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

Karen Barker Marcou co-founded the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project in 2008 and serves as the organization’s Executive Director. She has over a decade of experience handing family law and domestic violence cases and representing low-income individuals in the District of Columbia. Prior to co-founding DCVLP, Ms. Marcou was an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services and also served as a pro bono Guardian ad litem for at-risk children. She received her JD from Washington College of Law, American University magna cum laude and is a graduate of Middlebury College. She received the Women’s Bar Association of DC’s Star of the Bar Award in 2009 and 2015, and in 2018, she received the Council for Court Excellence’s Justice Potter Stewart Award.

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 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.

Sara Tennen, Deputy Director

As DCVLP’s Deputy Director, Sara Tennen oversees our Legal Team, including both our Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Programs. She leads our volunteer recruiting, law firm outreach, and training efforts.  Sara offers technical support on legal issues in each of our practice areas and provides strategic input on our programs and policies. She started her legal career as a prosecutor with Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Arizona, where she prosecuted sex crimes against children. Sara later practiced family law in Arizona, Maryland, and the District. Sara has served as a court appointed guardian ad litem on behalf of numerous children in DC Superior Court. Ms. Tennen serves on the Superior Court Domestic Relations Branch Subcommittee and was a member of the Best Practices in Child Testimony Task Force, alongside other legal services providers and Superior Court Judges. She has extensive litigation experience questioning experts, dealing with foundational issues in trial, and interviewing children, both inside and outside the courtroom. Ms. Tennen, a trained mediator and forensic interviewer, 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.

Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Attorneys

Rebecca Simpson, Esq., Managing 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.

Linda Kauskay, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Linda Kauskay supervises volunteers handling family law (custody and divorce) cases on behalf of domestic violence victims. She is a former mediator of 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.

Cindy Kim, Supervising Attorney

Cindy Kim supervises volunteer attorneys handling CPO cases in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Program. Previously, Cindy worked at DC’s Office of the Attorney General, Domestic Violence Section, representing petitioners seeking civil protection orders and prosecuting violations of the orders. Prior to joining DCVLP, Cindy worked at Montgomery County, MD’s immigrant resource center, working with volunteers to create and manage programs for immigrant communities. She earned her JD from Brooklyn Law School and BA from University of Maryland, College Park.

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.

Lauren Snow, Staff Attorney

Lauren Snow joined DCVLP in 2018, first as a Law Fellow and then as a Staff Attorney, working in both the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy programs. In law school, Ms. Snow worked as a student attorney in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, representing children in foster care as a Guardian ad Litem and interned at a Child Advocacy Center, providing trauma-informed services to children and families experiencing sexual abuse. Ms. Snow earned a law degree and MSW from the University of Michigan and a BA in government and psychology from Georgetown University.

Support Staff

Lauren Leavell, Paralegal & Data Manager

Ms. Leavell assists volunteer and supervisor attorneys with trial preparation and other litigation support needs. She manages DCVLP’s client and legal database. She is the point administrative person for DCVLP’s Child Advocacy Program and she also manages the internship program. Ms. Leavell received her B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, majoring in International Politics and International Security. She began her career in D.C. as an intern for former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates at the Department of Justice, fueling her passion for the law. After college, she traveled extensively to various countries doing missions and service trips for marginalized communities. She aims to merge these two areas of interest together towards her career.

Laura Taylor, Development & Executive Assistant

Ms. Taylor 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 at a variety of nonprofit organizations, including shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness and her hometown’s historical society. Ms. Taylor received her B.A. from The George Washington University, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy.  

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.

Milena Benitez, Volunteer Coordinator

Milena Benitez recruits, welcomes, and arranges trainings for new volunteers. She also provides operational support for the organization in the areas of finance, HR, grant management, internal events, and general support. Previously she worked at The Kennedy Krieger Institute helping children in the Pediatric Feeding Disorder Program. Ms. Benitez received her B.A. from Loyola University Maryland, majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Political Science.

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.

Kate Margolis, Client Advocate

Kate Margolis has worked as an advocate for Domestic Violence survivors for 15 years. After spending 11 years in Morris Count NJ at Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter as a court advocate, she moved to DC and started the new position of client advocate for DCVLP where she worked for 4 years. She is thrilled to be back in a part time position to help with the opening and outreach of the new office space at The Commons at Stanton Square in Anacostia.

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