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.

I'm Looking For

Attorneys

Programs Services

External Relations And Development

Administration

President

<!--:es-->Joan Graff<!--:--><!--:en-->Joan Graff<!--:-->

Joan Messing Graff

President

Joan Graff (she/her) 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 [email protected] or 415-864-8848.

Open to Read More

Attorneys

Alexis Alvarez

Alexis Alvarez

Senior Staff Attorney

Alexis Alvarez (she/her/ella) 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.

Open to Read More
Picture of Alexx Campbell

Alexx Campbell

Staff Attorney

Alexx Campbell (he/him/él) is a staff attorney in the Wage Protection Program. He represents workers who have experienced wage theft, assisting clients with cases in court and before the California Labor Commissioner. Alexx also serves clients at Wage Claim Clinics at day labor centers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and at the Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland. He educates and trains workers and community members on wage and hour protections and how to combat wage theft. Alexx often serves immigrant and Spanish-speaking workers, and is fluent in Spanish. In an earlier role at Legal Aid at Work, Alexx focused on helping construction workers recover unpaid wages using mechanic’s liens.

Alexx received his B.A. from Amherst College in 2007 and his J.D. from Berkeley Law in 2015. During law school, Alexx worked at Tenants Together, the East Bay Community Law Center, and Legal Aid at Work. Prior to re-joining Legal Aid at Work in 2018, Alexx worked at the Homeless Action Center in Oakland, representing homeless and other low-income clients in Social Security disability benefits cases.
Open to Read More
Picture of Nora Cassidy

Nora Cassidy

Attorney

Nora Cassidy (she/her/ella) is an attorney in our Gender Equity and LGBTQ Rights Program and our Central Valley Workers' Rights Project. With an expertise in representing workers who have faced harassment based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity, Nora works in partnership with low-wage immigrant workers in the Central Valley who are seeking workplace justice.

A Modesto native, Nora received her B.A. in history from Carleton College and her J.D. from UC Irvine School of Law where she was a Public Service Scholar and participated in the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Nora clerked for Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin on the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Nora speaks Spanish.

Open to Read More
Headshot of DeCarol Davis

DeCarol Davis

Staff Attorney

DeCarol Davis is the Director of the Community Legal Services program, which provides free legal services to low-wage workers at Workers’ Rights Clinics throughout California. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work in 2020, Davis, in addition to bartending and managing house at Shotgun Players, Ashby Stage, conducted international legal research with the University of Sydney, Australia on the exploitation of migrant workers. Prior to her research, Davis litigated as a plaintiff-side employment attorney at Bryan Schwartz Law. 

As a Truman Scholar, Davis received her J.D. from Berkeley Law in 2017, where she served as a student director of the Workers’ Rights Clinic, was a two-time mock trial national champion, including regional and national titles in the ABA Labor and Employment Law Competition, and earned the Francine Marie Diaz Memorial Award for distinguished public service. Before becoming an attorney, Davis was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.  Davis, who graduated top of her class at the Coast Guard Academy in 2008 with a degree in Electrical Engineering, served as a marine inspector, the author of Coast Guard field regulations, and a law enforcement officer. During her service, she was awarded the Judge Advocate General Field Regulations Award, Meritorious Team Commendation, and the Department of Defense STEM Role Model Award.
Open to Read More
Marisa Diaz

Marisa Diaz

Senior Staff Attorney

Marisa Díaz (she/her/ella) defends and promotes the rights of low-wage immigrant workers and other workers who face discrimination based on their national origin or ethnicity. To do this, Marisa engages in impact litigation, community education, and policy work. Before joining Legal Aid at Work, Marisa was a fellow at Equal Rights Advocates, where she advocated 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 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. During law school Marisa interned with Legal Aid at Work and the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. At Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, she represented immigrants facing deportation.

Prior to attending law school, Marisa received a Fulbright Grant to research the experiences of Colombian domestic workers in Spain. She also worked at organizations in California and México where she advocated for the rights of women and prisoners. Marisa, who is fluent in Spanish, received her undergraduate degree from Pomona College.

Open to Read More
Mike Gaitley

Mike Gaitley

Senior Staff Attorney

Mike Gaitley (he/him) is a staff attorney in the Community Legal Services program, where he has developed and nurtured a model for providing free legal services through a Workers’ Rights Clinic 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.

