Colombian domestic workers in Spain. And she worked for the San Francisco nonprofit La Cocina. Marisa, who is fluent in Spanish, received her undergraduate degree from Pomona College.

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Katherine Fiester

Katherine Fiester

Staff Attorney

Katie Fiester advises and represents clients in wage claim and unemployment insurance administrative proceedings, working in both the Community Legal Services Program and the Wage Protection Program. She also serves clients at semi-monthly Wage Claim Clinics held at the California Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

Katie obtained her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2014. While in law school, she clerked for the Community Legal Services Program at Legal Aid at Work and participated in the Workers' Rights Clinic. Before law school, Katie worked as a legal assistant with JusticeCorps, where she facilitated equal justice and fairness for pro se litigants.

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Mike Gaitley

Michael T. Gaitley

Senior Staff Attorney

Mike Gaitley supervises the Workers' Rights Clinic and directs our Community Legal Services Program, where he has developed and nurtured a model for providing free legal services that has been emulated by numerous legal organizations.

Our clinics provide low-income workers with expert advice by engaging highly experienced local employment law specialists and carefully selected law students as volunteers.

Before joining Legal Aid at Work as a staff attorney, Mike was a sole practitioner focusing on employment-related litigation and related services. He also worked as a union official and attorney with Pan Am's flight attendants union.

Mike graduated from the University of Michigan in 1979 and from Pace University Law School in 1984. He now serves as an adjunct professor at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and at University of San Diego School of Law.

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Jenna Gerry

Jenna Gerry

Interim Staff Attorney

As an attorney in the Work & Family program, Jenna focuses on the employment rights of pregnant women, new parents, caregivers and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She provides direct representation, participates in legislative advocacy to expand family-friendly workplace polices and engages in community education. Jenna also helps direct the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition and the Medical Legal Partnership with the Women’s Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Jenna came to Legal Aid at Work from a clerkship with trial Judge Cynthia S. Kern in Manhattan. Prior to that, she served as a post-graduate fellow with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation. Jenna had internships with the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and with the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association and the Education Rights Center in Washington.

She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she made dean’s list, and she holds a BA in political science (with minors in philosophy and Irish studies) from New York University.

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Christopher Ho

Christopher Ho

Senior Staff Attorney

As director of our Immigration and National Origin Program, Chris focuses on employment practices that disproportionately affect undocumented workers, language minorities, and new immigrants. Chris has successfully argued a number of cases that have reaffirmed California state law protections for undocumented workers.

415-864-8848

Among his most recent work, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled in a case of first impression that an employer violated federal civil rights law when it disqualified a job applicant solely because he had previously used an invalid Social Security number to obtain work.

Chris received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award in 2004 for his work on Rivera v. Nibco, Inc. and Singh v. Jutla, two federal cases that solidified the right of undocumented immigrants to seek legal redress for workplace discrimination and retaliation. In Rivera, the Ninth Circuit upheld a protective order barring the employer from inquiring into the plaintiffs’ immigration status, thus precluding the use of discovery as a tool to intimidate immigrant workers who seek to assert their workplace rights. And in Singh, Chris worked to establish the legal precedent that employers may not contact immigration authorities to report undocumented workers who have come forward to bring legal claims against them.

Chris won the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy in 2006. In 2007, he garnered Stanford Law School’s Alumni Public Service Award. La Raza Centro Legal honored him for advocacy on behalf of domestic workers in 2010, and in 2013 Chinese for Affirmative Action recognized him for his litigation in defense of immigrants’ rights.

Chris’s California Supreme Court victory in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. established, as a matter of California law, that immigrant workers have full standing to vindicate their workplace rights even if they used an invalid Social Security number to obtain their jobs. The win at trial in 2015 in Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation involved an applicant for a job with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a naturalized United States citizen who voluntarily disclosed that while he had obtained employment using an invented Social Security number while he was undocumented. The CDCR rejected him, allegedly on grounds of “lack of honesty,” even though he was fully qualified for the job, had gone to college to prepare for a correctional justice career, and had no criminal record. The U.S. District Court found that CDCR’s practice of using admitted prior use of an invalid Social Security number to disqualify applicants impermissibly discriminated against Latinos in violation of Title VII.

