Our Team

Directors

Sara Tennen, Esq., MSW, Executive Director

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.

Aida Vindell, Esq., Co-Legal Director

Aida Vindell is DCVLP’s Co-Legal Director, overseeing our Domestic Violence Program. She is a native Spanish speaker and a licensed attorney in the District and Maryland. Before joining DCVLP in 2019, Aida was a Senior Attorney at 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. Aida earned her Bachelor of Public Administration from Florida International University and her J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia.

Lauren Snow, Esq., MSW, Co-Legal Director

Lauren Snow is DCVLP’s Co-Legal Director, overseeing the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Practices. In addition, Lauren manages DCVLP’s team of wonderful client advocates who provide holistic non-legal support, including safety planning, crisis intervention, and community resource referrals to ensure each client’s long-term safety and well-being. Lauren began her career in the education field, first as a teacher and later as a family 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. She is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Rebecca Simpson, Esq., Director of Grants and Foundational Giving

Rebecca Simpson is responsible for all aspects of the grant and foundational giving process. She has primary responsibility for researching, cultivating, and applying for private foundation and government grants. From 2019-2021, Rebecca served as DCVLP’s Legal Director, overseeing the entire legal team, and from 2017-2019 as a Supervising Attorney and Managing Attorney in the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Practices. Prior to that, Rebecca was a volunteer with DCVLP and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 2016. Before joining DCVLP, 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.

Sara Jamison, Director of Volunteer Engagement and Strategic Partnerships

Sara Jamison oversees DCVLP’s volunteer engagement and strategic partnerships, serving as the initial point of contact for new volunteer lawyers, law firms, and community partners. Sara actively works with the Executive Director to organize and coordinate programs designed to enrich volunteer experience at DCVLP. Sara also partners with the Development team in implementing DCVLP’s comprehensive fundraising program. Her background is in educational advancement, having most recently served as the Annual Giving Manager at Connelly School of the Holy Child. Sara has a B.A. in Mass Communication and Spanish (Cum Laude) from the University of Delaware; an M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature (Honors) from the University of Delaware; and is working toward a Nonprofit Management and Leadership Graduate Certificate from the University of Maryland.

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.

Program Attorneys

Daniela Huerta Garcia, Esq., Managing Attorney, Immigration Program

Daniela is the Managing Attorney for the Immigration Program. She joined DCVLP in 2022. Daniela was previously an antitrust associate in the Washington, DC office of White & Case LLP. While at White & Case, Daniela maintained an active pro bono practice, including counseling clients regarding asylum matters, drafting comments in opposition to proposed Department of Homeland Security rules, and advocating for the release of a Guantanamo detainee. During law school, she led and participated in various immigration clinics and worked at an immigration law firm, focusing on asylum and other forms of relief. Before starting her legal career, Daniela worked as a field representative for a Member of Congress, focusing on community building and advocating for constituents. Daniela earned her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law and two B.A.s from The University of Texas at Dallas. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia. Daniela is a native Spanish speaker.

Jennie Berman, Esq., Managing Attorney

Ms. Berman is a Managing 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., Managing Attorney: Policy & Appellate Advocacy

Ms. Carter is a Managing Attorney in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence and Policy and Appellate Advocacy practice areas. In this role she represents survivors of domestic violence in Civil Protection Order and appellate cases and advocates for policies and laws that benefit DCVLP clients. 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 staffed DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic at D.C. Superior Court. Prior to joining DCVLP she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Maribeth Raffinan, Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Division at the DC Superior Court. Ms. Carter received her J.D. from George Washington University Law School and her B.A. from Transylvania University.

Vanessa Hernandez, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Vanessa Hernandez is a Supervising Attorney in our Domestic Violence Program. Prior to joining DCVLP, Vanessa worked for CAIR Coalition advocating for and representing detained immigrant children in their humanitarian cases. While at CAIR Coalition, Vanessa served minors from Central America by providing direct representation to them and by mentoring pro bono attorneys who volunteered to take their cases. Vanessa has previously worked with survivors of domestic violence at CAIR Coalition and during her internships with Ayuda and with the Domestic Violence Unit at DC Superior Court. Before starting her legal career, Vanessa worked for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a Resources Analyst. Vanessa earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus; her Master’s degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus; and her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

Elaine Holmes, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Elaine Holmes is a Supervising Attorney handling protection order and family law cases on behalf of survivors of domestic violence. She joined DCVLP in 2021. Prior to joining the staff, Ms. Holmes was a staff attorney at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, where she handled a full caseload of protective order, family law and employment cases. Prior to that, Ms. Holmes was an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLP and the New York office of Duane Morris LLP. While in private practice, she also worked on pro bono cases assisting domestic violence survivors. Ms. Holmes earned her J.D. from New York University of Law and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Elaine speaks basic Spanish and is working towards proficiency.