Open to Read More
Christopher Ho

Christopher Ho

Senior Staff Attorney

As director of LAAW's National Origin and Immigrants' Rights Program, Chris (he/him) focuses on employment practices that disproportionately affect immigrant workers, language minorities and others who face discrimination because of where they or their families come from. In this work, he has litigated legal questions of first impression, leading to judicial decisions that have solidified and expanded Federal and California law protections for these worker communities.

The impact litigation Chris and his colleagues have brought has strengthened the ability of undocumented workers to fight back against employer exploitation. In two cases, Contreras v. Corinthian Vigor Insurance Brokerage and Singh v. Jutla, the U.S. District Court established that employers cannot contact immigration authorities to retaliate against undocumented workers who have asserted their legal rights. In Rivera v. Nibco, the Ninth Circuit in 2004 barred an employer from inquiring into the immigration status of the 25 plaintiffs, thereby precluding the weaponization of the civil discovery process as a tool of intimidation. And Chris’s 2014 California Supreme Court victory in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. established that immigrant workers have full legal standing to enforce their California workplace rights, irrespective of their immigration status or whether they used an invalid Social Security number to obtain their jobs.

More recently, in 2017, Chris and his colleagues won two important victories in the Ninth Circuit. In Arias v. Raimondo, co-counseled with California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), the court again created national precedent when it found an employer's attorney could be held personally liable for unlawful retaliation when he contacted ICE to have an undocumented immigrant worker deported after he had sued the employer to recover his unpaid wages. And in Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Ninth Circuit upheld a groundbreaking U.S. District Court judgment that CDCR violated a job applicant's federal civil rights by rejecting him solely because he had used an invalid Social Security number to obtain work while he had been undocumented.

Chris got his B.A. in political science from Yale, an A.M. in government from Harvard and his law degree from Stanford. He first joined Legal Aid at Work as its Félix Velarde-Muñoz Graduate Intern, later returning as a staff attorney. In 2001, he was a Windcall Resident Fellow in Belgrade, Montana. During the Obama administration, Chris was appointed to the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

Open to Read More
Headshot of Wyatt Honse

Wyatt Honse

Attorney

Wyatt Honse (he/him) is an attorney in the Disability Rights Program, where he advises, represents, and supports individuals with disabilities who face discrimination from their employers and in accessing government programs and services.

Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Wyatt was a litigation associate at an international law firm. While there, his pro bono practice focused on Title IX gender discrimination, and he partnered extensively with LAAW’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports project.

Wyatt attended Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, receiving his J.D., cum laude, in 2017. While in law school, Wyatt served as an Articles Editor of the Northwestern University Law Review, participated in the school’s Federal Appellate Clinic, and worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Wyatt received a B.S., cum laude, and B.A., cum laude, from Cornell University, and he holds a master’s degree in education from the City University of New York – Lehman College. Before attending law school, he worked as a public high school science teacher in New York City.

Open to Read More
Jinny Kim

Jinny Kim

Senior Staff Attorney

Jinny (she/her) 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.

Open to Read More
Elizabeth Kristen

Elizabeth Kristen

Senior Staff Attorney

Elizabeth Kristen (she/her) 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 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. She won a ground breaking Ninth Circuit ruling, with her co-counsel, that enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments in a Southern California high school (Ollier v. Sweetwater).

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. 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.

In 2015, California Lawyer selected Elizabeth as one of its California Lawyers of the Year in the field of Civil Rights. Elizabeth is a Northern California Super Lawyer. She was the recipient of Protect our Defenders' Justice Award. 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.

Open to Read More
Headshot of Molly Lao

Molly Lao

Skadden Fellow

Molly Lao (she/her) is a Skadden Fellow with the Racial Economic Justice and Disability Rights Programs. Molly provides legal services to individuals whose criminal records and disabilities compound and intersect to create barriers to living wage employment. Through her fellowship, she will work to establish a medical-legal-social services partnership in Fresno.

Molly received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her J.D. from Berkeley Law where she was honored with the Francine Marie Diaz Memorial Award for Public Service and as the John D. Weiss Employee Justice Fellow. During law school, Molly worked for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the East Bay Community Law Center, Legal Aid at Work, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She was also Editor-in-Chief of the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law and Diversity Editor of the California Law Review.

