Karen Barker Marcou, Esq., Executive Director and Co-Founder

Karen Barker Marcou, a DCVLP co-founder, has recently been appointed as Executive Director after serving as a Co-Executive Director for over eight years. She manages DCVLP’s programs, finances and Voices Against Violence, DCVLP’s annual benefit which, over the years, has raised over two million dollars on behalf of DCVLP’s clients. Ms. Marcou currently serves on the Finance and Volunteer Committees of DCVLP’s Board of Directors. Prior to co-founding DCVLP, Ms. Marcou was an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services and has over ten years of experience handling family law cases and representing low-income individuals in the District of Columbia. Ms. Marcou received her J.D. magna cum laude from Washington College of Law, American University and her B.A. from Middlebury College. She has served on the Board of Directors of School for Friends, Guy Mason Recreation Center, and the Rosedale Conservancy.

Isabelle Johnson, PHR, Director of Operations

Isabelle Johnson serves as DCVLP‘s Director of Operations and is responsible for the organization’s administration, finances and human resources. Previously, Ms. Johnson served Chief Operating Officer and Director of Operations for various non-profit organizations in the environmental sector. Ms. Johnson received a B.A. from Colby College and became a certified Human Resources Professional in 2013.

Jackie Love-Baker, Esq., Director of Development

Jackie Love-Baker, a licensed California and DC attorney, is DCVLP’s Director of Development. She served for 13 years as the Director of the Legal Advocacy Program for Domestic Violence Victims at the YWCA of San Diego County where she worked on behalf of domestic violence victims and was responsible for writing and managing over $2 million in federal and private grants. Ms. Love-Baker is also a USPTO patent lawyer and and has assisted local non-profits with their grant writing efforts. Ms. Love-Baker graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in biology. She received her J.D. From the University of San Diego.

Kathleen Buhle Biden, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Kathleen Buhle Biden is the new Director of Strategic Partnerships for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project where she has served as Vice President of the Board of Directors and as a member of the Advisory Council. Kathleen has been fighting for the rights of women and victims for two decades. She chaired the Eleanor Roosevelt Dialogue at CSIS, served as an advisor for the United States of Women’s Summit sponsored by the White House, and advised on presidential and senate campaigns. Kathleen has also contributed essays to PYPO and has been an active community fundraiser for DCVLP, Sidwell Friends School, and other worthy causes.

Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Program Attorneys

Sara Tennen, Esq., Legal Director

Sara Tennen, DCVLP’s Legal Director, oversees our Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Programs. She leads our volunteer recruiting and training efforts, offers technical support on legal issues, and provides strategic input on our programs and policies. She started her legal career as a prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney‘s Office in Arizona, where she prosecuted sex crimes against children. She later practiced family law in Arizona, Maryland and the District. Ms. Tennen, a trained mediator, earned a law degree and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Rochester.

Ellen Opdyke, Esq., Managing Attorney

Ellen Opdyke manages DCVLP’s civil protection order cases, DCVLP‘s Domestic Violence Resource Clinic, and immigration matters. Prior to joining DCVLP, Ms. Opdyke was Managing Attorney of the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI) at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. At SALI, Ms. Opdyke represented survivors of sexual assault in protective and peace order proceedings, family law cases, criminal proceedings as the victim’s attorney, immigration petitions, and other related civil matters. Ms. Opdyke earned B.A.s in Political Science and Women’s Studies from Georgia State University and a J.D. from American University.

Linda Kauskay, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Linda Kauskay supervises volunteers handling family law (custody and divorce) cases on behalf of domestic violence victims. She also mediates family cases for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. Ms. Kauskay received her J.D. from Georgetown University and spent her early career at Steptoe & Johnson LLC. She is admitted to practice in both the District of Columbia and Maryland, and is performance-certified as a mediator by the Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution.

Rebecca Simpson, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Rebecca Simpson supervises volunteer attorneys in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Programs. She has served as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem in Fairfax County and began volunteering with DCVLP in 2014. Before taking a break from practicing law to raise her three children, Rebecca was a litigation associate at Arnold & Porter, and began her career as a judicial clerk on the Minnesota Supreme Court. She received her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School and her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Political Science from the University of Delaware.

