Sara Tennen oversees the entire programmatic, operations, and development functions of DCVLP, ensuring ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous evaluation, and consistent quality of finance and administration, fundraising, and communications. She leads strategic outreach to law firms and community partners, and works with our Director of Development to oversee fundraising efforts. 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.
Jackie Love-Baker, Esq., Director of Development
Jackie Love-Baker, a licensed attorney in California and the District of Columbia, is DCVLP’s Director of Development. She manages grants and reporting, communications and donor-related needs. She also oversees the annual report, annual appeal campaign, website and social media accounts. She is part of the team managing DCVLP’s annual benefit which raises one-third of DCVLP’s annual budget. Previously, 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 and received her J.D. From the University of San Diego.
Rebecca Simpson, Esq., Legal Director
Rebecca Simpson oversees DCVLP’s legal team, including the Child Advocacy and Domestic Violence practices. She leads volunteer recruiting and training in both programs and manages our client referral and case assignment processes. She also supervises volunteer attorneys serving as court-appointed guardians ad litem and representing domestic violence survivors in custody and divorce matters. Previously she served as a volunteer with DCVLP and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 2016. Prior to joining us Rebecca practiced as a court-appointed guardian ad litem for children in Fairfax County, Virginia, where she also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children. She spent eight years working in private practice, including at a small real estate firm in Virginia and at Arnold & Porter (now Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholler, LLP.) Rebecca began her career as a judicial clerk on the Supreme Court of Minnesota; she earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from the University of Delaware.
Brian Yourish, Director of Operations
Brian oversees DCVLP’s administration, finances, and human resources. He also plays a role in grants management and event planning. Previously, Brian was Constitutional Accountability Center’s Office Manager, where he was responsible for daily office operations, including office management, technology support, human resources, and vendor relations. Prior to joining CAC, Brian was the Office Manager at The Constitution Project. Brian also worked as the Legal Assistant with the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Brian was the Climate Change Program Administrator at the Vancouver, Canada-based David Suzuki Foundation. Brian received his B.A. in English from the University of Maryland.
Victoria Lynch-Draper, Esq., Managing Attorney
Victoria Lynch-Draper supervises volunteer attorneys in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Programs and oversees our Family Legal Clinics. 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.
Richard Kelley, Esq., Managing Attorney
Richard Kelley is the Managing Attorney of our Child Advocacy and Immigration Programs. Prior to joining DCVLP, he was a litigation associate DLA Piper LLP, where he dedicated significant time to the pro bono representation of indigent clients, including as a Guardian ad litem in D.C. Superior Court and as an advocate on behalf of asylum seekers. Prior to joining DLA Piper, Richard was a senior attorney at the DC Affordable Law Firm, where he represented survivors of domestic violence, at-risk children, and asylum seekers. He also has spent time working for juvenile justice reform in Maryland through the National Juvenile Defender Center. In his volunteer time, Richard works with Center Global on behalf of LGBTQ asylum seekers and Whitman Walker through their name-change clinic. He received his J.D. and LL.M in International Business and Economic Law and LL.M in Civil Justice from Georgetown University Law Center and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.
Aída Vindell, Esq.,Managing Attorney
Aída Vindell is the Managing Attorney of our Domestic Violence Program. She is a native Spanish speaker and a licensed attorney in the District and Maryland. Before joining DCVLP in 2019 where she represents victims in protection order cases, Ms. Vindell was a Senior Attorney at the Children’s Law Center where she represented children in abuse and neglect proceedings and represented plaintiffs in custody matters. Before that she was a Staff Attorney at Ayuda where she represented domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in protection order, custody and divorce proceedings. Ms. Vindell earned her Bachelor of Public Administration from Florida International University and her J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia.
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.
Jen Stillerman, Esq., Supervising Attorney
Jen Stillerman supervises volunteer attorneys in DCVLP’s Child Advocacy Program (CAP). Her work focuses on supporting DCVLP’s teen clients and providing specialized training to their volunteer attorneys through DCVLP’s Teens At Risk: Growing, Engaging & Thriving (TARGET) initiative. Previously, Ms. Stillerman spent nearly five years as a volunteer attorney with DCVLP, and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 2018. She is a former Associate General Counsel at the George Washington University and associate in the Education Group at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). Ms. Stillerman served as a law clerk to the Hon. Leonard B. Sand of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School and received her B.A. from Middlebury College.
Lauren Snow, MSW and Esq., Attorney
As a Staff Attorney, Lauren represents domestic violence survivors in civil protection order and family law cases and serves as a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem for children in high-conflict custody cases. Before attending law school, Lauren worked in education, first as an early childhood teacher and later as a case manager for early childhood special education. Throughout law school, Lauren participated in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, serving as a Guardian ad Litem for children in abuse and neglect cases. Lauren earned her J.D. and M.S.W. from the University of Michigan and her B.A. from Georgetown University.