Prior to law school, Molly was a Policy and Program Manager at the California Workforce Development Board and a consultant for the California Senate Public Safety Committee. She is also a native speaker of Cambodian.

Headshot of Lynnette Miner

Lynnette Miner

Senior Staff Attorney

Lynnette Miner (she/her/hers) joined Legal Aid at Work as a Senior Staff Attorney in the Gender Equity & LGBTQ Rights Program in January 2022. Before joining Legal Aid at Work, Lynnette was a Senior Staff Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, where she focused on class action litigation to improve prison conditions and other criminal justice advocacy. Prior to that, Lynnette was a Social Justice & Impact Litigation Fellow at the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office and a Litigation Fellow at the Impact Fund. She also clerked for the Honorable Fortunato Benavides on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Austin, Texas.

Lynnette graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Law School. During law school, Lynnette worked with Timap for Justice in rural Sierra Leone, Legal Aid At Work, and the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. As part of the Harvard International Human Rights Clinic, Lynnette spent a year pursuing litigation seeking to hold corporations and government officials accountable in U.S. federal courts for human rights abuses. She was also Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Human Rights Journal.

Lynnette’s ancestry is Korean and white (southern U.S. with western European origins), and she speaks Korean. She has dedicated practices of meditation and embodiment and uses these practices to ground her in exploring ways to cultivate greater safety, belonging, and well-being.
Open to Read More
Headshot of Jared Odessky

Jared Odessky

Skadden Fellow

Jared Odessky (he/him) is a legal fellow in our Gender Equity & LGBTQ Rights Program. Jared advises workers who face discrimination and harassment based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.

As a Skadden Fellow, Jared focuses on representing low-wage LGBTQ workers in underserved areas like the Central Valley. During law school, he worked for the National Employment Law Project, the Employment Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services, A Better Balance, and Outten & Golden, a plaintiff-side employment law firm. He was also a regular contributor to the blog OnLabor and a research assistant to the faculty at Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program. Before law school he worked as a legislative aide and as a union organizer.

Jared received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his B.A., summa cum laude, from Columbia University.

Photo of Kim Ouillette

Kim Ouillette

Staff Attorney

Kim Ouillette (she/her/ella) is a Staff Attorney in the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work. She represents workers experiencing wage theft, retaliation, and other violations of their workplace rights. She also supports legislative advocacy efforts and provides trainings and advice to worker centers and community-based organizations.

Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Kim clerked for the Honorable Christina Reiss on the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. Kim is a 2018 graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law.

Julia Parish

Julia Parish

Senior Staff Attorney

As a member of our Work and Family and SURVIVE programs, Julia (she/her/ella) 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.

Open to Read More
Headshot of Sela Steiger

Sela Steiger

Staff Attorney

Sela (she/her) is a staff attorney in the Work and Family Program. She provides legal advice and representation to pregnant workers and new parents, workers struggling with family and medical crises, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Sela also presents trainings on new parent and caregiving leave laws and engages in policy advocacy to advance the rights of working families.

Sela received her J.D. from UC Davis School of Law – King Hall. During her time in law school, Sela represented clients in Title IX actions and domestic violence restraining order requests as a member of the UC Davis Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic. She also worked as a law clerk for the Children’s Law Center, the Family Violence Appellate Project, and Public Advocates.

Headshot of Maria Tapia-Hernandez

Maria Tapia-Hernandez

Senior Staff Attorney

Maria Tapia-Hernandez is an attorney in the Community Legal Services Program, which provides free legal services to low-wage workers at over a dozen Workers’ Rights Clinics throughout California. The clinics provide workers who have been subjected to unlawful practices on the job with expert advice to improve their economic stability and wellbeing. Most recently, Maria was a fellow in LAAW’s Project SURVIVE, advocating for the workplace rights of survivors of violence. Maria’s legal background also includes comprehensive experience in immigration law, having assisted asylum seekers and other immigrants seek relief from deportation and release from ICE custody.

After law school, Maria worked at Bay Area Legal Aid; where she assisted domestic violence survivors with protective orders, custody, visitation, and other safety planning issues. She has clerked with Legal Aid of Napa Valley and the Immigration Center for Women and Children. Maria received her B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2009 and her JD from UC Hastings in 2014. During law school Maria was Co-President of La Raza Law Students Association.