In 2013, along with lawyers from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chris represented an observant Muslim woman was fired from her job at a Hollister Co.-branded store of Abercrombie & Fitch because she refused, on religious grounds, to remove her hijab while working. After the U.S. District Court entered summary judgment in her favor, ruling that Abercrombie had failed in its duty to accommodate her religious faith, Abercrombie entered into a settlement in which it agreed for the first time to amend its “Look Policy.” That policy now provides clearly that Abercrombie will grant reasonable accommodations to its dress code based on employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

Chris received his B.A. in political science from Yale in 1977, an A.M. in government from Harvard in 1980, and a J.D. from Stanford in 1987. He then joined Legal Aid at Work as its Félix Velarde-Muñoz Graduate Intern, and he returned as a staff attorney in 1990. In 2001, he was a Windcall Resident Fellow in Belgrade, Mont., and he served during the Obama Administration on the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

Published rulings

Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage, Inc., 25 F.Supp.2d 1053 (N.D. Cal. 1998)

Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage, Inc., 103 F.Supp.2d 1180 (N.D. Cal. 2000)

Singh v. Jutla, 214 F.Supp.2d 1056 (N.D. Cal. 2002)

Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 364 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2004)

Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 701 F.Supp.2d 1135 (E.D. Cal. 2006)

Zamora v. Elite Logistics, Inc., 478 F.3d 1160 (10th Cir. 2007) (en banc)

Rivera v. Nibco, Inc., 372 Fed.App’x 757 (9th Cir. 2010)

EEOC and Khan v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc. (2013)

Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. (2014)

Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, et al., ___ F.Supp.3d ___, 2015 WL 4463537 (N.D. Cal. July 21, 2015)

Law review

With Jennifer C. Chang, of “Drawing the Line After Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v NLRB: Strategies for Protecting Undocumented Workers in the Title VII Context and Beyond,” ,” 22 Hofstra Lab. & Emp. L.J. 473 (2005)

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Jinny Kim

Jinny Kim

Senior Staff Attorney

Jinny directs the Disability Rights Program at Legal Aid at Work, where she represents clients seeking accommodation and facing discrimination by employers, educational institutions, and public entities. She joined Legal Aid at Work as the Félix Velarde-Muñoz Fellow in 1999-2001 and litigated race, disability, national origin, and gender cases. She returned as a staff attorney in 2008 following work in Washington, D.C., and in private practice.

As a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow, she served as Labor Counsel to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy on the Senate's Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. She also has held positions at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach; at Schneider, Wallace, Cottrell, Brayton and Konecky; and at Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian.

Jinny received her J.D. in 1999 from the University of California, Davis, and her B.A. in 1995 from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Elizabeth Kristen

Elizabeth Kristen

Senior Staff Attorney

Elizabeth Kristen is the director of our Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program, where she represents low-wage workers facing employment discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, military, or veteran status. As director of our Fair Play for Girls in Sports project, she won a Ninth Circuit ruling, with her co-counsel, that enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments in a Southern California high school (Ollier v. Sweetwater Union).

Elizabeth also represents workers in cases where employers have violated family and medical leave laws. And she engages in community education, negotiations, litigation and policy work on behalf of female students who have not been afforded equal athletic opportunities under Title IX.

Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Elizabeth graduated from Berkeley Law in 2001. She was selected for the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the California Law Review. She is a member of the American Association of University Women, the National Employment Lawyers Association, and the California Employment Lawyers Association, and she is a past board member of the Pride Law Fund.

In 2012-2013, Elizabeth served as a Harvard law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow. She was a lecturer at Berkeley Law School from 2008-2013. And she's now a member of CELA Voice.

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Rachael Langston

Rachael Langston

Senior Staff Attorney

Rachael Langston is a staff attorney in the LGBT & Gender Equity and Disability Rights Programs. She advises and represents workers with disabilities, with a primary focus on disability discrimination and failure to accommodate in the workplace.

Rachael also provides community education regarding the rights of employees with disabilities and participates in legislative advocacy to expand the rights of workers who have familial care giving responsibilities.

She received her J.D. in 2008 from Berkeley Law and her B.A. in 2005 from Texas Tech University.

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William C. McNeill III

Senior Staff Attorney

The director of our Racial Equality Program, Bill McNeill, has been involved in civil rights for more than 45 years. He has litigated numerous cases designed to advance the rights of minorities, including Davis v. City and County of San Francisco, which resulted in the integration of the fire department, greater opportunities for people of color in hiring and promotions, and the appointment of the first black chief in the city’s history.