Victoria Lynch-Draper, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Victoria Lynch-Draper supervises volunteer attorneys in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Programs. She was a litigation associate for five years at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, where she dedicated significant time to the pro bono representation of indigent clients in custody and other family law matters in DC and Maryland courts. In 2015, Victoria was awarded Pillsbury’s Mid-Level Pro Bono Fellowship, through which she spent a year as a Staff Attorney with Children’s Law Center, serving as a guardian ad litem and representing third-party caregivers in contested custody proceedings with multi-jurisdictional issues in DC Superior Court. Prior to joining Pillsbury, Victoria served as a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection Section of the DC Office of the Attorney General, prosecuting child abuse and neglect proceedings. She received her J.D. from Howard University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy from the University of Virginia.

Julia Fuld, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Julia Fuld supervises volunteers handling civil protection order cases for domestic violence victims. She also handles family law (custody and divorce) cases for domestic violence victims. Prior to joining the DCVLP staff, Ms. Fuld volunteered with DCVLP for three years and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 2015. Ms. Fuld earned her J.D. with honors from American University, Washington College of Law, her LL.M. in Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law and her B.A. in Studio Art from Dartmouth College.

Nikita West, Esq., Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow

Nikita West serves as DCVLP’s Roxana Cannon Arsht Fellow in our Child Advocacy Program and Domestic Violence Program.  Ms. West was a DCVLP volunteer from 2012-2016.  During law school, Ms. West clerked in the Narcotics Division in Cook County Circuit Court and clerked for the Chief Judge in the Chancery Division.  Ms. West earned her J.D. from John Marshall Law School, her B.A. from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and received an LL.M in International Criminal Law. She has also done legal volunteer work and research in Namibia, Myanmar and Haiti.

Support Staff

Emilia Plater-Zyberk, Outreach & Volunteer Program Manager

Ms. Plater-Zyberk is responsible for managing attorney trainings and inquiries and serves as DCVLP’s point of contact for our volunteer attorneys. Ms. Plater-Zyberk previously performed outreach and communications work for a variety of non-profits, including a domestic violence resource clinic in Poughkeepsie, NY. She received her B.A. from Vassar College, majoring in Sociology with a focus on gender and racism in U.S. society.

Jaclyn Lahr, Paralegal & Data Manager

Ms. Lahr assists volunteer attorneys with trial preparation and other litigation support needs. In addition, she assists in managing DCVLP’s client and case data. Previously, Ms. Lahr served as an AmeriCorps member with College Possible, where she supported and advised students from low-income households regarding education advancement. Ms. Lahr received her B.A.degrees in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Indiana University. During her undergraduate career, Ms. Lahr spent a semester abroad in Rajasthan, India, where she had the opportunity to study the impact of domestic violence interventions that target young men as stakeholders.

Katie Carden, Development & Executive Assistant

Ms. Carden works closely with the Director of Development and the Executive Director to assist with grant applications & reports, to manage the donor database, and to organize hard copy and electronic records. She previously worked for two law firms in the DC area and started her work with DCVLP as an intern in the summer of 2015. Ms. Carden received her B.A. from the University of Maryland, majoring in U.S. History with a minor in Spanish.

Suzy Ziaii, Legal Program Assistant

Ms. Ziaii works in our Domestic Violence practice area, matching volunteer attorneys with cases and providing them with case management support. Additionally, she assists with the administration of DCVLP’s Walk-In Clinic and other legal team needs. Previously, Ms. Ziaii worked as a labor-side litigation paralegal and as a digital fundraising strategist for Congressional campaigns. She received her B.A. from the College of William & Mary, where she double majored in Government and Hispanic Studies, specifically focusing her studies on immigration and human rights. Ms. Ziaii speaks Polish and Spanish.

Social Services

Lorraine Holmes, Client Advocate

Ms. Holmes assists with any non-legal needs clients might have by providing on-going emotional support, safety planning, referrals to partner organizations and advocacy within the various systems our clients are engaged with. Ms. Holmes started her career as an intern with a DC domestic violence organization while earning a BA from American University, and has been doing direct-service work with various organizations ever since. She has extensive experience providing support to survivors of power-based violence and brings a trauma-informed and strength-based approach to her work.

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

— DCVLP client and survivor of domestic violence