Sharon Terman

Sharon Terman

Senior Staff Attorney

Sharon Terman (she/her) is Director of the Work and Family Program and Senior Staff Attorney. She provides legal advice to workers in low-wage jobs, represents employees facing family medical crises, advocates for policy change to promote family-friendly workplaces, and educates the community through trainings, know-your-rights materials, and technical assistance. Sharon is an expert on family and medical leave policies and has helped craft several landmark laws improving California’s work-family policies, including expansions of Paid Family Leave to cover caregiving for siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law, and increasing the benefit amount, especially for low-wage workers; expansion of job-protected leave to millions more Californians; a law providing continued health insurance benefits during pregnancy leave; and a law ensuring job-protected time off to visit or enroll children in school or childcare or to address a child care emergency.

Sharon has provided expert testimony before Congress, the California Legislature, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and she serves on Governor Newsom’s Paid Family Leave Taskforce. She co-founded a medical-legal partnership with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Women’s Clinic to educate low-income pregnant patients about workplace rights.

Sharon received her B.A. with highest distinction from UC Berkeley and received her J.D. with distinction from Stanford Law School. Before joining Legal Aid at Work as a Skadden Fellow in 2005, she clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sharon is the 2011 recipient of the Stanford Law School Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award. She is the proud mother of a young daughter.
Open to Read More
Headshot of Brisa Velazquez Oatis

Brisa Velazquez Oatis

Community Legal Services Program Administrator

Brisa Velazquez Oatis (she/her/ella) oversees the Workers’ Rights Clinics throughout California as a part of the Community Legal Services Program. She manages the administration and outreach of the Workers’ Rights Clinics and provides legal services to workers in California.

Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, Brisa worked at a wage and hour firm for over two years and volunteered her time at legal services agencies.

Brisa attended the University of San Diego School of Law where she helped launch San Diego’s first Workers’ Rights Clinic. During law school, she served as a clinic counselor and began representing clients in front of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. She then clerked for Legal Aid at Work’s Disability Rights Program as a John D. Weiss Employee Justice Summer fellow. Brisa’s legal background also includes comprehensive experience in family-based immigration law and employment immigration.

Brisa is a native Spanish speaker and remains passionate about client advocacy and social justice. Brisa has been passionate about civil rights and workers’ rights since her high school years where she actively participated in civil rights’ organizing and political campaigns. Her passion was further fostered where she received her undergraduate education, at the Bay Area’s National Hispanic University, where she graduated with honors. She remains an advocate for underrepresented groups and an advocate for making legal services accessible to all individuals.

Open to Read More
Picture of Stacy Villalobos

Stacy Villalobos

Director, Racial Economic Justice Program

Stacy Villalobos (she/her/ella) is the Director of the Racial Economic Justice Program at Legal Aid at Work. She represents workers fighting race discrimination before federal and state courts as well as administrative agencies.  Stacy has experience litigating a wide range of employment issues, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage theft. Stacy also spearheads Legal Aid at Work's Ban the Box and Fair Chance work representing job seekers with criminal records. 

Most recently, Stacy was involved in briefing two important victories in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In the first case, Arias v. Raimondo, which we co-counseled with California Rural Legal Assistance, the court broke new legal ground when it held that an employer's attorney violated the law when he contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") in an attempt to have his client's former employee deported after he sued for his unpaid wages. In the other case, Guerrero v. California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a precedent-setting 2015 U.S. District Court trial judgment that an employer violated federal civil rights law when it disqualified a job applicant solely because he had used an invalid Social Security number to obtain work while he was undocumented.   Stacy has also played an active role in programmatic strategic planning, secured almost $300,000 in grants to support the work of the program, and supervises the Fair Chance Community Organizer at Legal Aid at Work. Stacy also serves as an Abogada Consultora for the Consulado General de Mexico de San Francisco. Stacy first worked at Legal Aid at Work as a Skadden Fellow, representing immigrant women workers in the Central Valley and beyond.  After law school, Stacy completed a federal district court clerkship with the Honorable Fernando M. Olguin, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School.  At Stanford Law, she was a Senior Editor of the Stanford Law Review and a Co-Chair of the Stanford Latino Law Students Association.  As part of the Immigrants' Rights Clinic, Stacy also represented clients before San Francisco's Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit. During law school, Stacy worked at the National Immigration Law Center, ACLU of Southern California, and Traber & Voorhees, a plaintiff-side civil rights law firm. She is the first in her family to obtain a high school diploma and a native Spanish speaker.  Stacy has been advocating for workers’ rights for over a decade, beginning during her undergraduate years as an organizer with low-wage immigrant workers on campus.
Open to Read More
Photo of George Warner