Bill began his legal career in 1971 as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee in Roxbury, Mass. He then worked as an attorney with the Atlanta Regional Litigation Center for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as the director of the Title VII Project at the San Francisco Office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and as regional counsel for California Rural Legal Assistance. He has received two honors from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. for his litigation work combating employment discrimination.

Bill joined Legal Aid at Work in 1988 and has served as managing attorney for the organization. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1971 and his A.B. in Economics from Oberlin College in 1965. He is a member of the California, Georgia, and Massachusetts bars.

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Julia Parish

Staff Attorney

As a member of our Work and Family and SURVIVE programs, Julia assists with the project helplines and provides legal advice, know-your-rights workshops and direct legal services for workers struggling with family and medical crises. She also directs the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition, which includes numerous government and community partners.

Julia was a legal intern with the Gender Equity Program at Legal Aid at Work and with the East Bay Community Law Center.

Julia received her J.D. from Berkeley Law at the University of California in 2011. She also received her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from UC Berkeley, and she holds a master's degree in teaching from Pace University. Before attending law school, she was a high school sports coach and Spanish teacher.

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Maria Tapia-Hernandez

Workers' Rights Fellow

Maria is helping launch the Workers’ Rights Clinic in San Diego in collaboration with the University of San Diego School of Law. The clinic will partner with local community organizations to provide legal consultation and to do outreach and community trainings about workers’ rights.

Most recently, Maria worked at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she assisted domestic violence survivors apply for protective orders and tackle custody, visitation, and other issues. She has clerked with Legal Aid of Napa Valley and the Immigration Center for Women and Children.

Maria also worked as a student clinic counselor with the Workers' Rights Clinic at LAS-ELC, after which she went on to become a student representative at the Civil Justice Clinic at UC Hastings. Maria received her B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2009 and her JD from Hastings in 2014.

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Sharon Terman

Senior Staff Attorney

Sharon directs our Work and Family Program, where she represents workers with family and medical leave claims as well as claims of pregnancy, gender, and disability discrimination. She also provides legal advice to low-income workers, engages in community education, and participates in legislative advocacy to expand workers’ rights.

She clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 2004 to 2005. She joined Legal Aid at Work as a Skadden Fellow in 2005 and became a staff attorney in 2007.

Sharon received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1998 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2004.

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Kim Turner

Senior Staff Attorney

Kim works with our Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program and our Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project. Through litigation, education and policy work, Kim advocates for equality, with a specific focus on athletic opportunities for female youth — particularly in low-income communities.

Kim has practiced a mixture of Title IX, employment and housing law, including as a staff attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid. Before law school, Kim worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein and the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C.

She graduated from Cardozo Law School in New York City in 2008. And she received a B.A. from Brown University in 2002, double concentrating in public policy and sociology. At Brown, Kim also played for the varsity women’s volleyball team.

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Carole Vigne

Senior Staff Attorney | Director, Wage Protection Program

Carole Vigne is a staff attorney and the director of our Wage Protection Program. She provides information, advice, and representation to workers on their employment rights, with a focus on wage and hour and unemployment insurance issues. Carole also trains and supervises legal advocates to represent clients at administrative wage claim hearings and unemployment insurance appeals and engages in community education.

Carole was a Skadden Fellow with Legal Aid at Work’s National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program, working to expand the rights of immigrant workers and serving San Francisco’s immigrant, limited-English-proficient, Latino workers through a workers’ rights clinic. She also litigated employment law cases at Rukin, Hyland, Doria & Tindall, LLP, and previously worked at the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

Carole received her B.A. from Brown University in 2001 and her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2007.

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Stacy Villalobos

Stacy Villalobos

Skadden Fellow

Stacy’s fellowship project focuses on representing low-wage, immigrant women workers in Fresno, Calif. She provides free legal services through our Workers' Rights Clinic and through our Gender Equity and LGBT Rights and Immigration and National Origin programs. It’s the kind of advocacy that drew her to become a lawyer: supporting low-income workers, especially immigrant women, as they combat discrimination, sexual harassment, and other injustices in the workplace through litigation and direct legal services.

Stacy also provides community education regarding the rights of immigrant workers, sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, and workers struggling with family and medical crises.