Kirisha Marshall, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Kirisha Marshall is a Supervising Attorney in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Program. In this role she supervises attorneys, as well as represents clients herself, in cases dealing with domestic violence and family law issues. Prior to joining DCVLP, Kirisha focused her practice on youth survivors, aged 12-24, of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. Kirisha represented youth survivors at two organizations: Break the Cycle and Network for Victim Recovery of DC. Kirisha received her JD from Howard University School of Law and she received her B.A. from Howard University.

Clara Mora, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Clara Mora is a Supervising Attorney in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Program. Prior to joining DCVLP, Clara provided low-bono legal representation to D.C. residents in family, probate, and immigration issues. In particular, she focused her practice on representing survivors of violence and LGBTQ+ individuals. Clara also has worked with organizations focused on employment and landlord-tenant law. Clara received her J.D. and L.L.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. She received her B.A. from the George Washington University.

Dana K. Rubin, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Dana Rubin is a Supervising Attorney in our Child Advocacy and Immigration programs. She serves as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem for children in complex custody cases in D.C. Superior Court. She also represents young people seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum seekers and other related immigration matters. Prior to joining DCVLP in 2021, Dana was a Guardian ad litem for children in abuse and neglect cases in D.C. and an Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection Section of the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. She received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law and her B.A. from Brandeis University.

Norah Sloss, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Norah Sloss is a Supervising Attorney in our Domestic Violence program, representing domestic violence survivors in civil protection order and family law cases. Prior to joining DCVLP in 2021, Norah was an associate at The Law Office of Rebekah Sullivan, where she represented clients in various family law matters in Washington, DC and Maryland. Previously, Norah was the Staff Attorney for the Domestic Violence Legal Wellness Program of Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County. Norah began working with survivors of domestic violence on civil protective order and family law cases in D.C. Superior Court, as a student attorney with the Families and the Law Clinic at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. Norah received her JD from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law with a concentration in family law and she received her B.S. from Loyola University New Orleans.

Robyn Swanson, Esq., Supervising Attorney

Ms. Swanson joined DCVLP in 2020 as the Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. In 2021, she transitioned to the position of Supervising Attorney. Ms. Swanson 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.

Madison Glennie, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored By DLA Piper LLP (US) and Verizon Foundation

Ms. Glennie joined DCVLP in 2021 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by DLA Piper LLP (US) and Verizon Foundation. Ms. Glennie’s fellowship created a medical-legal partnership that serves gender-based violence survivors. The project is co-located at Children’s National Primary Care in Columbia Heights and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. During law school, Ms. Glennie represented domestic violence survivors as a student attorney with the Georgetown Law Domestic Violence Clinic. She also assisted refugee survivors of gender-based violence at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia. With the National Women’s Law Center and Legal Voice, Ms. Glennie aided in ongoing cases and researched reproductive justice law and policy. Ms. Glennie graduated with her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2021. Prior to law school, Ms. Glennie worked with survivors of human trafficking, and she received her B.A. from Drake University.

Stephanie Bergman, Esq., Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow

Stephanie Bergman joined DCVLP as a Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow in March 2021. Stephanie was a DVCLP volunteer representing at-risk children as a court-appointed guardian ad litem from 2017-2021. She previously practiced as a litigation associate at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C., and Connolly Epstein Chicco Foxman Engelmyer and Ewing in Phildadelphia, Pa., and as a staff attorney at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Stephanie earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Lehigh University.

Amy Coles, Esq., Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow

Amy Coles joined DCVLP in 2021 as a Roxana Cannon Arsht Law Fellow. Prior to joining the staff, Ms. Coles was a volunteer with DCVLP. Before that, Ms. Coles practiced law as a securities attorney. After law school, Ms. Coles clerked for the Honorable Deborah S. Byrnes, on the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland. She received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore Law School and her B.A. from Loyola University.