George Warner

Director, Wage Protection Program

George Warner (he/him) is the Director of the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid At Work. He represents workers who have been subjected to labor trafficking and wage theft, and workers seeking to obtain wage replacement benefits, including Unemployment Insurance. George Warner joined Legal Aid at Work's Wage Protection Program in 2019. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work, George worked for the Honorable Vince Chhabria on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and the Honorable Marsha Berzon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. George graduated from Stanford Law School in 2017, and Brown University in 2011.

photo of Katie Wutchiett

Katherine Wutchiett

Staff Attorney

Katie (she/her) is leading the implementation of our Medical-Legal Partnership model in Contra Costa County. She provides free legal services, including representation and technical support, regarding the rights of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, workers struggling with family and medical crises, and pregnant workers and new parents. Katie also advocates to expand workers' rights and provides trainings on rights to leave, accommodations, and wage replacement to health care providers, survivors and advocates.

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.
Open to Read More

Program Services

Jessica Barragan Carmona

Central Valley Organizer

Jessica (She/Her) is the community organizer for the Central Valley program that is under the Gender/LGBTQ program. Raised in Stockton, Jessica has seen first-hand the empowerment reliable, accessible legal services can have on immigrant communities. Jessica conducts intakes, manages calls to the Central Valley helpline and works closely with Central Valley local organizations to provide legal services, advice and information to directly impacted communities

Photo of Linda Centeno

Linda Centeno

Work & Family Program Organizer

As part of the Work and Family Program team, Linda is passionate about providing advocacy, spreading empowerment, raising awareness, and providing resource referrals in English and Spanish for workers struggling with family and medical crises, with an emphasis on families impacted by COVID-19. She supports project helplines and legal intakes, and helps coordinate social media and outreach efforts to increase awareness of rights and resources available to low-income workers.

Aldo Esparza

Aldo Esparza

Paralegal

Aldo (he/him/el) supports attorneys across LAAW’s programs by conducting legal research, formatting legal documents, recording client intakes, and translating documents from English to Spanish. Aldo also serves clients at Wage Claim Clinics at the Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland twice a month. As a native Spanish speaker, Aldo often serves immigrant and Spanish-speaking workers and helps facilitate communications between attorneys and clients.

Prior to working at LAAW, Aldo served in the United States Army as an Infantryman and deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, where his experience inspired him to pursue a degree in Political Science. Since separating from the Army, Aldo has received his B.A. in Political Science and Anthropology, and an ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in Political Science.
Open to Read More
Headshot of Diana Fabian-Gutierrez

Diana Fabian-Gutierrez

Legal Fellow

Diana Fabian-Gutierrez (she/her/ella) is a Legal Fellow with the Work and Family Program. Diana focuses her work on the rights of pregnant workers, new parents, and caregivers. Diana often serves communities hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic including low wage workers and mono-lingual Spanish Speakers. Her work includes legal intakes, community trainings, and legislative advocacy to expand family-friendly workplace policies. As the daughter of immigrants, a first-generation law graduate, and a past restaurant worker Diana provides a firsthand perspective in serving our client base.

Lee Garcia

Program Administrator, Community Legal Services

Lee (they/she/he) received their B.A. in Anthropology in May 2020 from Middlebury College where they helped found the Trans Affinity Group and served as President of the Queers and Allies. Afterward they moved to Burlington, VT where they became involved with racial justice organizing and worked at various social service providers working with unhoused youth and families before joining the Community Legal Services team in January of 2022.

Here at LAAW they work to ensure smooth operations for our Worker Rights' Clinics Program. In addition to administration and outreach, they also help train and orient new WRC Legal Counselors to our program.