Stacy obtained her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2015. While in law school, working with the Stanford Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, she represented clients in immigration court proceedings in San Francisco; she worked as a law clerk in the National Origin Program at Legal Aid at Work; and she split one summer between the ACLU of Southern California and Traber & Voorhees.

She earlier worked as a legal fellow with Munger, Tolles & Olson on a range of corporate and pro bono matters. Stacy also holds a B.A. from Stanford University.

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Diane Webb

Diane Webb

Chief Program Officer

Diane works to ensure that Legal Aid at Work's programs reflect a model of long-term sustainability consistent with the organization’s mission. Previously, as a partner with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, she focused on antitrust, fraud, unfair competition and other class action litigation; she also supervised pro bono cases pursuing asylum for political refugees, overcoming discrimination in public schools, and obtaining special visas for victims of domestic violence.

Diane served as a John A. Sutro Public Service Fellow at Legal Aid at Work from 1998 to 1999, where she developed a legal services program that concentrated on child labor issues and the rights of youth in the workplace. She also litigated select cases dealing with wage and hour, sexual harassment, and workplace safety and health issues, and she developed a youth employment law curriculum and conducted “know-your-rights” trainings at high schools and other sites.

Diane taught legal ethics as an adjunct professor at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in Spring 2013 and at the University of San Francisco School of Law for several semesters.

She earned her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

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photo of Katie Wutchiett

Katherine Wutchiett

Skadden Fellow

Katie is leading the implementation of our Medical-Legal Partnership model in Contra Costa County. As a part of the MLP, Katie provides training about rights to leave, accommodations, and wage replacement to health care providers and low-wage workers who are pregnant or new parents. She also staffs on-site clinics and the Work & Family Helpline in our office.

She provides technical support, community education and free legal services regarding the rights of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors and workers struggling with family and medical crises, as well as pregnant women and new parents.

Katie obtained her J.D., summa cum laude, from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo. While in law school, she worked as a law clerk for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the Service Employees International Union, and Legal Aid at Work. Most recently, she clerked for the Hon. Bobby Shepherd of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Special Counsel

Bob Borton

Robert E. Borton

Special Counsel

Bob Borton is a former partner with Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, where he concentrated on complex commercial litigation, with an emphasis on class actions, consumer, civil rights, real estate, and banking. He has extensive court and jury trial experience and has litigated a wide variety of civil rights, immigration, and landlord/tenant cases. He served on Legal Aid at Work's board of directors for more than 25 years and now consults on litigation as needed in the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights program at Legal Aid at Work.

From 1992 to 2007, Bob led Heller Ehrman’s pro bono practice and the firm’s litigation and trial advocacy training. He later practiced with the Oakland firm of McShane & Felson.

Bob received the State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award, the Robert Sproul Pro Bono Award, the Phillip Burton Immigration and Civil Rights Award, Legal Aid at Work’s Roll Call for Justice Award, the Public Interest Clearinghouse Opening Doors to Justice Award, the San Francisco Bar Association Award of Merit, and the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award.

As an adjunct professor at Berkeley Law, Bob taught pre-trial civil litigation practice from 1982 to 2013. He received his J.D. from Michigan Law School in 1972 and his B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1964.

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Professor Joseph R. Grodin

Special Counsel

Joseph Grodin is an emeritus professor of law at UC Hastings College of the Law, and he served five years as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court. He is a cofounder of Legal Aid at Work's Workers' Rights Clinic.

Professor Joseph Grodin, a native Californian, received his B.A. with honors from UC Berkeley in 1951 and his J.D. cum laude from Yale Law School in 1954. Upon graduation from law school he traveled to England on a Fulbright grant and earned a Ph.D. in labor law and labor relations from the London School of Economics. You can read a full bio here.

Professor Grodin practiced law in San Francisco from 1955 to 1971, specializing in labor law and serving pro bono in a variety of civil rights and civil liberties matters. During portions of that period he taught as an adjunct professor at UC Hastings and a visiting professor at the University of Oregon Law School. Active in bar affairs, he served as chairman of the labor law section of the San Francisco Bar Association and as a member of the State Bar Committee on Legal Services.

From 1972 to 1979, he was a full-time professor at UC Hastings, teaching courses in labor law, employment discrimination, arbitration, and contracts. During portions of that period he served as a member of the state's inaugural Agricultural Labor Relations Board, as foreman of the Alameda County Grand Jury, and as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School.