Jennie Berman, Esq., Supervising Attorney
Ms. Berman is a Supervising Attorney handling protection order and immigration cases. She joined DCVLP in 2018 as the Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. Prior to joining the staff, Ms. Berman was a volunteer with DCVLP. Ms. Berman previously practiced as a litigation associate in the New York office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. While at Morgan Lewis, she also worked on pro bono cases assisting domestic violence survivors. Ms. Berman earned her J.D. from Rutgers School of Law and her B.A. from Wellesley College. She is proficient in Spanish.
Ashley Carter, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow
Ms. Carter joined DCVLP in 2019 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Steptoe & Johnson LLP. As part of her fellowship, Ms. Carter staffs DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic, a pilot project that opened in the fall of 2019 and is housed at the DC Superior Court. Prior to graduating from law school, Ms. Carter represented survivors of domestic violence as a student attorney in the Family Justice Litigation Clinic and as a legal intern with Legal Aid Chicago. She also represented clients as a student attorney in the Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction Services Clinic. Following graduation, Ashley served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Maribeth Raffinan, Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Division at the DC Superior Court. Ashley received her J.D. from George Washington University Law School and her B.A. from Transylvania University.
Robyn Swanson , Esq., Arsht Law Fellow
Ms. Swanson joined DCVLP in 2020 as the Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. She represents at-risk children as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem in DC Superior Court. Prior to joining the staff, Ms. Swanson was a volunteer with DCVLP.
Suzy Ziaii, Domestic Violence Program Manager
Ms. Ziaii is currently our Domestic Violence Program Manager and, since 2017, has been providing case support to DCVLP clients including case management, emotional support, safety planning, crisis intervention, and referrals to community-based resources to victims and their children. In fall 2018, she became a certified Domestic Violence Advocate (DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence). She received her B.A. from the College of William & Mary, where she double majored in Government and Hispanic Studies with a focus on immigration and human rights. Ms. Ziaii speaks Spanish and Polish.
Laura Taylor, Development & Communications Manager
Ms. Taylor works closely with the Director of Development and the Executive Director to write grant applications and reports, manage the donor database, and design outreach and communication materials. 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.
Jennifer Watkins, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator
Ms. Watkins manages strategic outreach efforts to volunteer lawyers, law firms, and the community. She assists with new program and clinic structure, policies and procedures; develops new volunteer opportunities; leads strategic victim outreach initiatives in collaboration with community partners; builds capacity for new and existing community partner relationships; and coordinates volunteer engagement, training, and retention. Previously, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a volunteer-run free health clinic, and as a development intern for an international health and human rights nonprofit. Ms. Watkins received her B.A. from University of Georgia, where she double majored in International Affairs and Sociology, and minored in Russian. She is proficient in Russian.
Ms. Ali manages our client and case data to create grant reports and to ensure grant compliance. She oversees our intern program, provides legal assistance to our attorneys, and assists with grant writing, grant tracking, event planning and outreach. She previously worked at Wake’s Women Center and interned at a variety of nonprofits working towards gender equity. Ms. Ali received her B.A. from Wake Forest University, where she doubled majored in Sociology and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, and minored in Religion. Ms. Ali speaks Urdu and Hindi.
Junae Allen, Client Advocate
Ms. Allen assists clients with non-legal needs including crisis intervention, on-going emotional support, safety planning, referrals to partner organizations and advocacy. Ms. Allen started her career as an intern and student at Lincoln University’s Women’s Center while also earning a B.S. in Clinical/Counseling Psychology. Ms. Allen then worked on a women’s crisis/reproductive hotline for seven years where she provided crisis counseling to women seeking non-biased, factual reproductive health information, and access to reproductive care. She has immense experience with providing assistance to survivors of power-based violence and brings a trauma-informed, strength-based approach to her work. Supporting women to get their life on track is her ultimate passion because she believes there is no greater power than an empowered woman.
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 establishing the new Family Legal Clinic at The Commons at Stanton Square in Anacostia.
Helina Meressa, Child Advocate & Program Manager
Helina manages DCVLP’s Guardian ad litem program. She processes court referrals, assigns cases and provides case support to volunteer attorneys, and serves as the main point person for our Child Advocacy Program. As our Child Advocate, she assists in connecting the families we serve to resources that will support them during and beyond the closing of their case. Prior to her work with DCVLP, she served as an AmeriCorps member providing case management services at a transitional housing program for immigrant and refugee families. She has also served as an Intake Coordinator for a law firm. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia where she studied Global Development and Foreign Affairs. She speaks Spanish and is working on learning Amharic.
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.