Programmatic Staff

Mary Katherine Burke, Domestic Violence Program & Volunteer Manager

Mary Katherine Burke is the Domestic Violence Program and Volunteer Manager. Mary Katherine is a dedicated advocate for survivors of child sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. She represented sex trafficking survivors in criminal court as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, NY, and worked in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region as a case manager and victim’s rights advocate for survivors of sex trafficking with FAIR Girls. As an Associate Attorney Advisor at AEquitas, The Prosecutor’s Resource on Violence Against Women, Mary Katherine provided technical assistance to prosecutors nationwide on crimes of gender-based violence and created legal resources for judges and prosecutors. Prior to joining DCVLP, she was the Legislative Policy Counsel at RAINN where she lobbied on state and federal campaigns and was a victim’s rights subject matter for the DOJ-OJP’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. Ms. Burke received her juris doctorate at Rutgers University and her B.A. degrees in Political Science and Religion from the University of Mary Washington.

Laura Taylor, Victim & Community Outreach 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.  

Gargie Nagarkar, Grants and Data Compliance Manager

Ms. Nagarkar is fluent in English, French, and Marathi, and speaks basic Spanish. She 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 is also DCVLP’s point of contact for the Victim Legal Network of DC (VLNDC). Prior to DCVLP, Ms. Nagarkar was a Legal Assistant with Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center in Charlottesville, Va. She received a B.S. in Sociology with Honors, Summa Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech in 2018.

Social Services

Joy Castro-Wehr, Client Advocate

Joy connects the child clients and their families in our Child Advocacy practice area with social services throughout the DC area. She onboards new volunteers, assigns teams of attorneys to immigration and Guardian ad litem cases, and provides ongoing administrative support to the volunteer teams throughout their cases. Prior to joining DCVLP, Joy worked as a digital mobilizing fellow, advocating for racial, environmental and gender justice at a DC-based non-profit. Joy graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Sociology and Religious Studies. At Oberlin, she was a peer educator in sexual harm prevention on college campuses and has learned how to be a more informed advocate for consent, communication and empowerment – particularly for young people, through a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout college and beyond. Joy is passionate about helping to facilitate frank conversations that create more space for empowerment in the relationships people have in their lives. Joy speaks basic Spanish.

Annabelle Lopane, Client Advocate

Annabelle is passionate about supporting survivors of intimate partner violence with non-legal needs. She provides clients seeking divorce or custody with resources and emotional support. Annabelle previously interned at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a nonprofit that provides legal and social services assistance for children that are unaccompanied. Annabelle worked on projects at KIND that bolstered the organization’s internal resource database and overall social services. Annabelle also worked as an advocate at DC SAFE, which is the only 24/7 crisis intervention agency in D.C. At DC SAFE, Annabelle learned the complexities of safety planning and the importance of being an empathetic and trauma informed advocate with domestic violence survivors. Annabelle studied marketing and entrepreneurship at Clemson University in South Carolina and is working towards a Master of Public Administration at Anderson University.

Hayes Parker-Kepchar, Client Advocate

Hayes supports clients with remaining non-legal needs after their cases have wrapped up. Hayes helps clients navigate housing and public benefits and connects them to other resources, such as food assistance and counseling. Prior to joining DCVLP, Hayes managed a team of case managers in a rapid re-housing program, where she developed a deep passion for affordable housing. Hayes started her work in interpersonal violence while attending The College of William & Mary, where she received her undergraduate degree in Sociology. While in school, Hayes provided peer support to students who had been affected by interpersonal violence and provided healthy relationships education to the student body at large. Hayes is dedicated to addressing the root causes of domestic violence, including patriarchy, income inequality, and racism, and particularly enjoys working with survivors in the LGBTQ+ community.

Arianna Rivera, Client Advocate

Arianna provides non-legal support to survivors of intimate partner violence as well as immigrant clients impacted by gender-based violence. As a Client Advocate, she assists clients with crisis response, safety planning, and navigating resources in the District. Arianna began her career working with survivors of intimate partner violence in California where she managed an emergency domestic violence shelter. Additional experience has included supervising a court advocacy program, creating and facilitating trainings for other service providers, and providing direct services to survivors of intimate partner violence. Arianna graduated with a B.A in Criminology and Justice Studies with a focus on Race and Ethnic Studies from California State University San Marcos. Arianna approaches her work with a trauma-informed lens and a social justice and equity framework. Arianna is fluent in Spanish.

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