In 1979, Professor Grodin was appointed Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. He was elevated to presiding justice in 1981, and in 1982 was appointed Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, a position he held until January 1987, when he returned to the UC Hastings faculty.

He retired from full-time teaching in May 2005. He continues to teach part-time and to do arbitration and mediation work.

Professor Grodin is the author of numerous scholarly books and articles. He is particularly proud, however, of a book on hiking trails in the Silver Lake area of the Sierra, which he coauthored with his daughter, Sharon.

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Henry Hewitt

Henry Hewitt

Special Counsel

Henry Hewitt consults part time with individual programs at Legal Aid at Work on a range of litigation. He is now working on cases involving pregnancy discrimination and the money bail system in San Francisco, among other issues.

After a clerkship for the Hon. George B. Harris, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, he took a job with Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, where he represented plaintiffs in individual and class employment cases, including Traylor v. Safeway Stores concerning allegations that women and minorities were excluded from store management, which ended with a consent decree and damages of more than $1 million, one of the larger settlements of the early 1970s.

With two partners in 1978, he founded Erickson, Beasley & Hewitt, which litigated civil rights cases and represented public entities primarily in the areas of eminent domain and employment. That work included two significant cases: Barefield v. Chevron, 1987 WL 65054 (N.D. Cal. 1987) (class action race discrimination case involving oil field jobs in Bakersfield) and Hulteen v. AT&T, 498 F.3d 1001 (9th Cir. 2007, en banc), reversed, AT&T v. Hulteen, 556 U.S. 701 (2009) (pregnancy discrimination case). After the firm closed in 2010, he did eminent domain work with Meyers Nave for three years, and he has been volunteering with Legal Aid at Work since 2013.

Henry holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Occidental College and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

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Cacilia Kim

Special Counsel

Cacilia works with Legal Aid at Work's Gender Equity and LGBT Rights program on cases relating to gender equity, the rights of low-wage women and families, and veterans’ issues. A former senior staff attorney at the California Women’s Law Center, she litigated numerous cases addressing systemic discrimination against women and girls in education and employment. Her work has produced five published decisions to date.

One of Cacilia's most recent published decisions was a win with Legal Aid at Work and our co-counsel in 2014 in Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District. The case resulted in the first federal court ruling applying Title IX to girls’ athletics in K-12 schools. The team received the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for that work in March 2015.

Cacilia and Elizabeth co-authored “Unequal Play,” an article about the case in LA Lawyer magazine in June 2015. They also were joint recipients of the 2016 Justice Award from Protect Our Defenders for their work on behalf of military service members who were sexually assaulted during their service and then retaliated against when they spoke out.

Cacilia earlier served as a council member for the California Breast Cancer Research Program for three years and was an associate with O’Melveny and Myers LLP, where she focused on securities fraud class action litigation. As a congressional fellow at the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, she was the lead staff member on legislative issues pertaining to food stamp benefits, child abuse and neglect, and welfare benefits for immigrants and Native Americans.

She received her B.A. in psychology from UC Berkeley in 1992, her Ph.D in developmental child psychology from UCLA in 2001, and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 2000, where she graduated with the Order of the Coif.

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photo of Ruth Silver Taube

Ruth Silver Taube

Special Counsel

Ruth Silver Taube advises Legal Aid at Work on matters related to ERISA disability benefit plans, and she is a vocal advocate against labor trafficking. She is also a sole practitioner at the Law Office of Silver & Taube and has been an adjunct professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law for 13 years.

Ruth supervised our former Workers' Rights Clinic location in San Jose for 11 years and brought a form of our Healthy Mothers Workplace awards to Santa Clara County (the Family-Friendly Awards). She is a founding member of the Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative, chair of the Family-Friendly Workplace Collaborative, and coordinator of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition. She is the legal services chair of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking; an alternate delegate to the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Commission; and a board member for Justice at Last, a new nonprofit combating human trafficking.

She worked as an associate at Cotchett, Illston & Pitre and a federal mediator at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Francisco and served as a law clerk to the Hon. Ronald M. Whyte, U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of California. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a master's degree from UC Berkeley, and a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.

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Daniela Urban

Daniela Urban

Special Counsel

Daniela founded and directs the Center for Workers’ Rights in Sacramento, which strives to improve working conditions, reduce barriers to securing employment, and remedy workplace injustices for low-wage workers and their families. As special counsel for the Legal Aid at Work, she helps run our Workers’ Rights Clinic in the Sacramento area.