Headshot of Erik Jimenez Rodriguez

Erik Jimenez Rodriguez

FAIR Fellow

Erik Jimenez Rodriguez is the Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion and Resources (FAIR) Fellow with the Wage Protection and National Origin and Immigrants' Right Programs. Erik represents workers who experience wage theft and workplace retaliation for speaking up about unfair working conditions. He also advocates for workers who face immigration-related threats and retaliation or discrimination based on their national origin.

Erik is passionate about advancing low-wage workers' rights and advocating for immigrant workers facing legal issues in the workplace.

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson

Fair Chance Organizer

Sandra Johnson (she/her/hers) grew up in the community that Legal Aid at Work serves. She has experienced incarceration and workplace discrimination and has overcome many barriers because of our systemically racist society. These experiences fuel Sandra’s commitment to advocating for equality for people of color that suffer from the systemic racism that is embedded in the laws of this country. Having served 15 years in and out of the prison system Sandra draws from her own personal experience and has a passion for this work and other people struggling with the same issues she has: employment, housing, and educational discrimination.

Sandra first stumbled into social justice work when she was terminated from her job of six years because of her criminal history. She joined the team at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) in 2016 as their first Elder Freeman Policy Fellow where she has served as an expert witness and has testified many times in front of the California state legislature and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Her testimony and organizing was instrumental to passing the Fair Chance Act (Ban the Box) and the RISE Act (SB 180) that became law on January 1, 2018.

After her fellowship ended Sandra then went on to become LSPC’s Senior Community Organizer. In this role she led the annual “Quest for Democracy” event in 2018 & 2019 for which she took over 700 formerly incarcerated people and impacted family members to the State Capitol for two days of advocacy for policies that would benefit their communities. Sandra later had the responsibility at LSPC for coordinating and monitoring LSPC membership of currently incarcerated people to help them learn to advocate for policies that impact their lives while inside.

Sandra has also worked at the reentry legal advocacy organization Root & Rebound as their In-Prison Programs Coordinator, where she helped people to reenter and navigate the many barriers after being released. Her passion is to help others with a criminal history understand that they are worthy of a better future—that impacted people do not have to be held hostage to their past.

Sandra also serves as the first formerly incarcerated board member at East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) where she advises the organization on its client services.

Sandra believes every person deserves a fair chance and everyone’s voice matters regardless of their past struggles. She earned her A.A. Degree at San Francisco Community College and hopes to continue her educational journey towards her B.A. in the future.

Open to Read More
Tishon Smith

Tishon Smith-Bennett

Senior Paralegal

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.

Open to Read More
Valerie Sprague

Valerie Sprague

Senior Paralegal

Valerie (she/her) comes to us from the Paralegal Program at San Francisco State University where she received her ABA –approved Paralegal Certificate, with honors. She provides legal support across all programs in the organization including researching civil procedure and local rules, performing analysis on discovery, calendaring deadlines, and preparing legal documents.

Valerie received her BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in History. Prior to joining LAAW, she interned at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and worked part-time at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Murphy.
Open to Read More
King Szeto

King Szeto

Senior Language Access Coordinator

King (he/him) 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

Photo of Kevin Clune

Kevin Clune

Vice President of Strategy

Kevin (he/him) cultivates the strategic alliances that make our mission possible. In that role, he oversees the organization’s communication efforts to help raise awareness of our work and the impact it has on the lives of our low-wage worker clients. Kevin also works closely with foundations, Board members, governmental entities, and other key supporters to ensure that we have the resources we need to carry out our mission. He also helps teach our Workers' Rights Clinic in East Palo Alto, which is operated in partnership with Stanford Law School. A plaintiffs’-side employment lawyer by training, Kevin was previously a litigation partner in the law firm of Kerr & Wagstaffe, during which time he served on Legal Aid at Work’s Board as the Chair of the External Relations Committee. Kevin received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2006 and his B.A. in philosophy from the University of Michigan in 2002.

Image of Kevin Dolan

Kevin Dolan

Development Associate

Kevin (he/him) works in Legal Aid at Work’s development department, assisting in a variety of activities including database work, gift entry and acknowledgment, and communications. He worked previously as a non-profit database associate, a street fundraiser, and an assistant pre-school teacher among other childcare positions.

