Staff

Management

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.

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.

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. Ms. Biden 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. Ms. Biden has also contributed essays to PYPO and has been an active community fundraiser for DCVLP, Sidwell Friends School, and other worthy causes. In 2017, Ms. Biden received the Mary Kay Ash Trailblazer award for her work.

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 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.

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 and assists with oversight of both programs. She began volunteering with DCVLP in 2014. Previously, she served as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem in Fairfax County and was a litigation associate at Arnold & Porter. She 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.

Margaret Martin Barry, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Ms. Barry supervises volunteer attorneys representing domestic violence victims in DC Superior Court. She is currently a Professor of Law Emerita at Vermont Law School.  She joined VLS as a visiting professor and associate dean for clinical and experiential programs in 2011 and joined the faculty as a full professor in 2012.  She served as associate dean until December 2016 and taught at the school through spring 2018.  Her teaching responsibilities included Criminal Law; Professional Responsibility; a seminar – Race and the Criminal Justice System; Mediation; Interviewing Counseling and Negotiation; Civil Procedure; and teaching in the school’s general civil practice clinic and externship programs. Prior to VLS, Professor Barry was a professor at Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America where she primarily taught in the Families and the Law Clinic. She has published in the areas of legal education and family law, and has served on numerous professional panels discussing clinical teaching and legal representation. She served as chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Clinical Legal Education and as president of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA). She also served as co-president of the Society of American Law Schools. She is a receipt of the William Pincus Award in recognition of her service as a clinical legal educator. SSRN: http://ssrn.com/author=621948

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, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Cindy Kim joined DCVLP in 2018 and represents victims as co-counsel with volunteers in civil protection order cases, regularly supervises the Domestic Violence Resource Clinic, trains new volunteer lawyers to handle protection order cases and staff DCVLP’s walk-in clinics, and represents DCVLP at monthly meetings with local domestic violence legal service providers.  Recently, Ms. Kim participated in the Steering Committee to Develop Best Practices for Supervision of Domestic & Sexual Violence Attorneys, coordinated by the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Previously, for nearly seven years, Ms. Kim worked at DC’s Office of the Attorney General, helping domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims obtain and enforce protection orders.  A large part of her practice involved prosecuting violations of those orders, holding offenders accountable for their actions and helping victims navigate the criminal justice system.  Recently, at Montgomery County, Maryland’s Immigrant Resource Center, Ms. Kim worked with community stakeholders and partners to assess needs in local immigrant communities, created programs to meet those needs, and empowered volunteers to staff the programs.  From 2016-2018, Ms. Kim served on the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project, serving as President of the Board for the latter half.  In addition, for the last two years, on a pro bono basis, Ms. Kim has represented a pair of siblings obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, representing them to USCIS as well as before the immigration courts.   Earlier in her career, Ms. Kim worked as a Staff Attorney at the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, helping to create trainings and resources for Legal Assistance to Victims grantees, and also practiced immigration law. She earned her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and B.A. from University of Maryland, College Park, and speaks Korean and some French.

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.

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, Esq., 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 Master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in government and psychology from Georgetown University.

Jennie Berman, Esq., Arsht Law Fellow

Ms. Berman has recently join our staff as a Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. She represents domestic violence victims in civil protection order and family law cases and at-risk children as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem in DC Superior Court.

Support Staff

Milena Benitez, Volunteer Coordinator

Milena Benitez recruits, welcomes, and arranges trainings for new volunteers. She also provides operational support for DCVLP 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.

Lauren Leavell, Paralegal & Data Manager

Ms. Leavell assists our attorneys with trial preparation and other litigation support needs. She manages DCVLP’s client and legal database, is the point administrative person for the Child Advocacy Program and 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 write grant applications and reports, manage the donor database, conduct outreach, update DCVLP’s website and create social media posts 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.  

Suzy Ziaii, Domestic Violence Practice Manager

Ms. Ziaii works in our Domestic Violence Program, matching volunteer attorneys with cases and providing them with case management support. Additionally, she assists with the administration of DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Resource Clinic and other legal team needs. She has completed the Domestic Violence Advocate Core Competency Training (DVACT) from the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, providing her with Advocate Privilege. 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 clients with non-legal needs including crisis intervention, on-going emotional support, safety planning, referrals to partner organizations and advocacy. Ms. Holmes started her career as an intern with a DC domestic violence organization while earning a B.A. 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 establishing the new Family Legal Clinic 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