Daniela formerly represented unions in Los Angeles. She received her J.D. from Berkeley Law in 2012 and her B.A. in politics and international relations and philosophy from Scripps College in 2005.

With Elizabeth Kristen, director of the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights Program at Legal Aid at Work, and with Blanca Banuelos, Daniela coauthored the article “Workplace Violence and Harassment of Low-Wage Workers,” which appeared in the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, January 2015.

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Program Services

Leslie Chaires

Leslie V. Chaires

Community Outreach Coordinator

Leslie provides administrative support for the Workers’ Rights Clinics, which offer free advice and counseling to low-income workers. She also coordinates community outreach efforts, does legal intakes, and provides referrals and information, translation services, and limited representation at unemployment hearings

Leslie received her B.A. from San Francisco State University in 2008, double majoring in broadcast and electronic communications arts and Latino studies. As a student, Leslie was an active member of organizations dedicated to promoting social justice for undocumented immigrants and helped advocate for higher education for low-income students throughout California.

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Ruby Ponce

Ruby Ponce

Paralegal

Ruby Ponce provides administrative and legal support to attorneys across all practice areas. Before joining Legal Aid at Work in 2013, she was an enforcement unit intern at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's district office in San Francisco.

Ruby graduated from Sonoma State University in 2012 with a B.A. in Philosophy concentrating in Pre- Law Studies, and later completed the Paralegal Studies Program at San Francisco State University in 2013. Ruby was also a Legal Intern at the Law Offices of Svetlana M. Shirinova and The Law Offices of Adam Neufer.

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Tishon Smith

Tishon Smith

Legal Assistant

Tishon enjoys helping people and strongly believes in the power of the law to address issues of social justice. Supporting lawyers across Legal Aid at Work's programs, she looks up rules and prepares pleadings, subpoenas, deposition notices, spreadsheets, client correspondence, and other documents.

Tishon has worked as a legal assistant and legal secretary in a variety of fields, including international trade, civil litigation, and employment. At Inland Counties Legal Services, she drafted and managed pleadings, prepared expense reports, and maintained a docket and individual lawyers’ calendars, among other responsibilities.

With the Oakland insurance firm of Trenk, DiPasquale, Della Ferra & Sodono, she also oversaw a case management database and managed trial exhibits, and she prepared and processed summonses and paperwork for purposes such as MCLE compliance and attorney timekeeping.

Tishon studied general education at Mesa College and took paralegal courses at Western College.

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King Szeto

King Szeto

Language Access Coordinator

King provides language assistance and legal information to low-income workers with limited English capacity. He helped initiate and manages our Chinese-language phone line, and he conducts outreach on employment law weekly through Chinese-language radio and newspapers. Before joining Legal Aid at Work in 1996, King worked as a broadcast journalist.

External Relations and Development

Nan Cramer

Nan Cramer

Grants Manager

Nan writes and manages our public and private grants. She first worked for the organization from 2005-08 and returned in 2015. During her time away, she earned an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School, and she applied her quantitative and analytical nature as a consultant to nonprofits, businesses, and social enterprises on planning, project evaluation, and resource development.

She worked earlier for the California and Texas IOLTA programs administering grants to legal services organizations in each state. Nan holds a bachelor of science in public policy from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington.

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Steve Heimerle

Development Manager

Steve manages fundraising and development campaigns for Legal Aid at Work. He joined us as coordinator of our $4 million Justice Fund Campaign in 2006. He had worked for six Bay Area nonprofits, including the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Shanti, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

Steve attended Iowa State University’s School of Architecture and worked for two national design firms in Chicago, Fountain Valley, Palo Alto and San Francisco for 14 years.

Reach Steve at sheimerle@legalaidatwork.org or 415-593-0138.

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Laura Impellizzeri

Laura Impellizzeri

Communications Director

Laura edits writing by attorneys and others on staff, manages the organization's social media, and leads its media relations, website, and messaging in other formats. She came to us with more than 25 years as a staff writer and editor for major news organizations, including Knight Ridder, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Associated Press.

Most recently, she was a producer for the breaking news app Circa and served as news editor and roundtable moderator for California Lawyer magazine. She holds a master's in journalism and a B.A. in Latin American history from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact her at limpellizzeri@legalaidatwork.org or 415-593-0071.