An avid basketball fan, Kevin can often be found playing at the park or watching NBA games. He also enjoys old-school card and board games like spades and sequence and spends lots of time lounging with his cat Draymond. Kevin currently lives in his hometown of Oakland, attended Gonzaga University where he earned a B.A. in sociology, and earned a certificate in data analytics through UC Berkeley Extension
Open to Read More
Photo of Steve Heimerle

Steve Heimerle

Senior Assistant Development Director

Steve (he/him) 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 [email protected] or 415-593-0138.

Open to Read More
Greg Medley

Greg Medley

Senior Development Database Specialist

Greg (he/him) 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.

Open to Read More
Picture of Madeleine Rowell

Madeleine Rowell

Grants & Impact Assessment Specialist

As a Grants and Impact Assessment Specialist, Madeleine Rowell (she/her) acts as a project coordinator for Legal Aid at Work's grant application and reporting processes, working to ensure the organization's grant-related work aligns with LAAW's overall programmatic strategy. In doing so, Madeleine gathers critical information that allows Legal Aid at Work to know how well we are achieving our goals and how we can better serve those in need. Before joining Legal Aid at Work, Madeleine was a student at Stanford University, where she earned her B.A. in comparative studies in race and ethnicity with a concentration in politics, policy, and equity and a minor in psychology.

Administration

<!--:en-->Howard Chen<!--:-->

Howard Chen

Chief Operating 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.

BreAnna Crawford

Operations Associate

As the operations associate at Legal Aid at Work, BreAnna (She/Her) supports our staff, clerks, and network administrator in a variety of operations related tasks including leading onsite management tasks such as conducting IT orientations and timekeeping training for on-boarding new users such as attorneys, law clerks, and staff. She also collaborates with the network administrator on software configurations as needed.

<!--:en-->Ana Flores<!--:-->

Ana E. Flores

Senior Intake Assistant and 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.
Open to Read More
Headshot of Ian Huang

Ian Huang

Human Resource & Accounting Manager,

Ian (he/him) joined the Legal Aid at Work team in May 2020, acting as both Accounting and Human Resources manager. His day-to-day consists of working with both staff and individual departments, maintaining and developing the organization’s financial and human resource systems to sustain a high level of productivity. He works closely with his department to coordinate the annual audit, budget and enrollment. Ian received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from San Francisco State University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Accountancy from Golden Gate University. With over ten years of experience working with a variety of industries ranging from government organizations, for-profit corporations, and international nonprofits, Ian utilizes his expertise to support Legal Aid at Work’s mission and program. In his free time he loves enjoying food from his home country of Taiwan, and walking his twin dogs. He is incredibly grateful to be a member of the Legal Aid at Work family.

Galina Khunis

Galina Khunis

Senior Accounting Manager

As the Senior Accounting Manager, Galina oversees a variety of day to day financial and accounting functions to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the financials at LAAW. Among other things, she is responsible for preparing the annual organizational budget and leading the annual audit effort. She works closely with Development Department as well as Legal and other program Staff. Galina comes to LAAW with over a decade of nonprofit experience, and with a passion for the work and mission of Legal Aid at Work.

Scott Neilson

Scott Neilson

Operations and Technology Manager

As the Operations and Technology Manager at Legal Aid at Work, Scott (he/him) focuses on optimizing our day to day office operations and technology to facilitate the delivery of services to our clients. He has been with the organization since 1999 and was previously the Network Administrator prior to his current role. A San Francisco native, Scott attended 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.

Headshot of Lawrence Yuan

Lawrence Yuan

Vice President of Finance and Operations

Lawrence (he/him) joined Legal Aid at Work as its Vice President of Finance & Operations in the summer of 2021. He is responsible to the organization’s financial health and sustainability as well as day-to-day operations such as IT and office management. As a member of the management team, he contributes his ideas and experience to the organization’s strategy and growth. Prior to Legal Aid at Work, Lawrence has been a non-profit leader with over 10 years of experience in several nonprofit organizations range from social justice, community service to performing art and international education development. He earned his B.As in Accounting and International Business and went on receiving Master in Taxation and MBA. He is currently pursuing on his master degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. As an immigrant himself, a people of color and a member of LGBTQIA+, he is very proud of Legal Aid at Work’s mission and programs, and of being a part of Legal Aid at Work family!