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Greg Medley

Greg Medley

Development Associate

Greg manages Legal Aid at Work's donor database and collaborates with other members of the development team on fundraising appeals and events. He joined us from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, where he held several positions, including admissions manager and database administrator. In those roles, he promoted museum programs, hired and supervised front desk employees, entered and managed donor data and generated reports, and supported three annual fundraising events, among other responsibilities.

He earlier served six years as membership director for the San Francisco Zoo, had an internship with the National Park Service, and worked as membership manager for the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society.

An avid historical costumer, Greg helps direct the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair and performs at the Northern California Pirate Festival and the Northern California Renaissance Faire. He also constructs his own props and costumes.

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Lily Schultze

Lily Schultze

Development Associate

Lily contributes to all aspects of development at Legal Aid at Work, including the 100th Anniversary Campaign to Grow Our Workers' Rights Clinic, special events, our annual fund, and our centennial gala. She coordinates and tracks fundraising solicitations and follow-up, tracks funds raised, helps draft and complete related correspondence, and helps support the board of directors.

She came to us from Messerli & Kramer in St. Paul, Minn., where she worked as a legislative coordinator, tracking legislation before the Minnesota State Legislature, researching and preparing reports for clients, and providing administrative support for attorney-lobbyists.

Her earlier work includes two years with the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she served as a committee assistant and a liaison for two representatives. Lily also has worked as a field organizer and held internships where she research and reported on Minnesota's Ban the Box law, conducted donor research, and managed social media. In her spare time, Lily teaches popular yoga classes in downtown San Francisco.

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Administration

Photo of Abner Chaires

Abner Chaires

Operations Associate

Abner joined Legal Aid at Work with significant experience in technical support, administrative work, and communications. Abner plays an essential role in managing the office and facilitating both the administrative flow and internal communications among the various departments of the team at Legal Aid at Work, and he leads critical support functions in archiving and IT support.

Abner serves as the operations associate at Legal Aid at Work, a role that he approaches from a background in sales and operations. Abner has experience handling inquiries, meticulously recording and cataloguing information, and supporting office administrative work. He is proficient in Spanish and English, and has a mastery of Microsoft Office suite, as well as Xcode, CodeBlocks, Adobe Photoshop CS6, and Final Cut Pro.

Abner is currently pursuing a major in Computer Engineering from Chabot College.

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Howard Chen

Howard Chen

Chief Administrative Officer

Howard oversees all the operational and administrative functions for Legal Aid at Work. A member of the management team, he is primarily responsible for office management, human resources, compliance, technology, financial management, and oversight. Howard has held a number of roles in support of the mission of the organization since 1997 and was the Director of Human Resources prior to becoming the Chief Operating Officer.

Ana Flores

Ana E. Flores

Receptionist

Ana plays an integral role in the daily operations and flow of our office and is the first Legal Aid at Work staffer that many of our clients speak with. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Ana conducts initial intakes and determines where to direct first-time callers. She also manages appointments for our legal clinics across California; interprets and translates for clients and potential clients in the office; and does written translation work.

Ana joined Legal Aid at Work in 1986 as a legal assistant, and she has served as our receptionist for many years. Born and raised in San Francisco, Ana also spent five years in El Salvador, where some of her family lives.

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photo of Jerome Nakagawa

Jerome Nakagawa

Finance and Operations Manager

Jerome oversees the inner workings of our organization. He assists the finance director with bookkeeping and coding; he manages payroll and the administration of benefits; and he orders supplies and makes sure all our bills get paid on time. He is studying finance and accounting.

Born in Hayward, Calif., Jerome studied political science at UC Berkeley and worked three years as a congressional aide and liaison to federal agencies in former U.S. Rep. Pete Stark’s office. Before joining Legal Aid at Work in 2010 as special projects coordinator, Jerome worked as a photojournalist, including internships, fellowships, and staff positions in Texas and Arizona.

He has completed the coursework toward a master’s degree in visual communication with an emphasis photojournalism at Ohio University.

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Scott Neilson

Scott Neilson

Network Administrator

As the systems administrator at Legal Aid at Work, Scott has focused since 1999 on optimizing our office technology to facilitate the delivery of services to our clients. A San Francisco native, Scott graduated from Archbishop Riordan High School and San Francisco State University. He is proud to contribute his skills to the work of such an important San Francisco institution as Legal Aid at Work.